JOINT PRESS BRIEFING OF OPPOSITION POLITICAL PARTIES
Date: Thursday 16th November, 2023
Time: 09:30 hours
Venue: Citizens First Secretariat
• Presidents of Opposition Political Parties Present
• The OCiDA Chairman Emeritus Archbishop of Lusaka Telesphore Mpundu
• Board Members of OCiDA Present
• Central Committee Members of the Parties Present
• Members of the Press
• Distinguished Guests
• Countrymen and Women;
• All Protocols Observed
Countrymen and Women
We are happy to welcome you to this joint press briefing by opposition political parties on the State of the Nation. Allow me to start by expressing my profound gratitude to the various political leaders for their magnanimity in allowing the Citizens First to host them at the Citizen’s Secretariat and indeed for bestowing on me the responsibility to read this joint statement. Our coming together demonstrates the willingness and commitment of all the leaders assembled here to find common ground on the pressing national issues that affect us all, some of which present serious threats to national unity, our country’s sovereignty and indeed our independence as a sovereign state.
When all is said and done, we are of the strong view that as a nation, there is more that unites us than what divides us and our goal is to come together and overcome the external forces that seek to push a wedge through us in their quest to divide us. It is our hope that together, we will have the strength to gunner the spirit of unity that enabled our forefathers and mothers to work in unison and defeat the divisive forces that are lurking.
It is very clear that President Hakainde and his government are hell bent on surrendering the interest of this country to their foreign backers and we shudder to think how our forefathers and mothers who fought so valiantly to secure independence for us must be thinking to see this level of betrayal by a leader who is keen to reverse every form of self-actualization and national sovereignty that was won with bloodshed and even loss of life for many.
A country with the second largest copper deposits in Africa, coupled with critical minerals and all manner of precious and semi-precious minerals and a youthful population, the country remains scandalously poor due to the misplaced priorities. The priority of President Hichilema and his UPND administration appears to be destroying any form of opposition, corruptly amassing personal wealth, and faithfully serving the interests of those they regard as their masters: the external forces that continue cheering them on even when the economy remains significantly embattled with an exchange rate that is in free fall, with the cost of living that is significantly escalating and exacerbating poverty levels while youth unemployment has gone through the chart. And faced with all these vices, you have a President that is shuttling between two extremes; globetrotting from one end of the world to the other even where the country can be better represented by a Director and on the other extreme, seeking to suppress the opposition using some elements of compromised government institutions that seem to be ready to support his quest to further divide the nation.
We have recognised the increasing desperation by Mr. Hichilema emanating from the realisation that he has very little to show for the years he has spent in power other than the scheduled normal recruitment of teachers and health workers into the civil service to fill the space and infrastructure that was constructed by his predecessors. And instead of shifting gears and getting to work, he is introducing his so called “imingalato” by which; in his own words implying that he intends to kill opposition leaders by wriggling their necks. By any measure, this statement alone is tantamount to hate speech and yet it came from a head of state who swore an oath to protect the constitution of Zambia and is supposedly a church elder. Following that statement by the President, we have seen all manner of harassment, persecution, prosecution interference in matters relating to political parties, extra-judicial punishment and torture. He is doing all this because he has seen the clear writings on the wall: Aleya!!! Come 2026; he is going out and we want to serve notice to all those agents he has recruited to fight his battle that Nothing Can Stand In the Way of the People. The Will of the people will Prevail!!! If the Great KK could Fall, who is HH?
Ladies and Gentlemen;
The eroding of democracy under President Hichilema is very real and is evidenced by the conduct of the Speaker of the National Assembly, the behavior of the Inspector General of Police, the conduct of the Judiciary and the Registrar of Societies, all speak to a grand scheme being orchestrated by those in power to frustrate democracy and allow a DICTATOR to assert himself and take root. Instead of taking pride in the democracy that has made Zambia the pride of the continent, he has instead opted to weaponise state institutions in order to prolong his stay in power. While claiming to be a democrat, his actions have shown clear actions of a Dictator that MUST be stopped in his tracks.
Today opposition leaders have made court attendance a full time vacation simply because he wants to frustrate their efforts. He has continued to frustrate opposition political parties and leaders by denying them the right to organise political meetings, the right to peacefully assemble, the right to hold rallies, all of which are enshrined in the Republican Constitution.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
OCiDA, LAZ, the Consortium of Civil Society Organisations, the United Kingdom and the United States of America governments through their High Commission and Embassy respectively, here in Zambia, and now the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia as well as the Catholic Bishops through their Pastoral Letters, have all validated the various opposition political parties’ repeated warnings to the nation about flagrant and incessant acts of violation of the Constitution and growing dictatorship, emasculation of the institutions of state that are meant to protect the rights of the citizens. – the Electoral Commission of Zambia, the Judiciary, Parliament, the Police and now we are aware of a clandestine operation that is bringing men and women in uniform in the political fray simply because you have a President that wants to hold on to power by any means necessary. A man who swore on oath to protect the Constitution of Zambia is today seeking to operate outside of the constitution and exposing civil servants to possible arraignment after he vacates office in 2026.
As opposition leaders we would like to state that we have resolved to stand in alignment and agree to the statements and position of the CSO’s, the Catholic Bishops, the EFZ and the many voices that have echoed their disdain towards the diminishing democratic space in Zambia. We are equally elated by the statement by OCiDA titled; The Horrific Assault on Constitutional Democracy in Zambia by President Hakainde Hichilema and His UPND Administration, and as we adopt this and the many points raised, we would also like to re-eco some challenges that we have seen that have the potential to undermine the integrity of a nation and throw us into anarchy if not addressed forthwith.
These issues include;
1. Rampant Corruption
We have seen a significant increase in corruption that has been necessitated by the Hakainde Hichilema single sourcing practice especially when dealing with key expenses on which the welfare of the nation heavily relies. What is ironic is that the oversight institutions have elected silence in the face of national pillage.
The donor agencies have equally opted to remain mute even in the face of blatant abuse of public office orchestrated by those at the apex of public office.
We would like to ask the ACC to visit ZAMRA and look at Egypt transaction so that they notify the nation why the correct procedure was not followed in that multi million dollar transaction. The nation deserves to know why ZAMRA went ahead to approve the contract and delivery of drugs from Egypt in the absence of a dossier. The scandal at ZAMRA today will make Honey Bee look like a storm in a cup. As the ACC carries out their investigation, we would like them to extend that to ZAMSA and let the nation know why the Egyptian deal was only closed after the Egyptian transaction was only finalized after the ZAMSA Director General was hounded out.
This is not just grand corruption, but also puts the lives of many Zambians at risk owing to the procuring of drugs that have not been tested and validated by experts but instead that was done by a DG who himself was an interested party.
2. Abduction of Citizens Rights:
We have seen an increase in abduction of citizens especially those with a political inclination, who end up being locked up without appearing before the courts of law beyond the stipulated period. This conduct has potential to backfire as it is sawing retributive seeds and may result in a perpetuation of this treatment once government changes in 2026. While all efforts are being made by the opposition to reconcile the nation, the head of state has remained restrained and he is not willing to address the growing tribal divide that is fast threatening the peace that this country has always enjoyed since 24th October, 1964.
Human Rights are guaranteed in the republican constitution and the expectation is that government MUST do everything to ensure that the rights of the Citizens are not just upheld bust also guaranteed.
These abuses of the law and citizens are being made in “full view” of the donor community who continue to praise government even when all the fundamentals point in the direction of a distressed and falling state.
We demand that the president starts walking the talk and stop the rhetoric of reading inclusive speeches while his action and instructions are meant to diminish political space.
3. Meddling in Opposition Parties
It is an act of grave cowardice for the ruling party to start meddling in the internal affairs of opposition parties. What started with the DP, and the NDC moved to the CF has now gone to the PF and who knows what party is next. All these actions are aimed at weakening the opposition in Zambia. as they do not want a strong opposition that can stand up to them.
For the first time in this country’s history, we are having senior military personnel being drafted to participate in covert activities that are intended to disenfranchise the opposition. We want to remind civil servants and the men and women in uniform who are being drafted into covert operations to resist such activities. We would like to warn those pushing such an agenda that we know what is happening and we will not hesitate to hold you personally accountable at the right time.
It is apparent that this takeover of parties was made possible owing to the apparent lack of unity among opposition leaders as well as other interest groups and the citizens not taking a position to speak out in favor of democracy. We now have the Patriotic Front (PF) saga where a parallel leadership has been established that is intended to usurp authority of the only line of defense in the national assembly in their way to turn Zambia into a one Party state using an emasculated Parliament and a Judiciary that has proven to be highly conflicted and compromised.
We are also seen arrests of several opposition leaders on trumped up charges of espionage arising from them expressing their views in an interview with a Zimbabwean journalist. Views that reflect their right to free speech. We want to state for the record, that even for a vindictive and self-righteous person as this leader is, the charge of espionage is inconceivable and will cause much shame to this country but it will only help fuel the resolve for the opposition to remain united in fighting the cause for democracy.
Such actions are a clear evidence of how Zambia today has been auctioned by Mr. Hichilema to foreign commercial interests. We want to tell the Zambian people that it is not Mr. Hichilema who is making some of these decisions. It is his foreign funders who are writing the script and the only thing he is doing is to ask them; “How High he should jump?” We know what is going on, we even know his Caucasian friends who privately boast of how they control him and by default running the country.
As a matter of fact, one of these “friends of the president” has been boasting of having ordered for the arrest of Mr. Given Lubinda, Dr. Fred M’membe, Mr. Raphael Nakacinda and Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba for various charges resulting from the Zimbabwean documentary that exposed the Zambian government of meddling in that country’s internal affairs at the behest of his sponsors. We would like to remind Mr. Hichilema that we will not stand by and allow him to plunge this nation into a cesspool of anarchy simply because of his insatiable appetite for extra judicial power.
His path of victimization has potential to plunging the country into a bloodbath, and it is for this reason that we would like to appeal to his remaining thread of consciousness and ask him to take some time and reflect on the onerous responsibility that comes with the position of President. He is not the first commander in Chief that this country has had and he will certainly not be the last, but so far he has proven to be the first to show blatant abuse of authority to a point where people are scared of expressing themselves for fear of state sponsored victimization.
4. Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ)
Whereas we have been insisting that the position of Chief Electoral Officer be filled, we are however concerned with the choice of candidate that has been selected to take over such a strategic institution. We are aware that the newly recruited Chief Electoral Officer was relieved of his duties at the ECZ for gross misconduct that involved electoral malpractice during the 2016 General Elections. We are at a loss as to how the very person who was dismissed for seeking to manipulate election results in favor of the then opposition UPND, would today be expected to act with impartiality.
It is our founded view that a responsible government would not employ one with such a tainted professional background unless you would like to benefit from their devious attributes and skills.
What is worse is that the Hakainde government has opted to have a team of highly compromised individuals at the helm of this very important institution. We would have expected that Mr. Hichilema would make every effort to ensure that ECZ is rid of any tribal inclination or leaning. Alas that opportunity has been missed as ECZ is not just tribally inclined to UPND but has known members of UPND placed in strategic position including those of Commissioners as well as Chairperson.
We would however like to remind the President that at the end of it all the Will of the People will prevail. No amount of machination will prevail over the resolve for you to vacate office come 2026. The people have resolved and no matter what you do, it will not work.
We would also like to caution those working for ECZ that the responsibility you bear but be executed with integrity and dignity regardless of the pressure that is exerted on you, resolve to do the right thing at all costs and you will not have to worry about being taken to task after the 2026 elections when the UPND is kicked out of office.
5. Freedom of Information:
We are once again at a loss as to why government seem to have developed inertia in allowing the Freedom of Information Bill to be tabled on the floor of Parliament. This was one of the campaign promises that the UPND and its leaders gave to the people of Zambia and once elected, they seem to be reluctant to bring about freedom of information.
Besides the many promises to have the Freedom of Information enacted, this issue still remains unaddressed and no tangible action has been taken to ensure closure. The result of government’s failure to enact the freedom of Information Bill has been the continued harassment of journalists for objective coverage.
We have seen journalists and media houses threatened under frivolous charges simply because of the absence of the protection they seek through the Freedom of Information Act. It is important that government is given the necessary safeguard by the fourth estate. The continued resistance to enact the Freedom of Information Bill is a clear abrogation of Freedom of Information and it goes against the values of a democratic state such as Zambia that is supposed to guarantee the safety of its citizens including members of the Fourth Estate.
The demand that the President makes haste to ensure that he meets this campaign promise by seeing through the enactment of the Freedom of information Bill otherwise we are left with no option but to speculate that their failure to do so is intended to cover their corrupt practices.
6. The Executive’s Control of Constitutional Offices
We are concerned with the level of control that the executive is exercising over oversight institutions that are meant to be first and second lines of defense especially in the fight against corruption has rendered these institutions to be ineffective especially as relates to fighting corruption of those that are currently serving in government. President Hakainde Hichilema does not seem to see anything wrong with that and one can only be left to speculate if he is doing so as a result of himself being a beneficiary as he cannot be investigated by those who feel they are part of the inner-cirle.
The continued housing of key institutions such as the DEC and the ACC under the Office of the President has made a mockery of the fight against corruption. These institutions are now being used as instruments of frustrating opposition leaders and perceived enemies of those in the ruling UPND or the Executive
To the Zambian People;
We ask you to demonstrate, that indomitable Zambian spirit of love for country, love for one another, unity in diversity and unwavering belief in constitutionalism and multi-party democracy. Zambians must realise what is at the heart of the battle before us – The Quest to Defend our Democracy. This UPND Government represents the biggest existential threat to the continued existence of Zambia as we know it. If they are allowed to continue along this trajectory, our nation will become a failed state. We now call upon you all, our gallant men and women, to also unite, to put aside any artificial differences being promoted by this divisive Government and come on board and stand with us as we seek to push back the hand of repression and divison. We ask you to voice out against the evident ills that are being perpetrated with impunity. You MUST resolve to reject the one Party State that they are pushing by obliterating the opposition and buying those that are willing to sell their souls for some pieces of silver.
Finally, to us as opposition political leaders, we MUST resolve to send a very strong message to Mr. Hichilema, that we are ready for him and no matter what they try, our resolve is to liberate Zambia economically, Politically and intellectually. We shall remain united around the need to liberate our country from funders and supporters of the UPND government who see it as their birthright to amass African wealth at the expense of majority Africans who continue to wallow in poverty.
We must remain resolved to unite and confront the UPND and their foreign destructive backers in defense of our Constitution, our sovereign rights as citizens, our political organisations, our hard-won multi-party democracy and God-given national wealth which Mr. Hichilema and his team want to plunder through shell corporations and proxy entities.
To this effect, we are announcing the beginning of a series of actions and activities enshrined in the Constitution of this Republic in exercise of our right to defend our democracy. We will be announcing a detailed program of activities that is intended to let the citizens understand that indeed we were Sold a Lie.
We thank you most sincerely and God bless our nation.
………………………………………….……: Nason Msoni – APC
………………………………………….…….: Harry Kalaba – CF
………………………………………….…….: Wynter Kabimba – EF
………………………………………….…….: Kasonde Mwenda – EFF
………………………………………….…….: Jackson Silavwe – Golden Party
………………………………………….…..: Saboi Imboela – NDC President
………………………………………….……: Chishala Kateka – New Heritage Party
………………………………………….……….: Sean Tembo – PEP
………………………………………….……..: Fred Mmembe – Socialist Party
………………………………………….………: Kelvin Bwalya Fube – ZMP
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