Socialist Party spokesperson, Father Richard Luonde says the malicious media campaign against the ideologically left party is a sign of cowardice and unnecessary in a multi-party dispensation.
Fr. Luonde said there was no law in Zambia that barred anyone from exercising his political right through either by association or assembly.
“Part lll, article 21(1) of the constitution states that except with his consent no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of assembly or association, that is to say his rights to assemble freely and associate with other persons and particular to form or belong to a political party, Trade Union or association for protection of his interests,” he said. “Whilst there is a proviso in the law that restricts public officers as captioned under Article 21(2)(c) it is however quite specific on the public officers”.
Fr Luonde said the threats as reported in the media on recruitment of specified persons gives no legal effect to suggest that it was illegal for some members of the public to belong to an association or political party.
He said the SP had every right to admit into its membership anyone irrespective of their status in society.
“The PF government among its members are the retired military personnel and this is a general practice in most parts of the world and in Zambia the highest serving retired military personnel was General Malimba Masheke as Prime Minister of Zambia in the second republic,” he said. “Socialist Party treats any statements on the alleged expose’ of the Daily Nation article of the 19th January and subsequent threats from government as political”.
He expressed worry that the media could be used to propagate falsehoods when it was not complicated to verify such a story.
“We are comforted however that we are a grass root party and that our fresh and new ideas of political management will inevitably hurt many, especially the political elite,” Fr Luonde said.
He reminded the Patriotic Front government of its commitment to the 1993 Vienna Convention on the programme of Action which states that human rights and fundamental freedoms are a birthright of every human being, their protection and promotion as a first responsibility of every government.