Flashback: Ba PF, muletutwala kwisa? Why this desperation towards HH, UPND?

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Police officers manhandle a UPND cadre who had carried the chair for party president Hakainde Hichilema
File:Police officers manhandle a UPND cadre who had carried the chair for party president Hakainde Hichilema

By Sishuwa Sishuwa

(NOTE: The article below is a flashback and was published in the print edition of The Post newspaper on 11 September 2012. It is reproduced here in its original form, without ANY alterations, to demonstrate the evolution of the PF-UPND rivalry and erosion of democratic principles under the watch of Michael Sata and now Edgar Lungu.)

THE relationship between the government, the police and the public is raising serious concern about the maturity of our democracy. Last week, police cancelled a political rally that the United Party for National Development (UPND) was supposed to hold in Lusaka’s Kanyama township on Sunday, September 9, 2012.

Police argued that there were insufficient police officers to man the gathering, as many of them would be sent to Ndola to provide security to the Zambia vs. Uganda soccer match a day before the rally. Later, the UPND successfully contested the police decision in court and Lusaka High Court judge Justin Chashi directed police to allow the second largest opposition party to proceed with their rally.

However, police defied the court order, sealed off the rally’s venue on the material day and sent away party officials that were supposed to address it. Police also impounded two 26-seater buses from Southern Province in Kafue on the presumption that the passengers were UPND cadres going to attend an ‘illegal’ rally. What do we make out of this?

First is that the decision by the police to cancel a rally that had the backing of a court order – however flawed that order might be, including the improper manner in which it was served – raises serious questions about their attitude towards court rulings and the law in general.

Does a police directive take precedence over court rulings under the new political dispensation of the Patriotic Front government? Are we moving away from what the law says to what the police are saying? On what legal grounds did the police stop unarmed passengers from attending a rally in Lusaka?

What law did those suspected UPND cadres, whose buses were impounded, violate by seeking to attend the rally in Lusaka? Doesn’t our Constitution guarantee us the right of assembly and the freedom of movement? The action by the police threatens the consolidation of democracy in the country, is a recipe for trouble and anarchy and a blatant violation of the fundamental freedoms bestowed on all of us by the Constitution.

As The Post editorialised on Sunday, ‘the freedom of assembly is an inalienable right protected as such by our Constitution, which cannot be taken away from the UPND or indeed anybody else by the police’ or the government. The argument that there were insufficient police officers to provide security at the UPND rally is simply unconvincing.

Were all the police officers on the entire Copperbelt Province, including the Mobile Unit from Kamfinsa in Kitwe, inadequate for the Zambia vs. Uganda match? During the campaigns for last year’s elections, we saw the police providing security to the rallies of different political parties, sometimes in the same location. What has changed? Has the population of police officers drastically reduced between September last year and today?

If so, the police command should inform the nation so that we ask the government to increase the staffing levels, because that is a frightening scenario. Calamities do not make appointments and it is possible that we will one day have challenges that require adequate police manpower in different localities.

In any case, what were the foundations of the fears of violence? How many police officers are required to police a political rally? 100 or 200, or more? How did the police arrive at the conclusion that the number of people who would have turned up at the UPND rally in Kanyama, a PF stronghold, would have been so huge that it required a massive police presence?

The purpose of the police is to protect the rights of citizens, not the wishes of anybody, including the political elites in power. If the police were afraid that the rally attendants would have violated the rights and freedoms of other people, there are adequate laws in place to deal with that. Allowing the UPND to go ahead with the planned rally would have actually been a litmus test for the party leadership and membership.

There was absolutely no need for the police to trample on the rights and freedoms of citizens with such impunity, and the behaviour of our men and women in uniform should be condemned in strongest terms.

Given both the highly provocative behaviour of PF cadres, who, armed with dangerous weapons, marched through the venue and needlessly taunted their UPND counterparts on the day of the rally, and the unprofessional and partisan conduct of the police, it is possible that if the UPND had taken a more confrontational and physical approach, we would have ended up with the kind of carnage similar to the recent Lonmin platinum mine massacre by police at Marikana in South Africa.

Lessons should be drawn from this sour case and never again should we return to this rather embarrassing episode. Our second observation is in form of a question: ba PF, muletutwala kwisa? Please tell us, what is really going on?

The stunning silence by the government on the conduct of the police on this case suggests that they do not see anything wrong with what occurred. It may indeed be that the police were simply acting on political instructions from some government officials.

There appears to be an element of desperation on the part of the ruling party, especially when it comes to the UPND. It would seem that the PF is determined to silence the UPND and its leader, Hakainde Hichilema. But they are going about it in a way that suggests political victimisation and that might turn Hichilema into a personality. Why is the PF shooting itself into the foot by giving the UPND political mileage?

For a leader and a political party without national appeal as the UPND and Hichilema are, the attacks by the PF on them are likely to backfire. I have previously written in this column that many of the utterances that Hichilema makes are extremely petty and shallow, and do not deserve any response at all.

Many people may begin thinking that for the government to give such considerable attention to Hichilema and even to demonstrate signs of panicking, there must be something about him that is really good. Consequently, Hichilema and the UPND may be recipients of both public sympathy and the revulsion against the PF, thereby raising their political profile in the imagination of many Zambians.

There are people who gave the PF a sympathy vote in last year’s elections as a protest against the MMD’s perceived harassment of PF leaders. It may be that the PF views the politically-untested Hichilema as a more potent threat to their hold onto power than the MMD, which remains discredited in the eyes of many Zambians.

This view is reinforced by the fact that the PF has strategically sustained the revulsion against the MMD by constantly referring to its dubious past while attempting to silence Hichilema and the UPND by denying them the political space in which to freely conduct their campaigns and criticise power.

The consequence of this kind of politics is that we will have political opposition and even political alternations founded not on different ideologies, world outlooks, values and policies but on the revulsion against the incumbent leadership and ruling party, and the electorate’s desire to give a chance to those who remain politically untested.

A more serious effect of having an opposition party that gets in power not on the basis of any ideological opposition but because of widespread revulsion against an incumbent is that such a party, once in government, may not be in a position to propose policies; after all, all it would have learnt in opposition was how to oppose whatever the former ruling party proposed.

Is this all there is to our politics, or have we reduced politics to this?

(As exactly published in The Post on 11 September 2012. The original article also appears on this link

34 COMMENTS

  1. +14
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    Wondering where Sishuwa Sishuwa is. I used to enjoy his articles in the now defunct Post Newspaper.

    • +5
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      I am sorry but i left Zambia a long time ago and those vernacular language are too hard for me to understand

      Could someone translate that to me very slowly and accurately.

      What is going on here please?

      Thanks

      BB2014,2016

    • +14
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      #1.1 (Mushota); I have equally been away from Zambia for about 19 years but I have not forgotten the Zambian language. Reminds of a joke about a man who had been away for only 6 months abroad. But upon return to Zambia, some of his relatives when to his home to welcome him. The man upon seeing one of his own sisters with children asked “Abbar Banar ni bar naani” trying to pretend that he could no longer pronounce correctly in Bemba ”ati aba bana baba nani?” only after being abroad for 6 months. In short, being away from Zambia for a long time cannot stop one from vernacular language comprehension. After 19 years in diaspora, I can still speak Tonga, a little bit of Lozi, Nyanja, a bit of Mambwe, Bemba, a bit of Sala and broken French. Does this #1.1 answer your question?

    • +3
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      Probably silenced by the PF. Last I heard of him was at Oxford where he was doing a PHD thesis on Sata.

  2. +6
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    Just 2 weeks ago lungu cancelled a prposed peacefull march by a wide spectrum of zambians of all political parties , why ???

    Maybe the kaponyas can tell us why lungu is banning all rallies and marches that are not PF ???

  3. +1
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    We are led by people with low self esteem.People with low self esteem are concerned about egos- they are arrogant- and pretend they know it. They tear down others to get a feeling of superiority. they never accept responsibility – always blaming others. They are closely minded and self centred.They constantly make excuses -always justifying their failures. They are very defensive. Their behavior is senseless and erratic

  4. +6
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    All genuine Zambians know the rightfully President of GRZ is in prison on trumped up charges. Only those Zambians benifitting from corruption and those blinded by tribal bigotry know different.

    Even with RB and MMD there is no way lungu was going to even attempt to rig elections if the playing field was fair and violence free.
    Lungu had to use all GRZ to campaign for him including ministers, zaf, Zambia army, and the police.

    Even that was not enough, that is why he is avoiding the petition.

    • +8
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      WHERE DID YOU WIN THE ELECTIONS AS UPND KANSHI FOR YOU TO SAY YOU WON THE PRESIDENTIAL POLL?

  5. +10
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    The writer was right and very prophetic. HH and UPND are now a National Brand. The incarceration and persecution of HH is making him even more popular. Lungu’s popularity has plummeted with the Stolen ,Disputed and Petitioned 2016 Election. HH won the 2016 Election outright and Lungu stole the Vote. After stealing the Election and abrogating the Country’s Constitution Lungu is so insecure and that is why he is forcing HH to recognize him. Release HH from Jail and let the Petition be heard.

    • +10
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      Chibwe, you cannot win in three provinces. Do your mathematics. The fairest was to go for a re-run. Not the assumption you have about HH winning. We TONGAS alone cannot produce a president in Zambia. Even in 1964, Nkumbula tried that it did not work. The 2016 elections are a reflection of what happened in 1964. If that is the stance we shall take the confrontational stance, we will never produce a president for ourselves

    • +8
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      Chibwe, the problem here is that even if the petition was to be heard, UPND still will reject the verdict if it turns against them. This is the stage we have reached, in short UPND wants to take over government by any illegal means. The sooner you realize this the better for you so that you start preparing yourself for the wars to come.

    • +4
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      hmmm…a national brand that covers only 3.5 provinces out of 10??? The gap between Lungu and hh was 26,000 in 2015 and grew to 100,000 in 2016, whose popularity is plummeting??? hh won outright: 52 mps vs 82+12 mps??? Which petition?? The one in the new constitution which says 14 days?? The one from the NCC and TC which upnd was part of?? But why about issues you helped create???

    • +6
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      If a suspect shop lifter refuses to be searched……

      if a suspect rapist refuses to take a DNA test…….

      if a suspect robber refuses to stand on an identity line-up.. ….

      if lungu refuses to let nation hear the UPND petition against his stealing votes…….

      I will let you PF kaponyas fill in the blanks.

    • +1
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      I think people who insist on basing their arguments on 3.5 Provinces are dull. Assuming the 3 provinces amassed a total of 2m votes and the rest got 1.5m in which HH and ECL both had votes? Mind you a number of people from the copperbelt including me voted fro HH because we thought he had better knowledge than the dununa reverse man. So yes, ECL came out fisrt in some provinces but HH also got a considerable number of votes

  6. +2
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    The above article shows that PF is still the same party under Michael Sata and Edgar Lungu. Nothing much has changed

    • +3
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      You are right, party of plunderers, by the plunderers, for the plunderers?

  7. +2
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    Problem with our democracy:
    We copy-pasted western democracy without taking into account characteristics peculiar to our society, vis-a-vis ethnic diversity. Rather, our democracy should be domesticated and viewed through the ethnic prism that hold us together as a country. Given that the ethnic line cuts Zambia into NE and SW blocks, the Presidency ought to alternate across the line, with the veep coming from the other side and being the next President.

    Democracy in its current form only works in the western world where chiefs and languages do not exist. Out there, for one to be British, he or she only needs to be English. Period. While down here, one carries both the ethnic identity in addition to the Zambian one.

    So our democracy will only work once we harness our unity in…

  8. +2
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    cont./-
    So our democracy will only work once we harness our unity in diversity, as it were.

    • +2
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      I really like your comment Chalo, it makes a lot of sense. Such are comments we should be discussing on such fora as citizenand proposing to our leaders. Bravo, Keep it up!!! For Zambia and for democracy!!!

  9. +2
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    2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, from 2012 to 2014 was Lungu a president (not even a party president)? What about HH who was he? How many times has HH stood as president? So because it is Lungu who HH saw as a soft spot he wants to grab the presidency from him. If you are a failure you will always be one especially if you don’t listen to any advise given to you. there is saying in bemba that the one with money is the clever one. (uline ndala nishi euli namano) that is our HH.

    • +1
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      If a suspect shop lifter refuses to be searched……

      if a suspect rapist refuses to take a DNA test…….

      if a suspect robber refuses to stand on an identity line-up.. ….

      if lungu refuses to let nation hear the UPND petition against his stealing votes…….

      I will let you PF kaponyas fill in the blanks.

  10. +3
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    “The continued police brutality in Africa should be taken seriously and handled with utmost urgency. They need to be tamed to deter them from abusing power and taking advantage of the people they are meant to protect. More and more whistle blowers and human rights activists should continue calling to attention the end of the misuse of power by the armed forces across Africa. ”
    – Reuters

  11. +2
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    What is the motive behind this article Sishuwa, fellow country men and women? I don’t c this I.d.I.o.t promoting peace and unity. A flashback shud be there to educate someone and remind someone of good things that have taken place in the past. Sishuwa go to Dundumwezi with your flashback.

    HH has stood for presidency 5 times and he has failed to win the hearts of electorates. Viva ecl and 6.5 provinces that voted for ecl. Bushe court ilawinisha ama elections.

  12. +2
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    It is hypocrisy of the ugliest order to pretend to forget your local language even if you spend eternity in UK. This makes me think that some Africans are still tied in the shackles of inferiority complex.

    • +3
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      I find him neutral and if I must assign him a party, I would say he is a PF functionary

    • +2
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      And when was it shameful for one to belong to a party? Argue with his points not which party you think he belongs. Few years ago UPBD accused him of being PF, a week later PF accused him of being UPND. MMD also said something

    • +4
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      Kazembe, l agree with you. When the guy regularly criticised the UPND and HH in 2011 and 2012, he was branded PF by UPND cadres and l remember many of my friends and the Watchdog attacking him as a PF supporter. When he criticises PF, PF cadres label him as a UPND supporter. I find him neutral and even professional

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