Letters

Protect democracy, free speech

Protect democracy, free speech

Dear Editor,

AS Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP), we have noted with regret the violent manner with which supporters of the UPND Government have reacted to our provision of checks and balances.

Of particular interest is their allegation that we were not an active opposition during the tenure of the PF administration. Consequently we are compelled to remind the UPND that we provided more checks and balances and more alternative solutions to national problems during the PF administration than any other opposition political party. Not even the UPND themselves.

May the record show that the PeP President together with other civil society activists including Laura Miti, Pilato and three others protested against fire tenders during presentation of the national budget on September 29, 2017 at the National Assembly of Zambia.

Subsequent to the protest, I and five others were arrested by Emmasdale Police and subsequently prosecuted at the Lusaka Magistrates Court over two years and was subsequently acquitted in 2019.

I incurred legal costs in excess of K300, 000 defending himself in this matter. The UPND as main opposition political party at the time did not send any representative to this protest and were merely observing from a distance.

May the record further show that on April 18, 2018, I sued the Zambia Police Service and the Attorney General in the Lusaka High Court for abrogating the constitutional rights and liberties of assembly and expression of his party members.

I subsequently won this case and was awarded approximately K500, 000 in damages and costs. This money has not been paid to date by the State.

May the record further show that I together with other PeP members conducted 18 successful street protests against the PF Government over the past five years.

This is the largest number of successful street protests ever conducted by any opposition political party against a Government in the country’s history. During one such street protest, we were attacked and seriously assaulted with machetes by the then ruling PF cadres.

I was subsequently hospitalised for more than a week. It is regrettable that instead of the UPND appreciating my contribution to the struggle of removing the PF Government from office, they are now making fun of my serious assault by PF cadres.

This is a clear reflection of the lack of depth of their wisdom and sagacity. Suffice to mention that at the time I was protesting against PF corruption along Cairo Road the UPND President Mr Hakainde Hichilema was busy posting selfies on Twitter. And today they have the audacity to claim that we did not adequately oppose the PF?

May the record further show that in July 2018 I petitioned the then Republican President Mr Edgar Lungu in the Constitutional Court through the Attorney General, and sought the court’s pronouncement on the legality of the President’s failure to declare a gift of land that he had received from the Kingdom of Eswatini.

This matter was subsequently withdrawn due to the petitioner’s failure to secure a subpoena against Ms Dora Siliya and Mr Amos Chanda, who were key witnesses in the matter.

May the record further show that PeP provided alternative solutions to national problems through its Alternative National Budgets for the years 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

This was done under the spirit of not just condemning the PF Government but also offering them possible solutions to national problems. Additionally, the Patriots for Economic Progress remains the only political party in the history of Zambia to develop and present an alternative National Development Plan as well as an alternative Economic Recovery Plan.

May the record further show that PeP vehemently opposed plans by the PF Government’s then Minister of Finance Felix Mutati in 2017 to obtain a US$1.5 billion IMF loan and put the country on an IMF programme.

Throughout the past four years, I have always advocated for sealing of our tax and non-tax revenue leakages as a solution to the financial sustainability of the nation instead of borrowing from the International Monetary Fund.

Therefore, my current opposition to President Hichilema’s plans to get and IMF loan is not something that is new.

As Patriots for Economic Progress, we are fully aware that our provision of checks and balances to the UPND Government has disrupted them from their honeymoon and hence their violent resistance.

We however wish to remind the UPND Government that Zambia is a democracy and not a monarchy. Therefore, we neither seek nor desire UPND approval or permission in the provision of our checks and balances on them.

We shall provide our checks and balances in a manner, fashion and timing that we see fit. It is not for the UPND to tell us when we should start providing checks and balances on them or how we should provide those checks and balances.

Let the UPND and its Government concentrate on their business of governing the nation and we shall concentrate on our business of holding them accountable.

SEAN E. TEMBO,

President,

Patriots for Economic Progress.

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