Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda says he does not know why police charged UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema with treason.
And Alliance for Community Action executive director Laura Miti says all those defending brutality and bad governance today will swallow their words once they lose their jobs.
Amos, Miti, Hakainde Hichilema’s deputy press secretary Brian Mwiinga and PMRC executive director Bernadette Deka participated in a live Al Jazeera programme ‘The Stream’, where they exchanged views about the state of the Republic of Zambia following the arrest and detention of UPND leader.
Asked how a road-rage incident could turn into treason, Amos said he could only speculate that it was because HH put President Edgar Lungu’s life in danger.
“Why treason? I do not know why the police charged them with treason but I can speculate that whenever the life of a President is in danger, you are within the realm of treason. I don’t know whether it is treason myself because the judge is about to pronounce upon that case,” Amos said.
“That’s why I said that whoever is around Hichilema and who ever advised him to act in that manner are spectacularly foolish.”
Amos also said President Lungu was not bothered about what was happening.
“He has allowed the judiciary to take charge of this process, he is a lawyer himself, he believes in the rule of law; he is not bothered. He is relaxed, he is governing. Like I said, the Judiciary is functioning, the legislature is functioning, all democratic institutions are functioning, people go to work at 08:00 hours, they go for lunch, they knock off, it is functional,” said Amos.
And Miti observed that all those who were supporting bad governance would speak a different language after losing their jobs like former information minister Chishimba Kambwili.
“When you listen to Amos talk about autonomy, talk about unparralled freedom, I can assure you that that is something that he can say today and then tomorrow when he is out of a job, like all these people do in the ruling party, they say one thing today and the exact opposite tomorrow. For example, the former minister of information whose job was to make journalists lives miserable and call citizens names, right now, he is busy talking about freedom and how he feels he is being harassed by operatives of the state,” Miti said.
“The problem we have is that whoever is around the president, their job is to make him feel good and I think that Mr Hichilema’s biggest problem is that he is preventing the sitting president from enjoying power essentially by not acknowledging that he is President. So really, there is no law that says that people should acknowledge a sitting President…You have a government who’s efforts to address the service delivery issues for which they were elected, none of us can really see what they are doing. I cannot say that the government is not working but I can say that all their efforts are being overshadowed by this sense of wanting to hold on to power so all we hear is 2021.”
She also observed that most Zambians feared expressing themselves because of the tension obtaining in the country.
“I do not feel any anxiety and that is because I am me, and not because it is safe. I understand why most people are sacred and if I ever felt unsafe, I think this would be the time I feel most unsafe. The tension in the country makes people feel unsafe.”
Meanwhile, Mwiinga seized the opportunity to grill Amos, often cutting him off to counter his arguments forcing presenters to intervene.
Mwiinga wondered why police did not clear the road before President Lungu used it.
“The question Amos should answer is why didn’t the police clear this road if they knew that the President was going to use this road? A political gimmick?” asked Mwiinga.
Deka also chipped in to add her voice to the debate but had challenges completing her thoughts.
“I think let me say something about that. Let me really say something about that. I think we are talking about Zambia and I think there is a sense of patriotism within ourselves. I think that is a falsehood to actually bring out to the world that the government is overwhelmed by an opposition leader who actually lost an election. I think us as Policy Monitoring and Research Centre have been following up policies, the government’s efforts are concerted and concentrated on pushing the national agenda for the next five years which is the seventh national development plan…I talked about the autonomy of police. So is government or the presidency, auditor general, is government or the presidency for example, anti corruption commission or these other entities including the judiciary, that’s where we need to separate powers,” said Deka.