Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, an umbrella body of civic society organisations operating in Zimbabwe calls for peace and respect of citizens’ fundamental rights ahead of elections in Zambia.
Reports of clashes between supporters of the ruling party, the Patriotic Front (PF) and the main opposition, United Party for National Development (UPND) are regrettable and we call upon contestants to observe peace ahead of the August 12 (2021) polls.
We note with concern the clampdown on the opposition and the independent media by the State ahead of the Zambian elections as well as machinations to thwart fundamental freedoms such as access to information, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.
The persecution of UPND candidate, Hakainde Hichilema points to an uneven playing ground ahead of the elections. Parties and candidates should be afforded equal rights and protections.
Questions have also been raised over the technical aspects of the election and we call upon the Electoral Commission of Zambia to exercise transparency and accountability in line with the tenets of free, fair and credible elections.
As Chair of the Human Rights and Governance cluster of the Southern African People’s Solidarity Network, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition calls for free, fair and credible polls that will strengthen the sovereign will of our sisters and brothers in Zambia.
We note with concern reports of police being implicated in rights violations as well as the deployment of the army, ostensibly to deal with political violence.
Deploying the army raises fears of rights violations hence we urge the Zambian government to ensure the army is restricted to the barracks. The deployment of the army amounts to intimidation and we reiterate that free and fair elections cannot be held in an atmosphere of fear.
Zambia must take lessons from Zimbabwe, where, on August 1 2018, 6 innocent civilians were shot in cold blood after the government deployed the army against citizens who were protesting against alleged electoral theft.
Free, fair and credible polls are a panacea to addressing the current economic decline in Zambia.