Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) president Mwenda Mumbuna says the decision to block UPND president Hakainde Hichilema in Chawama is an infringement on his rights and has the potential to create tension in the country.

And UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma said there is no need for Hichilema to notify the police for a basic freedom.

In a tweet on Monday, Hichilema stated: “There was heavy police presence in Chawama yesterday in an effort to stop us from doing some charity work and blocking [us] from a planned tour of the area. We feel sorry for the PF, their desperation won’t stop the fact that people want change.”

And in an interview with News Diggers! Monday, Mumbuna said the incident was unfortunate and that Hichilema’s rights were being infringed, as he did not commit any crime.

“It is very unfortunate that we are actually denying each other in terms of the rights of movement, the right to associate. That incident should not have occurred. It is against the freedoms which the Zambian forefathers fought for. The UPND president Mr Hakainde Hichilema did not break the law. All he did was try to get to do what he is supposed to do within his means. We do not condone such kind of behavior or actions. We feel that there should be much more leverage in terms of allowing citizens and those who are in political power who would like to meet other people and get to know what is happening so that they can be informed and also to present themselves to the people,” Mumbuna said.

He said the clamping down of freedoms of the opposition members was regrettable.

“It just brings more tension, anxiety and a situation of division…because the people will to start to feel that they are unfairly treated in the country of their birth. There is too much clamping down on the opposition’s movement. First of all, did they make an assessment that it was going to be a security threat? Why go to that extent? If there was a security threat, yes maybe,” said Mumbuna. “But from our perspective, there hasn’t been a security threats. Because if he was not blocked, we wouldn’t even have known that he was in Chawama. There are places where Mr Hichilema goes to and we do not know because he wasn’t blocked. We keep on knowing where he is [for the fact] that he is blocked. When they start blocking him, it means they are now infringing on his rights.”

And Kakoma said there was no need for Hichilema to get a permit from the police to visit Chawama.

“Well, there is no need for HH to notify the police for basic freedoms such as the freedom to move in Zambia. If he is going to visit a patient in hospital, does he need to notify the police? He doesn’t! He can visit Chawama Hospital any time he wishes like a free Zambian. He doesn’t need a police permit to visit a community. That will be going too far in interpreting the Public Order Act. There is freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of association and so on. And those freedoms equally apply to Hakainde Hichilema,” said Kakoma. “And he also intended to interact with the people at Chawama market to see how marketeers are selling their tomatoes and vegetables. We don’t think anybody can demand for a so-called police permit. Otherwise, they will be putting HH under artificial house arrest. He can’t move unless he notifies the police.”