ZAMBIA: Stop using Police to Settle Political Scores, Catholic Bishops tell Government

LUSAKA APRIL 25, 2017 (CISA) – The Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) has condemned the recent arrest of leader Hakainde Hichilema who is in prison charged with treason, a non-bailable offence in Zambia.

The bishops were speaking following the recent arrest and detention of Mr Hichilema, the leader of United Party for National Development (UPND), after he was accused of blocking the motorcade of President Edgar Lungu.

In a statement issued by Archbishop Telesphore George Mpundu President of the ZCCB, the bishops said while they do not in any way condone illegality, they condemn the massive and unnecessary force with which the police acted in apprehending Mr Hichilema.

“Would it not have been much more civilised and professional to deliver a summons to him containing a charge and ordering him to appear before the police to answer charges of alleged law breaking?” posed the bishops.

The bishops stated that the brutal way in which the police acted has only served to heighten the already considerable tension in the nation particularly between supporters of the UPND and the ruling PF.

“We decry the bad habit which political parties in power assume immediately they make a government of using the Police Service to settle political scores and prevent their political rivals from organising, campaigning and therefore selling their vision of the country and nation to the electorate,” read the statement in part.

“It is the same story from one administration to the other and the present government is no exception, if not one of the best examples of the misdeed just mentioned…Anyone who criticises the government for wrong doing is sure to have the police unleashed on him or her,” they said.

The bishops further criticised the judiciary for “letting the country down by failing to stand up to political manipulation and corruption.”

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