Patriotic Front (PF) Matero Member of Parliament Miles Sampa has warned that the frequent arrest of opposition political party leaders is denting Zambia’s image to the international community.
Several opposition political parties have been arrested in recent times on assorted charges that border on defamation of the President or corruption.
Economic and Equity Party President Chilufya Tayali has just been released from police custody after being detained for four days on charges of bringing the name of President Hakainde Hichilema into disrepute.
Mr. Tayali was brutally arrested on Sunday by police after he went on facebook live to verbally attack President Hichilema.
But Mr. Sampa has said no government has gained credit for arresting or intimidating opponents.
The PF Presidential aspirant said police are being overzealous and in the process are only making the Republican President extremely unpopular to ordinary non-partisan citizens especially the youths and women.
“Good news, one opposition leader (Mr Chilufya Tayali) out of incarceration but bad news another opposition leader (NDC faction President Saboi Imboela) taken into incarceration and both for expressing themselves I suppose. Our police service has suddenly become a police force and is acting extra overzealous but in the process only making the Republican President extremely unpopular to ordinary non partisan citizens especially the youths and women. I can hardly think of a President anywhere in the World that benefited from arresting Opposition leaders. In any case no opposition leader ever simmers after arrests. Records show that it only makes them even stronger and more popular. Records are there to show but guess those in power refuse to lead from history. They choose to repeat history,” Mr. Sampa stated.
“In fact, It’s those (Presidents & their governing party) that allow opposition leaders to speak freely that end up getting good local and international approval ratings. The police (arresting officers & IG) report to someone (Minister) who reports to the President and therefore the back stops at the Statehouse. ‘Revenge of the Ninja’ approach to opposition leaders is a setback to pre 2021 campaign promises that has already eroded most of the kudos on President HH that we have been reading from the international media in the last few months,” Mr. Sampa said.
“Whoever is getting knee jerk satisfaction from these constant arrests of opposition leaders needs to think twice? It’s embarrassing our Country to the international community (The West and IMF).Our governance record has been bruised and dented. The global community must be saying. ku Africa nako,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sampa has condemned the recent detention of MUVI Television journalist Innocent Phiri and camera man Obvious Kaunda.
The two were picked up as they covered police raiding Chilufya Tayali’s House in Lusaka last Sunday and are also out after being charged with obstruction of the police.
“There is one unwritten rule on journalists for any leader and if broken, there begins maningi trouble. The rule is “Thou shall not harass, arrest and incarcerate journalists for doing the job they get paid for”. Even the worst dictators in the World have backed off intimidating and arresting journalists. If there was a man that mastered the art of using media to his advantage it was President HH before he became President last year. Journalists were his good buddies and mostly covered him on a voluntary basis without any ‘transport refund’. Today kaya what has gone wrong with now our republican President that covering the arrest of a political leader has become a crime? We would have begun to adopt the myth that living inside a state house tends to change people 360 degrees for the good or bad in some aspects. Well President HH does not live there,” Mr. Sampa said.
“The incarceration and charging of the Muvi journalist and camera man makes sad reading. The Police work under command from the IG and work under command from the Home affairs Minister. He too works under command from the President. The buck therefore stops with President HH. The guns the police hold have bullets and can scare, arrest and lead journalists to police cells or prisons. Journalists however have a more powerful gun. It’s called a Pen that uses ink and not bullets. It has brought down the world’s most powerful ever. Ink even used to run out those days but now, Journalists just need a Smartphone and ‘bando’ (phone data). ‘The power of a pen (phone data) is more dangerous than a gun’. Handle journalists with care,” Mr. Sampa warned.