There’s no doubt Edgar Lungu and his minions have been abusing government institutions under the Ministry of Home Affairs to further their own political interests.
And their most abused government institution under the Ministry of Home Affairs is the police. This is followed by the immigration department.
Under Stephen Kampyongo as Minister of Home Affairs, they have also been abusing the Registrar of Societies’ office. It is them who arbitrarily decide which political party should or shouldn’t be registered. And this is done without regard to the constitutional rights of others. They have no respect for the fact that the constitution guarantees citizens the freedom of association.
It took them over 14 months to register the Socialist Party. The Minister of Home Affairs was not ready or willing to have the Socialist Party registered. It took them two weeks to register the National Democratic Congress simply because they thought by so doing, they will easily get Chishimba Kambwili from the Patriotic Front. It took a lot of pressure from the civil servants to make them see the legal dangers of not registering the Socialist Party after quickly registering the National Democratic Congress.
If they had any sense of shame in them, the decision by the High Court to reverse their de-registration of Democratic Party would really embarrass them.
Quashing their de-registration of Democratic Party, the High Court said their decision was not only illegal but irrational, unreasonable and procedurally improper.
There’s no doubt the decision to de-register the Democratic Party was aimed at Harry Kalaba.
It was very clear from the very beginning that the Patriotic Front and its government were ready do everything possible to politically cripple Kalaba.
The Democratic Party was de-registered because the party had
invited Harry to be it’s presidential candidate in the 2021 elections.
De-registering the Democratic Party, the Registrar of Societies claimed that they were an independent and professional body with the mandate obtained purely from the Societies Act Cap 119 of the Laws of Zambia.
But who doesn’t know the role played by the Minister of Home Affairs in the registration and de-registration of political parties? Which state or government agency is today operating independently and professionally in Zambia?
It’s also well known that the Ministry of Home Affairs had earlier refused to register a political party – the Zambian Democrats Party – suspected to have had links Harry.
The Ministry of Home Affairs’ decisions to de-register the Democratic Party and to reject the Zambian Democrats Party’s application for registration were connected. They were not isolated incidents – they were both aimed at politically crippling Harry. This is an unacceptable abuse of power.
These decisions were made to deny Harry a political platform for contesting the presidential elections in 2021.
Should the Registrar of Societies be allowed to de-register a political party and deny a political party registration in such an unjustifiable way?
These were not independent and professional decisions of the Registrar of Societies; these were orders from the higher political authorities.
It’s very clear that there’s political interference in the process of registration and de-registration of political parties in Zambia.
Given the importance of political parties, their registration or de-registration cannot be treated in this arbitrary manner. Political parties are a central feature of any democracy, let alone a multiparty one. Political parties allow us to come together and campaign for public office, express our interests and define goals for our communities. Registration of political parties gives these groups legal status, defining their rights and roles in society.
Whatever the exact requirements, the registration or de-registration process of our political parties must be based on clear legal criteria and applied fairly to all who apply.
Zambians should be allowed to freely associate with political organisations and seek government office based on their common interests. Otherwise, the Zambian voters may be deprived of the opportunity to make their choices as to who has authority to govern them. Unless such organisations receive legal recognition through registration, they may not present themselves on the ballot or otherwise seek peaceful political change. To protect our rights to organise, the registration or de-registration of political parties must be based on reasonable, clear criteria and not the fears of Edgar or his minions at the Ministry of Home Affairs.
And these criteria must be made public, so interested citizens know what steps they must take to get legal recognition of their party. The criteria must also be applied impartially and in the same manner to all who seek to register a political party. Any rejections should be explained clearly, and those who are rejected should have an opportunity to appeal the decision without incurring any costs of paying lawyers. With information about the political party registration process, citizens can take steps to get legal status for their organisations.