“Arresting your opponents is being a coward,” Julius Malema began as he rowdily condemned the arrest of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema and the consequent declaration of a state of emergency in Zambia.
“There is something terribly going wrong in Zambia. The opposition is suppressed in Zambia. The President of the opposition is arrested, President Lungu declared an illegal State of Emergency because he is threatened. We are saying to him, do not suppress opposition parties. Lungu you are a coward, allow the opposition to oppose you. If you are a true leader, let them oppose you (and) you will defeat them properly,” said the firebrand Malema.
Once considered a beacon of peace by many, the Southern African country of Zambia is fast sliding into a dictatorship under Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s ruling Patriotic Front party.
Human rights such as freedom of assembly and free expression have been curtailed for those who express divergent views, with the arrest of Zambia’s United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema, who has been in detention since April on a trumped up charge of treason.
On 5th July, Lungu declared a state of emergency under the pretext of restoring law and order, but largely targeted at opposition party supporters and advocates of Barotseland self-determination.
Under this emergency rule, the police and security wings have been given unbridled powers to arrest and detain people even on unsubstantiated suspicions of criminality and for flimsy reasons like face book posts considered defamatory to Africa’s newest dictator and his regime.
Edgar Lungu has been widely condemned by the international community for his latest move to rule by emergency decree, accusing him of maneuvering to tighten his grip on power.