RAINBOW Party general secretary Wynter Kabimba says there is no dictatorship in Zambia and that those preaching about it should read researched works about how dictatorial regimes treat their people.

And Kabimba says he has no emotions regarding NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili’s imprisonment because the former is neither his friend nor his relative.

Speaking on the People’s Debate on Pan-African Radio, Monday, Kabimba argued that there was no dictatorship in the country.

“Sometimes I hear people saying, ‘oh, there is dictatorship in this country!’ Have you ever lived under a dictatorship? Go and read Chile under Pinochet. Go and read. Read books. Don’t just come to Pan-African Radio and read a small newspaper on the street. Go and read researched works. Read about Chile under Pinochet, and then you will know what a dictatorship is. Read about Brazil under a military dictatorship from 1964 to 1987. Read about the dictatorial regimes in Latin America and you will come to learn what dictatorship is. Go and acquire knowledge. Read about Chile under Pinochet where as we are seated here, you and I, the listeners there would just hear this programme coming to an end because you and I would have been picked up by Chilean police and we would disappear. There are many relatives, today, in Chile who do not even know where the graves of their husbands, brothers, sisters, mothers, or fathers are. That’s a dictatorship,” Kabimba argued.

Kabimba, however, said police had made it difficult for opposition political parties to mobilise their members because they were trained to receive instructions.

“We think that the application of these restrictions is discriminatory and certainly not being applied in good faith. It’s very difficult that every time you want to congregate, you must fight with the police and the health authorities and we are under one year before the next presidential election. We hope that the rules that have been put in place could apply to everybody, but they don’t seem to, unfortunately. So, we, as Rainbow Party, like many other opposition political parties are affected in this regard. Police are trained to take instructions. So, once they have been given instructions, they are hardly flexible. What we are hoping for is that this COVID-19 pandemic will actually slow down, become manageable even as we see a surge in numbers in other countries. Africa seems to be doing quite well in that respect. So, we are hoping that as we go along, we can see some kind of relaxed measures, which could allow people to assemble. But it is just a hope,” Kabimba said.

Kabimba said there was need for legislation to criminalise statements which had potential to plunge the country into civil strife.

“It is high time that pronouncements, which cannot be substantiated, should be criminalised. I am an advocate of that. And it is because they have the propensity of drifting this country into civil strife. We have never experienced civil strife in Zambia. We have never experienced a civil war in this country. And we have also not read about those countries that have drifted into civil war because of careless and reckless statements by politicians. So, statements like those must be curbed. And the way to curb them is to bring in a piece of legislation that clearly makes it an offense to make such pronouncements that, ‘political party A is colluding with ECZ to rig elections’ unless you have evidence. Where you have the evidence, you provide the evidence. Where you don’t have the evidence, the law must visit you because you are a bad seed in the politics of the country and you can get this country into problems,” Kabimba said.

But Kabimba urged opposition political parties to work hard to defeat the PF next year.

“We must tolerate each other. That’s the only way we are going to build a democracy. And for me, I want to repeat myself that the only friend that I have is ‘Mr Truth.’ So, if you want to hear the truth, you will get it from me. And if it favours you, good, [but] if it is against you, too bad. There is nothing that I can do. I don’t have a factory where I can change truth into falsehood,” Kabimba said.

“So, I want to appeal to our colleagues in other opposition political parties [that] let’s just work in our opposition political parties and work hard. And if we do work hard, we can defeat PF in the 2021 elections just like the PF defeated MMD in 2011. I have been there and I know it can be done. Let us respect our institutions of governance. Let us respect the courts, let us respect ECZ, let us respect the police, and let us respect all these institutions because they are part of the democratic process. In saying that, I am not saying that the men and women in those institutions are angels, no. They can make mistakes, but there are also avenues where their mistakes can be remedied if we have grievances. But I refuse to undermine these institutions. That is what I don’t want to be part of.”

Asked how he felt about Kambwili’s imprisonment, Kabimba said he was not moved about the former Roan PF member of parliament’s incarceration.

“I don’t have any emotions about it (Chishimba Kambwili’s imprisonment). I can’t express any emotions about it. Kambwili is not my friend, he is not my relative, so, I have no emotions about his imprisonment. If you remember when he was sick at CFB, I went and visited him. But if you want my honest comment about (his imprisonment), I don’t believe or let me put it this way…treason in Africa is often a political offence. Treason in Africa is largely a political offense [but] forging a document cannot be a political offence,” he said.

Kabimba said there were several other avenues that Kambwili could use to appeal his conviction and that if he was innocent, the courts would vindicate him.

“Forging a document, when you append your signature falsely and utter that document that it has been signed by somebody who should have signed it is not a political offence. That’s a straightforward criminal offence. But the man is entitled to bail. He is entitled to an appeal and if the subordinate court was wrong, I am sure the High Court will set aside the conviction and a sentence. If the High Court upholds the judgement of the subordinate court, he still has a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal, and you can go up to the Supreme Court. So, like he, himself, has said that this is not the end of him, he has all these avenues. Again, institutions of governance, established under our Constitution, and I have no doubt that if the NDC leader is innocent, he shall be vindicated by this process. But if he is not innocent, then the consequences will follow,” he said.

When asked why the Rainbow Party never participated in by-elections, Kabimba said participation in elections required strong foot soldiers to fight the electoral battle effectively.

“Participation in an election is like going to war. You only go to war if you know that you have got troops that are ready to fight on the ground. There is no need for you to attempt to go to war when you have weak soldiers or when the strength of your army cannot fight a war. We are very realistic in the Rainbow Party that unless we strengthen our mobilisation on the ground, until and unless we get to marshal numbers on the ground, there is no need for us to participate in a by-election, besides [that], our focus is on the 2021 presidential and general election. We continue to mobilise the party,” said Kabimba.