Following attacks by State House targeted at the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president James Banda, the Oasis Forum has responded strongly to defend the lawyers’ body urging the PF government to respect its critics.
Below is the Statement issued by the Oasis Forum
To: News Editors
For Immediate release. 14 December 2012.
The Oasis Forum Stands together with the Law Association of Zambia
There is no doubt that Zambia, today, is at a crossroads.
We, the undersigned, having consulted within our organisations, find it to be in bad taste the attempts by the Patriotic Front (PF) Government and State House officials to demonise and try to isolate the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ).
We are dismayed by statements aimed at LAZ as an organisation and in particular its president, Mr. James Banda. The President of LAZ, Mr. James Banda, speaks on behalf of the association and usually after wide consultation and deliberation by the various committees of LAZ. To vilify him in his individual capacity is therefore grossly unfair and highly divisive.
As the Oasis Forum, we wish it to be known that we stand solidly with LAZ and fully support the stance taken by the association on several issues that are of concern to all well-meaning Zambians.
We support wholeheartedly the position of LAZ on the Public Order Act and we commend them for taking, to the High Court of Zambia, this matter of the Public Order Act and Statutory Instrument No.33. We agree with LAZ that the way the PF Government is going about implementing the Public Order Act is both high-handed and “unreasonable”.
The PF Government is abusing the Zambia Police and infringing, with impunity, the freedoms of citizens. The recent arrest of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) leadership, on the Copperbelt, is one such case in point.
Similarly, we are solidly behind other positions taken by the LAZ such as the need (among others) to interrogate the current practice on who can be acting president in the absence of the Republican President; the need to protect the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) from being intimidated as the Republican President attempted to do when he recently insisted that the ACC inform him if investigating senior Government officials. We expected the Republican President to reprimand the Justice Minister, Hon. Wynter Kabimba, for his conduct at the ACC offices. We are equally concerned and join LAZ in condemning the unprecedented spate of deportations and revocations to remain in Zambia by the Government.
We believe these deportations are illegal and an abuse of the deportation Act by the current Minister of Home Affairs.
As key stakeholders in the affairs of this nation we are alarmed at the speed with which the PF Government is reversing the many hard-won democratic gains of the Zambian people.
We wish to remind this Government that we have come a long way, as a nation, and we will not sit and watch as the PF Government attempts to re-introduce a de-facto one party state in this country either through costly and unnecessary bye –elections or through intimidation of critics.
We therefore call for an end to detentions, arbitrary arrests, harassment and intimidation of all those critical of Government and of the PF.
We wish to remind the Republican President, Mr. Michael Sata, that at his inauguration as President, he stood in front of the Supreme Court and before the whole nation and with his hand on the Bible swore to God and Zambia that he would preserve, protect and defend the Republican Constitution. Soon afterwards he personally proclaimed that he would rule this nation on Christian principles. We would like to see him do more of these things.
It is imperative that Zambians unite as we have done in the past to resist this new attempt to take us backwards. Governments are good only when citizens are vigilant.
OASIS FORM CONVENERS
Fr. Cleophas Lungu (Secretary General, Zambia Episcopal Conference – ZEC)
Rev. Suzanne Matale (General Secretary, Council of Churches in Zambia – CCZ)
Ms. Beatrice Grillo (Chairperson, Non Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council – NGOCC)