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DEFENDING THE WEAK

DEFENDING the most vulnerable in society is often a thankless task for which the reward in most instances is hostility.

Over the years, we have not been afraid to speak for the vulnerable in the country and for this, we have even been attacked with petrol bombs.

But this has not stopped us from being the voice of the voiceless, who have no one to speak out for them or defend their rights.

Those in a position to help prefer to expend their energies on the privileged few for that is where they are rewarded – with monetary gifts, business opportunities and contracts.

The disappearance of two members of the Hatembo family over their Kalomo farm has exposed the biased nature of civil society organisations, that they are not there for the poor.

Their attitude has exposed the hypocrisy that exists in the country.

How could they be quiet over the manner in which Pheluna Hatembo and her brother Milton have disappeared and have not been seen for over two months?

Their disappearance is something that has never happened in Zambia.

In other parts of the world, people being abducted from the streets and not being seen again is a common feature.

But that should not be allowed in Zambia.  Keeping quiet when such things occur as in the case of the Hatembos could be a harbinger of worse things to come.

Non-Governmental Organisations were tripling over themselves to condemn the government over the unexplained killings of a public prosecutor and a UPND cadre last December during a fracas when Mr Hakainde Hichilema, the party’s president was called for questioning by police.

The case of the Hatembos is also related to Mr Hichilema.  They lost a case in court in which their 200-hectare farm was deemed to belong to Mr Hichilema.

And the last time Pheluna’s children saw her  was when she was bundled to Lusaka where she signed a statement condemning her lawyers for indicating an intention to appeal against a ruling that dispossessed them of their farm.

The family has since disputed the “withdrawal” of the appeal, stating that they had sat and decided to appeal against the High Court judgment.

We feel that civil society organisations have failed the Hatembos, and so have the Zambia Police.

The Hatembos were produced at an organised media briefing in Choma and have still not returned to their family.

Citizens Democratic Party (CDP) president, Robert Mwanza and Zambian DNA spokesperson, Spuki Mulemwa are right to question why NGOs have been silent over the disappearance of the Hatembo family members.

The two said in separate interviews that despite some of the family members who were abducted being female, some NGOs had gone completely mute and blind.

As Mr Mwanza said, it was hypocrisy of the highest order for NGOs to keep quiet over the missing Hatembos when it was the first time for Zambia to experience such an abduction.

Citizens Democratic Party president, Robert Mwanza and Zambian DNA spokesperson, Spuki Mulemwa questioned why NGOs had been silent over the disappearance of the Hatembo family in Choma about two months ago.

The two said in separate interviews that despite some of the family members who were abducted being female, some NGOs had given the matter a blind eye and deaf ear.

Mr Mwanza said it was hypocrisy that NGOs were only there to discredit efforts Government was making in uplifting standards of living for citizens while ignoring other serious national matters.

Are CSOs quiet because the UPND president Mr Hichilema is linked to the case – in a negative manner – thus not being keen to “bite the hand that feeds them?”

What a shame!

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