CHAPTER One Foundation says this year’s independence celebration comes at a time when Zambians are losing hope in the State’s ability to protect them physically, economically and socially.
Executive director Linda Kasonde has urged the government to reflect on the last 10 years of Zambia’s decline in democratic values and good governance.
Kasonde said the nation was experiencing heightened corruption, lawfare and extreme levels of police brutality against civilians which continue to go unsanctioned by the State.
She said the nationally witnessed inhumane arrest of National Democratic Congress leader Chishimba Kambwili’s wife Carol and daughter Chanda by police, the cancellation of Prime TV’s broadcasting licence ‘in the interest of public safety, security, peace, welfare or good order’, and the continued extortion and intimidation of private civilians by ruling party cadres were the examples.
“The selective application of the law and rampant corruption is plaguing the nation. Similarly, the Covid pandemic has exposed the fragility of our social systems and healthcare institutions which threaten the social development of the Zambian people, a majority of whom live below the poverty line and are in desperate need of State support,” she said. “Additionally, the economic contraction observed by the rapid depreciation of the kwacha, rising inflation, the worsening public debt and increasing prices of essential goods, have greatly impacted the purchasing power of all Zambians.”
Kasonde said this had further impacted the unemployment rates, particularly among the youth, who were emerging as the most distressed group of Zambian citizens.
“For most of our independence, Zambia has been a beacon of peace and democracy. We have exemplified peaceful transitions of power on the African continent whilst setting a strong foundation to build accountable and responsive systems of governance,” she said. “Over the last ten years, Zambia has experienced a rapid weakening of its democratic system. This includes increased limitations on freedoms of expression, assembly, and association. We have also seen increases in the weaponisation of the law against individuals and groups dissenting against State actions and systems.”
Kasonde said as the country celebrates the 56th independence anniversary, it was imperative that Zambians and the government promote and protect progressive democratic civil, political, social, economic and human rights to improve the country’s ailing economy and democracy.
She said the State must review its injurious policies and systems that have allowed for the country’s social and economic failures, and additionally, condemn actions by State machinery that directly and indirectly affect the human rights and freedoms of Zambians.
“After fifty-six years of independence, our fore-bearers would be disappointed by the condition of the Republic of Zambia for which they fought so hard to create. Police brutality, corruption, political insecurity, the deteriorating civic space and anarchy run rampant in the country with few ramifications,” Kasonde said.
She urged the government, political parties and private citizens to loudly promote the directives in the preamble of the Constitution, which include: “Uphold the human rights and fundamental freedoms of every person; Commit ourselves to upholding the principles of democracy and good governance; Resolve to ensure that our values relating to family, morality, patriotism and justice are maintained and all functions of the State are performed in our common interest; and Direct that all State organs and State institutions abide by and respect our sovereign will”.
Kasonde said the integrity of Zambia rests on the ability of the State to accept their role in the on-going decline of the country’s social, economic and democratic systems.
She said the State should provide effective solutions that would prioritise the wishes of the Zambian people in search of hope for a better and stronger Zambia.