Democracy further wearing away in Zambia


Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema

from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
Zambia Bureau
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THE arrest of journalists and opposition figures as well as the ban on political party rallies is a further erosion of democracy in Zambia under the administration of President Hakainde Hichilema.

A longtime opposition leader, he and the United Party for National Development (UPND) came into power in 2021 with a pledge to uphold human rights from the administration of Edgar Lungu and the Patriotic Front (PF) who were accused of running the country with an iron fist.

Critics accuse the new administration of reneging on the pledge almost three years after the election, and with polls set for 2026, crackdowns are anticipated.

Hichilema’s government insists this is a fight against corruption, which the party claimed pre-election.

A selective application of the law has however been alleged. That is because most of those arrested are from the opposition.

Hichilema is accused of targeting his predecessor, Lungu. In the latest fallout between the two rivals, the Economic and Financial Crimes Court on Tuesday ordered Lungu’s daughter, Chiyeso, to forfeit properties worth over K9 million ($359 000), whose acquisitions the court argued she could not account for.

The properties include flats, farms, a lodge and a luxury house.

It comes months after Lungu’s wife was arraigned on three counts of theft of motor vehicles and a count of theft of a certificate of title for a property.

Lungu late last year announced a return to active politics and is seen as the main contender against Hichilema in 2026.

Meanwhile, last weekend, police arrested Saboi Imboela, president of the National Democratic Party, and Jackson Silavwe, leader of the Golden Party, at the Matanda Ground, venue of an umbrella opposition rally that the law enforcers had outlawed.

“They were observed filming and conducting interviews amongst themselves within the ground,” Rae Hamoonga, Police Public Relations Officer, stated.

Journalists Rodgers Meilimba and Innocent Phiri were also arrested by police, whose officers are accused of patronage to Hichilema and his party.

Rae Hamoonga reminded the public of the importance of respecting lawful directives and regulations, particularly concerning public gatherings and events.

“The cooperation of all citizens is essential in maintaining peace and order in our country,” Hamoonga said.

Critics believe such laws are draconian.

“The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is deeply concerned with the continued violations of human rights of citizens by the Zambia Police Service,” LAZ stated.

– CAJ News

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