After being freed, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema this morning led a long winding procession of his supporters, with police ‘escort’ from Lusaka Central Prison to the party secretariat where he addressed them.

Along the way, he stood through his vehicle’s sunroof and blew kisses to Lusaka residents who lined the streets to catch a glimpse of him. The excited residents waved back at the opposition leader, some shouting “Zambia Forward” with the UPND symbol, while others joined the celebratory procession.

Addressing his supporters at the secretariat, Hichilema who was in detention for four over months, said he was willing to go back to prison if other UPND political detainees were not released.

Hichilema said his party had emerged 10 times stronger following his incarceration and once it forms government, would restore order in the country.

Meanwhile, Hichilema said “we have made arrangements to address all the issues that are affecting you the Zambian people and you must now watch what we are going to do in the next few days, weeks and months”.

Below is HH’s full address after being released from prison:

To start with, I want to acknowledge the power of God for making this day possible, for making our release from detention following our brutal arrest and extended detention. Only God makes such things happen so once more, thank you to our heavenly father for this day. I call it a day where we commence our walk towards true freedoms; walking in the path of 1963, in the path of 1991 and now, this day onwards, we want to bring true freedom, justice, equity and fairness to all our people.

I think it is in order for me to thank all of you who are assembled here today for coming out in the midst of great danger, you managed to come out to receive us today. Thank you.
I know what is obtaining out there under the invocation of Article 31. Though I have been in prison, we have been sneaking in information in our cells so we know what has been going on and we thank you for your strength. I want to continue in expressing our appreciation to our party leaders across the country for having been very strong despite the circumstances.

All our membership structures, national executive, through to our branches, thank you for your strength, your prayers and your hope. Without your prayers, without your hope, it would have been very difficult for the six of us and many others who are in detention.

To our friends across our community in this country, thank you. To the clergy, I want to single out Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu and his Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops for their courage. Under these circumstances, you need people with courage, with clarity of mind as to what is right and what is wrong. I think Archbishop Mpundu provided leadership in this area.

Thank you so much to the CCZ, to the EFZ, other churches, thank you for your support. Very difficult and trying times but you were there for us. We appreciate that support. We want to thank the regional community. I am sure all of you now understand that we have a lot of friends in the regional community. Our friends in the southern African side of our continent, our friends in east Africa who did a lot, I know many of those things they did are not known to you but they did a lot. Our friends in West Africa, our friends in Europe, the European community, our friends in America including the American congress and the senate, they did a lot behind the scenes I can tell you that. And on that score, we also want to thank the local representatives of the international community. The embassies that again were working silently but doing a lot of work behind the scenes, we acknowledge your efforts, we thank you so much.

HH leaves Chimbokaila Prison on August 16, 2017 – picture by Tenson Mkhala

I deliberately return to the civil society in our country. CiSCA, and I want to single out the leader of CiSCA Bishop [John] Mambo, thank you.

Thank you to the Law Association of Zambia, thank you to our traditional leaders, I won’t mention the key leader who stood up for us in the traditional leadership but you all know him, thank you very much.

I want to thank, if you allow me, a lot of friends, I want to say to you, I didn’t realise that we have a lot of friends even in the PF, I want to thank those people in the PF who were on our side.

I want to thank senior citizens in our country who were also courageous, extremely courageous, issued statements, you know them, and I have some tasks to do to thank them individually after today, lots of work we have to do after today. Thank you to our members of parliament, councilors, mayors, I know 47 members of parliament sacrificed for us. But if your president can sacrifice, why shouldn’t you sacrifice? But I thank you for that.
47 of them were suspended, you are aware of that, so I am thanking them for being strong and I want them, we want them to remain strong going forward. I want to thank in a special way our opposition alliance leaders, I think it is befitting to single them out, honorable Charles Lubasi Milupi, my brother Dr Nevers Mumba, my brother honorable [Mike] Mulongoti, I want to tell you, my brother Saviour Chishimba; I am glad you are out of prison and I want to thank my brother Sinkamba, president of the Green Party, I want to thank honorable Wynter Kabimba, thank you my brother, I want to thank my brother who got incarcerated just for talking about my case president [Chilufya] Tayali.

I thought many others who are in the opposition but may have had no opportunity to express their appreciation, I know you were there for us, we thank all of you. I think it is also in order, I want to tell you that my colleagues in the business community were doing a lot of things underground, I thank you so much. I know you know that your businesses will be better under our stewardship.

I think it is in order for me to thank my fellow detainees, five of them, together we were six; Chakawa, Haloba, Hamusonde, Muleya and Mulilanduka. Have you ever seen a treason case involving family members only? Have you ever seen that? I want to thank all of these gentlemen that when we agreed things in our cells, they respected what we agreed. And we strengthened each other, it would have been very difficult. When I was detained in Lilayi for eight days, I was in solitary confinement, it was a bit difficult because you don’t speak to anybody but when we linked up, we were able to speak to each other, thank you so much, thank you to them and thank you to their families and I thank their families for the support that they rendered to the fellow detainees. I want to thank Mwaliteta group, I want to thank the Matambo group on the Copperbelt and I want to tell you that a lot of our people are in detention across the country and I have made it my responsibility, it should be your responsibility, it should be our responsibility to secure the release of all our people that are in detention across the country. That is our duty. I cannot say I am free when a lot of my members are in detention, then I am not worth being a leader.

I can go on and on but I would like to also indicate my special appreciation to President Obasanjo, you know Nigeria has 200 million people so he is a great man, to lead 200 million people is not a joke. I want to thank a few friends around, Mmusi Maimane of the DA, a good friend of ours, I want to thank Julius Malema of the EFF, I want to thank Prime Minister Raila Odinga, I want to thank my good friends across the Zambezi Tendai Biti for the tremendous support and others I do not want to mention, including certain people that you many have never understood that they did something but they were doing something. So thank you to all of these people.

I say the list can go on but you have been anxious for many months, I need you to rest. But before you rest, going forward, we have a primary duty, we who are in the UPND leadership and membership across the country, we have a very serious responsibility to work towards bringing back serious responsibility to work towards bringing back order and stability in our country, very very important. But I have already said that the starting point is to make sure we secure the release of many of our people who are in detention. And even today, a few of our people were detained, even yesterday, so this thing has to come to an end because if it doesn’t come to an end, in am willing to go back to those cells.

Take a listen:

That is our primary responsibility, in addition, I want to say here and thank the Rt Honorable Patricia Scotland, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth. And I want to say here publicly that we have very good discussions with her, very intelligent woman, and straightforward discussions. And we are committed, as everybody should be in this country committed to peace, stability for development, we cannot continue living the way we are. It is uncomfortable. But I want to commit that we are committed to the principles of the Commonwealth and their values on the rule of law, on good governance, on human rights, and basic freedoms, universal freedoms, that’s why we are seeking the release of all our people who are in incarceration. I want to say to you, it is also our collective duty to bring back unity in our country, we are so divided today, we cannot run a country in this manner and for us in the UPND, we must call out to our opposition colleagues to come together for a unity of purpose and bring order in our country. It is not correct for our people, for my young friend Clance Zulu to be buried the way she was buried. It is not correct. We have to do something and we are committed to do something. Just watch what we are going to do in a couple of days and months, just watch. There are many people who were saying ‘oh, aza choka mu jele abeba [he will come of prison a tired man]’, Hakainde, oyembela ng’ombe angabebe? [Hakainde who herds cattle can he get tired?].

I want to assure you that we are stronger now than before, we are 10 times stronger than before we were incarcerated. But our strength will be used in a correct manner because we do not want to be as weak as others, we don’t want to be as wicked as others, we want to make sure that we provide leadership in this country so that our people can benefit from good leadership. So I ask all of you to be strong. If your president can be out there for 126, 127 days, we can all be strong. That is all I ask you and I want to close by once again thanking you so much and I want to thank at the end my wife. I didn’t know that she was this strong. I am lucky that I married this woman, I am very lucky. So once more, God bless Zambia, God bless all of us. We shall take leave now, going home, I know you know that there will be a lot of people coming to say hello to us but you must be patient, in the next few days, we are going to have a fully blown press briefing where we are going to address each of the fundamental issues that affect you and that affect this country because you know that the criminal justice system has broken down in our country starting from law enforcement, the police, total breakdown, to the prison, those prison cells are death chambers, people are dying in those chambers every day. We have to address the prosecution, we have to address the Judiciary side, so many things are wrong in our country but we are going to assemble and discuss those issues with you with diligence. Otherwise, once more, I look at you, I am humbled for your support. I was worried that you may be dismantled in my absence. God bless you all.