Power and Politics

Ex-President Lungu demands public apology from Hichilema for alleged assault on democracy


Ex-president Edgar Lungu has demanded that President Hakainde Hichilema extend an apology to the opposition regarding what he describes as an ongoing assault on democracy.

Lungu claimed this included denying opposition parties their constitutional right to hold public meetings and the numerous arbitrary pre-trial arrests of opposition leaders.

In a statement issued in Lusaka on Monday, Lungu stated that these arrests had even extended to civic activists on what he called fake charges.

Lungu alleged a constant violation of human rights and the rule of law, citing the criminal behavior of ruling party cadres wielding pangas and deep regional divisions instigated by the executive.

“Yes, the LIES. All these need public apologies from the President himself! By the way, these are the issues that Zambians want the government to address. Not more self-praise,” he said.

Lungu did commend the President for apologising to the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops over the recent incident in Kabwe, where police halted a private meeting between the Bishop of Kabwe, Rev. Clement Mulenga and himself.

“Not telling people that we are spying on them. Not the false claims of ‘I was put on death row’ when the matter never touched any court trial and judgement after regional and global mediation,” he said.

Lungu stated he read an article in the media quoting a named minister saying the President had apologised to the Bishops and himself.

“If what the unnamed Minister quoted by the newspaper is saying is true, then I commend the President for being magnanimous when wrong,” he said.

Lungu, however, said there was no reason to mark routine government correspondence to citizens and civil society as “secret” unless one was attempting to hide embarrassment or placate the church but avoid doing it publicly.

Read More: Foundation criticises Edgar Lungu’s Patriotic Front for provoking ethnic tensions

He stated that this was unprofessional and unpresidential because the wrong was done in public view to the extent that most citizens are still offended.

“Or maybe the Minister is lying about President Hichilema’s reported secret apology to the Catholic Bishops over the Kabwe incident; otherwise, why classify the information?” wondered Lungu.

He stated that going forward, there was a need for genuine and open apologies regarding other issues such as the record-high cost of mealie meal, electricity shortages, expensive transportation, food and fuel.

Lungu berated the government for load-shedding that has extended beyond 12 hours, the indiscriminate selling of the nation’s mining assets and the alleged contraction of new debt without parliamentary approval.

“These policy misdeeds require public apologies to Zambians too! As any lawyer would easily tell you, a person is only put on death row after they have been tried, convicted and sentenced to death. Fyalungula! Next time, we will be told ‘I even died,’” he said.

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