UPND president Hakainde Hichilema today faces arrest at Woodlands Police Station in an action National Restoration Party president Elias Chipimo Jnr has described as an abuse of power by President Michael Sata.
The impending arrest of Hichilema is suspected to be the result of an ‘insulting’ letter President Sata wrote to Hichilema over concerns he raised about the standoff between Paramount Chief Chitimukulu of the Bemba speaking people of Northern Province and government.
Opposition leaders have described the letter as being ‘totally unpresidential’ and lacking in etiquette and civility, therefore not worthy of being classified as an official document.
The letter President Sata sent to Hichilema stated, “REF: Chiefs and Traditional Affairs. We acknowledge receipt of your useless, unconstructive letter dated 27th December, 2013, and we don’t owe anybody an apology for your useless actions,” President Sata said in a ‘secret’ letter.
He said told Hichilema that all Chiefs fall under the President and not under HH or UPND, therefore, “we are not going to be reckless on the appointment of Paramount Chief Chitimukulu of the Bemba speaking people.”
President Sata also said that Hichilema was free to appoint Henry Kanyanta Sosala as his Paramount Chief.
“I sympathise and feel sorry for you as you have never been nominated or elected as a councillor nor have you ever been nominated or elected as a Member of Parliament, therefore, your leadership is more of guess work than anything else,” President Sata.
But Chipimo said that it was total abuse of power by the PF regime to use State Police to summon Hichilema for interrogation over an ‘insulting’ letter that was originated by President Sata.
In an interview, Chipimo said that the summoning of Hichilema has exposed President Sata ‘s leadership and governance to the outside world.
Chipimo said that both the local and international community were shocked about the degenerating governance record and lack of respect of human rights and freedoms under the PF.
“Correspondences of that nature will embarrass President Sata and his government. The language used by President Sata lacks civility and you cannot state whether it is from the President or not. This leadership must know that any attempts aimed at arresting the UPND leader will expose them because that is not the way you do things.”
Chipimo has since advised the PF government to abandon the interrogations in order to save Zambia from total shame and embarrassment to the international community, “If President Sata did not know, I should remind him that many people read that letter and are now asking questions about the leadership we have. ”
The NAREP leader reminded President Sata for the need to be tolerant of ideas and ideals in a democracy.“It was just the other day the PF government arrested Fr. Frank Bwalya when he appeared on a radio programme on allegations of defaming the President, but one asks, were is the freedom of expression? The PF must realise that the very things they are doing today, they condemned the MMD while in opposition,” he said. And police officers close to the investigations have said that the UPND president will also be questioned on the allegations that he was sponsoring the church, the civil society and individuals to put pressure on government to release the final draft constitution.“Now they want us to investigate him over allegations of him bankrolling civil society and the church for demanding for the release of the final draft constitution. We told our bosses that this matter (over the letter from state house) is a non starter because it can be leaked either way and it will be difficult for us to prove that this letter was released by Mr. HH,” said officers.