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Joint Zambian CSOs Press Release– Police Unconstitutional Prevention of The Right to Gather
  • By Panos
  • June 4, 2024
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Joint Zambian CSOs Press Release– Police Unconstitutional Prevention of The Right to Gather

Lusaka, 3rd June 2024: It is with a sense of increasing alarm that we, the undersigned civil society organisations (CSOs), note the incessant incidents of police prevention of opposition party rallies and gatherings of any actors considered critical of government.

Specifically, the organisations issuing this statement collectively condemn the use of the Police to prevent the New Heritage Party rally that was scheduled to be held in Mandevu, Lusaka, last Saturday, 1st June 2024. Further, we express our extreme concern at how still in Mandevu, UPND cadres brandished weapons threatening violence and disturbing the lives of ordinary citizens. We note that, while the Police were out in full force and numbers in Mandevu, there was no attempt to prevent the criminality of the cadres or arrest them.

We would like to bring to the attention of government and the public that almost exactlythree years ago, on the 31st May 2021, civil society issued a joint statement against the then Inspector General of Police, who had threatened to prosecute attendees of Zoom meetings hosted by the then President of the Resident Doctors’ Association of Zambia.

We raise our previous statement to show that the current government is unwisely taking the well-worn path of previous others who abused the Police for political interests. We would like to remind the governing UPND party of its statements, while in opposition, promising Zambia full adherence to the rule of law. We especially remind President Hichilema of his repeated personal promises that cadre lawlessness and disruption of citizen lives would never be countenanced under his presidency.

It is our view that those promises are being broken with shocking licence.

We jointly remind the Government and the Police that the constitutional rights of citizens must be respected even when the exercise of those rights is inconvenient for government. Government must expect and live with opposition rallies and criticism by citizens. Being in office does not turn a political party or its leaders into gods.  Silencing any voices, including those of critics and opposition actors, goes against the basic tenets of democracy. Our considered position is that even where citizens wishing to gather are likely to criticise government, this is not a legal reason to prevent them from gathering.

Finally, we call on citizens to stand together against government actions that regress on the gains we have made. Democracy must be defended, or else politicians do their best to kill it.

Signed by:

Laura Miti

Executive Director, Alliance for Community Action


On behalf of:

Alliance for Accountability Advocates Zambia

Bloggers of Zambia


Centre for Trade and Policy Development

Christian Churches Monitoring Group

Council of Churches Zambia

GEARS Initiative Zambia

Non-Governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC)

Panos Institute Southern Africa

Peoples Action for Accountability and Good Governance in Zambia (PAAGGZ)

Transparency International Zambia

Zambia Council for Social Development