Erosion of democracy in Zambia, warns civil society
LUSAKA: Civil society organisations in the country have alleged an erosion of democracy in Zambia.
The concern comes after President Edgar Lungu declared a state of emergency in the wake of the burning down of the country’s biggest market recently. It will last for three months and empowers the police to ban public gatherings and impose restrictions on travel.
It is feared the proclamation, ratified by Parliament, will further limit civic space in a country once hailed for its democratic credentials.
The Zambian Council for Social Development and global civil rights movement, Civicus, raised concern that the ruling Patriotic Front party had ratified the state of emergency in the absence of 48 opposition members of Parliament, suspended for boycotting Lungu’s speech in protest against his electoral victory.
The opposition maintains the elections were rigged in Lungu’s favour. He won the contentious poll ahead of now-jailed opposition leader Haikande Hichilema.
“A thorough assessment of the situation in Zambia reveals there was no reasonable justification for the invocation of emergency powers by the executive,” the civil society organisations said.
Lungu justified the emergency powers, announcing he was dealing with “acts of sabotage” by political opponents after fire gutted the Lusaka City Market. No probes have been conducted to ascertain the cause of the blaze that destroyed 3 000 stalls. “So, no excuse existed,” civil society argued. – CAJ News