The Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CiSCA) has strongly condemned the recent cancellation of former President Edgar Lungu’s travel plans to South Africa and South Korea by the Cabinet Office.
In a letter dated September 7, 2023, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet Dr. Oliver Kalabo communicated the Cabinet Office’s refusal of the former President’s request to travel to South Africa, providing no reasons for the denial. This decision came in response to a letter sent to Cabinet Office on August 16, 2023, by the office of the Sixth Republican President, indicating that the former President had been invited as a guest speaker, alongside other former regional Presidents, to a World Peace Conference scheduled to take place in Seoul. Shockingly, the trip to South Korea was abruptly canceled, and the former President was removed from the plane after having already boarded.
As a human rights advocacy group committed to promoting the rights and freedoms of all citizens, CiSCA emphasizes the importance of respecting Article 11(b) of the Constitution, which outlines the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. This article stipulates that every person in Zambia is entitled to fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to freedom of movement, regardless of race, place of origin, political opinions, color, creed, sex, or marital status. Article 22 specifically guarantees the right to leave Zambia and return to Zambia.
Former President Lungu’s attempts to travel abroad were merely exercising his right to movement, as provided for under the freedom of movement enshrined in Article 22. The government’s decision to restrict his travel to South Korea without justifiable reasons is deemed unconstitutional and unacceptable, especially considering the lack of explanations for the denial, in stark contrast to the South Africa trip, where clearance had been sought but was rejected without providing reasons.
Given that the medical review is not time-bound and the World Peace Conference is scheduled for September 20, 2023, CiSCA unequivocally demands that former President Lungu be allowed to immediately exercise his constitutional rights to travel to South Africa for medical attention and to South Korea to participate in the World Peace Conference in Seoul.
Acting CiSCA Chairperson