The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has urged stakeholders attending the second Summit for Democracy in Lusaka to focus on Zambia’s commitments to democracy made during the first Summit in 2021. The HRC spokesperson, Mwelwa Muleya, explained that the second summit is designed to review the progress made on implementing the commitments made by respective countries during the first summit.
Zambia made three commitments during the first Summit for Democracy in 2021. These are to strengthen the independence of the media, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), and to enhance the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of assembly. The HRC expects stakeholders to hold the government accountable on reforms related to enhancing the independence of the media, such as the Access to Information Bill, the repeal and replacement of the Public Order Act, and other reforms related to electoral democracy and the independence of the ECZ.
The three commitments made by Zambia are in line with the three themes of the Summit for Democracy: defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption, and advancing respect for human rights. The purpose of the summit, which Zambia is privileged to co-host, is a noble one. It is aimed at enhancing the protection of democratic values and human rights globally for the benefit of respective countries.
Democracy is a fundamental aspect of modern governance. It is a system where power belongs to the people, and decisions are made through a fair and transparent process. The core values of democracy include free and fair elections, freedom of expression, and the rule of law. It is a system that fosters peace, stability, and development.
However, democracy is not a static concept; it is a dynamic process that requires constant attention, participation, and improvement. It is for this reason that the Summit for Democracy is critical, especially for countries that are still consolidating their democratic institutions. The summit provides an opportunity for governments and civil society to reflect on their democratic journey and chart a way forward.
The commitments made by Zambia during the first Summit for Democracy are vital for consolidating the country’s democratic gains. Strengthening the independence of the media is crucial for ensuring that citizens receive accurate and unbiased information that will enable them to make informed decisions. The promotion and protection of the right to freedom of assembly are essential for allowing citizens to express their views and opinions without fear of retribution.
Similarly, ensuring the independence of the Electoral Commission of Zambia is critical for conducting free and fair elections. The ECZ must be impartial and transparent in carrying out its mandate, which is to manage and supervise elections. Electoral integrity is crucial for building public trust in the democratic process.
The Summit for Democracy is a critical forum for promoting democratic values and human rights globally. The commitments made by Zambia during the first summit are in line with the three themes of the summit and should be taken seriously. It is essential for stakeholders to hold the government accountable for implementing these commitments, which are vital for consolidating the country’s democratic gains.