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Zambia the new ZimbabweBy Diggers Editor on 20 May 2017
While Zambians are busy arguing about whether Hakainde Hichilema’s arrogance in Mongu was necessary or if President Edgar Lungu’s ego is befitting for a poor man from Chawama compound, the world out there is redefining Zambia.
Professors of law and democracy, scholars, academicians and authors are cashing in, writing about what constitutes “Treason” in Zambia, as they admit a new member to the list of African dictatorships.
Make no mistake, Zambia is now in the middle of international media spotlight – and there is no better-placed country that should appreciate the consequences of Western media frenzy than Zimbabwe’s closest neighbour.
The list is endless, but we picked the most damaging international headlines from the world’s most respected news sources to illustrate the extent of disgrace which has befallen Zambia so far, thanks to two power-hungry political rivals.
The Western press is already reporting that Zambia, under President Lungu, is planning to pull out of the International Criminal Court to pave way for what he is about to do to his political opponents.
How road rage led to treason charge in Zambia
“Zambia’s opposition leader has been charged with treason after his convoy failed to pull over for the president’s motorcade.”
Treason charge plunges Zambia into political crisis
“Tension in Zambia, which has been one of southern Africa’s most vibrant democracies, is threatening to destabilise a country that is already grappling with rising debt, widening deficits, sluggish growth and weak revenues from copper that account for 70 per cent of export earnings.”
DAILY NATION KENYA:
Lungu need not spoil what makes Zambia unique
“Zambia is one of few African countries that have managed to avoid political havoc and wars in most sub-Sahara countries in nearly six decades. Current events in that country will show whether the country will maintain that reputation. I would urge those in power in Zambia to take a step back from the brink and move back onto the path of democratic progress while they still can, before irreversible damage is done.”
MAIL & GUARDIAN:
Zambian opposition leaders detained in ‘filthy, unimaginable’ conditions
“The congestion is beyond what you can believe. The smell is indescribable. It’s so filthy you can’t even imagine.”
Zambia denies opposition leader barred access to lawyer
“Treason is a non-bailable offence in Zambia, with a minimum jail term of 15 years and a maximum sentence of the death penalty.
A Zambian opposition leader was arrested, but there are deeper cracks in the country’s democracy
“There’s more to this story, though. Observers of Zambian politics have identified a much broader process of democratic erosion and government repression in Zambia, where the independence of political institutions has been undermined.
So Zambia, Hungary and Turkey all exemplify the ways in which democracy tends to fall apart in the 21st century. In the past, coups used to be the most imminent threat against the survival of democracy, but Zambia and other cases illustrate how democracy can suffer gradual deterioration. The independence of democratic institutions is slowly chipped away while presidential powers are extended.
BBC WORLD NEWS
EU MPs debate motion on Zambian opposition leader
“The first motion expresses concern at the imprisonment of Zambia’s opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, who was detained last month on suspicion of treason. The draft motion calls for a prompt, impartial and thorough investigation into allegations that he has been mistreated in prison.”
Dark, dangerous days for Zambia’s democracy
“Hakainde Hichilema is famously suspicious; with a safe room in his house, he travels with a phalanx of bodyguards, and often brings his own food wherever he goes, just in case anyone wants to poison him. After the attack on the home of Zambia’s opposition leader, and then his arrest on spurious charges, Zambia’s reputation as a beacon of democracy in Africa is under serious threat. No one is dismissing Hichilema’s paranoia now – and no one is quite sure what would have happened in the absence of that safe room into which he could retreat.”
WORLD POLITICS REVIEW:
A road rage case in Zambia is renewing fear for the country’s democracy
“The latest flare-up in Zambia’s ongoing political drama began with a high-profile case of road rage. This could be the beginning of something quite scary. There is little sign that a more functional political environment is in the cards. One potentially worrying sign could be the “interesting set of friends” President Edgar Lungu has courted since assuming office, arranging visits with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.”
THE CONVERSATION, ACADEMIC RIGOUR:
We need to talk about Zambia as it falls from grace under President Lungu
“Zambia has often been ignored by the international media. One reason for this neglect is that it’s been comparatively unexceptional, on a continent with more than its fair share of extremes. As a result, the country has returned to the headlines, and whether one agrees with the Catholic Bishops’ evaluation about the country turning into a dictatorship or not, one thing is clear: it’s time to start talking about Zambia.”
Zambia politics in worrying turn
“What has been happening in Zambia must not pass without comment. It is a direct assault on Zambia’s democratic traditions and a stain on the continent’s record. It has long-term costs for Zambians and other Africans alike.”
US SENATE COMMITTEE:
“Senator Ben Cardin Raises Hakainde Hichilema’s Case with Capitol Hill
“The most recent State Department Country Report for Human Rights in Zambia indicates that the government has only taken selective and halting steps to prosecute or punish officials who committed these abuses, targeting mostly those who opposed the ruling party.”
Political turmoil in Zambia
“In the SADC region, Zambia has been praised as a beacon of democracy because of the smooth transfer of power by five presidents since 1991, but the recent arrest of the country’s main opposition leader suggests [that] that trend may be changing. There has been narrowing democratic space against the high handedness of police actions in Zambia.”
Ironically, the World media is still attributing the treason offence to the motorcade incident in Mongu when in fact the State dropped that charge through a nolle prosequi more than a week ago.
At News Diggers! we have every reason to believe that if President Edgar Lungu was enjoying this treason euphoria when it started, he is certainly not enjoying the negative publicity now, unless there is something acutely wrong with his faculties.
We believe that the President of the Republic of Zambia has now realised that this was a joke taken too seriously, but has no idea how to put an end to it while retaining plausible deniability of being behind Mr Hichilema’s incarceration.
Unless President Edgar Lungu doesn’t mind coming out of hiding and doing like Frederick Chiluba did – taking credit for Kenneth Kaunda’s jailing and release from Prison – he has no option but to privately ask Magistrate David Simusamba to find a way of acquitting Mr Hichilema on Monday. If our judiciary has suddenly become too independent for such an undertaking, then let the DPP enter a nolle prosequi.
This shouldn’t be difficult, we would assume, because on acquitting Mr Hichilema in the insulting case, magistrate Greenwell Malumani already discredited the treason charge as baseless and even admonished the arresting officer before branding him a liar.
If magistrate Simusamba refers the treason case to the High Court for trial, the preliminary judicial inquiries which will arise, shall further prolong the detention of Zambia’s biggest opposition leader, thereby destroying President Lungu’s little remaining admiration.
This may excite those who dislike Mr Hichilema and his “tribal party”, especially those in the ruling Patriotic Front.
But here is the bad news for PF; on all the above listed websites, the search word is “Hichilema”, which means some of these world media outlets have never published any stories about the UPND leader before. There is no story on these websites about how President Lungu is humble and loves to pray, or how UPND is a tribal party. This will eventually turn out to be free publicity for HH. In the eyes of the world out there, Hichilema who refused to give way to the Presidential motorcade, like we all do in Zambia, is now the victim and President Lungu is the aggressor.
Ironically, the World media is still attributing the treason offence to the motorcade incident in Mongu when in fact the State dropped that charge through a nolle prosequi more than a week ago. The world media is no longer portraying Zambia as a peaceful home of United Nations refugees from war torn-African countries. Right now, all what the world believes is that Zambia is under a ruthless, thin-skinned dictator.
Ironically again, at his first press conference as Head of State in January 2015, President Lungu said his stay in State House was going to be very short because he was merely a transition President after the death of Michael Sata, but today, the transition leader is knocking out key participants in the democratic process.
Our fear is that if President Lungu is not helped out of this political quagmire, he will end up as Africa’s most battered Ex-President, unless he has no intentions of leaving State House – which is not a far fetched possibility judging by the levels of intolerance.
But if President Lungu is not ready to follow Robert Mugabe’s footsteps of retiring within State House, we are hereby reminding him with due respect that without the police, the army and the PF militia behind, he is nothing. He may have a lot more money by the time he leaves office, but that money will not make him more powerful than the person who will take over from him. It will be the same Arthur Shonga, Mbita Mpazi and other police officers who were squeezing HH’s workers’ genitals who will squeeze the genitals of those who are eating with President Lungu now. It is the same Magistrate Malumani and Simusamba who will decide the fate of those who are persecuting HH and his co-accused now. This is not science, it is called karma.
The Western press is already reporting that Zambia, under President Lungu, is planning to pull out of the International Criminal Court to pave way for what he is about to do to his political competitors. If the Western media turns a blind eye to any positive developmental news coming out of Zambia and focuses on crimes against humanity, our beloved humble Edgar Chagwa Lungu will not end better than Ivory Coast dictator Laurent Gbagbo.
Please save President Lungu!
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