THE Western Province NGO Congress is demanding for the re-instatement of the four police officers who were dismissed in Sesheke. Chairperson Kelvin Welesani said the Congress was of the view that the dismissed police officers in Sesheke were being victimised.
“We demand for the reinstatement of the four police officers who were dismissed in Sesheke and we are of the view that the dismissed police officers in Sesheke are being victimised,” he said.
Welesani said political violence was a devastating phenomenon in Zambian politics.
The NGOs include the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), Youth Activists Organisation-(YAO), Civil Society Organisation for Poverty Reduction (CSPR), Hope Anchor Foundation Zambia, Young Women Christian Association-(YWCA), Keepers Zambia Foundation (KZF), Action Governance Forum, Foundation for Rural Development, Action AID Zambia, Youth and Child Foundation, Namuso Community Development Organisation, Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (NZP+) and Mongu Town District Women Association.
“We, the Non-Governmental Organisation Congress of Western Province are concerned with thuggery perpetuated by political cadres that is threatening not only lives of people but also loss of valuable properties with socio-political and economic consequences,” he said, in a press statement.
He said the recent acts of violence witnessed during the Mangango and Sesheke parliamentary by-election affected not only political parties but extended widely to ordinary poor citizens of Zambia. Welesani said clashes in Mongu between the PF party and UPND led to usurping of the mandate of the local authority at Mongu Central Market to collect revenue.
“The indiscriminate suspension of a privately owned Television Station in a very questionable manner and many more to mention are acts detrimental to democratic sustainability in Zambia,” he said. “On behalf of Western Province NGO Congress, we wish to remind the Government of the Republic of Zambia and its mandated regulatory media body ‘IBA’ that all Zambians have the right to seek, access and receive information guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Article 4 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa which Zambia is a ratified member. We therefore, demand the immediate lifting of the suspension on Prime TV.”
Welesani said the government’s continued tolerance to violence and unprofessionalism in the public service was a clear violation of human rights and a danger to Zambia’s democratic governance system.
“We therefore, would like to recommend the following: In accordance with the electoral code of conduct, we discourage ferrying of political cadres from one constituency to another during by-elections and elections. We have observed that this practice promotes and perpetuates violence during elections,” he said. “We appeal to the Electoral Commission of Zambia to adhere and enforce the electoral laws and regulations fairly and the Zambia Police Service to administer the public order Act fairly. We have observed the heavy presence of armed police officers during elections. This situation instils fear among electorates and influences the police officers to abuse their powers.”
Welesani also said there was abuse of alcohol especially among the youths during political gatherings.
“We appeal to political party leaders not to provide alcohol to the youths and women as it leads to anti-social behaviours with serious consequences,” he said.
Welesani appealed to the political parties to exercise political tolerance and condemn violence whenever it manifests.
“We, the NGO Congress of Western Province demand for professionalism, impartiality and independence operations of government quasi/funded/supported to promote and sustain for our hard-earned democracy. The Ministry of Local Government had started appointing market and bus station boards to run markets and bus stations as opposed to councils directly running them, a strategy which has failed in the past, thereby, giving unscrupulous people room to start illegally collecting levies from marketers for their own personal enrichment,” he said. “Unfortunately, this has not helped as unscrupulous people including cadres have continued operating in the markets and collecting levies. We, as the NGO Congress of Western Province request the Office of PS to stop the running of these places by cadres or any other groupings that is not mandated by the laws of land.”
The Congress appealed to the government to create a conducive space for the operations of both public and private media houses.