UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says the PF is scheming to jail him until after 2021 through the Constitution amendment process so that they can have a free ride and scoop the general election.

And Hichilema alleges that President Edgar Lungu is scheming to extend his term of office to seven years through current Constitution amendment process.

Meanwhile, NAREP president Elias Chipimo says the National Dialogue Bill is an attempt by the PF to amend the Constitution using “back door methods”.

Speaking on a live discussion aired-programme on Diamond TV, Muvi TV and selected radio stations, Hichilema said the PF did not want genuine dialogue as they wanted the current laws to favour them in 2021.

“The PF has presented an Electoral Process Bill to amend the Electoral Act on their own, yet this is the integral (part) of the dialogue process. What’s going on? What’s PF up to? They don’t want a genuine dialogue that will bring about genuine resolutions to these issues so they can continue using violence as a tool against citizens during elections, against journalists, including shutting down Prime TV. The way they want to do it is aimed at taking away our human rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of conscious; if you don’t agree with the PF even on this law, you go in for nine months or more! I want to confirm with you, one of (the) targets of that jail sentence is us, including HH seated here. ‘Lock him away for three years and release him after 2021! Lock Chipimo, lock Kambwili, lock Milupi,’ so that they can have a free ride in 2021?‘Aikona!’ (That won’t happen!)” Hichilema said.

“A Constitution cannot be amended by a small number of people and it should not be allowed both in Parliament and outside, and this conversation is part of the ‘we’ in our response to stop this process from going on, to stop the tyrannical way of doing things in our country. I think it’s important that we do not, allow once again, the manipulation of our bedrock law in the name of the Constitution. It has happened not long ago, including in January 2016, when the PF went through a similar process before the general election, to manipulate the Constitution! And what we have today after that process is a Constitution full of lacunas, a Constitution that makes it difficult for the Judiciary to make rulings that can help the people of Zambia. The 2016 Constitution amendment has messed us up as a country and we can’t allow the PF to undertake another process to further mutilate our Constitution just after a few years.”

He said that UPND MPs had agreed not to support the National Dialogue Bill.

“So, my dear fellow citizens of this country, don’t hand over your hard-earned freedoms to tyrants! Your children will say: ‘where were you when these things were happening?’ It’s time to unite and not to allow this draconian Bill. Our MPs are trying their best, anticipating what was going to happen, I had a caucus with them and they all agreed that they will not support this Bill. They will fight inside Parliament and we must fight outside. I must thank the Church mother bodies and many other organizations who have submitted against this Bill and encourage them to remain strong,” Hichilema said.

And Hichilema alleged that President Lungu was scheming to extend his term office to seven years through the Constitution amendment process.

“PF is working on exclusions; we in the Alliance are working on inclusions. This country is now in two groups; on one side you get A, which is the UPND; NAREP; NDC; ADD and everyone else, the good, the responsible and the capable. On the other side, you have the PF and the corrupt, the greed and whatever you may want to call them. The good is set A, the bad is set B, there is nothing in between. So, I ask the people of Zambia, let us unite around set A, the good, the responsible, those who want to serve the people of Zambia,” Hichilema urged.

“And we hear that this gentleman and his friends want to extend the Presidential tenure to seven years! Now, with all the hunger, imagine this guy being given another four years to go beyond 2021? When people are already fatigued waiting for 2021! It means students at the University of Zambia will leave school, while he buys a US $400 million jet for himself! We have been told that he needs a jet like this so that he can stretch his legs when he is travelling. So, we spent US $400 million to allow two legs of a citizen to be stretched, while 17 million Zambians have their 34 million legs that cannot even be stretched at a dinner table because there is no dinner for them! This is insolence of the highest order! And this is a person who wants to extend his term by four years, in addition to seeking a third term? Can you stomach that as citizens? The answer is no!”

Meanwhile, Chipimo argued that the National Dialogue Bill was an attempt by the PF to amend the Constitution using the back door.

“The National Dialogue Bill is an attempt by the PF to amend the Constitution using a back door. It is ill-conceived, ill-intended, illegal and speaking frankly, it’s an act of cowardice because it’s aimed at preventing the participation of ordinary men and women in the process. If you look at the Bill that the Minister of Justice (Given Lubinda) presented deceivingly to Parliament, one of the things that stands very clearly is that this a response to the PF’s plan to bulldoze the national dialogue process,” said Chipimo.

“What are the consequences if this Bill goes through? It’s that we can be fined or imprisoned for a period of between 6 months up to 3 years. It means that when president Hichilema caucuses with his MPs outside Parliament and gives them a directive that they must not support an unjust law, he would be liable to arrest, prosecution and detention for up to 3 years! This is a very careful and clever approach that the PF must have been thinking about for some time.”