“No state of emergency, it will worsen the economic situation”

Green Party president Peter Sinkamba has urged President Edgar Lungu not to even contemplating declaring a state of emergency because it will worsen the economic situation.

Sinkamba stated this in a statement Thursday evening following President Lungu’s warning in the morning in Livingstone.

Below is the statement:

The news from Livingstone that President Edgar Lungu may contemplate declaration of the state of emergency is extremely worrisome to us as the Green Party. We would like to appeal to the President to exercise maximum restraint on invocation of emergence powers at this point in time because instead of achieving socio-political objectives, the declaration is likely to unwarrantedly hurt the economic situation in the country.

A declaration of state of emergency will surely scare away most economic partners. In particular, it will invariably dissuade the IMF from the US$1.6 billion bail-out Zambia. Since emergence powers authorize the taking of possession or control by government of any property or undertaking as well as limiting or suspending civil liberties and human rights, these measures run afoul with IMF policies. In essence, a state of emergency will entail that all the good work that Minister of Finance Felix Mutati has done so far to secure the bail-out to stem the US$800million loan-repayment default goes down the drain. In addition, such measures will unduly scare away foreign direct investment. This means the US$2.8billion plans to refinance the Euro-bond will be a pipe-dream.

We strongly believe that the sporadic arson that the country is currently witnessing in some parts of the country is not extraordinary to warrant implementation of emergency law which invariably leads to restrictions on normal economic, civil or political activity and rights in order to address the extraordinary circumstances that have given rise to the emergency situation. We do not believe that the situation is exceptional as to warrant limiting or suspending civil liberties and human rights. It neither poses a fundamental threat to the country nor presents an imminent danger to any community. The arson situation can be ably dealt with by merely elevating security surveillance without necessarily declaring a state of emergency.

Emergency powers should only become necessary or expedient to secure public safety, the defence of the Republic, the maintenance of public order and the suppression of mutiny, rebellion and riot, and for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community in the event of a natural disaster, civil unrest, an epidemic, a financial or economic crisis or a widespread and pervasive general strike. Only then can certain restrictions may be fully justified.

Furthermore, there is a danger that government may take advantage of a state of emergency to introduce unwarranted restrictions on human rights and civil liberties, not only to neutralize political opponents, but also for other self-serving purposes. This may give rise to “constitutional dictatorship”. We therefore urge President Lungu not run that risk.

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