Vernon Mwaanga says Zambia was supposed to be a thriving multiparty democracy, since 1991, where all registered political parties are entitled to operate freely.
“All parties are entitled to unfettered access to the voters through holding card renewals, public meetings, marches and even demonstrations,” says Mwaanga.
While Zambia constitutionally is a multiparty political system, the ruling the Patriotic Front is using authoritarian means to keep itself in power.
The opposition’s ability to operate is severely constrained, and journalists and activists who air criticism of Edgar Lungu or the Patriotic Front are regularly harassed.
The ruling party dominates the state apparatus and uses the police and other administrative resources to marginalise, disrupt, and suppress independent political activity.
Freedom of assembly, while nominally protected under the Constitution, is not respected in practice. Permits are required for public assemblies.
Police often use violence to disperse peaceful assemblies.
Human rights groups that work on politically sensitive matters cannot operate freely and are often the target of government harassment and intimidation.
Though workers may legally join unions and strike, the government has been known to intimidate labour leaders and obstruct union activities. The Ministry of Labour has broad discretion over union registration, allowing it to support pro-government unions and deny recognition to independent labour groups.
The courts are not independent of the government and reportedly suffer from corruption.
Allegations of politically motivated prosecutions are common, and opposition groups consistently accuse the government of sanctioning arbitrary arrests and detentions.
Under these conditions it’s impossible to have a meaningful multiparty democracy.