THE Human Rights Commission says it is government’s duty to end victimization based on political affiliation in markets and bus stations as merely setting up boards cannot be effective.

Reacting to local government minister Vincent Mwale’s pronouncement that government would establish boards to run markets and bus stations in a statement yesterday, HRC spokesperson Mweelwa Muleya stated that government intervention was needed to restore order in the markets.

“The government, as a primary duty bearer, is responsible for the protection of human rights violations by third parties such as political party cadres or those purporting to be agents of the ruling party. Unless the government can decisively act now on ending lawlessness and human rights violations by political cadres in markets and bus stations, the establishment of Markets and Bus Stations Boards will not in itself resolve the violence, extortion and discrimination currently taking place,” Muleya stated.

Muleya however observed that the implementation of the Markets and Bus Stations Act No. 7 of 2007 was long overdue.

“The full implementation of the Markets and Bus Stations Act No. 7 of 2007 is long overdue and this has contributed to a situation where powerful and unscrupulous private individuals have taken over the running of public facilities. The operationalization of the Markets and Bus Stations Fund as provided for in the Act is also long overdue as it will contribute to a revolving fund for rehabilitation of existing infrastructure and construction of new markets and bus stations to improve access to utilisation of these public facilities,” stated Muleya.

“Reported cases of individuals being beaten and hounded out of markets and bus stations on account of their actual or perceived political affiliations are disturbing as they constitute discrimination which is a serious violation of human rights. Markets and bus stations are public facilities and the Government has a legal obligation to protect everyone from any form of discrimination and exclusion from freely accessing and benefiting from public facilities.”

Muleya stated that it was important to depoliticize the running of markets and bus stations because most vulnerable people depended on them for their livelihood.

Last month, PF secretary general Davies Mwila met PF officials in Kabwe and told them that they had the power to share land amongst themselves before advertising the rest.

Mwila also castigated them for failing to take over the running of bus stations in the town saying it was unacceptable to have UPND cadres ‘in charge’.

But when challenged by Mazabuka UPND member of parliament Garry Nkombo, who rose on a point of order in Parliament, Mwale claimed it was not true that PF officials were the ones inciting lawlessness.