By GIDEON NYENDWA
MUMBI Phiri should be freed immediately until police have tangible and irrefutable evidence against her, Our Civic Duty Association (OCIDA) has demanded.
OCIDA chairperson Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu, in a strongly worded statement, says the incarceration of the former Patriotic Front deputy secretary general and her co-accused, former president Edgar Lungu’s barber Shabby Chilekwa, in a murder case for six months without trial was one clear illustration of abuse of human rights and demanded for her immediate release.
And The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has said there is need for the country to ensure speedy trial of detained suspects.
LAZ President Lungisani Zulu said persons accused of various offences should not deprived of their liberties and must therefore be presented to court as soon as possible.
Archbishop Mpundu said perhaps, as many people were speculating, was it a case of revenge against Ms Phiri who instigated the arrest of President Hakainde Hichilema when he was in the opposition, leading to his 127 days of detention without trial.
Archbishop Mpundu said they would want to believe this could never be so, as President Hichilema’s clarion call since becoming President had been elimination of abuse of human rights.
“So what is going on?” he asks. Archbishop Mpundu said OCIDA, like other governance institutions, was concerned with what was now becoming evident that the new dawn administration was not fully committed to eliminating abuse of human rights.
“The UPND administration is not fully committed to eliminating abuse of human rights,” he said.
Archbishop Mpundu who is also former Lusaka Archbishop said even the Chief Justice Dr. Mumba Malila expressed concern over this matter of Ms Phiri’s prolonged detention without court appearance.
Archbishop Mpundu said while in opposition the UPND strongly and rightly condemned abuses of human rights, and promised to curtail this behaviour when elected into government.
He said OCIDA therefore demands the immediate release of such prisoners as Ms Phiri, until the Police have tangible and irrefutable evidence against her.
Archbishop Mpundu said this was truly an indictment and a blemish on the new administration’s record so early in their attempt to run this country under the rule of law.