Alliance for Community Action (ACA) executive director Laura Miti says President Edgar Lungu is threatening Zambia’s democracy by “declaring a Threatened State of Emergency on unsubstantiated grounds”.

In a statement, Miti said under the declared status, citizens’ ability to fully live their lives would be compromised.

“We at the Alliance for Community Action are expressing our deep concern at this invocation of Article 31. Our core business is to advocate for the prudent management of public resources in such a manner that translates to all citizens enjoying the full and equitable benefit of the resources the country possesses. In our current circumstances, the ACA considers our democracy a public resource without which citizens’ ability to fully live their lives will be compromised,” Miti stated.

“It is the ACA’s considered view that in starting the process that could end in a full declaration of a state of emergency on what we consider to be very unsubstantiated grounds, the President is threatening our democracy. The President, in listing a number of incidents which he says necessitated his action, did not share with the nation how the activities had been dealt with conclusively by the security wings. The President critically failed to explain to the nation what findings led him to the conclusion that the fires are cases of sabotage.”

He said President Lungu needed to be more accountable to the people before taking an extreme measure.

“The ACA would like to state that it is the duty of the President to ensure that he is fully accountable to the people of Zambia. Before he invoked article 31, he should have provided the nation with a full account of steps that the law enforcement agencies had taken to address the spate of fires and how the powers they currently hold without invocation of Article 31, had proved inadequate,” Miti stated.

“At this time, what the nation needs to ask itself is: how did we get to a point in which the President declares the nation essentially ungovernable and seeks to encroach on citizens’ ability to enjoy full rights as he declared at the Kenneth Kaunda International airport on arrival from the AU summit.”

She said without President Lungu explaining and disclosing the findings of the investigative wings over the spate of fires in the country, citizens will be forced to consider his declaration as an abuse of authority.

“It is the ACA’s considered view that with the conditions for its invocation not fully explained to the nation, the current invocation is an abuse of power by the President that will lead to higher levels of tension in the country. We note too that the President himself declared tension to be entirely absent in the nation less than two weeks ago,” said Miti.
“We call upon all peace loving Zambians to peacefully and lawfully resist any attempts by government to take backward strides in our democracy. It is in times like this that citizens must protect their rights against state encroachment. In saying this, we also earnestly call on citizens to resist any temptation to break the law. Silence at this point is however not an option for anyone that loves Zambia. Those we elect serve at our pleasure. They must be held to account for their exercise of the authority we bestow on them to run the country.”