The drama, theater and antics that characterized the arrest and subsequent arraignment of UPND President Hakainde Hichilema was a clear display of “brazen power” intended to awe and intimidate.
Those who managed the police from behind the scenes obviously intended to drive a point home to show they were in power and more importantly that they ensured that UPND President “was put in his place”.
As NAREP President Elias Chipimo has noted, there was nothing criminal about the matter, but everything political.
He asked why the state would resort to such draconian measures rather than take the necessary steps to show the statement to have been false.
Chipimo was also concerned and wondered how President Michael Sata who was himself a victim of unfair prosecution was not troubled when similar events happened under his charge.
These events he noted could not have happened without the approval of the President.
That too is our worry.
Increasingly things are happening in the name of the state which should not happen. For example the deportation of the Catholic Priest who spoke for the people has come as a shock to most Zambians, because many Catholic Priests, some of them foreign, have used even sterner language to criticize the Government without attracting hard retribution.
The late Bishop Duffy of Mongu did not spare the MMD Government when he spoke about the difficulties that the people of his Diocese were facing. Not once did the Government hint of abduction, arrest and subsequent deportation.
Catholic priests, the world over are known for their prophetic ministry, advocacy and indeed service to the communities in which they serve.
Latin America persecuted priests for their theology of liberation which emphasized the human spirit and holistic ministry. They advocated for responsible leadership which recognized the intrinsic worth of an individual.
This theology espouses commitment to change; a change in the social and political conditions from within in societies in which exploitation and oppression exist.
Political oppression among all other forms of oppression has given risen to upheaval in society. The Arab spring has at its core the demand for liberty.
Clearly the country is entering a new phase and as Chipimo has rightly warned the gravitation to dictatorship is ever so gentle, starting with seemingly innocuous events which culminate into more serious pervasions of authority.
For the sake of our country we would like to appeal to the President to heed the timely warning about reposing power in hands that are known to have a very high propensity of callous abuse. Chipimo has suggested the creation of an impartial committee comprising of non-partisan senior members of society who should advise in the use of the various n instruments of power at the disposal of government. These include the monopoly on the use of violence.
There are many senior members of society who are level headed and who should be able to proffer candid advice to the President to ensure that our country is not plunged into disarray by wanton and reckless actions.
The country is in desperate need of level heads.