UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says the current political situation in Zimbabwe is a wake-up call for SADC which has for a long time adopted a laissez-faire attitude in dealing with crises.

And HH has wondered what SADC chair President Jacob Zuma meant by saying ‘we are keenly watching the situation in Zimbabwe’ when it had been degenerating for the past 15 years.

Meanwhile, HH says his party is ready to engage in a dialogue process that is proactive and preemptive in order to restore rule of law in Zambia.

He was speaking to journalists at the Supreme Court grounds today after attending a Constitutional Court hearing in Margaret Mwanakatwe’s appeal against the nullification of her Lusaka Central parliamentary seat which Charlotte Scott had successfully petitioned.

“This is a wakeup call to SADC which has taken a laissez-faire attitude in pro actively dealing with concerns of citizens of our region. The Economic Community for West African States is doing much better in this area, ECOWAS is more proactive and it takes interest in cases to do with abuse of human rights, liberties and freedoms. It takes interest in the breakdown of the rule of law, we have seen ECOWAS take steps in Gambia, in Côte d’Ivoire, in Burkina Faso and indeed in Mali pro actively which SADC has to done and SADC clears now has been behaving in a manner we can describe as an attitude of ‘scratch my back and I scratch yours’, ignore the rule of law in your neighbouring country which is a SADC member and say nothing about my country when I break the rule of law,” HH said.

And HH condemned SADC for waiting until people’s lives were at risk before taking the matter seriously.

“And today, SADC through the current Head of SADC Jacob Zuma is saying ‘SADC is watching keenly’ but what are they watching keenly?’ Because Zimbabwe has been degenerating for the last 10 to 15 years and now Zimbabweans are at the risk of losing life and property and becoming refugees in bigger numbers yet again when SADC has been basically sitting and having meetings like nothing is going on wrong in our countries. Let’s take interest in taking care of each other because we are each other’s keeper. Let’s not have this tendency of saying ‘because it’s not me who is in Court [I won’t say anything], because tomorrow it will be you,” he said.

Hichilema predicted that there would be an inflow of Zimbabweans to Zambia following the power crisis.

“We wish the people of Zimbabwe the best, we wish them safety and calmness within stormy waters to probably help lead into a situation that Zimbabweans have been expecting for too long and it’s not been coming, and that is to allow for observance of the rule of law. To allow for Zimbabweans to enjoy human rights, liberties and freedoms which they have not been enjoying for a long time and that will lead to peace and stability that will allow for free, fair and credible elections so that leaders that care for the people of Zimbabwe are put in place and then Zimbabweans don’t have to migrate to neighbouring countries and you know Zambia has been home for a lot of Zimbabweans and this situation may be exacerbated now by the current situation in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hichilema reaffirmed his party’s willingness to dialogue with the Patriotic Front outlined a number of things he was expecting to be addressed during the process.

“We are ready to engage in a dialogue process that is proactive and preemptive. This dialogue process is so critical with respect to restoring the rule of law which is broken our country and also restoring the respect for human rights. The dialogue process is also supposed to reclaim the broken down criminal justice system, we also need to deal with our legislature so we can have a Parliament that allows for free flow of debate. And we also have issues of lacunas in the Constitution which need to be addressed. As you know, when we submitted our petition, executive powers should have been moved to the Speaker of the National Assembly but it did not happen, somebody broke the Constitutional provisions and we Zambians are silent. The dialogue process is also supposed to deal with the issues of political prisoners and Zambians fleeing into other countries. True independence of the justice system so that we can avoid the mess of the 2016 elections which we are still living in,” said HH who also complained about his unheard presidential petition as usual.

On Tuesday night, the army has took over control in Zimbabwe, confining 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe to his house.

The Zimbabwean defence forces seized control of the state broadcaster ZBC, with their spokesman Maj Gen Sibusiso Moyo issuing a statement declaring that President Mugabe was safe as they were “targeting criminals” around him.

Meanwhile, BBC reports that South African government ministers are in Harare for crisis talks with ousted President Mugabe and military leaders.

They are trying to reach a deal on the future of Zimbabwe and the man who has led the country for 37 years and is now under house arrest.