Opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the planned dialogue between himself and President Edgar Lungu will not be about recognition the Head of State or withdrawing the 2016 presidential election petition, but about corruption and other injustices in the country.

And Hichilema alleged that the PF government has sold land where Lusaka Central Prison is located as well as the Natural Resource Development College (NRDC).

Meanwhile, UPND National Chairperson Mutale Nalumango questioned why the police were allowing PF members to hold public meetings while denying opposition members their right to do the same.

Speaking when he addressed the press at his residence in Lusaka today, Hichilema said the dialogue process needed to be understood well in order to resolves all ills.

“We need to use this dialogue process properly in order to address all these ills. We need the dialogue to restore the fundamental human rights, rule of law and freedoms. We need a dialogue to reform the criminal justice system so that citizens are not guilty before proven innocent. We need a situation were cadres do not direct the police. We need a dialogue to stop the executive from controlling the judiciary, controlling the legislature, and now, controlling the media. The dialogue is about these issues, it is about corruption and all the other matters. The dialogue is not about recognition or withdrawing the petition, no. We need a dialogue to reform the Electoral Commission [of Zambia]. I don’t want [Judge Essau] Chulu there in the electoral commission because he is corrupt. We want a truly independent electoral commission. We don’t Chulu there. He should actually take an honourable state to resign because he has no value to Zambians,” Hichilema said.

“And Speaker [Patrick] Matibini must be told immediately, I think he is tired. The 47 members of parliament [UPND] exercised their right not to listen to a speech of somebody. That is a parliamentary preference. Thats how you protest peacefully and they got suspended. We need that suspension to be rolled back. We need in future, not for MPs to be suspended by Matibini for falsehood. PF MPs shout a lot of staff in Parliament, the speaker watches them. Where is the freedom in that. We need a dialogue to restore that. You know sometimes its better to take a walk on your own. People like Matibini must take a walk on their own.”

He said the 2018 budget presented by the finance minister Felix Mutati was empty.

“The overall size of this economy is shrinking. Don’t listen to Felix’s flowers. It is an empty budget. He wants to keep his job. The true owners of PF are pushing him out so he has to show some flowers. Deep down Felix knows that what he is saying is not feasible. It is an empty budget. We are now sitting on a debt that we have never seen in this country before on even in the 27 years of UNIP,” Hichilema said.

“Felix, you and your government have been lying to us on the debt position. You don’t say you owe $7.5 billion when government owes $14 billion. You are borrowing more than the size of your economy. So you own nothing. Wait and see when the Chinese say ‘for the money you owe us, you haven’t paid, we are taking Kafue national park, we are taking NRDC. That is why you hear they are selling NRDC and relocating it to a bush in Shakumbila. NRDC has been sold because your government has borrowed more than its capacity to service the debt. Chimbokaila has been sold. These people are fearless. They are closing Prime [TV] so that you do not know about the sell of Chimbokaila and NRDC. Now they are talking about the sell of Kafue National Park, Lwangwa National Park. By the time your grandchildren will be in government, there will be no asset to talk about.”

Hichilema also said that the Independent Broadcasting Authority was not independent but an arm of the PF.

“Press freedoms have been lost. PF is using visible and invisible hands to oppress the media not to cover the opposition like UPND. I’m talking about legal rights provided for in the constitution. Our freedom are being taken away. Today I can assure you that IBA is an arm of PF. And we ask them to stop this nonsense. And Kampamba says ‘HH is interfering with the operations of IBA’. Niwebo ulechita interfere (it is you interfering) with the freedom of the people of Zambia,” said Hichilema.

UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema with national chairperson Mutale Nalumango during a press conference at his house in Lusaka on October 10, 2017. Picture by – Tenson Mkhala

Meanwhile, Nalumango urged citizens not to allow the government to oppress them.

“The Patriotic Front can hold a meeting anywhere, can demonstrate anywhere can do anything anywhere but the rest of the Zambians particularly UPND that keeps the PF sleepless cannot be allowed. This is not the Zambia we want, Zambians wakeup don’t keep watching, rise up and speak against this oppression,” said Nalumango.

“There is oppression in our country but we should not allow it. I’m appealing to you Zambians that may have an opportunity to watch this, don’t allow it. Don’t wait until they come into your home to realise. They will tell you ‘madam, you can’t hold a meeting, madam you can’t be here because PF will attack you’. Is that the Zambia we want? Why are you protecting PF, leaving law abiding citizens? I just wanted to say this, it is a very sad situation that has developed in our country and we have to stand up, we need our rights as enshrined in the Constitution.