HAKAINDE Hichilema has vowed that he will not respect the national dialogue law because it “contravenes the Bill of Rights.”

He urged Zambians against exhibiting fear when the regime is raping the Constitution right before their eyes. Hichilema, the UPND leader, has also indicated that he will go to court to challenge “the draconian” national dialogue law and that he will seek legal representation for any Zambian who will be arrested for defying the same law.

On April 2, a divided National Assembly passed the contentious national dialogue bill that would lead to the formation of a bloated National Dialogue Forum (NDF). On Friday, President Edgar Lungu’s press aide Amos Chanda told journalists at State House that the national dialogue bill was now law after being assented to by the President on April 9. Chanda said the law would now facilitate the process of dialogue, which justice minister Given Lubinda started.

But Hichilema charged that “I am first to challenge Lungu’s law”, arguing that such law “is reminiscent of draconian, tyrannical behaviour of the PF.”

He said dialogue was not a matter of coercion or conscription but rather a matter of consensus-building.

“So, what Lungu has demonstrated through this national dialogue bill is managing public affairs through brutal means instead of doing it through persuasion. And it is for this reason that from the onset, civil organisations, the three Church mother bodies, the UPND and others objected to the proceeding, which is basically tyrannical to nation-building or construction of a nation,” Hichilema told The Mast yesterday.

“This bill or law contravenes the Bill of Rights and to that extent, for me as HH and the UPND, we will not respect this law. This law, coined by dictators, undermines the Bill of Rights. Any law that contradicts the Constitution cannot be respected! And it is for this reason that we confirm that we will not participate in this sham dialogue.”

The opposition leader recalled that even the apartheid regime in South Africa legislated laws that were unconstitutional but that it took citizens to defy those laws.

Hichilema noted that there were regimes that perpetuated draconian laws but that “it’s up to citizens to disrespect those laws.”

“So, I’m the first one to disrespect this law. In fact, I’m going to court to challenge this law!” Hichilema charged.

“We are here to represent the people of Zambia, the silent majority who don’t accept this draconian bill. If anyone citizen is arrested for defying this law, I will get them lawyers to represent them.”

Hichilema added that when UPND members of parliament rejected the national dialogue bill in Parliament, at committee stage, “one would have thought the PF would withdraw this bill!”

“But true to its style of tyrannical way of doing things, the PF proceeded. Even on the floor of the House, the PF bulldozed its way! Our MPs, even some independent MPs, opposed but the PF bulldozed its way – true to its dictatorial tendencies and Lungu goes ahead to sign it into law!” Hichilema wondered and urged Zambians against exhibiting fear when the regime was raping the Constitution right before their eyes.

“Zambians must learn to value their rights. I challenge PF that no one must be arrested for disobeying this piece of legislation which contravenes the fundamental law of our land,” he said.

And Hichilema said the PF government must stop playing delaying tactics towards national dialogue. He reiterated that the UPND was available to genuine consensus-building dialogue process led by the three Church mother bodies.

“Lungu and his minions created this law to block people like HH from running for office in 2021. That will not happen and it will not be allowed!” Hichilema said.

“Stop brutalising our people! Instead, direct your efforts to paying salaries on time, restore student meal allowances, pay farmers on time and deal with the debt mountain which you have created against our advice. Stop this corruption!”

Hichilema further complained that the PF administration wanted to “rape” the Republican Constitution “while throwing people, citizens in jail for refusing to submit to their dialogue forum!”

Article 20 Protection of Freedom of Expression of the Bill of Rights guarantees individuals or groups freedom to hold opinions, receive ideas and information, impart and communicate ideas and information and exchange information through correspondence without interference.
Article 21: Protection of Freedom of Assembly and Association gives every citizen a right to assemble freely and associate with others, form or belong to’ any political party, trade union or other associations for the protection of one’s interests.

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