Spokesman for the Patriotic Front government Kennedy Sakeni has issued a strongly worded statement threatening the opposition with consequences following a widely covered press conference in Johannesburg in which they presented an appeal to the Commonwealth over alleged rights violations.
Sakeni’s statement particularly takes aim at former President Rupiah Banda, who, although was not present during the conference, is represented by Robert Amsterdam, one of the lawyers working with the Coalition for the Defence of Democratic Rights (CDDR). The PF representative appeared to threaten to prosecute those who attended the press conference.
“Our word of advice to Mr. Banda and his newly constituted ‘defence’ team of Pastor Mumba, Mr. Hichilema and Mr. Sikota is that the matters he is facing shall be justly determined within the Zambian jurisdiction,” Sakeni’s statement reads. “Therefore, let them make no mistake because this PF Government is resolved to seek justice with regards to Mr. Banda and his children’s alleged involvement in the plunder of this country’s public resources. We shall follow the laid down legal procedures and processes to seek justice for the Zambian people.”
The Zambian government’s statement made no reference or refutation of the long list of rights violations contained in the Commonwealth report, which included numerous arrests of opposition leaders on flimsy grounds, harassment of media and journalists, and interference with civil society and the judiciary.
“Let them know that there is nothing democratic about intentions to sow despondency and anarchy in a country. In fact, today’s act on foreign soil by these disgruntled opposition leaders alone is a serious indictment on their preparedness and eligibility to lead this country. It’s very clear that they are not ready for the task they so much long for. Who takes pride in discrediting a country they aspire to lead? It’s totally wrong; unAfrican and falls short of the elementary dictates of patriotism and focussed leadership,” Sakeni’s statement reads.