Dear President Lungu,
As you approach six months in office I feel compelled to write to you and ask you to urgently address matters of critical importance concerning the fundamental rights of Zambian citizens from every corner of our great nation, regardless of who they support politically.
This letter follows closely a serious attack and attempt on my life and other United Party for National Development supporters in Kitwe earlier this week, and in Mulobezi during the by-elections. I am sure you are already aware of some of the details of the attack so I will not repeat them here, but wish to remind you that this attack is not an isolated instance.
It comes after weeks of intimidation on us by the PF cadres and attempts to restrict our movements and our democratic right to meet and talk with the Zambian people.
Where violence has been the outcome, we strongly feel there has been serious bias in favour of PF cadres in pursuing the perpetrators.
The guilty persons must be held to account regardless of their political affiliation. We cannot pretend to hold our head high as a democracy and beacon of peace and stability in the region while our law is applied so unevenly, and while the freedom of assembly and free speech are so clearly under attack.
Zambian people do not need permission from anyone, let alone a Head of State to express their opinions or assemble. On one hand you preach One Zambia, One Nation and on the other you do not discipline the gun-running PF cadres and the PF Secretary General for his most offensive remarks on other citizens.
Not only do we feel that the failure of Government to publicly acknowledge and condemn the attacks and to call for the fair persecution of PF perpetrators, violates our rights as Zambian citizens, but it also threatens the future stability of our great nation.
Your deafening silence can lead one to believe you are the “Warlord” behind the scenes. At this time Zambia faces a number of challenges as you are aware: the economy is in shambles and debt ridden, whereby our children’s future has been mortgaged, our electricity utility, ZESCO is in crisis and most importantly we have a large youth population who lack the opportunities they deserve to find decent work that can help them cover the ever rising cost of living.
At such a time politicians such as you and I need to inspire trust in the Zambian people – it is when the people lack faith in the ability of their leaders to address the challenges facing them through peaceful means that people will turn to violence, it is when they become frustrated and feel they have nothing to lose by taking this ill-advised route.
It is truly a sad state of affairs if our youths feel that way in 2015, and even sadder if our Government refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation.
As political leaders, and for you as President of our Republic I strongly believe it is up to us to lead by example and condemn every act of violence perpetrated by one Zambian against another. We must also refocus public attention on the issues. Freedom of speech must be protected at all times, but we must take a responsibility for setting the tone by focusing discussions based on the issues and not personal attacks and impressing upon our colleagues the need to do the same.
As President we also ask you to fulfil your responsibility to the Zambian people and oversee equal application of the law to every Zambian regardless of political affiliation, to uphold freedom of speech by not shying away from criticism or seeking to punish those from which it comes but instead to acknowledge and address it with due maturity, and to ensure that the freedom of assembly is re-established for all Zambians through reform, or if needs be, complete overhaul of the Public Order Act.
From here on out let us both publicly declare our commitment to engage on the important issues of the economy, jobs, education, healthcare, high cost of food, and at the same time to always condemn violence and inflammatory action by our members.
Issued by: UPND National Campaign Centre, Lusaka