UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says the arrest of Ndola pastors and some officials from the Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) who met to discuss the national budget, only goes to prove the dictatorship of the PF.

Last Friday, Police disrupted a meeting at Ndola Central Baptist Church organised by CTPD to reflect on the proposed 2019 national budget, to which members of the clergy were invited. But the officers arrested five pastors and three officials from CTPD.

Copperbelt Province Police Commissioner Charity Katanga said the eight were arrested for unlawful assembly in church.

“People were arrested for unlawful assembly. We hard information that there is a political group that had meetings without police notification. Initially, 53 people had gathered but only eight were picked with Pastor George Palo who was the convener of the meeting. A warn and caution was recorded from them,” said Katanga.

But Hichilema expressed shock at the worsening dictatorship of the PF.

“We condemn the arrest of members of the clergy and others from the civil society organisation. We call on the PF to stop abusing the police in hiding their corruption and debt crisis. This brutal arrest of pastors and the civil society organisation advocating for transparency and accountability on the part of how government and donor resources are spent is a clear indication of the PF’s continued oppression and dictatorship,” Hichilema said in a statement released by his assistant for press Brian Mwiinga..

“Zambia does not need a regime such as the PF that has robbed citizens of their freedoms of association, assembly and expression. Clearly, due to their corruption, injustices and unprecedented debt crisis, the PF has shown that it will even start following citizens in their homes and arrest them for expressing themselves over things going wrong in our country. Is that what Zambians want?”

He urged the church to remain resilient.

“To the church, we say remain strong because history records show that you, together with all of us gave hope when our country was under siege by such elements before. And to the civil society organisations, as a party we would like to encourage you to place the interests of our country first and ensure those plundering both public and donor funding, in this case the PF, are held accountable,” said Hichilema.

“It is no longer guess work that the PF will arrest anyone opposing their corruption, debt crisis and bad governance but we call on the country to join hands and say no to such colonial way of running our country. And as always, we appeal to our country’s men and women in uniform not to accept to be abused by the corrupt few in the PF. We are aware that our men and women in uniform are the least respected by the PF but we will restore their dignity and improve their conditions of service when in government and this is why we call on them to think twice when asked to arrest pastors, civil society organisations members and citizens in general.”