UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says that there is a strong possibility that the State is involved in the gassing incidences happening in Zambia.

And Hichilema says law and order has broken down in the country, as evidenced by the disruption of a LAZ-organised discussion on Bill 10 by PF cadres on Monday.

At a press briefing, Hichilema argued that there was no way the State could fail to contain the gassing incidences when there was a presence of soldiers and police officers on the ground.

“Citizens are having sleepless nights, they are being gassed. And again, one PF member tried to create a story that suggests or insinuates that the gassing is only happening in certain regions and not others. The gassing is happening all over the country, everywhere in the country. In all 10 provinces, gassing has taken place, it is going on for too long and we appealed to those in leadership to protect citizens so that they can go to bed and sleep. So that they can protect children who are going to school. A couple of schools have been gassed. But the question is that, who is going to end this gassing? How is it possible that gassing is taking place when the police are out there? Which group can continue committing heinous crimes like this in the presence or neighborhood of police? It is clear to me that there is a strong possibility that the State is involved in this situation, in this crime. Because there is no way the State can fail to bring this crime down. Which individual knows that the army is near and you continue committing this crime? Where are those people who are caught? We want to hear them in court. What are they saying? What is motivating them? And now those of who are talking against this crime become victims, we are accused of being involved,” Hichilema said.

“How can people seeking public office like us who want to take over a country through a democratic process want to take over a country in chaos? The country is already in chaos in terms of the economy which has collapsed, in terms of too much debt, that is too much chaos. We in the UPND want to make it very clear that we are not part of this, we have nothing to do with this gassing. We have heard what some of the senior members are saying. We have challenged them that let them tell the police the truth and not lies. We do not want someone going to the police telling lies to target political competitors, to eliminate political competitors, this is what PF is trying to do using the gassing criminality to allege that it is the opposition involved. We are victims of this gassing and we do not want PF to keep detaining those who are talking against gassing. Inonge Wina at her age, old as she is, she is addressing Parliament, a question is asked of her what is going on with the gassing, she says it is a political witch hunt. How can a vice-president talk that language? A language where she is pointing her finger at innocent people? I cannot forget to remember how the zero option scheme was orchestrated by the State to target political opponents. I see the gassing issue is one that fits in those shoes of black Maamba and zero option. That is the only logical conclusion.”

He said members of the public were reacting in a violent manner because there was no protection.

“We know that the mob is reacting that way, in a violent way because they don’t see any protection. We don’t want the gassing to continue, that is why we insist on a professional job being done. I cannot avoid to speculate that this State orchestrated program is meant to eliminate political opponents so that they can have a free ride in 2021. I cannot think in any other way that saying we have not forgotten how a government before in our country concocted a black Maamba issue and arrested innocent people. Those detained included the first president [Kenneth] Kaunda until the late former president of Tanzania Mwalimu Nyerere came to get him out of prison. But the old man was detained for a crime he did not commit,” Hichilema said.

Hichilema said the country needed an impartial body to deal with the issue of gassing like the Scotland Yard.

“I want to challenge the PF that bring an independent professional group to carry out an investigation behind the gassing so that you do not hide behind gassing to arrest innocent people, to kill innocent people and for the community to continue suffering from running away from the people that are gassing people. Bring Scotland Yard here and all of us citizens must cooperate with the Scotland Yard. After all, we are members of the Commonwealth. When a government a party in office a government is using government machinery to orchestrate things like this to punish political opponents, there must be an arbiter and that arbiter in this is the Scotland Yard, we propose,” Hichilema said.

He called on members of the public not to kill their fellow citizens.

Hichilema also predicted that he would be arrested for speaking out on the gassing incidences.

“They are threatening to arrest HH. Every body is saying HH will be arrested. What have I done to be arrested? What crime have I committed? I have not forgotten how I was detained on a treason charge in Mongu in a fleet of 40 vehicles. I was tortured, I have not talked about this to the members of public I was tortured. In Lilayi, in the cell where the system went and spread faeces on the floor and on the window of the cell and I endured that for eight days, sitting in human fecal matter. No toilet in there and water. That is the humiliation I went through,” Hichilema recalled.

And Hichilema condemned “PF thugs” for interrupting a LAZ Public discussion forum.

“The violence going on the country is completely unacceptable! It has been going on for too long it must come to an end. Citizens are hurting, we who call ourselves leaders whatever role we are playing, whatever responsibilities we carry, must exercise our responsibilities, we must carry out our duties for which we sought public office including us seeking public office to end violence. Yesterday, the LAZ organized public forum on Bill 10, the nation was made to see, to view publicly horrible behavior, draconian, incompletely animal like behavior. Where the session was going on at Intercontinental Hotel. A hotel of international repute and PF thugs walked in there to disrupt that debate in public view of the nation. Chaos was occasioned yesterday, people were injured yesterday (Monday) before the thugs walked in the hall, as many of them were watching, they attacked people outside. Law and order has completely broken down. And Tutwa Ngulube afterwards claimed that he knows those thugs they are from Mazabuka, they are from Siavonga, they are from Southern Province you can’t be that callas and take serious matters in a joking manner like that. Those thugs are PF thugs from Intercity,” said Hichilema.

“Instead of taking responsibility for that horrible action, Tutwa Ngulube blames his usual suspect, the UPND and even brings an ethnicity in it is unacceptable. I ask PF colleagues to grow up and take responsibility for their damaging actions to this country. Most of you know that following that incidence into the night into this morning PF members were exchanging voice notes condemning what their own members did yet one Tutwa Ngulube, a parliamentarian, wants to distort the facts.”