The following statement was issued by the non-governmental organization Oasis Forum:
The Oasis Forum and its constituent members are appalled and shocked by the behaviour of Patriotic Front (PF) cadres who attacked a peaceful gathering of several civil society organisations, yesterday, 31 May 2013, inside the Church of the Bible Gospel Outreach Church in Africa (BIGOCA) situated in Matero township, Lusaka. The consortium of civil society, exercising their rights, were gathered to pray and peacefully protest Government’s removal of subsidies on Maize meal, agriculture and fuel.
That PF cadres, wielding sticks and all manner of offensive instruments descended upon innocent citizens, Church leaders, journalists, cameramen and some politicians in a Church, is unprecedented and totally shocking.
Having spoken to some of our injured colleagues, we are left without any doubt that blame is to be laid squarely on the shoulders of leaders of the Patriotic Front Government and the kind of intolerance that they are introducing into our politics. The manner of the violence suggests pre-meditated and planned behaviour. We have said it before: This is evil and wrong. The Oasis Forum condemns the perpetrators of this violence and calls upon them to embrace civil ways of co-existence.
We further lament the diminishing space for dissent in Zambia. In our democratic set-up, citizens and opposition political parties must be accorded legitimate space to register different opinions, for example, through peaceful protests. Government must not be seen to stifle genuine disagreement.
Once again, we call upon the Zambia Police to be impartial and to protect all citizens of Zambia at all times. The manner in which the Zambia Police currently operates leaves much to be desired.
Rev. Suzanne Matale
Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ)
Law Association of Zambia (LAZ)
Fr. Cleophas Lungu
Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC)
Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC)