NDC vice president Joseph Akafumba says the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) has hit a snag because despite being incarcerated, Chishimba Kambwili is not barred from contesting elections next year.

And UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the only reason Kambwili is in prison is because Zambia is being ruled by an autocratic and brutal regime.

Speaking at a joint press briefing which was held at Kambwili’s residence in Woodlands, Thursday, Akafumba said according to the provisions of the constitution which prescribe who is eligible to run for office, the NDC was still in the running.

“We will fight for CK. You are aware that there are some cases that are pending and we know the schemes that that PF are up to. But we want to tell them that this time, we are going to put more volume. If the idea is to silence us, then wailasha, waloba ilyauma (you have hit a snag). Our crusade is to liberate this country. We know that the PF have done this because they want to block President Kambwili from achieving his political aspirations. We saw yesterday where they were saying that ‘president Kambwili is gone and dusted and that he cannot stand again.’ Let me make this very clear that the exclusion clauses in the Constitution are only two; (i) when you are serving a prison sentence. It means you are in prison and you cannot go and campaign. The second one is when you have served a term of three years. So, to us, we have to make sure that CK comes out of jail…those don’t apply to CK. So, again, if that’s what they wanted to achieve, mwailasha again,” Akafumba said.

“They are unsettled with the alliance, that much we are aware and we have been informed. Even themselves, they have confessed and confirmed to us that ‘we are not going to allow this alliance of president HH and CK because tatulefwaya ukusha soup (because we don’t want to leave the soup)’. But they will leave the soup in August 2021. And they have done this just to dent the image of CK and also to discourage him in the alliance. CK is a very strong man. He is my friend and my president and I know how strong and determined he is. You cannot break him with this fake imprisonment that you impose on him.”

Akafumba said if Magistrate David Simusamba handled all the other cases with the same speed he used in Kambwili’s case, prisons today wouldn’t have been congested.

“Coming to the issue around the judgment of yesterday, we did conduct a search at court and we found that in the last 10 years [of] Simusamba having been a magistrate, this has been the fastest judgment that he has delivered. Therefore, your guess is as good as mine. If at all he was working at this speed, I think it was going to decongest the number of remandees. The judgment was delivered but one thing which we noted which I want the nation to know is that in his judgment, he told us that the complaint by Tayali after he got information from his informers on the Copperbelt, Tayali went to inform Amos Chanda who was at the time, the Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations who in turn told President Lungu. Simusamba said in his judgment that they could not arrest CK at the time because he was a serving minister,” Akafumba said.

“So, President Lungu, after firing CK, he immediately arrested him. So, to us, this has been a political prosecution by President Lungu and the PF. That is what they wanted. So, PF has all along, including all the cases that are before the court tried to get CK where they have put him in order to weaken his spirit. I can assure the nation that the man is not broken and is as strong as ever.”

He said the law was being selectively applied.

“Yesterday, we quickly applied for bail pending appeal. The magistrate in his wisdom refused to entertain it and he has put the date of 20th October to hear and determine the bail application. Ordinarily, things being equal, he should have determined the bail application. Remember, ladies and gentlemen, a bail is a right. But under these circumstances where we are where PF has broken all the institutions of governance, it’s only the PF who are above the law. It is in public domain that three quarters of the ministers who have made a semblance of an appearance in the courts of law, all of them got acquitted, others got nolles in very serious cases. That is not how it should be in a democratic society where all human beings are equal before the law,” Akafumba said.

He urged the PF to start preparing to pack and go.

“The alliance is in fact now more stronger than it was before. While the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized by the Holy water, PF, you have now baptized us with fire. So, it’s more volume and more fire. To all our members around the country, don’t be discouraged. These are just political gymnastics which we expect. President HH spent 128 days in prison on trumped up charges. We also know that the gassing issue was meant for him but it failed. We also know that this nonsense which they are talking about, the privatization where over 200 companies were privatized, they only picked one. We know that it is about HH but mwachepa (you’re too small). To me, just prepare, pack and go. But I want to urge all our structures nationwide that if you have been operating in gear 2, start operating in gear 3, faka speed mwana (add some speed),” said Akafumba.

And Hichilema said Kambwili was only in prison because Zambia was being led by an autocratic, brutal regime.

“CK doesn’t belong where he spent a night in. He belongs to his home. He is there because we have an autocratic regime, we have a brutal regime. We have a regime taking away children’s rights to education, a regime taking away employment opportunities. The very regime that promised more jobs is taking away even the little jobs that our people have, it is taking away the business opportunities in the markets that our mothers have,” Hichilema said.

Hichilema urged Kambwili’s family and the NDC to remain strong and united.

“My message to the family here is be strong. It is a passing phase. It’s a process that we have to go through. Our hearts are out with CK. This is a time to be united. It is not a time to start polarizing yourselves over issues that have no consequence. This is a time to bond. And we expect you to be strong. Then, we the alliance, can add more glue to that bondage. Ifi fyonse fikapwa (all this shall come to pass). We must all remain strong and remove fear. It is the PF scheme to put CK in there in order to shake you and all of us. So, let’s stay strong and united. I know CK will be out soon. He will be joining us,” said Hichilema.