THE PF government has a clear agenda to bar meaningful opposition from taking part in the 2021 general election considering Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo’s pronouncement that anyone issuing “alarming statements” on gassing will be barred, says the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP).

Last Sunday, Kampyongo said those issuing alarming statements on the gassing incidents recorded in some parts of the country would not be allowed to contest next year’s elections.

“There are people in Mafinga [constituency] who are saying ‘people who are gassing are in the area’, they don’t even have evidence. These people want people to rise against their rivals so that they stand a better chance as a councillor or chairman. We will arrest them! They won’t even stand for those elections because you cannot bring in politics in these unfortunate things. We have given authority to police officers to arrest those who are issuing alarming statements,” said Kampyongo.

However, FODEP president Mwenda Mumbuna argued that if somebody had issued an alarming statement, it was only right that government acts now than to wait for next year.

“There are rules and laws in this country, which we have agreed upon. If the Home Affairs Minister issues such a statement, he should mention which law he is actually quoting. If they (opposition) have broken the law, then let the law take its course and not wait for the 2021 election, it doesn’t work like that. If somebody has issued a statement that is likely to cause harm or alarm the nation, let them (government) act. That means that there is already an agenda to bar certain people from standing because they will make an excuse to say, ‘you cannot stand because of what you said in February, 2020.’ That is not acceptable! That is not how democracy is,” Mumbuna said.

He also said Kampyongo was not within the confines of the law to issue such a statement.

“The Minister can issue a statement on the basis of the law. Our perspective is not the fact that the statement should be issued by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), but the perspective is that what does the law say? If somebody has not broken the law, there is no point in trying to threaten them. It is a question of the Minister issuing the statement within the law, and as far as we are concerned at the moment, it is not within the law,” said Mumbuna.