In this audio, MMD leader Nevers Mumba says government has gone too far by blocking South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane from visiting Hakainde Hichilema in prison.

This morning, Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa announced that he had advised Maimane, who is leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), to reschedule his visit to Zambia until such a time that he was granted permission to visit HH.

“We have received official communication from the leader of the opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), Mr. Mmusi Maimane. He has informed us that he intends to travel to Zambia. He also informed us that he would use the opportunity to visit Mr. Hakainde Hichilema who is remanded in Prison,” Mwamba said in a statement issued by Zambia’s High Commission to South Africa First Secretary for Press and Public Relations Naomi Nyawali.

“We have seen the list provided by the family to the authorities. This Order also affects other people including members of his party, that would like to see Mr. Hichilema. It is therefore prudent that an amendment or variation to the Court Order was obtained for the list to include Mr. Maimane. The restrictions on whom should see Mr Hichilema arose from the Court Order and Directives. We have therefore, for purposes of Mr Maimane wishing to see Mr Hichilema, advised that when authority has been sought or obtained through the Court, Mr Maimane could travel to Zambia.”

But speaking to journalists shortly after the UPND leader’s treason case was adjourned again, Mumba said HH had a right to be visited by friends.

“Maimane was unfortunately told that he couldn’t come because he was not going to be allowed to visit his friend. We have made it very clear as MMD that when we were in government, the liberties and freedoms of individuals could not be compromised so it makes me feel ashamed and disgraced as a Zambian to see that the pressure that is coming within the country of the reduction of the democratic space is now being extended to the outside world where these people who would like to come and participate in seeing how democracy works here are now shocked that Zambia cannot allow somebody to go and visit someone in prison,” Mumba said.

“And I think that government has gone too far and it is time for them to reconsider their ways. We have tolerated a lot from them but I think damaging our international image is not necessary and I think they must listen for a change. It is the right of any person who wants to see someone in prison, if they go through the right procedure, they should be allowed to see someone in prison. So we ask government to change their decision and we encourage Maimane to come and ensure that he sees his colleague.”

He observed that South Africa wouldn’t have blocked Zambian opposition leaders from visiting Maimane if he was the one in prison.

“If Maimane was in prison in South Africa today, we would be allowed to go and see him. The South African government would not stop us from seeing him because it is an international position that human rights should be respected for the person incarcerated and the one wants to see him. So this is strange and we feel extremely disturbed by the action of the state on this matter,” said Mumba.

He also condemned police for making it difficult for lawyers and members of the public to access court premises whenever HH was appearing.

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