STATEMENT OF THE AFRICA LIBERAL NETWORK ON THE RELEASE OF ZAMBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER HAKAINDE HICHILEMA
Note to editors:
The Africa Liberal Network is Africa’s largest political affiliation, consisting of 45 member parties from over 25 countries. The following statement and remarks are provided by the newly-elected ALN President, Stevens Mokgalapa MP, the South African Shadow Minister for International Relations and Co-operation (Democratic Alliance).
The Africa Liberal Network welcomes the release of Mr Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), a full member of the ALN and Zambia’s largest opposition party. Hichilema and his five co-accused were arrested on false and trumped up charges of treason in April 2017 but prosecutors dropped all charges on 16 August after the accused pleaded “not guilty”. Considering that treason is an unbailable offence and carries a minimum jail term of 15 years and a maximum sentence of the death penalty, the ALN is very pleased to hear about Hichilema’s safe release.
ALN president, Stevens Mokgalapa, attended the court proceedings in Lusaka on 14 August, where he offered the support of our liberal family. Even though the release of the opposition leader is welcome and happy news, the ALN remains concerned about the state of affairs in Zambia. The political situation remains tense as intimidation of the opposition continues in the shadow of an extended state of emergency implemented by President Lungu in July 2017. MP Mokgalapa met with various stakeholders and the local media as well as individuals from the opposition who indicated that UPND supporters are still facing intimidation by security forces. The state of emergency places unlimited power in the government’s hands, which is being used to intimidate and threaten opposition parties and citizens alike. These measures include the prohibition of public meetings, the closure of roads, imposed curfews and restricted movements, all to be enforced by security forces.
The ALN implores President Lungu and the Zambian government to respect due process, the rule of law, human rights and democratic processes. The network further calls on the President to lift the state of emergency in Zambia as it is being used as an instrument to intimidate opposition and control the media. Zambia can once again reclaim its position as a stellar example of a democracy in Africa if the Zambian government ceases arbitrary prosecution and intimidation of opposition parties and their supporters.
The ALN will continue to work tirelessly with the UPND for the promotion of liberal values in Zambia in order to achieve a better future for all, based on the rule of law, freedom of expression and the entrenchment of human rights.
Zanie Ferreira (ALN Coordinator)