NUMSA demands that the Zambian government revoke the state of emergency

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) notes the release of Zambian opposition party leader Hakainde Hichilema. Hichilema was arrested in April and charged with treason after his convoy refused to make way for President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade.
On Wednesday the state prosecutor dropped charges against him for plotting to overthrow the government.
NUMSA has always believed that Hichilema’s arrest on trumped up treason charges was further evidence of the dictatorial nature of the government of Edgar Lungu and the Patriotic Front which he leads.
His release is a victory for the ordinary people of Zambia. However, whilst we note this positive development which has resulted in Hichilema’s release, we believe the Lungu administration needs to do much more to demonstrate that it has ended its descent into tyranny.
Zambia is now a totalitarian state because of the dictatorial leadership of the Lungu administration. Workers in Zambia are unable to gather and meet without fear of harassment or imprisonment by authorities. Police have increased powers of arrest and can detain people without following due process after a state of emergency was decreed by President Lungu. It is disheartening to note that the Zambia of today is applying the very same brutal tactics of the Apartheid government on its people, when in the past, it had a proud history of defending members of the liberation movement.
NUMSA marched to the Zambian High Commissioners office last month to highlight this descent into authoritarian rule. We note that the High Commissioner, Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba and the government of Zambia have not responded to the following demands:
1.    As NUMSA we repeat our demand for the Zambian government to revoke the State of Emergency which Edgar Lungu called for. We demand that the government must create an environment for free political contestation where every citizen has the right to form, join or participate in a political party of his or her choice, without fear of tyranny from authorities.
2.    We demand the right to freedom of association and that workers in Zambia must be free to participate in any activities of any trade union of their choice and that their right to strike must be protected.
3.    We demand that the Zambian government recognize and protect the rights of the media and all journalists in that country. Media freedom is the cornerstone of any democracy. We demand that free speech be protected and that the Zambian government of Edgar Lungu allow journalists and media workers the freedom to do their work, without fear of reprisal from authorities.
4.    If Hichilema can be released by Lungu, then the property of The Post Newspaper must be returned to its rightful owners. We demand that the newspaper must run without interference from the authorities. It does not matter how much time passes and what anybody does, the injustice committed to The Post and its workers will remain a debt Lungu will one day have to pay.
5.    We demand an independent judiciary where judges, lawyers and advocates are able to operate independently. We demand that all members of the judiciary, whether it is judges, lawyers or advocates act in the interests of justice. We demand that the judiciary recognize that every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. We demand that all members of the judiciary must be independent and not used as pawns of the state and as agents of repression.
We are a Socialist trade union. Our struggle for justice freedom independence and Socialism knows no borders. We are part of the African working class in all the 54 countries of Africa. An injury to one worker is therefore an injury to all of us. Until these demands are met, and democratic rule returns to Zambia, NUMSA will continue to put pressure on the government of Zambia.
Aluta continua!
The Struggle continues!
Issued by Phakamile Hlubi
Acting NUMSA Spokesperson