Human Rights Commission Spokesperson Mwelwa Muleya says there was room for remedial measures in handling expelled Cuban Ambassador Nelson Pages Vilas’ attendance of the Socialist Party launch.
Speaking when he featured on Unza Radio’s Lusaka Star programme, Tuesday, Muleya observed that as a socialist state, Cuba supported the emergence of socialism in other countries.
“There was room for remedial measures to be undertaken other than the ultimate decision because the expulsion was an ultimate reaction to that display of solidarity to the socialist party. And I think there should have been some level of engagement by government and the diplomat concerned to censure him if they so wished [than] to permanently ensure that he is no longer be on the soil of Zambia, because we know where Cuba comes from and he may not be representing his personal views. He may be representing the views of Cuba. So those are the challenges we get in because they should have engaged him and engaged the country before doing that because Cuba is a socialist country and for them, that’s their international relations policy. Zambia is not a socialist country but for Cuba, that is their international policy, to support socialism wherever it emerges. So there should have been dialogue. I think dialogue should have been preferred as opposed to that punitive action which is ultimately,” Muleya said.
Muleya acknowledged that Ambassador Vilas’ remarks may have veered off diplomatic etiquette.
“We are not saying that he didn’t break any law, he must have broken some diplomatic etiquette and that the remarks made were veered off the diplomatic etiquette that he was seen to be championing the emerganse of an opposition with a view of taking over power. You know the thinking is that for an opposition, the ultimate is to take over government and that is why you see that ruling parties or governments are very sensitive as to who is supporting opposition parties. So those are sensitive issues in diplomatic circles that you cannot go into a country and support the opposition against the incumbent government. So but at the end of the day, we believe that there should have been dialogue,” he said.
Meanwhile, Muleya said it was wrong for soldiers to apply military tactics on innocent civilians when cleaning the Central Business District (CBD).
“We have in the past spoken against the reported cases of armed forces violating the rights of individuals. We think that, that’s not the reason why they are on the streets. They have done a commendable job in terms of bringing sanity and ensuring that there is cleanliness, there is orderliness, law and order has really been restored in town and other issues. But we are concerned that they have gone overboard where they are using military tactics to engage with civilians. They should realize that the way they operate as soldiers, the way they are trained, issues they think these are normal occurrences where they are able to treat each other as soldiers in that manner as form of disciplining a person, those are not the same form of disciplining,” said Muleya.
“They should be meeting out to civilians. But you cannot then apply the same tactics to civilians. That is why even in certain… they have their own disciplinary measure. They are not in the first place…they (civilians) don’t understand the rule of the military and also they are not suppose to be subjected to those inhuman, cruel, degrading treatment or punishment for whatever offences. That is not their work as army officers. And we remain deeply concerned that they have allegedly continued violating the rights of individuals. I think that is taking away the good that they have so far done.”