LEADER of the Opposition in Parliament Brian Mundubile says President Hakainde Hichilema’s State of the Nation Address on the progress made in the application of national values and principles was disappointing.
But Deputy Chief Whip Princess Kasune says she is proud of President Hichilema because he addressed key issues affecting members of the society.
Speaking on the sidelines, Friday, Mundubile said it was unfortunate that President Hichilema failed to give a statement on arrests of opposition leaders.
“First of all, we must appreciate the platform that was provided by the Constitution where the Executive President comes to report on the progress made in the implementation of national values and principles. Now given that the UPND has been in power for six months, the expectations are very high in terms of how they have implemented certain values and principles, especially to do with democracy, to do with constitutionalism, to do with human dignity and ethics. I must say here now that I am rather disappointed because that did come out clear. I think what we saw coming out from the Excellency, the President was like a statement of intent of what they intend to do. What we expected was the President to give an account of what measures had been put in place,” he said.
“You are aware that for instance, we have had a number of arrests of political leaders around the country against the initial undertaking that the President made where he said he would ensure that he governs using and respecting rule of law, such that people will not be kept in detention unnecessarily long. Unfortunately, that has continued to happen and I am sure that is why we did not get any statement or any report on the progress that has been made in that area.”
He said a number of people, especially those associated with the PF, had been detained beyond the stipulated 48 hours.
“The statement to that effect was made, I want to tell you that and I believe that you have been following the events, being a lawyer myself, I have been on hand to try and assist party officials. If you talk about Davies Chama he was in detention for 11 days, if we talk about many other officials who have been detained beyond 48 hours, in most cases they are facing cases that are bondable. This is exactly where we wanted the President to use this platform and make an undertaking. If he could not give progress as to what has happened, we expected him to pronounce himself and give a policy direction or a directive to the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure that this does not continue to happen,” Mundubile said.
“Secondly, what happened recently was where former president’s barber man was detained and tortured. He was also detained for a number of days, without being given bond, we expected the President to come out very clearly because that speaks to human dignity as provided for in the Constitution under article 8.”
And Mundubile said the fight against corruption should not be used for mere persecution of opposition leaders.
“The issue of corruption has been very topical and we have said this time and again that as the Patriotic Front party we will support any genuine fight against corruption. What we do not support, however, what we frown upon is where a perceived fight against corruption is used for mere persecution. We are saying, let the law enforcement and investigative wings do their diligent investigations and where there is a case, let the law take its course. What we have seen is that firstly, there has been a song about PF corrupt officials and PF corrupt MPs and Ministers. What we are saying is that if at all there are any within ourselves, within our party that are corrupt, can the law take its course. Because mere pronouncement and continuing to paint black, I don’t think that is the way to go,” said Mundubile.
“We are honourable members of parliament and our party is an opposition party, a party in waiting. It will also be unfair for us, we know of some corrupt elements in the UPND, just in the past six months some corrupt dealings have been cited. Can we call the entire government corrupt? No! We should cite the individuals that are involved in those corrupt activities.”
But Kasuni said there was need for all members of society to rally behind President Hichilema.
“I think it is important therefore to understand what the President was talking about, that actually we have a 20 percent reduction in gender based violence. I think we know very well that cases such as the one we saw in Chipata are very troubling, where women are still actually being violated. As champions here in Parliament, we are talking about the importance of comprehensive sexuality education, because when our students know the importance of them staying in school, we will reduce the numbers in terms of teenage pregnancies. From what I love the most from me, who has been a gender activist for a long time, it is to see to it that the President is emphasizing that those who are getting married to you young people, they will not only be brought to book, even their parents will be brought to book. It is important that all of us, we need to rally behind the President. We are so proud of the President,” said Kasuni.