Civil Society in Zambia Under Threat: African Monitor and the Africa Working Group Strongly Condemn the Arrest of Lewis Mwape
The harassment and arrest of civil society leaders and citizens for exercising their right to protest is a strong indicator that a government is willing to trample on civil liberties. In Zambia’s case, this is alarming as freedom of assembly and association is protected in Article 21 of the Constitution.
African Monitor and the Africa Working Group stand in solidarity with Mr. Lewis Mwape, the Executive Director of Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) and five other leaders of Civil Society in Zambia who were arrested and charged by the Zambian Police a few days ago. Further, we strongly condemn the use of police force and cohesion on citizens who protest against corruption. These Zambian Civil Society activists were arrested for standing up against a corrupt tender process, where 42 fire tenders were acquired at a cost of $1million each in Zambia – that’s a total of $42 million, an amount far too exorbitant for the type and quality of trucks acquired. Instead of answering civil society calls for transparency and accountability in the tender process, the government of Zambia chose to arrest its citizens.
Throughout history, protests have been a key way for people to express dissatisfaction or support for important decisions taken by government. It is everyone’s right to peacefully protest, assemble or to present petitions without intimidation.
Mr Mwape and the five leaders are scheduled to appear in court on Friday, 27 October 2017. Instead of this farce and waste of resources, we demand that charges against civil society leaders should be dropped; and instead an inquiry instituted on the corrupt 42-million-dollar expenditure. As African civil society, our support for Zambian activists, civil society and citizens at large is unequivocal.
The Africa Working Group is an Africa wide network of over 200 civil society organisations working to achieve sustainable development in Africa.
African Monitor is a pan-African organisation based in South Africa, working on sustainable development and governance in Africa.
ISSUED BY: AFRICAN MONITOR and the AFRICA WORKING GROUP