United Progressive People president Saviour Chishimba says 2018 will be a gloomy year for Zambia because the country has become a dangerous place due to political intolerance by PF leaders.

And Chishimba says investors will not be comfortable with the Zambian government if President Edgar Lungu continues with his careless style of leadership, where poor people get oppressed and the space for free press continues to be trampled upon.

Commenting on the latest Amnesty International report, which describes 2017 as a terrible year for human rights in Southern Africa, where leaders like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Zambia’s Edgar Lungu used the criminal justice system to silence human right activists, Chishimba told News Diggers in an interview that President Lungu had become the most careless President Zambia has ever had.

“The situation in Zambia is gloomy and I am not speaking as a prophet of doom but I am speaking with facts. First of all, there is no democracy in the world which has survived without a free press. You need a free private media, because the press to democracy is what blood is to a human being. The press is not just there to inform the people but most importantly, it’s there to educate the people. In a democracy, you need an informed citizenry, you need people who are well educated and being educated is not about going to school to get a degree in a university. It’s about learning the issues that affect the lives of the people, such as economic and social. So the media is a very influential component. Without the media, there is no political organisation that can survive and there is no entity whether business or social that can survive,” Chishimba said.

“You need the media to succeed as an organisation. In order to guarantee the independence or free press in any country, you need not to have regulations or laws that stifle press freedom Time and again we have seen a situation where those that have been removed from government as ministers are running back to the same private media which they were trying to close down to go and air their views. Can’t we learn? We have seen these things happen in Zambia, the same private media which they were fighting has become the same private media which is like a sanctuary to speak out on the difficulties that they are facing.”

Chishimba said Zambia’s Judiciary was compromised.

“The Judiciary is a very important wing of government if democracy is to thrive smoothly. But when you look at the judiciary in Zambia, it is so compromised and the Chief Justice is no longer Chief Justice but the mother of injustices in this country. The judiciary must be an institution that should rise above board where those who are in the ruling party, in the opposition, in the private sector and social sectors must go to the judiciary to seek justice because they all citizens. For instance the way I was arrested, in fact that was not an arrest, it was a kidnap. The procedure for an arrest is very clear, you need to send a call out because a citizen must know why he or she is being arrested,” Chishimba said.

“I am a leader and everybody knows that I have contested for elections before, people know me. How can the police pick up a leader who is coming out of a TV station and arrest him just like that? It means that the security of this country is compromised, kidnappers can just pick you like that and you disappear. So this government is endangering its own citizens, that’s not the way to arrest a leader. I still wonder why they had to arrest me like that when they know our secretariat, they have the phone numbers. Its like arresting a fugitive and I was not a fugitive. If they called me I was going to go. But there is no due process for arresting in this country.”

Chishimba said it took him three months to recover after his arrest.

“You have no idea how [that experience was for me], it took me three months to recover. I used to have nightmares when I went back home. I was scared to step down from my bed at night because I used to think that I was going to step on people. The law is clear that within 72 hours, take a person who is arrested to court. But they kept me in the cell for seven days and sent me back home afterwards. That was a total abuse of authority by the PF regime and this is all because everything is being controlled from State House now. These are matters over which somebody can go to court but going to today is academic, look at the many cases that are before court and they are not able to hear them because the President has instructed them not to,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Chishimba said investors would no longer be comfortable to entrust their investment with the Zambian government if President Edgar Lungu continued with his careless style of leadership.

“Zambia has become a dangerous country and this issue is not only political but it also boarders on the economy. Investors wouldn’t want to go to a country where they know that state managers don’t respect the law. How will their investment be protected? The economy responds to what is called ‘perception’ so if the economy is performing badly because of the carelessness of the President. Lungu has become the most careless President of Zambia, Rupiah Banda can’t compare to him. He (Lungu) is double careless and he only thinks about his stomach. But you can’t have a leadership that thinks with the interest of the stomach. A President must think for the people, he must have at the back of his mind the people. Zambia first,” said Chishimba.

“If you are putting Zambians first, then there is no way you are going to sale off NRDC. We spoke about the sale of NRDC remember, we spoke about the sale of Indeni in 2016. we had the full report of everything they wanted to do, everything is coming to pass one by one. On Zamtel, we preempted. We had a dossier on Zamtel, there are scandals everywhere. Zambia right now is a country which is groaning in pain. So truly, 2018 is a gloomy year. Look at how the state is going into the compounds to collect even the little that the poor people have.”