Today we mark Africa Freedom Day. We celebrate important political milestones with pride, and we commemorate those who made great sacrifices to achieve these advances.
As we observe this day with our friends, family and fellow Zambians we must reflect and ask ourselves what we can do to protect and progress this precious inheritance. Today we should be celebrating a new achievement and step towards greater freedom guaranteed by a 21st century constitution. More than 50 years since independence and more that 20 years since the advent of multi-party democracy, we should be celebrating the delivery of a new people-driven constitution.
A constitution that through its Bill of Rights enshrines valuable protection of various rights for Zambians, including the freedom of expression, the freedom of the media, and various socio-economic rights such as the right to free primary and secondary education for Zambian children.
While we in the UPND are proud of the strong position of Zambia historically as a peaceful and democratic nation, even playing an important role in the struggle for independence and freedom elsewhere in the region, we are refusing to accept the status quo until the rights of all Zambians are constitutionally protected and respected by government.
The events of the past few weeks that have seen yet more attempts to regulate and monitor my movements are just one public example of how not all citizens are treated equally and that protection of these rights is currently insufficient. It is just the latest reminder of why in addition to introducing the new constitution we must also reform the Public Order Act so it is no longer open to abuse.
We will continue to champion these policies in the interests of all Zambians. Government is there to serve the people and if it cannot introduce basic provisions to protect the freedoms of its citizens then we believe it is failing in its most necessary function.
The proper protection of fundamental human rights is also an essential foundation for progress and proper socio-economic development. We will also continue to push for economic empowerment and liberation through our advocacy of increased investment in education, support for local businesses and training initiatives, improved access to credit for youths, and an end to any discrimination based on age, gender, or tribe.
Have a blessed and restful African Freedom Day.
“Together, We Can”