The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has announced that it will pocket the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria on Monday over the transfer of Hakainde Hichilema to Mukobeko Maximum Prison.
In a statement, NUMSA said it will stage a picket outside the Zambian Embassy on Monday, the 19th of June 2017.
NUMSA has condemned in the strongest terms the decision by the government of Zambia to move opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema to a maximum security prison.
NUMSA Acting National NUMSA Spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi said is truly shocking that this nation which was once lauded for fighting against injustice and oppression in South Africa during the bad old days of Apartheid has degenerated to the point where the current administration has charged HH with treason for what is effectively a traffic violation.
Ms. Hlubi said Mr Hichilema is facing the death penalty for allegedly blocking the president’s motorcade.
“He has not yet been found guilty and yet he has been moved to a prison for convicted criminals, some of whom have been found guilty of serious crimes like murder. This latest move by the Lungu administration is a reflection of the intense intolerance that the Zambian government has against any dissenting voices in the country,” she said.
Ms. Hlubi said the current administration bears all the hallmarks of an authoritarian regime where opposition voices are brutally silenced.
“The Lungu administration has targeted and shut down all the independent voices, especially the media. Those who dared to raise their voices were either forcefully shut down, as was the case with only independent newspaper The Post, or they’ve been bullied into silence, as was the case with Muvi TV and Komboni Radio.”
She added, “NUMSA is dumbfounded by the silence of the South African government, whose party members, the ANC, benefitted hugely from the hospitality of the Zambian government. How can they say nothing when a leader of the opposition in that country is being treated in such a brutal manner? We call on our government to demand an end to the tyranny and a return to a rule of law based on the respect for basic democratic principles.”
Ms. Hlubi revealed that at the weekend the NUMSA Hlanganani region in Tshwane hosted Pretoria University Law professor Michelo Hansungule at the local shop stewards council.
She said Professor Hansungule outlined the crisis facing people in that country.
“The law professor said the best way that South Africans can begin to assist the people of Zambia was to speak out against the injustices taking place in that country. NUMSA’s Hlanganani region has resolved to take up a campaign against the rise of oppression in Zambia,” she said.
“To this end, the Hlanganani region in Tshwane will be driving a local campaign against the dictatorial government of Zambia to highlight the suffering of the people in that country. The Madibeng Local, Rosslyn Local and Tshwane Local shop stewards in that area will also be involved. NUMSA will stage a picket outside the Zambian Embassy on the 19th of June.”
She said the regional deputy chairperson comrade Thabo Mogoroe emphasized the need for South Africans to unite against repression and authoritarian rule.
“As NUMSA we recognize that we cannot be silent when our neighbor Zambia is suffering, the very nation which we credit for having assisted us greatly in the struggle against Apartheid. The people of Zambia need South Africans now more than ever to raise their voices and help them fight against an oppressive regime,” she said.