The ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) Spokesperson, Cornelius Mweetwa says his party is concerned with accusations from the opposition that President Hakainde Hichilema is influencing the criminal justice system.
This follows the prolonged case of former outspoken Patriotic Front Deputy Secretary General Mumbi Phiri who has been detained and charged since February this year.
This is in connection with the murder of a UPND member Lawrence Banda in 2019 during the Kaoma by-elections.
Speaking at a media briefing at the party secretariat in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Mweetwa said shortly after the general elections, President Hichilema from the onset reaffirmed that his administration will not interfere in the work of the justice system adding that the situation still remains unchanged.
He said although his party is equally concerned that Mrs Phiri has been detained for this long, there are other UPND members who are currently faced with a similar predicament of being detained for a prolonged period of time without trial.
“There are many UPND members who were arrested before elections. Some of them have never seen the walls of the courtroom and we have as an example about eight to 12 youths who are languishing in Monze prisons for almost two years now charged with the offence of murder having been alleged to have murdered Timothy Hakuyu during the gassing,” Mr Mweetwa said.
He however said the case involving the former senior PF party official involves murder which is non-bailable.
“You have seen a number of colleagues who have been arrested before, those from the Patriotic Front as an example, being arrested at 10 hours, two hours later, they are back on the streets with their freedom. The difference with the Mumbi Phiri case is she is facing murder which is non-bailable,” Mr Mweetwa said.
The continued detention of Mrs Mumbi since February has drown concerns from sections of society among them being Green Party leader Peter Sikamba who said Mrs Mumbi’s continued detention is political.
Meanwhile the UPND has commended the Zambia Police Service for the professional manner it handled the questioning of former first lady Esther Lungu when she appeared at the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) offices in Lusaka yesterday.
Mr Mweetwa also commended the PF for exhibiting peace when offering solidarity to the former first lady.
“We want to thank our colleagues in the Patriotic Front for somehow behaving in a good manner. I think they are beginning to understand that Zambia is different now, caderism and hooliganism has no space under the New Dawn Administration, they behaved well, at least if you had to look at what it should have been 10 months ago, that is commendable,” he said.
Several Patriotic Front (PF) Members of the Central Committee (MCC) and sympathisers showed up at the DEC HQ this afternoon in a quest to offer support to the former first lady.
Inspector General of Police Lemmy Kajoba warned people planning to meet at Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to offer solidarity to former first lady Esther Lungu of severe consequences.
PF Deputy for Information and Publicity Ambassader . Emmanuel Mwamba noted that the directive given by the Police IG is illegal and against the constitution of Zambia as people have freedom of association, assembly and can express themselves.