Presidential order to investigate and arrest UPND leader may dent Zambia’s human rights image

Filed under: Breaking News |

ed manThe Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is appealing to President Lungu to moderately exercise his powers and control of security forces such as the police force by avoiding issuing directives as was the custom with past Presidents to arrest opposition leaders for political statements they make. The directive to the police to investigate Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema and his eventual arrest will dent the good image the President has, of late, been building and will defeat his message on the need for tolerance.

If the President found the statement by the UPND leader that he controls the Office of the President criminal, he should have done some personal reflection on why the entire Police Command had not acted or moved in to enforce the law against Hakainde Hichilima but had to wait for him to give a directive to investigate and arrest HH for remarks that were issued many days ago. And if truly President Lungu had found the words by HH criminal during his reflection and that the police were not arresting or investigating HH, the best he would have done was to put his house in order and not directing who should be investigated or arrested.

We all remember that President Lungu’s late boss, Mr. Sata used to openly boast that he had PF members in Rupiah Banda’s Cabinet itself and that he knew what RB dreamed even before Rupiah Banda even dreamt it.

We feel the speed at which the Police are moving in to investigate and arrest HH will send a wrong signal about the reign of President Lungu. President Lungu has been trying to rebuild the country’s human rights image which was dented and it would be wrong for him to begin directing the police to investigate and arrest citizens who issue such political statements as controlling the OP.

We all remember that President Lungu’s late boss, Mr. Sata used to openly boast that he had PF members in Rupiah Banda’s Cabinet itself and that he knew what RB dreamed even before Rupiah Banda even dreamt it. Late President Sata used to make the same boast when he was the opposition leader but he was not arrested for such political statements, and there is nothing even remotely criminal in a politician spewing such statements which are nothing but political bluster.

The directive to investigate and arrest HH will only serve to show that the President has no confidence in his men and women under the OP. We wonder what charge the Police will concoct to just please the President that they have Hakainde Hichilima in court because we know that our laws have no charges for idle boasting. We think that what the UPND leader said is nothing but a political statement intended to make the president uncomfortable, and HH seems to have succeeded as can be seen by the directive.

The least the the President should have done was to warn HH about making statements which have a tendency to undermine state security. That would have been enough. Then he should have ordered an INTERNAL investigation to uncover the mole, if there is one. That is how you deal with state security – on the quiet, and then drop a bombshell once you have the culprit

Isaac Mwanza
Governance Advisor
The Secretariat
Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)