UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says while prayer is paramount in people’s lives, it is mere “camouflage” for some politicians to gather to pray while superintending over a cruel government.
And Hichilema has observed that the sustained prevalence of nolle prosequis stems from the unprofessional conduct of the police in arresting innocent citizens.
Meanwhile, party vice-president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba says the UPND will go ahead and start mobilising the party’s structures around the country.
Commenting on the day of prayer that falls tomorrow, October 18, Hichilema said he had a long-held sacrosanct view about Christianity and prayer but was quick to indicate that the Word of God needed no abuse, especially by politicians.
“The issue for us, to start with, is that we are Christians and not Christians of yesterday, not Christians for convenience. We believe in prayer but prayer must be genuine, prayer must be backed by action, by deed [because] word without deed is deception. But what we have seen in our country is abuse of our beloved Christianity. It is common knowledge that politicians are in the forefront of this abuse of Christianity. We believe [that] what is going on is camouflage. Prayer must be based on the truth and it must be meaningful. Let’s be serious and let’s not abuse the Word of God!”
Hichilema said in an interview in Lusaka.
“You cannot say that you are a Christian nation on one hand and on another you continue to brutalise citizens – you continue to use the police to brutalise citizens, you continue to deny citizens of Zambia their fundamental human rights, amongst the many fundamental human rights and freedoms is freedom of conscious, freedom of assembly so that people like us can mobilise our members. Only PF are allowed to have meetings. You cannot then continue to say you are Christian nation because you are being deceptive.”
He reiterated that the UPND would not sit by and let the freedoms and rights of its members abused by those in the government.
“We cannot be denied our basic rights and freedoms. There is no sleeping, there is no dormancy at all [but] what is there is for the police to conduct themselves professionally. Nobody should take away our rights and certainly, if somebody tries to take away our rights, we’ll then fight for our rights. We’ll continue reaching out to our members,” he vowed.
And Hichilema observed that most of his cases in court are politically-motivated.
On Monday, the State discontinued through a nolle prosequi a matter where Hichilema and Mwamba were charged with unlawful assembly and seditious practices.
The matter was being heard in the Luanshya Magistrates Court.
Reacting to the development, Hichilema pointed out that the charges were based on “political victimisation, oppressive manoeuvres here and there”.
“The naked truth of the matter is that an average Zambian, one who is interested in the welfare of their country, understands that these are politically-motivated – there is no question about it! These are charges that were based on political victimisation, oppressive manoeuvres here and there. This is why you now see that it has become fashionable to have these nolles,” Hichilema said.
He reiterated that one of the fundamental issues that his party had continued to lament about was the utter abuse of the criminal justice.
“…In particular, situations where the police arrest citizens before they carry out investigations. When citizens are arrested in that manner, it is clear that those citizens will be acquitted along the way by any decent magistrate, any decent judge. Because it is clear that an acquittal will come, what the State has tended to do is to enter nolles. So, the prosecution side of the criminal justice system has fallen into this situation where they should not actually prosecute once the police…. It (nolles) stems from the unprofessional conduct of the police in arresting innocent citizens; many times on trumped-up charges. That’s where the crisis begins from and then it is picked up by the prosecution side,”
On the matter where the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has censured him for accusing some members of the Constitutional Court of gross incompetence and corruption, Hichilema, while insisting that the named judicial officers were depraved, contextualised his argument.
“On the LAZ matter referring to my comment on the three judges, I understand where LAZ is coming from. It is their duty to try and present a semblance of order in the court processes. Unfortunately, LAZ has no control on the immense corruption and incompetence of the specific judges who I mentioned and I have just repeated it today. I say that Annie Mwewa Sitali, Palan Mulonda and Mungeni Mulenga – those three Constitutional Court judges, are incompetent and corrupt [but] that is not to say I’m in conflict with LAZ; LAZ are free in a country like ours to give their opinion over my comment and that’s the beauty of tolerance and acceptance of different ideas or views. We don’t have to agree [on everything] and on this matter, I disagree with LAZ,” explained Hichilema, who later charged that “those who stole our election victory in 2016 used the keys to the armoury to unleash the police on defenceless Zambians”.
“It is difficult to be quiet because there is so much rot in the judiciary! I understand where LAZ is coming from but on this one, I’m afraid that LAZ and I do not agree because Mungeni Mulenga, Palan Mulonda and Annie Mwewa Sitali are corrupt and incompetent. Even at the time that they were being brought on the Constitutional Court bench, LAZ members themselves commented that these members were not qualified to be on the Constitutional Court. So, essentially LAZ was right then except that now LAZ has to carry this semblance of the protector of the rule of law but the rule of law is being broken by those in the PF government and being adulterated by these three Constitutional Court judges. Those three Constitutional Court judges should actually do the honourable thing and resign from the people’s Constitutional Court other than to continue drawing a salary by masquerading as judges on the Constitutional Court because they are creating confusion in society.”
Meanwhile, Mwamba, in a separate interview, noted that the UPND, like the ruling PF was doing, would go on a party membership mobilisation campaign.
“Our colleagues in PF are all over busy campaigning; the President (Edgar Lungu) was in Luanshya yesterday (Sunday) campaigning [but] what should stop us from campaigning as well? The bottom line is that we are also going ahead with our programme of mobilising our supporters – I think it’s long overdue! What happened in the past, illegal incarceration and what have you, that aside but we have to move on as a party [and] that is our game plan number one. We shall embark on that one as quickly as possible. We need to mobilise our people in the same way the PF is doing. Why are they stopping us?” said Mwamba