Opposition UPND President Hakainde Hichilema (HH) and Vice-President Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) have been arrested in Luanshya. They have been charged with seditious practices and unlawful assembly on 26 September. There was also talk of a third offence for obstructing traffic the following day, when HH and GBM tried, but were barred from, visiting UPND members at Kamfinsa Prison in Kitwe.
On 26 September, HH and GBM had been in Mpongwe, where they had apparently talked to UPND supporters along the road, but the police stated that they had in fact “addressed an unlawful assembly at a T-junction”, reported the Daily Mail.
The charge of seditious practices was explained in HH’s police report, as HH “inciting members of the public not to recognise the legitimate rule by the government, incite to fight, imploring to more violence or more offence pertaining to public order, or to incite resistance, either active or passive or disobedience to any law or the administration”.
The arrests led to instant unrest in Luanshya, and police eventually arrested 46 UPND supporters for riotous behaviour, reported Muvi TV.
HH was not surprised by his arrest: “We knew it would come to this as a way to silence our voices and weaken our demands for justice to prevail over the stolen elections,” he told journalists right after his arrest. And a few hours later, on his Facebook page, HH could report that the police were not exactly making his and GBM’s overnight stay in custody comfortable: “We have so far been denied food, water and our own beddings and warm clothing being brought by our legal team”. The following day, it took until the afternoon before HH and GBM were allowed to appear in court to get bail.
HH and GBM were accompanied to the police station by former Vice-Presidents Guy Scott (PF) and Nevers Mumba (MMD), who are now supporting the UPND, and several UPND MPs. Mumba, who is also a pastor, was not impressed: “I wish to remind this leadership that as they prepare to host another day of national prayers on 18 October, they must remember that there is a God in heaven who searches and is a discerner of hearts, and that as long as this great nation remains, their oppression, marginalisation, and intimidation of others will not go on forever, and that even if they try and sugar-coat this dictatorship in a fake garb of Christianity, they cannot, and will not, defeat the collective will and destiny of the people.” Mumba was himself recently arrested on a charge of illegal trespass at the national broadcaster ZNBC after he went to vent his frustration over a news story.