Power and Politics

‘Don’t play God,’ Hard knocks for Hichilema govt, as civil society groups berate abuse of Zambia police


A consortium of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has expressed concern that the current United Party for National Development (UPND) government is repeating the mistakes of previous regimes by misusing the police for political purposes.

Speaking on behalf of the twelve CSOs, the outspoken Executive Director of the Alliance for Community Action, Laura Miti, reminded the UPND of its previous commitments to uphold the rule of law when it was in opposition.

In a statement issued in Lusaka on Tuesday, Miti condemned the use of police to prevent the opposition New Heritage Party rally, which was scheduled to be held in Lusaka’s Mandevu compound on June 1, 2024.

She said silencing critics and opposition voices contradicted the fundamental principles of democracy.

“We especially remind President Hakainde Hichilema of his repeated personal promises that cadre lawlessness and disruption of citizens’ lives would never be tolerated under his presidency,” Miti stated.

She lamented that President Hichilema’s promises were being broken with shocking frequency.

Miti further reminded the government and the police that citizens’ constitutional rights should be respected, even when exercising those rights is inconvenient for the government.

“Government must expect and live with opposition rallies and criticism by citizens. Being in office does not turn a political party or its leaders into gods,” she advised.

Miti stated that the CSOs’ position was that even if citizens gathering might criticise the government, it was not a legal reason to prevent them from doing so.

Read More: Forum urges Lungu, Hichilema to sheath sword, prioritise national unity over political disputes

Additionally, Miti expressed concern over UPND cadres brandishing weapons and threatening violence in Mandevu, disturbing the lives of ordinary citizens.

“We note that while the police were out in full force and numbers in Mandevu, there was no attempt to prevent the criminality of the cadres or arrest them,” she observed.

The twelve CSOs included the Alliance for Community Action, Alliance for Accountability Advocates Zambia, Bloggers of Zambia, CARITAS Zambia, Centre for Trade and Policy Development, Christian Churches Monitoring Group and Council of Churches Zambia.

Others are GEARS Initiative Zambia, Non-Governmental Gender Organizations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC), PANOS Institute for Southern Africa, Peoples Action for Accountability and Good Governance in Zambia (PAAGGZ), Transparency International Zambia and Zambia Council for Social Development.

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