By OLIVER SAMBOKO and ADRIAN MWANZA
PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has been petitioned over the continued incarceration of former PF deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri who has been in detention without trial since February.
But United Party for National Development (UPND) and Southern Province minister Cornelius Mweetwa said the president did not intervene in the country’s justice system and that it was the prerogative of the judiciary.
Ms Mumbi is jointly charged with former President Edgar Lungu’s barber, Shebby Chilekwa for alleged murder of a UPND cadre, Mr Lawrence Banda.
In a petition letter by Labour Economists and African Democrats (LEAD) president Linda Masarira to President Hakainde Hichilema and obtained by the Daily Nation, the Zimbabwe opposition leader demanded an immediate stop to the unlawful detention of Ms Mumbi.
She stated that the continued incarceration of the former PF deputy secretary general is unacceptable and a violation of her fundamental human rights.
“As the President of Labour Economists and Afrikan Democrats Zimbabwe, I stand with Mumbi Phiri and demand justice for her. I demand the new dawn government to take Mumbi Phiri to court as soon as possible if at all they have corroborating evidence that incriminate her in the murder of Lawrence Banda. If they don’t, they should absolve her of any wrong doing and discharge her,” led her petition in part.
Ms Masarira advised President Hichilema not to be consumed by power but instead keep his promise of upholding the rule of law and protection of human rights without fear or favour.
She said the murder charge slapped on Ms Phiri is trumped up, frivolous and vexatious with no tangible evidence to secure any conviction.
She also described the charge as politically motivated meant to punish, silence and instill fear in political opponents. She said an attack on Mumbi Phiri is an attack on all female politicians worldwide adding that all women politicians should rise to demand her release.
Ms Masarira said Ms Phiri’s continued detention was totally unacceptable and a violation of her fundamental human rights.
“Sadly, it seems power has also consumed you that you have forgotten so early your promises to the people. You deceived the world, by claiming that you would adhere to human rights without fear or favour.
Meanwhile, Mr Mweetwa said in as much as there was no justification over the prolonged detention of Ms Phiri, the head of state had made it clear that he would not meddle in the running of the judicial system.
She said incarcerating political opponents to settle political scores was archaic, retrogressive and would leave the Presidents legacy with a dent.
“Why are you abusing human rights Mr Hichilema? Mumbi is a wife, mother, sister and aunt who has family responsibilities,” she said.
She said the Mr President needed to allow a fair trial to commence.
But Mr Mweetwa said the only reason that Mrs Phiri’s case was exemplified was because she was a politician and that they were other people who had been in detention for a prolonged period of time.
He also said the criminal justice system was clogged as most judges were dealing with a huge number of cases which made it practically impossible to be efficient.