Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has given a chilling account of his 127-day stay in prison describing his experience as terrible torture.
And Mr. Hichilema has refused to state whether he will now recognize President Edgar Lungu as duly elected Head of State now that he has been freed.
In an interview with the BBC’s Kennedy Gondwe from his New Kasama residence, Mr. Hichilema said his stay in prison was dehumanizing.
He said a lot of torture goes on in Zambian prisons describing the facilities as death chambers.
Mr. Hichilema who was released on Wednesday disclosed that a lot of deaths occur in prison and go unreported.
The UPND leader said his stay in prison was terrible and that he was made to sleep on the cold floor and use the same bucket to answer the call of nature for urine and fecal matter.
“It was terrible, the treatment was dehumanizing. A lot of torture goes on in those prisons. We were made to sleep on the cold floor. It’s a 2.5 x 2-meter cells and people sleep by standing. There is no space in there and you are locked up 16 Hours,” Mr. Hichilema narrated.
He charged that nobody should be made to go through those conditions in Zambia or anywhere else.
“There is no ventilation there and the conditions are terrible. People die in there and the health standards are very poor. You cannot treat citizens like that,” he said.
Mr. Hichilema stated that he still feels for those inmates he has left behind in prison adding that he feels he is not released yet because of the many people he has left behind in prisons.
“Some of the people still in there shouldn’t be there at all,” he said.
And Mr. Hichilema has refused to state whether he will now recognize President Lungu as a duly elected Head of State.
On the issue of the Nolle prosequi, Mr. Hichilema stated that his legal team has already provided an interpretation on the implications of the Nolle.
He said he is not worried about being re-arrested because he did not commit any crime in the first place.
Mr. Hichilema said allegations that he wanted to install himself as Head of State in Mongu during the Kuomboka ceremony are the sour part in the entire episode.
“It is practically impossible to install oneself as Head of State. That’s a sour part in this episode. Leaders should never abuse state institutions whilst they are in power.
When asked by the impending dialogue with President Lungu, Mr. Hichilema said dialogue is essential in any situation based on truth and fairness.
He said in a civilized world, problems are solved through dialogue adding that abuse of people’s rights can never solve any problems.
The UPND leader cautioned that people should not focus on the 2021 elections before resolving the many governance issues affecting the nation.
“Elections is not an event, it’s a process, there are things we need to talk about such as citizens rights. Are people free, is there press freedom, do we have an independent Electoral Commission?”
Further asked on what he will put on the table when he meets President Lungu for dialogue, Mr. Hichilema responded, “we will cross the bridge when we get there.”