Headline NewsLetters

Harassing PF over funding hypocritical, undemocratic – Why’s UPND not being followed as well?

Dear Editor,

THE continued harassment of the Patriotic Front (PF) Party by the United Party for National Development (UPND) government over its sources of funding is hypocritical. It is an assault on the country’s democracy.

Zambians must be worried that the new dawn administration is ignoring the concerns recently raised by various stakeholders, including the Church and a consortium of civil society organisations over its undemocratic practices and excesses.

The new government has continued using state institutions, especially the police, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to constrict the breathing space for the opposition.

A week ago, the former PF secretary-general, Mr Davies Mwila, was summoned and interrogated by police in Lusaka in connection with some motor vehicles the party used in the campaigns for last year’s general elections.

It was the second time Mr Mwila was being quizzed over the PF’s sources of funding, logistics and materials. 

Shortly after President Hakainde Hichilema had been sworn in police questioned Mr Mwila over the source of the money the PF used in the campaigns.

Other senior members of staff from the PF Secretariat, including our media director, Mr Antonio Mwanza who was summoned by DEC on September 21, 2021, have been victims of this outbreak of call-outs. 

We regard these interrogations as politically motivated harassment meant to intimidate and weaken the main opposition party.

There is no law in the country that the investigative wings of the government can cite to compel the PF and other political parties to disclose the sources of their funding and material support.

We repeat the assertion by the PF chairperson for information and publicity, Mr Raphael Nakacinda, that the interrogations are a scheme by the UPND and its foreign sponsors to cripple the PF. 

This is a threat to our country’s democracy, for which it has won enviable accolades from the international community.

The question we would like the investigative wings to answer is why are they not summoning the UPND secretary general and other senior ruling party officials to also disclose the sources of the huge amounts of money and hundreds of motor vehicles, including a fleet of Mahindra pickups, which it used during the campaigns?

Which law are they using to leave the UPND, which was heavily funded by foreign entities and individuals, to only harass the PF over sources of financial and material support for the 2021 election campaigns?

What has happened to Mr Hichilema’s promise that no individual or organisation would be harassed for political reasons? If the police, ACC and DEC are not willing to question the UPND over the sources of campaign funds and materials then they do not have the moral or legal right to pursue the PF over the same issues. 

The illegal summonses and interrogations must stop because they are eroding our country’s democracy.

The UPND government is being hypocritical because it is one of the organisations that rejected the Political Parties Bill of 2017, which sought to compel disclosure by political parties, and influenced its withdrawal from the National Dialogue Forum in 2019.

The main objectives of that ill-fated bill were to provide for the registration and regulation of political parties, establishment of the Board of Political Parties, establishment and management of a Political Parties Fund and provide for disclosure of the sources of funds for political parties.

The PF government came up with the bill after studying submissions to and reports of various constitution review commissions. The demand for state funding of political parties and transparency in their sources of funding was a common feature in the commissions’ reports.

Had it not been withdrawn, and had Bill 10 been passed into law it would have been legitimately used to compel a political party to disclose its sources of financial, logistical and material support. 

But it was withdrawn in May 2019 after stakeholders resolved that it required the amendment of the Constitution.

It is laughable that the same UPND is now sending state agents after the opposition over the same requirements it rejected. The PF will not take too kindly to this petty victimisation but use legal avenues to restore sanity. Zambians have worked hard to bring the country’s democracy where it is today and will not allow the UPND government to drag them back to a de facto one-party state.

We shall continue defending our democracy.

EDWIN LIFWEKELO,

PF deputy media director.

Back to top button