A platoon of heavily armed police officers in armored vehicles yesterday harassed United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema in Limulunga where he had gone to meet the Litunga and it had to take the King of the Lozi people to foil the State’s intention of arresting the opposition leader.
The more than 300 heavily armed Police officers in Mongu, Western Province had blocked the road to the Litunga’s palace apparently in an attempt to stop his meeting.
Mr Hichilema said the police were also planning to force him out of Mongu and had cancelled his scheduled meetings where he was expected to receive hundreds of defectors from different political parties including the ruling party.
Mr Hichilema who arrived in Mongu on Saturday to a thunderous and euphoric welcome was among the congregants at the New Apostolic Church on Sunday but his scheduled public meetings which were cleared by the police were cancelled and instead an attempt to forcibly arrest him was hatched.
The police blockaded the road leading to Limulunga, the Litunga’s official royal residence where the UPND leader was paying a courtesy call on the Lozi King who lost his wife early this year.
The Indunas from BRE have since directly sought audience with the police to find out what was wrong for anyone to visit the Litunga, who lost his wife early this year.
Mr Hichilema confirmed his ordeal to the Daily Nation yesterday and cautioned President Sata that he was going to end up the worst Head of State if he continued allowing and tolerating oppression in a country that only knew democracy and civil politics.
Mr Hichilema said he was only saved from being abducted by the police by the personal intervention of the Litunga through his Indunas from the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) who questioned the motive of the police for stopping Mr. Hichilema from paying a courtesy call on the Lozi King.
The UPND leader said the era of tin-pot dictatorship was gone and that people across the world were frowning on oppression and political intolerance which was the system of governance in early and mid part of the 20th century.
Mr Hichilema wondered why President Sata was creating for himself a legacy that would be frowned upon by Zambians after leaving active politics cautioning that Zambians would never allow the country to degenerate to the dreaded days of a police state.
“I had a successful meeting with the Litunga and just when were coming out of the Litunga’s palace, we saw a platoon of police officers in armored vehicles and they attempted to abduct me through an arrest I did not understand. If it were not for the Litunga’s personal intervention through his Indunas, I was going to be arrested and taken to a place I did not know. Anyway, let them know that I am not scared of being arrested and let them know that the days of tin-pot dictators is long gone,” Mr Hichilema said. Mr Hichilema accused President Sata and his secretary general of allegedly orchestrating his harassment and that of his supporters adding that he had been informed that the instructions to arrest him were being dictated by people who were not in government but enjoying executive powers.
The UPND leader said there was total breakdown of the rule of law in Zambia adding President Sata with his Justice Minister did not deserve to be leaders in a democratic country because they did not have respect for the rights of citizens. Mr. Hichilema said the UPND team had notified the police of their in-door meetings but that he was surprised the police said they had been instructed to cancel his planned gatherings.