Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba has struggled to respond to governance record issues raised against the Patriotic Front
During an interview with the BBC’s Lawrence Pollard, Kabimba said those who were raising concern over governance issues were “bitter”, a term now used as a slogan by PF officials and its supporters at those questioning their governance record.
Earlier, opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema had told the BBC’s Veronic Edwards about the high levels of intolerance towards the opposition, arbitrary arrests and denial of the conducting of political rallies.
Hichilema, Nevers Mumba of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and fourth Republican president Rupiah Banda are facing what observers are saying are politically motivated charges in court.
The Zambian opposition, UPND, has held only one public rally in nearly 20 months of the PF rule as the police are denying them permits for such meetings. The one rally UPND held in Kabwata was marred with violence instigated by PF cadres under instructions from Kabimba.
UPND cadres that have attempted to hold peaceful demonstrations have been severely beaten by police.
Kabimba said his ministry could not investigate allegations of police brutality without evidence but was reminded that it was within his ministry’s responsibility to investigate the claims.
The justice minister said the UPND leader had to identify the individuals beaten by police before any investigations could be commenced.
Kabimba could not categorically state why the right to assembly had been curtailed. “You are saying you want him [Hichilema] to identify the people who were brutalised by police ,is it not something you can do within your responsibility?” Pollard asked.
Kabimba’s response; “…but they have to bring evidence, where do we start from?”
In frustrations of the seemingly tough questions, Kabimba later described Hichilema as a bad carpenter who blamed his tools for a poorly executed job.