Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu says UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema will only be arrested and jailed if he blocks other people from participating in the refinement process of the National Dialogue Bill.

And Zulu says those frustrated with the way PF is running the country do not have an alternative because all existing opposition political parties are uninspiring.

Speaking when he featured on a Hot Fm special interview, Friday, Zulu who is also Malambo PF member of parliament, said Hichilema was at liberty to stay away from participating in the compilation of the National Dialogue Bill but stopping other people from participating was unlawful.

“Let us tell people the truth about this bill. What is it that you are uncomfortable with? What is it that you feel is going to infringe on your freedom of association? HH referred to a clause that says ‘you can’t stop anyone from attending this…’ and he said, ‘this targets me because when they get me they will put me inside until 2021 and I will not contest the elections’. No no no, you’re not being targeted, unless you’ve already made up your mind that you are going to stop someone from participating in this, in which case, yes you will be,” Zulu said.

“So the target is to allow people to exercise their freedom of expression, association and to exercise the ability to contribute to a national process. So why should you stop them? Unless they don’t want to contribute on their own. But if someone else is going to say ‘do not’ or threaten them that should they, then there will be disciplinary processes that will be taken or any kind of threat that will be there, then we want to protect the process.”

Makebi said the process would go on without Hichilema’s participation.

“If people don’t participate by their own volition, we’ve got no problem. They have chosen not to because they don’t want to. But if a third party is going to tell them ‘do not’, then there is a problem with that. The essence of this is to have people participate freely, out of their own conscious and will. Zambia is not short of good men and women who are able to contribute to the good governance of this country, we have plenty and we can’t fail to replace one who says ‘I will not’. So if they are not able to be part of the process, it will go on [without them]. We have sufficient good men and women who are even brighter and much more intelligent than they are able to contribute effectively to the process,” he said.

And Zulu said Zambians had no alternative to PF no matter how frustrated they could be because the opposition was uninspiring.

“There are quite a number of people that may not be pleased with what the PF is doing. But they are not moving to the opposition, they are not moving to UPND or any other opposition political party. They don’t seem to have an alternative. But we are saying, is that what we should have in Zambia, where every party will want to perpetuate it’s stay in power? We are saying no no no, that should not be the case. Why don’t we have the Political Parties Bill that will govern how parties are going to operate? A bill that will bring democracy in political parties and transparency in the manner that political parties will behave and they are saying ‘no no no you can’t do that’. So we have all these issues that are going on and that is the tragedy of Zambian politics,” Zulu said.

Zulu charged that UPND was benefiting from political violence saying that party always emerged victorious whenever violence characterized an election.

“We have been consistent in saying that violence should stop. You may have noticed that in areas where there has been violence, PF has not won. People have been benefiting from violence. In all areas of this country, you will never know of any wing in any region of Zambia where we have won as a party and it is named after some violent act that was there… there is the issue of Mapatizya formula, anyone who hears of Mapatizya formula thinks of violence, anyone who hears of Mufumbwe formula thinks of violence, anyone who hears of Sesheke formula thinks of violence, and which parties won in those areas? It was the UPND, you will never hear of Chipata formula, you will never hear of Lundazi formula, Kasama formula or indeed any formula in the areas that we won. So some people are benefiting from this violence and they would want it to be perpetuated,” charged Zulu.

“Just a few days ago, the Lusaka Chairman for UPND (Obvious Mwaliteta) was arrested because he was in possession of dangerous weapons, what was he doing with those weapons? Have you heard of any PF member that has been found with such things from the time the President started talking of the fact that we should not be a violent party? [No], that’s why even when someone says ‘there will be violence before, during and after the elections in 2021’, we are saying no no no, there is not going to be violence in Zambia, we want a peaceful process to continue because we know what violence has done a lot of damage in some other countries and we don’t want that to happen here because we’ve got nowhere to run to. We need to preserve the peace in this country.”