NGOCC says it is saddened that the Patriotic Front government under President Edgar Lungu is abusing state institutions against those with divergent views or perceived to hold divergent views.
NGOCC chairperson Sara Longwe said her organisation was deeply concerned with the deteriorating political situation in the country.
She said events after the 2016 general elections where state institutions were abused to champion the agenda of those in power were reminiscent of a totalitarian state.
“The Non Governmental Oraganistions’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) is deeply concerned with the deteriorating political situation in the country where the Patriotic Front (PF) Government under President Edgar Lungu is unfortunately abusing state institutions against those with divergent views or perceived to hold divergent views,” Longwe said.
“The event of the last few months after the August 2016 elections where state institutions are being abused by those in power to close down critical media institutions, eliminate the Law Association of Zambia as currently constituted by law and now the arrest of an opposition leader are reminiscent of a totalitarian state.”
She said Zambia was a democracy and all citizens were entitled to the enjoyment of their fundamental rights to freedom of movement, expression and assembly without any undue interference.
“While NGOCC doesn’t condone lawlessness, it is important for those in the corridors of power to exercise maximum restraint in the abuse of state institutions,” Longwe said.
She said NGOCC also condemned the raiding of UPND president Hakainde Hichilema’s home by State Police.
Longwe said Zambia Police owed Hichilema’s family an apology for the manner they conducted his arrest.
She said arresting an opposition leader on tramped up charges was a recipe for escalating the already high tension in a country.
“We condemn the Police ambush of a family of a mere politician like a common criminal, it is ridiculous and uncalled for. The Zambia Police owes the family of Mr. Hichilema an apology in the manner they conducted the arrest of Mr Hichilema as he does not live alone in the house that they broke into and tear gassed; there are also children and other dependents,” Longwe said.
“As we have stated before, the 11thAugust 2016 elections left the country divided. We therefore expect President Edgar Lungu to take deliberate steps to heal these political wounds that arose out of the elections. Arresting opposition leaders on tramped up charges is a recipe to heighten the tension in an already volatile economic and political environment.”
She further appealed to church mother bodies to immediately initiate dialogue between the leaders of PF and the UPND to avoid a potential civil strife.
“The current political tension has the potential of degenerating into civil strife, which without doubt will adversely affect the country, especially the women, the elderly and the children; as it is happening in the countries experiencing intra-conflicts,” said Longwe.