The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has expressed concern over political developments in Zambia under the leadership of President Edgar Lungu.
In a statement, the EFF said it noted with “grave concern” the “growing dictatorship and political intolerance” in the southern African country.
“…Political intolerance often reflects political parties that are terrified of political contestation… the EFF had confidence in President Lungu when he had made progressive and admirable decisions to work with members of opposition party when elected in office to transform social circumstances and economic emancipation of people of Zambia. As a result, we view the growing dictatorship and political intolerance as regrettable and unfortunate,” read part of the statement.
This came as reports indicated that Zambia was sliding into a dictatorship after the opposition leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), Hakainde Hichilema, was recently arrested and charged with treason.
Authorities alleged that the wealth businessman blocked Lungu’s motorcade with his own convoy of vehicles during a traditional ceremony in the country’s western province in April.
They said that Hichilema’s motorcade did not yield after presidential security guards signalled for it to get out of the way.
Hichilema was moved to maximum security prison in June and it was unclear when he would be back in court.
The EFF said: “The arrest and detention of Mr Hakainde Hichilema, opposition leader of United Party for National Development (UPND) for over 90 days without hearing is a clear sign emerging [of] dictatorial tendencies, breakdown in rule of law, abuse of judicial and legislative institutions, and human rights abuse.
“It is through this process that President Lungu is able to breed a culture of intolerance, brutal attacks on political opposition parties, judicial killings and suppression of media freedom.”
The EFF said that it was against any form of oppression and stood against “political arrest and intolerance anywhere in the world, regardless of opposing views, particularly opposing views of political orientation”.
It called on Lungu “to do the right thing, restore the rule of law, desist from abuse of judicial and legislative institutions, call an end to human right abuse particularly state sponsored abuse and all media freedom”.
It also urged him to “release of all political prisoners from opposition, particularly those that are detained for more than 90 days without court hearing”.