The news that President Edgar Lungu is once again contemplating invoking emergency powers to declare a State of Emergency is extremely worrying to us as the Green Party.
Invoking a State of Emergency is a violent response to violence.
As we have always stated, violence, whether by the State, bandits, vandals or terrorist, and in whatever form, and for whatever reasons, is almost always self-defeating because it breeds more and more violence. The ultimate victims are innocent souls who many a time have nothing to do with the scores the perpetrators intend to settle with their perceived enemies.
Invoking the State of Emergency is State-sponsored terror in that the police, army, and other security agencies are given unlimited power to reign terror on innocent citizens through dusk-to-dawn curfews where citizens will be unwarrantedly arrested and detained; citizens will be deprived of their rights to privacy and subjected to humiliating house and body searches; right to freedom of movement will be curtained, including right to ownership of private property and other rights. Such measures will only exacerbate tension and divisions in the nation.
As the Green Party, we believe the declaration of the State of Emergency is extremely uncalled for at this point in time, not only because the emergency measures will deprive citizens of their constitutional rights, but is likely also adversely hurt the economy. The emergency measures will surely scare away the donors, investors and tourists. Our economy is too fragile to endure such economic fallout.
In this regard, we implore the President to exercise maximum restraint on invocation of emergency powers. The negative consequences of such measures by far out-weigh the positive outcomes. If anything, invoking emergency powers is like playing in the hands of perpetrators of acts of sabotage. The primary objective sabotage acts is to aggravate ill-feelings and more violence so as to plunge the nation into terror, humiliation and anarchy. If State response is by way of more terror, through the State of Emergency, then the saboteurs will achieve their objective.
Our view as the Green Party is that instead of invoking emergency powers, the President, as the Commander-in-Chief, should better still order for a mobilization and deployment of all Army, Police, National Service and other defence and security, who were trained by the United Nations and African Union in peace keeping and observer missions tactics to guard strategic public and private installations countrywide, with unequivocal instructions to abide by constitutional imperatives.
Our defence and security agency have excelled across the world in terms of peace-keeping and observer duties. They need to replicate their achievements abroad here at home. Meantime, whilst the troops restore order, most importantly, we the politicians should immediately go into a dialogue mode to resolve our differences and chart a peaceful way forward. There is need to urgently reform institutions that have gotten the nation into this ill-fated situation of terror, tension, disunity, and deep hatred, especially the Constitutional Court and the Electoral Commission of Zambia. We should not continue burying our heads in the sand pretending there is no problem when our nation is slowly and surely getting into political and security decay.