Opposition Alliance petitions House of Chiefs to help quell tension

Police officers at Lusaka Magistrates Court-picture by Tenson Mkhala

The Opposition Alliance Partners of Zambia have asked the House of Chiefs to intervene in the tension being experienced in the country to keep it from degenerating any further.

And the Opposition Alliance says there are early warning signs of ethnic cleansing and ethnic killings.

In a letter to the House of Chiefs May 29, Alliance for Democracy and Development president Charles Milupi, Movement for Multi-Party Development president Nevers Mumba, People’s Party president Mike Mulongoti and United Party for National Development (UPND) national chairman Mutale Nalumango implored the chiefs to help in healing and minimizing the sharp divisions and political instability the country was facing.

The Opposition Alliance listed the breakdown in Constitutional democracy, lack of media freedoms and lack of an independent, free and fair judicial system as worrying trends.

“Police brutality, the role of the police and military during the 2016 election and the post-election periods severely constrained the democratic space and set a dangerous precedent on the role of the security wings in an infant but promising democracy,” the Opposition Alliance stated.

“We have witnessed situations where media freedoms have been severely constrained under the PF regime with some independent media houses completely shut down such as The Post Newspapers, the Editor-in-Chief of The Post Newspaper has been in and out of jail more than a dozen times in the last two years…other examples include The Mast, a new independent newspaper whose editor Mutinta Mazoka M’membe are Lesa Kasoma Nyirenda of Komboni Radio were recently brutalized and arrested by police and a privately owned Muvi Television station was closed.”

And the Opposition Alliance stated that there were early warning signs of ethnic cleansing and killings.

“Since January, President Edgar Lungu’s government has dismissed (through retirement in national interest under his hand) more than 300 civil servants, military and police officials originating from North-Western, Southern, parts of Central Lusaka and Copperbelt provinces of Zambia. Prominent among them are the second in command of the Defense Forces Major General Topsy Lubaya, the third in command of the Zambia Police Fanwell Siandenge, six Zambia Revenue Authority directors, Zesco directors, managers and many others,” they stated.

“Examples of ethnic killings and brutality committed by the police and PF party cadres include the following: Grazyer Matapa was brutally bludgeoned to death with knives and screw drivers by five PF cadres on 23rd February 2015. During a procession to his burial, police unAfricanly broke the coffin carrying his body; UPND member Priscilla Mwiinga was beaten and stripped naked in full view of police officers at a public function of women and youth day and government officials led by Vice-President Inonge Wina who ‘happily watched’ PF cadres take away her pride as a woman.”

They listed other cases of brutality and killings.

“A 22 year old lady Mapenzi Chibulo was killed in cold blood by police on her way to attend a UPND rally in Kanyama, on 18th March 2017, a Zambia Air Force (ZAF) soldier Flight Sergeant Mark Choonga was murdered by police whilst in ploce custody. On April 3, 2017, the police killed Stephen Kali[a, a UPND member and nephew of Kanyama UPND chairman when the UPND rally was illegally stopped after receiving instructions from Kennedy Kamba the PF provincial youth chairman. On 17 December 2016, a UPND member was shot by a known police officer at the High Court as they wanted to attend a court session, up to now, the bullet is still in his body,” the Opposition Alliance stated among other incidences.

The Opposition Alliance then asked the House of Chiefs to press for the release of UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and his co-accused as well as over 200 other political prisoners.

They also asked traditional leaders to mediate political dialogue as well as counsel PF leaders on various issues of human rights abuse, brutality and corruption.

“We believe that you can help in healing and minimizing the sharp divisions and political instability currently going on in the country. It is our considered view that your timely intervention can help addressing a potentially dangerous path that the country is going through that can lead to further hostilities when your children decide defensive actions against the on-going oppression and injustices,” stated the Opposition Alliance.

         

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