PATRIOTIC for Economic Progress has urged President Edgar Lungu to demonstrate good gesture as a leader by placing incarcerated UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema under house arrest as part of the process for sober, genuine dialogue and reconciliation.
In a statement, PeP president Sean Tembo appealed to the Catholic Bishops to request President Lungu to facilitate the release of Hichilema and others from Mukobeko Correctional Facility in Kabwe to be detained at his house in Lusaka.
He stated that it would be unreasonable for the Catholic Bishops to expect a person who was living in terrible conditions at Mukobeko Prison to negotiate.
Such a gesture would show goodwill on the part of President Lungu in finding a lasting solution to the current political tension and would make the job of the Catholic Bishops easier to facilitate dialogue. As Patriots for Economic Progress, we would like to applaud the recent meeting between the Zambia Council for Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) and President Lungu that took place last week at State House, to facilitate dialogue. We realise that this is a mammoth task but we strongly believe that the Catholic Bishops shall be equal to the task,
He stated that releasing Hichilema would not amount to interference with the judicial system since the matter would still be allowed to proceed.
Additionally, such a gesture has a precedent from 1997 when then Republican president, FTJ Chiluba, released Dr Kenneth Kaunda from Mukobeko Prison to house arrest. As Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP), we also believe that such a gesture of releasing Mr Hichilema to house arrest would go a long way in facilitating dialogue. That is because it would be unreasonable for the Catholic Bishops to expect a person who is living in dire conditions at Mukobeko Prison to negotiate,
He stated that any negotiations that Hichilema makes with the Catholic Bishops, while still incarcerated at Mukobeko Prison, would be under duress and therefore non-binding.
“Therefore, there is no option but to release Mr Hichilema and others to house arrest as a prerequisite to any negotiations if indeed President Lungu is serious and sincere about dialogue,” stated Tembo.