What is the state of emergency for?

Zambia has virtually been under a state of emergency since Edgar Lungu came to power in January 2015.

Edgar’s political method has been one of repression, force and to “crush like a tonne bricks” anyone who stands in his way or want to exercise their fundamental freedoms and rights in an independent way.

And this is what Edgar’s state of emergency, whatever its definition, is intended to achieve – repression, dictatorship. We shouldn’t torture ourselves trying to distinguish between threatened (under Article 31 of the Constitution) and the so-called full emergency (under Article 30) – there’s a very thin line between them. Similarly, there’s very little difference between Cap 112 – the preservation of public security Act and Cap 108 – the emergency powers Act. The bottom line, the reality is that Zambia is under a state of emergency. The repression that took place arbitrarily and by abuse of the judicial process will now be easily done under Article 31 of the Constitution and Cap 112 – the preservation of public security Act.

But no one should allow themselves to be deceived or to deceive themselves that this is something aimed only at criminals causing fires as Edgar was alluding. Edgar doesn’t need emergency powers, the preservation of public security Act or the emergency powers Act to catch and fix those behind fires. Read these Acts for yourselves and you will get a much clearer understanding about these emergency powers Edgar has invoked. These powers don’t just target those burning markets, they target our fundamental freedoms and rights. It is people who are nowhere near the fires who are the main targets of these powers Edgar has decided to use. Don’t forget what Edgar said the day before invoking these emergency powers. Edgar told Zambians to “forget about human rights; if it means taking measures that are unprecedented we will do just that…If it means taking measures which are unprecedented we will do just that…so if I become a dictator for once, bear with me”.

But as we have stated before, it is a virtual reflex for dictatorial or tyrannical governments to plead security concerns when they undertake any controversial action, often as a pretext for something else. The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny. And ’emergencies’ have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual freedoms and rights have been eroded by tyrants, tin-pot dictators. It is said that necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom; it is the argument of tyrants.

As Dwight D. Eisenhower observed,  “Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.”

Real security can only come from the people and not from repressive emergency powers. If Edgar believes that these fires are a product of political dissent, then the  best way to end them is to remove the cause of dissension. But talking to those who differ with him and persuading  them to see things his way or allowing himself to be swayed to see things their way is not his way of leading or governing. His is repression, crushing. And he has accordingly surrounded himself with very violent and extremely intolerant elements who see no sensible alternative to repressive, violent measures.

What they really want is a one party state with only their voices being heard. They want to ensure that come 2021 elections, all meaningful opposition is destroyed, crushed or frustrated and there’s “no contest”. With emergency powers, we are now effectively under their highly desired one party dictatorship. And as Edgar himself asked you to bear with him, he has now, “for once, become a dictator” by law, de jure.

Again, as we have stated before, we all need safety from arson and other forms of violence, but no one should sacrifice our  human rights in the name of national security, stability and peace. The more we, as a nation, are ready to sacrifice our fundamental freedoms and rights in preference to security, stability and peace, the less communal our community will be. Sacrificing our fundamental freedoms and rights will not protect us from criminal acts. Measures like these just play into the hands of outright common criminals and political tyrants. They do not make our country safer, stable and peaceful and give the criminals and tyrants what they want – repression and more repression.

Leave a Reply

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