Friday, March 12, 2010

PAZA describes deregistration of SACCORD as arbitrary

PAZA describes deregistration of SACCORD as arbitrary
By Masuzyo Chakwe
Fri 12 Mar. 2010, 09:10 CAT

RONNIE Shikapwasha’s deregistration of SACCORD was arbitrary, Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) vice president Amos Chanda has said.

Commenting on the High Court’s decision to uphold the deregistration of Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD), Chanda yesterday said the decision by the minister to deregister SACCORD was arbitrary because the reasons given were vague.

Information minister Lieutenant General Shikapwasha in 2004 as home affairs minister deregistered SACCORD on grounds that it engaged in activities that were inimical and a danger to national security but the institution appealed to the High Court.

The High Court last week upheld the decision of the minister to deregister the organisation.
Chanda said there was no clear demonstration that SACCORD threatened national security.

He said it was not justifiable in a democratic society for ministers to arbitrarily use sweeping statements such as national security.

Chanda said this took away the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals which in this case took away the right to assembly and free expression.

“That is why we are concerned as PAZA because we promote free expression and by deregistering SACCORD, the effect is that freedom of expression has been violated because the reason they associate as an umbrella of SACCORD is for purposes of free expression,” he said.

He said PAZA was alarmed that in a democratic society, such high-handed decisions must be meted out against citizens.

Chanda said while PAZA respected the court decisions, they were saddened that the High Court upheld such a decision.

“Whilst we respect the independence and integrity of the judiciary, we disagree with the decision of the High Court to endorse such an arbitrary action by the Minister of Home Affairs,” said Chanda.

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