PATRIOTIC Front Lusaka Province chairperson Kennedy Kamba says he will not retract his remarks where he called on all political party structures and cadres to treat constitutional lawyer John Sangwa as a political opponent.

On Sunday, Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Abyudi Shonga demanded that Kamba withdraws the remarks issued against Sangwa, stating that the said statements were irresponsible and capable of endangering the liberty and safety of a citizen who enjoys the full protection of the Constitution.

But in an interview, Kamba stressed that Sangwa should be treated as a political enemy because he was trying to disturb the party’s campaigns.

He further said he could not withdraw his earlier statement against Sangwa, because it did not equate to threats.

“Does that warrant threats when I say ‘let us treat Sangwa as a political opponent’? Who is Sangwa? Sangwa is a political enemy of the PF government. That is what I said, we should just treat him as our political opponent. Our members should not bury their heads in the sand when we know that we are dealing with a political opponent in the name of Sangwa. I don’t know how you equate that to threats, that is how Sangwa should be treated, because he is trying to disturb our campaigns. He is trying to rewrite the same law so that it can suit his ambitions of fighting his political enemies. As a party we cannot allow that, as a party we have a duty to protect the President and that is President Edgar Lungu as our candidate. This is why I cannot apologise and I cannot withdraw the statement against Sangwa, because number one it doesn’t equate to threats,” Kamba said.

“If he has freedom of speech, how about me? Can I keep quiet because I am in a ruling party, I don’t have the same freedom of association, freedom of speech? The answer is no! We equally have the rights and I am trying to express myself to the Zambian people. The party cadres, the party officials must treat Sangwa as our political enemy. He has reported me to the police, let the police take action. I can equally go and report [him] to police for reporting falsehoods, where did I threaten his life? He is telling the Zambia Police lies that I am threatening him, which is not the case. Those are my rights! I can equally report Sangwa to the police. I am not a thug; I am not a criminal.”

When asked if his remarks might excite PF cadres into carrying out violent attacks on Sangwa, Kamba said political cadres were not excited, but could only get excited when they wanted to protect the office of the President.

“They are not excited, they have never been excited, what they do is to protect their political interests. What they do is to protect the office of the President. The cadres’ interest is to protect the interest of the President that is all. You want the cadres to fold arms when the President is being abused? When the office of the Constitutional Court is being abused against the President? You want our party officials to fold their arms and allow Sangwa to be misinforming the Zambian people? Can we allow that as a party? The answer is no! If the cadres are excited, yes, they can be excited because they want to protect the office of the President. That President is President of the party PF. When the matter comes up, we are going to the Constitutional Court to show solidarity, and protect the President. Those are our rights equally! So, let him not think that freedom of expression only belongs to the opposition, no bwana! Let him not mislead the Zambian people,” Kamba said.

He also accused Sangwa of trying to mislead the country with regards to President Lungu’s eligibility when the court had ruled on the matter.

“He is trying to mislead our Zambian people, he is trying to misinform the Zambian people, when that matter has already been settled by the highest courts in the land, which is the Constitution Court. Kapalasa appealed against the judgment and that case has been thrown out. Today, as we are speaking, that case has been dealt with costs against Sangwa. Today, the ECZ who are mandated to run the elections validated the filling in of President Edgar Lungu. So, elections are not won in courts of the law. The elections are won on the ballot, if his president Hakainde Hichilema is popular on the ground let him face President Lungu in the ballot box, not in the courts of the law, where the courts have even ruled in favour of President Edgar Lungu to stand as this is his second term. Who is Sangwa to stop the ECZ? To me Sangwa is trying to rewrite the law to suit his egos so that he fights his political enemies. That is what he is trying to do,” claimed Kamba.

In a statement, Sunday, Shonga said the statements made by Kamba were irresponsible and capable of endangering the liberty and safety of citizens.

“The Law Association of Zambia is saddened by sentiments of ill will targeted at Mr. John Peter Sangwa, SC attributed to the Patriotic Front (PF) Lusaka Province Chairperson Mr. Kennedy Kamba, for petitioning the Constitutional Court on the eligibility of his party’s candidate for Presidential Elections, His Excellency Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu. In the said press report, Mr. Kamba is reported to be directing party cadres to treat Mr. Sangwa as a political opponent merely because he has moved the courts of law, contrary to the wishes of Mr Kamba. LAZ views the unfortunate statements as irresponsible and capable of endangering the liberty and safety of a citizen who enjoys the full protection of the Constitution of Zambia,” Shonga said.

“Of particular worry is the fact that the PF, alongside other political parties in Zambia, accepted LAZ’s call to bring down the political temperature by participating in discussions aimed at culminating into a peace charter ahead of the elections. Actions such as those taken by Mr Kamba are an affront to the peace process LAZ is spearheading. The dispute that is subject of Mr. Kamba’s statement is before the Court. In a constitutional democracy such as ours, differences in opinion must not be settled on the streets, but must be concluded by the courts of law. No one should ever be prevented from having their day in court.”

Shonga said LAZ would engage PF Secretary General Davies on the remarks made by Kamba and that it would also engage the Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja to ensure the liberties of Sangwa were assured.

“LAZ also notes that Mr Sangwa is not even a named party in any of the petitions that have irked Mr Kamba, but is a lawyer representing the named parties. A lawyer must not be victimised merely for plying their trade, no matter how unpopular or controversial the subject matter may be. LAZ demands the unequivocal withdrawal of the threats issued against Mr John Sangwa, SC and an assurance by the leaders of the PF that party cadres have been advised to stand-down and not disturb the liberty and safety of Mr Sangwa, SC,” Shonga said.

“The position LAZ takes applies with equal force to the liberty and safety of every person, no matter their political inclinations. LAZ will engage the Secretary General of the PF to register its concerns. LAZ will also engage the Inspector General of Police to ensure that the liberties of Mr Sangwa, SC are assured and that any perpetrators of violence will be brought to book.”