Hichilema and human rights Featured
Mr Hakainde Hichilema seems disturbed by the revelations made by his friends – the United States government – on the deplorable state of human rights practices in Zambia under his leadership.
Recently, the US State Department released a detailed report – USA 2022 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Zambia – which brought to light the following human rights abuses committed by Mr Hichilema’s administration:
- unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings
- torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government
- serious restrictions on freedom on freedom of expression and media, including violence and threats against journalists, censorship, or enforcement of threat to enforce criminal libel laws to limit expression
- substantial interference with the rights of freedom of assembly and association; serious government corruption
- impunity for excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies, particularly the police who have remained a problem and that;
- although the government took steps to identify, prosecute, and punish officials for corruption, impunity remained widespread.
The violations listed above are just a few among the numerous abuses highlighted by the US government. However, in a typical clumsy UPND government style, Mr Hichilema through the acting Minister of Information Mr Makozo Chikote has jumped to the defence of their illegal acts with a plethora of bare denials.
Mr Hichilema should know that this report done by their friends embodies hard facts on what is obtaining in the country today and pedestrian statements will not be sufficient to save his government from this exposure. Let it sink in that the report from the US State Department mirrors the status of our governance under Mr Hichilema’s stewardship and it is worth reiterating as follows:
- This UPND government, through Mr Hichilema, has always projected itself as a strong adherent to the rule of law. Unless this concept means something different to them because currently there is no rule of law to talk about under this government. For instance, we have witnessed an increase in the tendency to detain suspects without charge and arraignment before the courts of law. In most cases, this is targeted at individuals that have peddled a contrary view or have been overly critical of this government. Mr Hichilema’s critics are now being abducted and assaulted.
- A perusal of the affidavit in support of an application for bail pending trial in the case of Dr Chris Zumani Zimba, the former political advisor to Mr Edgar Lungu discloses very disturbing things. It is revealed that some of the co-accused were taken to some locations and endured excruciating torture. Most of it was inflicted on their private parts. This represents some of the findings made in the US government’s 2022 human rights practices report on Zambia. So what is Mr Hichilema through Mr Chikote denying?
- While Mr Hichilema beats his chest about the progressive repeal of Section 69 of the Penal Code on defamation of the President, his government has found an alternative to that repealed law. Mr Hichilema’s government now seeks solace in the repressive law housed in the Cyber Security and Crimes Act. This has become a tool of repression in the hands of this government for purposes of curtailing free speech and expression. Just in the last few weeks the country has witnessed arrests and abductions of bloggers who are critical of Mr Hichilema. Surely, this is not what promotion and adherence to human rights looks like.
- The case of the Kabushi and Kwacha by-elections remains fresh in our minds. We all saw the arm-twisting of the Election Commission of Zambia (ECZ) until Mr Bowman Lusambo and Mr Joe Malanji were handed a knock-out. The deprivation of one’s political and civil rights does not resonate with the ideals of the rule of law.
- Mrs Josephine Mumbi Phiri endured the humiliation of a murder charge for 376 days in jail only to see the entry of a nolle prosequi on judgement day. Total irrationality! This rampant abuse of the criminal justice system for political ends has nothing to do with adherence to the rule of law.
- Now Rizwani Patel of Petauke says he was tortured and beaten like a dog. In a video of yesterday (Friday, June 23, 2023) Patel said: “I was beaten, put on a Kampelwa, and in the night, I was taken into a bush and threatened that I will be shot dead if I didn’t confess to the charges. Bullets were fired over my head.”
What’s very sad is the hypocrisy and double standards of these people. They themselves are running Koswe, Watchdog and a horde of lawless fake accounts playing dirty with absolute impunity. They want to be the only ones playing dirty while everyone else is being forced to play clean. It won’t work. Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.
It is very clear that Mr Hichilema has not only weaponised selected laws of the land which he is shamelessly selectively applying but also decided to handle law enforcement in a gestapo style to obliterate political rivals. Mr Hichilema, together with his hitmen, led by Deputy Inspector General of Police in-Charge of State House, Mr Fanwell Siandenge, who is working in cohorts with known UPND cadres drafted into State House security are determined to violate the law by handling law enforcement matters arbitrarily and without regard for human rights and dignity.
My advice to Zambians as we head towards 2026 is that, be prepared for the worst repression ever seen in the political history of this country because it is more than clear that we are dealing with a petty, highly vindictive, cruel and desperate regime.
President of Socialist Party