Friday, June 11, 2010

Women’s conference denounces Rupiah’s govt in communique

Women’s conference denounces Rupiah’s govt in communique
By Agness Changala
Fri 11 June 2010, 14:00 CAT

WOMEN from the 10 African countries that attended the meeting which was disrupted by a police officer Chushi have signed a communiqué denouncing President Rupiah Banda’s governance record. Police on Tuesday harassed Mandevu member of Parliament Jean Kapata on suspicion that she had convened an illegal women’s meeting at Lusaka’s Hotel Intercontinental.

The conference was attended by members of parliament and civil society activists from Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia.

In a communiqué signed by all conference participants, on June 9, 2010, African women’s Development and communications Network (FEMNET) immediate past chairperson Sara Longwe observed that the Zambian police starkly brought into question whether the government had any respect for an individual’s fundamental rights to freedom of movement, freedom of association and freedom of expression as enshrined in the Zambian Constitution and the various international and regional human rights instruments reaffirming these rights which the State had acceded to.

Longwe said police action represented an attack on all the progress that Zambian women had made in their participation in the affairs of the country at all levels.

“In addition, the action is a violation of the above mentioned fundamental human rights and an attempt to suffocate women’s voices by intimidating women in the political opposition and civil society organizations,” Longwe said.

She said the blatant attack on the legitimate regional women’s leadership conference was outrageously embarrassing for Zambia, and portrayed Zambia as resembling a dictatorship with government monitoring women’s political activities aimed at silencing the thought provoking voices of women.

Longwe observed that at the time of the police intrusion, the conference room and the adjoining corridors were swarming with media personnel who could have provided the police full and accurate information on the nature of the meeting which Kapata attended.

She said participants expressed dismay and anger at the unprofessional and unacceptable behaviour the police in particular Chushi.

Longwe explained that Lusaka police commanding officer Greenwell Ng’uni was contacted on the embarrassing development and he confirmed that the police had acted on a rumour that he received about Kapata holding an illegal Patriotic Front (PF) meeting at the said hotel.

She said Ng’uni told them that as a result, police had gone to the hotel to confirm the rumour by talking to her.

The conference was organized by FEMNET and supported by Non-Governmental Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC), Zambia Association for Research and Development (ZARD) and officially opened by acting gender minister Dr Brian Chituwo.

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