The Oasis Forum is alarmed at the increasingly trend of political intimidation and physical attacks against citizens and members of the private media. Recently Lusaka based Komboni Radio Director, Lesa Kasoma Nyirenda was physically harassed by the police while Prime TV staff were summoned by the police for allegedly communicating information from what is alleged to be a classified information. Oasis Forum Chairperson Fr. Cleophas Lungu said this at a media briefing in Lusaka on Wednesday 19th October, 2016. The Oasis Forum has since welcomed the apology of the Republican Vice-President over the unfortunate remarks she passed after the assault of Komboni radio Director and that the remarks were unwarranted. “These attacks appear to be an attempt by government to diminish dissenting voices of citizens to achieve their own end. The Republic of Zambia is still a constitutional democracy. For democracy to thrive, basic human rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of movement and freedom of association must be allowed to exist without impediment. This allows for the free flow of information to the Zambian citizens as well as the Zambian government who will subsequently be in a better position to understand what it is that the Zambian people need and want,” Fr. Lungu said. “Democracy also demands that everyone should be heard whether their views are in tandem with the status quo or not. All people are created equal and therefore their views, whether we agree with them or not, must be heard and accommodated in a democratic dispensation,” he added. Meanwhile the Oasis Forum has called on the government to quickly find resources for the holding of another referendum. The Forum stated that the just failed referendum that was held simultaneously with the last General Elections, was as the result of poor timing of it and the lack of awareness of its importance by the public. “Whilst we are aware that the referendum on the proposed and enhanced bill of rights was not successful we believe that this was due to the inopportune timing of it and the lack of awareness as of the importance of having an enhanced bill rights. We can cannot stress enough how crucial it is to the welfare of the Zambian people that the resources be found to conduct another referendum as soon as possible. We strongly believe that the said referendum must be people driven and avoid any connotation of spear heading a partisan agenda,” Fr. Lungu said. Oasis Forum Chairperson notes in order to address some of the shortfalls in our current constitution, as it has been demonstrated by the unfortunate series of events that has rocked the country in the last few weeks, there is need for the introduction of an enhanced bill of rights. “There is an urgent need for enactment of the enhanced bill of rights we believe as Oasis Forum that the unfortunate series of events exemplifies the need for the introduction of an enhanced bill of rights to address some of the shortfalls in our current constitution such as the lack of the right against arbitrary detention which is evident currently, the lack of the right to media freedom and the right to freedom of information. The Oasis Forum is a consortium Church Mother bodies, Law Association of Zambia and NGOs in the country.
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