Power and Politics

Church group lists cases of civic space infringements by Zambia Police, cautions govt


The Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) has expressed deep concern over the increasing incidents of political violence and infringements on civic space in Zambia.

CCMG Steering Committee Chairperson Bishop, Andrew Mwenda, stated that the group had been monitoring the rise in such incidents across the country.

In a statement issued in Lusaka on Saturday, Mwenda stated that these incidents infringed on constitutional rights and civic freedoms, including the freedom of assembly, expression and association.

Mwenda noted that CCMG had observed numerous instances where the Zambia Police had used the Public Order Act to restrict these freedoms.

“These incidents directly undermine the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly,” Mwenda said.

He called on the government to promptly address these violations and infringements, which threatened both civic freedoms and democratic governance.

Mwenda also urged the Police to provide greater accountability and transparency in handling notices under the Public Order Act, to actively work with organizers to facilitate gatherings and to pursue de-escalation measures.

“CCMG believes that rallies, peaceful protests and public meetings provide opportunities for citizens to engage with candidates, political parties and civil society organizations, allowing for discussion of ideas and policies for the future of Zambia,” he said.

Read More: New Heritage Party petitions Human Rights Commission over repeated police restrictions on political rallies

Mwenda cited several incidents, including the denial of permission for the United Kwacha Alliance (UKA) to hold a public rally on April 15 at Matanda Zambia Compound Grounds and the New Heritage Party (NHP) to hold a mass rally in Mandevu on June 1.

He recalled that on October 18, 2023, the Centre for Young Leaders in Africa (CYLA) had their planned peaceful protest stopped by the police, citing a lack of manpower to provide protection.

Similarly, in August 2023, the Zambia Police denied permission to the Patriotic Front (PF) for a planned rally to launch their strategic plan for 2023-2026, citing “security concerns” despite the provision of requisite notice.

Mwenda advised the Police to focus its resources on protecting the rights of all citizens and to use the provisions of the law to punish those violating citizens’ rights.

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