Editor's PickPower and Politics

Civil society group, led by Bishop Mpundu, wants US to impose sanctions on Hichilema, 7 other govt officials


Civil society group, Our Civic Duty Association (OCIDA), has petitioned the United States government to impose financial sanctions, visa restrictions and travel bans against top Zambian officials allegedly undermining democratic rights in Zambia.

The list includes President Hakainde Hichilema .

The named government officials also include Home Affairs and Internal Security minister, Jack Mwiimbu, Police Inspector-General, Graphel Musamba, Speaker of the National Assembly Nellie Mutti.

Others mentioned on the list are Chief Justice Mumba Malila, Director of Public Prosecutions, Gilbert Phiri, Electoral Commission of Zambia Chairperson, Mwangala Zaloumis.

In a petition seen by Zambia Monitor on Wednesday, OCIDA Chairperson Emeritus Archbishop, Telesphore Mpundu, told the US that the civil society group was deeply alarmed by the continued abuse of institutions of governance and the erosion of democracy in Zambia.

“Of particular concern are the violations of democratic rights such as the right to public assembly, free speech, freedom of association and the right to a speedy trial,” Mpundu submitted.

He pointed out what he said was continued abuse of state institutions like the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Independent Broadcasting Authority, the Zambia Police Service, the National Assembly of Zambia and the Judiciary.

The group noted that on several occasions, OCIDA and other organisations such as the Zambian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Law Association of Zambia and Chapter One Foundation had been calling on the Zambian government to respect and enable the expression of these fundamental democratic rights.

Read more : Archbishop Mpundu lambasts justices for frustrating judicial processes

“Our combined calls have fallen on deaf ears. What we have instead witnessed over the last several months are further restrictions on these rights. Public rallies by opposition parties continue to be banned by the Zambia Police Service, the Judiciary continues to engage in what appears to be wilful delay of the resolution of urgent political matters affecting the main opposition party,” Mpundu observed.

He alleged that the executive arm of government continued to interfere in the operations of other institutions adding that the leadership of the national assembly continued to undermine democracy in parliament as critics of the government continue to face intimidation and threats from state institutions.

“OCIDA calls on the United States government to impose financial sanctions, visa restrictions and travel bans against the below-named officials of the Government of the Republic of Zambia whose conduct has aided this continued suppression of democracy in Zambia,” reads part of the submission.

OCIDA expressed confidence that its plea would be heeded in the wake of the recent decision by the US government, as part of its democracy-centred foreign policy, to impose similar sanctions on members of the government of Zimbabwe who were at the forefront of restricting democratic rights, tolerating corruption and abusing governance institutions.

“It in this light that we petition the administration of President Joe Biden, through the US Embassy in Zambia, to impose sanctions on the named officials of the Zambian government,” it stated.

OCIDA described Musamba as an ‘apostle’ of state-sponsored lawlessness as he had allegedly been in the forefront of not only breaking, rather than enforcing the law, but also undermining the very multiparty character of the Republic.

In the case of Mwiimbu, he is being accused of creating a two-tier policing system created under his command, one for members of the opposition and another for members of the ruling United Party for National Development (UPND).

“Mwiimbu is also ultimately responsible for the police’s ongoing efforts to frustrate the registration of an umbrella alliance of opposition parties, namely the United Kwacha Alliance,” the group claimed.

On Mutti, she was petitioned for allegedly being in the forefront of undermining democracy in parliament, having presided over unconstitutional changes to the leadership of the official opposition in parliament among other breaches .

Malila had been also found wanting for allegedly facilitating the ‘capture’ of Zambia’s main opposition party by the executive branch of government as judges handling the matters sat on them while the Chief Justice continues to ‘criss-cross the world’.

OCIDA further alleged that Malila’s closeness to President Hichilema was demonstrated in regular shared public spaces, citing an example of how the President recently announced to the public a Statutory Instrument that was yet to be signed by the Chief Justice.

Mpundu wondered how President Hichilema knew about it?.

As for Phiri, the civil society was concerned that instead of defending public interest and the integrity of the legal system, he had been in the forefront of refusing to sanction the prosecution of government and ruling party officials whilst doing the opposite for members of the opposition.

Read more: Archbishop Mpundu cautions Hichilema against taking ‘reckless’ decision on Rwanda refugees

Zaloumis who heads ECZ had been picked on for being suspected to have strong ties with the ruling UPND while accusing her of undermining democracy by defranchising citizens by way of excluding candidates of the main opposition party from taking part in elections to the benefit of the UPND.

On President Hichilema it stated: “If there is one person who deserves sanctions for undermining democracy and democratic rights in Zambia, it is President Hichilema. Not only is he the one responsible for the appointment of other democracy-threatening officials, he has also aided their conduct by neglecting to reprimand or sanction them for undermining civil and political rights.”

He said if the United States was to be perceived as fair and consistent in its application of foreign policy values, central of which was democracy, then it would sanction those who undermine it.

” Although many people think the current President of Zambia is a darling of the United States, we believe that the interests of the two nations are by far larger than the interest of an individual leader especially when that leader is in the forefront of undermining democracy and abusing institutions of governance,” Mpundu concluded.

WARNINGAll rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express permission from ZAMBIA MONITOR.


World Bank approves $40 million climate grants for Zambia, other African countries

Previous article

Govt laments rise in ‘contract killings’, threatens severe sanctions against illegal use of firearms

Next article

You may also like


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *