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CORE VALUES

IT is good that Zambians across the country have continued to come out in unison and speak out against the latest Amnesty International report on Zambia.

In its report on Zambia, “Ruling by Fear and Repression,” AI claims the Zambian government has repressed the rights of its citizens through a reign of terror.

It claims that Zambians do not enjoy freedom of expression, assembly and association.  To crown it all, AI accuses Government of carrying out extra judicial killings.

In a nutshell, AI claims there is a total breakdown of law and order.  Yet, Zambia is one of the most peaceful countries in the world.

If anything, AI’s report reads like a script lifted from the many speeches made by one of the country’s leading opposition figures who is also among the presidential contestants in the August 12 tripartite elections.

This is a person who has preached and continues to do so to the world that there is a total breakdown of law and order – without any evidence.

No wonder Zambians are confused as to whether AI is reporting about the real Zambia that they know – for they live here – or another country with a similar name.

Zambians find it extremely hard to believe that they live in a “police state” as AI and other doomsayers want to portray.

On August 12, Zambians will be trooping to the polling booths to vote for a new president, members of Parliament, councillors as well as mayors and council chairpersons.

In the build up to the polling day, campaigning has been intense, though it has been curtailed owing to the deadly Covid-19 third wave sweeping through the country.

The death on June 17 of the country’s founding president, Dr Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda at the age of 97 has somehow slowed the campaign, with the ruling Patriotic Front suspending campaigning until after his July 7 burial.

Former Minister of Justice Given Lubinda rightly brushed off the report, noting that while the rest of the democratic world commended Zambia for holding peaceful elections since independence, AI only saw it fit to paint Zambia black for “sporadic and minor” incidents of violence, which are still regrettable but not unique to Zambia.

“There´s no all-out war in Zambia, this is a country ranked by several respectable international agencies as a beacon of peace on the continent,” Mr Lubinda said.

But former Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection Minister Raphael Nakacinda was not so diplomatic, accusing AI of being a propaganda tool of the UPND.

And Reformed Church in Zambia Reverend Charles Ngoma said the latest Amnesty International report does not reflect the real situation in the country.

International Human Rights Commission, Zambia Chapter president Kafula Mubanga for his part said claims by AI of alleged violation of human rights in Zambia should be treated as political assassination on the reputation of the country.

Yes, we realise this is an election year and some parties must be desperate to grab some attention but resorting to lies and propaganda will not impress Zambians.

Amnesty International must strive to be relevant in today’s world and stop pretending to be the global protector of human rights, a role it assigned itself at the height of the cold war by defending the so-called dissidents from the Eastern bloc.

The bottom line though is that Zambia is a thriving democracy that has its own values and won’t be cowed into adopting alien ideas to win acceptance.

It will always be Zambia and Zambians first.

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