SOCIALIST Party president Dr Fred M’membe says the PF wants to go into a boxing ring with their opponents’ hands tied behind.
Meanwhile, Dr M’membe indicates that because of the current economic stress staying alive is not easy in today’s Zambia.
Dr M’membe made the remarks when he interacted with journalists at his Garden compound office last week.
He said the Socialist Party, this year, had seen gross abuse of the public order Act.
Dr M’membe regretted that the public order Act now was being used by those in power to curtail political activity that undermined their hold on power.
“They will allow protests, rallies or public meetings that support them. If you want to protest tomorrow in support of what they are doing, you’ll get a permit. You can actually go without a permit and nobody will arrest you,” he said.
Dr M’membe noted that the PF did not want opposition political rallies and that the Socialist Party was a victim of that trend.
“On the 22nd of June this year, we held our first public rally in Kitwe. Being the first rally we can say it was highly successful. [But] after that, we have never been given a permit,” he noted, adding that shortly after that the leftist party applied for a permit to hold a rally in Lusaka’s Matero area but that such had not been granted.
He said the Socialist Party, again, applied “more than twice” to hold a rally in Chinsali but that even there, too, it has not been sanctioned.
Dr M’membe recalled that last month, there were two rallies in Kitwe by two opposition political parties.
“They (the government) thought there would be confusion – they allowed two rallies in one town. Those rallies were hugely successful for both political parties. Are they ready to issue more permits in Kitwe? No!” Dr M’membe said.
“Even the issuing of permits goes against the law but they have become a law unto themselves.”
He also indicated that it was a difficult task to run a political party in this country today.
“They said they don’t want people to start campaigning. But they themselves are campaigning…You are not allowed to engage with the public that you are supposed to serve,” Dr M’membe noted.
“How can the freedom of assembly, of expression and of speech be controlled by a police officer? No matter how good that police officer is, they are not the right people to control that. So, there’s fear of being undermined by political parties mobilising.”
Dr M’membe lamented that despite Zambia being a multiparty democracy, the governing PF was averse to that system.
“They want to go into a boxing ring with their opponents’ hands tied behind. So, its’ only them who can throw punches! By the time they untie your hands, your eyes are closed – you can’t see, you can’t punch back. That’s the boxing they want,” he said, adding that all political stakeholders in a multiparty political dispensation needed to sell their views to the public.
“You need to communicate with the public. To govern is to communicate! Let the people know the people who are seeking to lead them. Let them know their words, their ideas, their strengths and weaknesses so that they make informed decisions.”
On how the country’s economy has performed this year, Dr, M’membe, an economist, said: “we are in a crisis.”
“All of us can see what has happened to the economy. Here in Lusaka you may even think things are better. [But] you go into these areas; there is serious poverty, even where there is no drought – feeding is a problem,” said Dr M’membe.
“Staying alive is not easy in today’s Zambia.”