Zambia approaches elections amid repression says amnesty. Zimbabwe, Harare-Zambia is “on the verge of a human rights crisis,” Amnesty International said on Monday, claiming President Edgar Lungu was using repressive tactics to win another term in the elections scheduled for August 12.
Zambia has a good record of holding scheduled elections since multi-party democracy was reintroduced in 1991 by the late founding president Kenneth Kaunda, who had presided over a one-party system for over 20 years.
Count retired after 27 years in power, accepting defeat. When Count died earlier this month at the age of 97, he was widely hailed as a politician and a respected father figure. A country of 18 million people, Zambia has a reputation for being a stable democracy on a continent where elections often lead to conflict.
Amnesty International accuses Lungu of trying to reverse these gains.
“The human rights situation has deteriorated sharply,” said Amnesty, the 64-year-old rungu ruler who first came to power in 2015 after winning controversial provisional elections to end the term of populist leader Michael Sata, who died in office. Lungu was then elected for a five-year term in 2016, but his main rival again insisted on fraud.
If he wins, this will be Lungu’s last term in office and Amnesty International is claiming he is using repression to ensure victory. Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International East South Africa Director, said: “What we have witnessed, especially in Zambia over the past five years, is the increasingly brutal repression of human rights.
In a report titled “Government by Fear and Repression,” the human rights group said Zambia had witnessed numerous police killings, arrests of opposition leaders, and media closures in “an atmosphere of fear and impunity.” Social media activists are not safe, Amnesty International said, citing a 15-year-old case awaiting trial for three crimes after accusing Lungu on Facebook.
Lungu previously denied suppressing the opposition and promised free and fair elections at a meeting with foreign diplomats earlier this year. Lungu faces more than a dozen other contenders, but his main rival is Hakainde Hichilema, who barely lost in 2015 and 2016.
Lungu secured his health after collapsing earlier this month. Zambia, Africa’s second-largest producer of copper, is facing an economic crisis exacerbated by the revived spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks.