from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – YET another individual has come under criticism for allegedly “insulting” President Haikande Hichilema, at a time critics argue Zambia is sliding further into dictatorship.
Kelvin Bwalya Fube, leader of the opposition Zambia Must Prosper (ZMP), has incurred the wrath of Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) for the utterances attributed to him during a television interview.
He is quoted as slamming Hichilema as irresponsible, a liar, incompetent and circus.
Obvious Mwaliteta, Chairman of the UPND in the capital Lusaka Province, said Fube’s language was “vulgar” and “distasteful.”
Mwaliteta said, “This in itself is irresponsible, offensive and has the potential to ignite lawlessness, and we don’t want and will not support that against our political adversaries.”
The UPND chairman said Fube “must not throw stones in a glass house because we are capable of exposing him even further than this.”
“Let him exercise his checks and balances with sobriety and maturity and let him take this as a friendly reminder. We will not tolerate anyone insulting the Republican President under the guise of freedom of speech,” Mwaliteta said.
Critics accuse former opposition leader Hichilema for being dictatorial since coming to power in 2021, with a pledge to deepen freedoms.
These were said to be violated under the leadership of Edgar Lungu and the Patriotic Front (PF).
Citizens were still being jailed for “insulting” Hichilema but late last year, government repealed the defamation law that had been in place since 1965.
The law carried a punishment of up to three years imprisonment.
While the law has been repealed, the ruling UPND still does not take kindly to “insults” against the president.
“We appreciate the excitement by the opposition over their newly-found freedom of speech but let them exercise this right responsibly, while bearing in mind that President Hichilema has law-abiding supporters who must not be pushed too far.”
Party supporters weighed in on the issue.
Edward Simposo said the opposition must respect the president.
“He was given a mandate to rule this country for five years. Tone down and use sober language,” he said.
Richard Chalwe disagreed.
“KBF (Fube) was right. He is telling the truth” Chalwe said.
Fube is formerly of the PF party, which accuses the government of Hichilema of targeting its members in an allegedly partisan anti-corruption drive.
The Lungu family, of the former president, has not been spared the probes.
– CAJ News