ADD president Charles Milupi says forcing youths to protest in the bush is a bad mark on Zambia’s democracy.

And Milupi says Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya should also explain why it seems most Zambians are immune to COVID-19.

Commenting on the youth protest which was carried out on Monday, Milupi observed that government was using COVID-19 to shackle opposing views.

“What happened yesterday (Monday) is a very bad mark on the democratic development of this country Zambia starting from President Lungu, Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo, Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja and all those that were involved in those decisions. They should be ashamed of themselves. We are reminded that the PF as a party are in a court now and they have successfully been joined to a case on intra-party democracy and they are fighting protection with the constitution. They should not be selective on what provisions of the constitution they wish to uphold,” Milupi said.

“The right to assemble, the right to demonstrate, the right to freely express one’s opinion is enshrined in the constitution. The youths that have risen up have picked up the subjects that are relevant to themselves and relevant to this country such as governance, corruption, what is happening on the economic front, on gold mining and so on. These are matters that are at the core of the existence of this country. The fact that they have chosen to demonstrate is a constitutional right to gather, to assemble and to express their opinions. And they notified the police a long time ago. The role of the police constitutionally is to provide security. If you look at what happened yesterday, you saw armored vehicles, armed police people driving up and down the whole of Lusaka. It clearly demonstrates that the police had more than sufficient capacity to provide the security that is constitutionally required by those that were scheduled to demonstrate.”

Milupi said it was unfair that PF officials had continued holding gatherings.

“To hide behind COVID-19 is like a man hiding behind his own finger. They themselves as PF we know that they have been gathering, they have been carrying out their campaigns. COVID-19 cannot be used as an excuse only to shackle those that have opposing views to government. Besides that, COVID-19 has not been fully explained to the citizens of this country. The Ministry of Health has totally failed to lay on the table the impact of COVID-19 on this country. We don’t know the technical terms like the re-infection rate, we don’t know which part of the curve we are, whether we are still on the exponential rise or whether we have reached the plateau or whether the situation is going down. They are using it as a means to expose their political ambitions, those who are in the forefront. They are using it as a means to attract funding which they abuse as has been happening. Look at the United States of America, it is the worst hit country in terms of COVID-19, Britain too, and we have seen demonstrations against its people,” Milupi added.

And Milupi asked Dr Chilufya to explain why it seemed most Zambians were immune to COVID-19.

“In Zambia today, the Ministry of Health needs to explain to us why we are not seeing the expected deaths that we should have seen. Is it the nature of us as Zambians with our immune system? Is it the food we eat? Is it the blood groups that most of us have? Is it because we have a young population? All these reasons need to be put in public domain so that government can come up with decisions that will not unduly restrict the freedoms and economy of this country. Now to all of the sudden, when it suits them best, they are all over with arms because of COVID-19. Let them go into markets and see whether the people who gather there are practicing social distancing, whether they are wearing masks or whether they are sanitizing and so on. They are not. But why is it that these laws are just applicable to our own youths that want to protest?” asked Milupi.