The United Party for National Development (UPND) has advised the Patriotic Front (PF) government to disarm its cadres and denounce the violence being perpetrated by ruling members and adopt dialogue as a civilized means of resolving national issues as well as fostering democracy.
The opposition political party has also commended Home Affairs Minister Ngosa Simbyakula for having allowed a meeting with the opposition political party at which a range of national issues that have severely impinged the democratic principles since the PF formed government in 2011 were discussed.
UPND vice-president for political affairs Canisius Banda said the purpose of the meeting between his party and the PF government was to express grave concern on behalf of Zambians and other opposition political parties that had been victims of the political intolerance the country was going through.
Dr Banda who led a team composed of UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma, his deputy Edwin Lifwekelo, general secretary Winstone Chibwe, chairman for international relations Mulondwe Muzungu and lawyer Martha Mushipe told the Daily Nation that it was encouraging that Dr Simbayakula as the Minister of Home Affairs had accorded them an opportunity to discuss the deteriorating democratic space in Zambia.
He said it was in the spirit of dialogue for UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema who was a victim of both cadres and police brutality many times that he was seeking for a civilized way of handling differences.
Dr Banda said Zambia was an enshrined multiparty democracy in which political parties were expected to play unhindered role of competing for the mandate of citizens to run the country’s affairs and provide checks and balances in the governance system in the process.
Dr Banda told Dr Simbyakula that opposition political parties had a vital constitutional obligation and role to play in the governance of the country but that the hostile political environment under the ruling party was unfortunately robbing citizens of their fundamental rights to assemble, and to express themselves.
He said it was not only Mr Hichilema that had fallen victim to the misapplication of the Public Order Act (POA) but that other leaders such as Dr Nevers Mumba of the MMD and Edith Nawakwi of the Forum for Democracy and Development had had their rights violated with impunity.
“We are concerned that the police always insist on opposition political parties to apply for permits when the law clearly states that they shall only be notified. And often these applications to hold public meetings are turned down while the PF is enjoying unlimited freedom to conduct their political activities. We aver that the administration of the POA in the manner it has been is causing the violation of human freedoms,” Dr Banda said.
The UPND also expressed concern at the growing culture of land grabbing by the PF cadres and told the Home Affairs Minister that many private citizens have had their land forcibly grabbed and shared among the cadres while there had been no intervention from government.