COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya says it doesn’t make sense that government is blocking youths from protesting when they have followed the correct procedure.

And Fr Chikoya says the ruling Patriotic Front should stop taking advantage of COVID-19 to deny opposition parties their right to gather.

In an interview, Fr Chikoya said youths had a right to express themselves.

“The youths have the freedom to express themselves and a protest is enshrined in the Constitution not in the Minister of Home Affairs, not in the President’s office it is a constitutional provision. The police are supposed to protect the constitution of Zambia and not individuals. I think there was a just a condemnation by the government spokesperson (Dora Siliya) on the people that stormed the radio stations who are actually criminals. They broke the law and they are still walking in streets and nothing has been done to them. So what kind of law do we have in Zambia? A law that is used to intimidate people that have followed procedure, they have notified because it is a right to express themselves. Why is it that our leaders are so inclined to hearing or allowing people that speak their language to thrive and break the law?” Fr Chikoya asked.

“I think the problem that we have are the people that have the privilege of being stewards of leadership that are failing us. So I think it is not in order for people to be threatened because they want to express themselves. People should be able to go to parliament and be able to petition and not only have those that sing the songs that others want to hear, including those that will sing another song. We should be thriving to be democratic country. Looking at the young people’s concerns for example, this is a fact, why should our mines be taken away? Why should we be repeating the same mistakes that we were having with all these other copper mines?”

And Fr Chikoya wondered why President Edgar Lungu held political gatherings over the weekend without adhering to COVID-19 regulations while the opposition was not allowed to gather.

“They are taking advantage of this COVID-19 scenario. I read in the paper the other day there should not be political gatherings, enough of this! This has to stop. Let other voices be heard. The President was present and there was no social distance, this proves that you are denying other people to be heard. If really we have democracy that we have, we must make sure that all other stakeholders are allowed to work, they are allowed to meet. It is a lie that the PF are not meeting, they are. They should allow other political parties to meet even if they have small gatherings, let them have. I mean, what we saw on the papers, there was no centimeter even in between people and then you are telling other people to abide by COVID regulations?” asked Fr Chikoya.

“The issue of do as I say and not do as I do is not going to hold water. Can our leaders wise up, can our leaders be honest and can our leaders be fair. They were crying foul when they were in the opposition and now they are in the transit seat, they should not forget and have a short memory of their experiences. We want to see a Zambia that is thriving economically, politically, spiritually, not a situation where I should not be looking over my back. There should be freedom of expression that must be there. Yes, we should respect the personalities that lead us but we should not live in fear of them we must always make sure that if they contradict the constitution, we guide them that is why we are there.”