THE Human Rights Commission says it is concerned about the aftermath of the 2021 general elections should nothing be done to stop the ongoing trend of political violence.
Speaking at a two-day workshop in Choma, commission spokesperson Mwelwa Muleya said the HRC had noted with dismay the emerging cases of violence in a democratic environment where political parties should just compete on ideas.
“As Human Rights Commission we are extremely worried about the ongoing trend of political violence at any democratic platforms where people are merely supposed to compete with ideas such as elections especially that next year we will have general elections. We don’t know how the situation will be if nothing is done to stop this trend now,” Muleya said.
He said rights to freedom of individuals and organisations as well as of association were very important especially for political parties.
“We are here in Southern Province to discuss two things namely, death penalty in relation to the right to life, and freedom of expression in relation to the public order Act. So as a province we are here to get your views about these two issues and to remind you that you should start liaising as political parties for peace’s sake which ultimately brings development,” Muleya said.
He said the workshop was not exclusive to Southern Province but all provinces in the country would be covered.
“We as a Commission are happy that since 1997 no president has signed death penalty…This has been deemed as progressive because it respects the right to life,” Muleya said.
And opening the workshop, Southern Province permanent secretary Mwangala Liomba said he expected participants to be candid in their deliberations by calling a spade a spade.
Liomba thanked President Edgar Lungu for sanctioning such a programme to get views from the public.
“Laws are there in place but how to implement them…. As for politicians what is the challenge for failing to cooperate with the law? Some of you are even assembling in private homes without police permit and when the law visits you, you cry the loudest,” said Liomba.
He wondered why politicians despite knowing the guidelines of the law but still go ahead to break them.
“There is no government that wants its people to be victimised. So let’s learn to notify police and no one will victimise you. We are lucky that we have leaders whose conviction regarding life has been good because they have not effected death sentence,” Liomba said.
He said life must be preserved because it is sacred.
“We have had bad examples of people in the Bible who were given second chance hence the need for us also to preserve life. We can be forgiven if we are able to forgive others,” said Liomba. “Today as participants it is our opportunity to use this chance to share views and also tell others out there. These two issues at hand are very important because they touch our lives.”
He urged the participants to look at the issues objectively so that they don’t misrepresent Choma residents.