UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says he and his party are not withdrawing any matter before the courts. And Hichilema has told thousands of euphoric Itezhi tezhi residents not to be fall prey to PF-propagated electoral deception. Meanwhile, Hichilema says the application of the law in Zambia must be uniform.
Rallying support for Steven Shalooba, the UPND Itezhi Tezhi district council by-elections candidate, Hichilema said he would use the court cases to show how the judiciary must operate in any democracy.
Hichilema, with his running mate Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, petitioned the election of President Edgar Lungu last August. But the Constitutional Court refused to hear the matter on grounds of time lapse. The opposition leader has since taken the matter to the High Court, seeking an order that the Constitutional Court must hear his petition so that the matter of the August 11 elections could be settled.
However, some stakeholders feel Hichilema should drop the case as many believe it was his contestation of the August vote that got him arrested and detained for alleged treason.
“I appeal to the nation not lose hope. We have to deliver the country from this tyrannical regime,” Hichilema said.
“I shall not let the you down; I am a democrat but there is need to speedily stop any dictatorial tendencies that have so far made headway in the country. And you must also know that all matters before the courts of law will not be withdrawn. We will use them as basis in setting a good precedence, especially how the judiciary must operate.”
He said he did not support a breakdown in the rule of law.
“There must be no interference in any court matter which we have filed or indeed any matters that citizens of this country have before the courts,” Hichilema added.
He also said he learnt with sorrow while in prison that the Food Reserve Agency had decided to buy maize from farmers at a very low price.
“Being a farmer myself, very soon, your worries will be over,” Hichilema said.
He told a keen audience that they should not reduce the value of their vote in today’s polls by casting it on either the PF’s candidate or the one contesting as an independent. The residents, in apparent awe, flocked the central business district to see Hichilema, who was making a first appearance on the local political scene after spending 127 days in prison for alleged treason.
“Some of you here were being cheated that I was killed in prison, but here I am as fit as anyone. They mistreated me in every way that pleased them but the principle is that no one dies before God sanctions it. I vowed to work for Zambians and if there is anything that devours someone who stands up for the people of Zambia, let it devour me the way it ‘devoured’ [Harry Mwaanga] Nkumbula, Nalumino Mundia, [Humphrey] Mulemba, [Anderson] Mazoka and many other luminaries! I’ll tightly hold the bull by its horns. Who cares for you as I do?”
Hichilema, who had flown into Itezhi tezhi accompanied with Nalumango and ADD president Charles Milupi, said.
“We were imprisoned because of you people; we don’t want this tendency where a 50kg of maize is being sold for as low as K60. You don’t have safe drinking water here, you have a poor road network but when they see that there is a by-election, they start putting up Zesco poles so that they can electricity this area. Why should you be tricked as if you a chicken which can only be trapped by giving it some granules? Don’t even be influenced by those amounts of money they bring for you. If anything, where have they found those monies because they were wearing shots only before they started ruling? They have not worked for anything worthwhile! Whatever amount you are given, get it and use it but don’t vote for Namakau.”
He mesmerised the people by reminding them that Itezhi tezhi was the first district he was visiting from the time he was released from jail on August 16.
“The Constitution allows us to compete for office and we are strong competitors. [But] because we are strong competitors, people decided to lock us up for no reason at all; that is unacceptable and inhuman. We should not allow that to continue in our country. Itezhi tezhi is the first place that I have travelled to after our release from jail, apart from the trip that I took to go South Africa. I have come here, despite some restrictions that the government put around the issue of me flying here. Have you ever seen a country with two sets of laws? There must be one law which is applicable to everyone,”
Earlier in the day, the opposition leader addressed hundreds of people in an outlying Mbila area where he campaigned for Shalooba, intermittently with a stunning warrior flaunt of the Ila tradition. He cautioned prospective voters to guard against poise that Shalooba would win today’s polls without them going out to vote en masse.
“Don’t stay home on Thursday and tell yourself that Shalooba has already won. No! This man, Shalooba may have wronged you in some way but he was the UPND adopted him to represent you as a council chairman here. Forgive him and he is Hakainde’s representation here; Vote for him!”
“No one should rush out to go and vote on Thursday without taking along their eligible family members. ‘Compete’ with birds in waking up on Thursday and go and cast your vote for Shalooba.”
Nalumango at the same rally said: “Hakainde Hichilema and others who were incarcerated were in prison for no reason! This is PF government of [President] Lungu has failed to rule and it has resorted to intimidation and imprisoning people. Can you surely vote for a person standing on the ticket of such a party? Shalooba is the right candidate because UPND under president Hakainde Hichilema is the only salvation for Zambia.”
The by-election was occasioned by the death of UPND’s Gift Luyako in May. The ruling PF is fielding Namakau Kaingu, with Oliver Sitengu running as an independent candidate while Highvie Hamududu’s Party of National Unity (PNU) settled for Ireen Shilupizhi.
According to the 2016 electoral register, Itezhi tezhi district has a population of about 39, 300.
Other prominent personalities at Hichilema’s rally included Southern Province UPEND chairman Billiard Makwembo, former Itezhi tezhi UPEND member of parliament Godfrey Beene and the opposition party’s members of parliament in Herbert Shabula (Itezhi tezhi), Cornelius Mweetwa (Choma Central), Malungo Chisangano (Gwembe), Mwiinga Kabwe (Chikankata), Fred Chaatila (Moomba), Michelo Kasauta (Bweengwa) and Edgar Sing’ombe (Dundumwezi).