HRC must have teeth to bite, says Lungu


PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has challenged the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to take practical steps towards enhancing the respect for human rights throughout the country by coming up with plausible enforcement modalities.

And President Lungu has directed the Ministry of Education to enhance more interaction with its stakeholders in order to address the challenges that hampered on the quality of education in the country.

Speaking when he swore in HR Commissioners and the Ministry of General Education permanent secretary at State House yesterday, President Lungu said while Zambia had laws that safeguarded the rights of people, violations of such laws were still rampant across the country.

President Lungu challenged the commission to roll out its presence across the country and come up with modalities that would make people know their rights and respect the rights of other people.

“My message is that you should try and scale up the presence of the commission in the country. I am saying so because these human rights are basic to all of us and we cannot treat these rights as rhetoric. The Constitution and the Charter on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantee us our rights, but what we see is rampant disregard for human rights in our midst.

“So, I would urge you to formulate a way in which Zambian rights will see real change where people start respecting each other’s rights.  I urge you to visit the Ministry of Education and see how you can inculcate these values in our school programmes, agenda and syllabus as well as how we can improve the lives of women and children in homes,” President Lungu said.

He said there was need for the HRC to go round the country and sensitise the people on their rights and the need to respect other people’s rights since what was lacking was a change of mindset, but noted that the fight for human rights will not be easy especially this month.

“Gender-based violence cases are issues you can interrogate in your tour of duty as well as the right to girl child education because these are all parts of the human rights concept. So I want to believe you will achieve this during your tour of duty to improve the lives of the Zambian people because it has to do with the mind and not the paper.

“Let us begin to create a situation where everyone knows his rights and also the limits.

These rights are not exclusive to certain people alone but as much as I have my rights, other people have their rights too. However, this is not going to be easy especially in this month as we go to the elections because the atmosphere now is charged with politics and campaigns and everything you try to do, people will think it is politics,” he said.

And President Lungu has urged the Ministry of Education to create a good rapport among stakeholders in order to improve the standard of education in the country.

“I will urge you to cooperate with the leaders representing unions which are in the education fraternity. In the recent past, I realise that there was discord between the ministry and teachers who are the majority of your partners in delivering the service of education in the country.

“So, develop a rapport with all the unions so that you are able to know what is going on and also know their needs and welfare. If you work in isolation, I am afraid you are not going to succeed. Teachers are your partners,” he said.

President Lungu swore in Henry Tukombe as General Education permanent secretary, Mudford Mwanenga and Kondwa Chibiya as HRC chairperson and vice respectively.

Harrington Akombwa, Ackson Zulu, Fred Waliuya and Yuyo Kambikambi were also sworn in as commissioners

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