PRISCILLA CHIPULU, Lusaka
POLICE have dismissed claims that the health of incarcerated United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema is deteriorating.
And the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) has demanded for an apology from Monze UPND member of Parliament Jack Mwiimbu for misleading Zambians and the international community that Mr Hichilema has been poisoned.
The police have also thrashed accusations that it has denied Mr Hichilema medical attention.
Police spokesperson Esther Katongo said the truth is that since Mr Hichilema was detained last Tuesday, the police have been allowing his personal doctor to visit him, and conduct routine medical checks on him.
She said a statement attributed to party spokesperson Charles Kakoma is misleading, and bent on inciting members of the public.
â€œWe do realise as police that even those people who may be in detention who do not have personal doctors or lawyersÂ are taken for medical attention in instances where they become unwell whilst in detention because it is their constitutional right,â€ said Mrs Katongo.
She said police will not take such unjustified statements lightly because they are aimed at destabilising the security of the nation.
â€œOne wonders why we should deny Mr Hichilema medical attention when he is just a suspect because even people who are convicted have a right to medical attention,â€ she said.
Recently, UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma said in a statement that Mr Hichilemaâ€™s health is deteriorating, claiming that police imposed a blanket ban on anyone wishing to visit Mr Hichilema.
However, on Saturday his wife Mutinta Hichilema, his doctors, lawyers and other close family members were allowed to pay a visit to Mr Hichilema at Lilayi police camp.
Last week, police charged Mr Hichilema with treason; disobedience to lawful orders; disobeying of statutory duty (Highway Code); and use of insulting language.
Meanwhile, KELVIN CHONGO reports that the PF has demanded an apology from Mr Mwiimbu for allegedly falsely claiming that Mr Hichilema has been poisoned.
PF deputy spokesperson Frank Bwalya said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that Mr Mwiimbuâ€™s statement must be condemned by all well-meaning Zambians.
Mr Bwalya said a report on medical tests conducted on Mr Hichilema by his personal physicians have revealed that he is well and has not been poisoned.
â€œWe are demanding for an apology from Mr Mwiimbu, who tried to mislead Zambians and the international community that Mr Hichilema was unwell because he was poisoned,â€ he said.
Mr Bwalya said this is unfortunate and that PF and the nation want an apology from Mr Mwiimbu and the UPND leadership.
â€œIn future we want the police to look at these statements seriously because it is such statements that could set the nation on fire,â€ he said.
Mr Mwiimbu was recently quoted in the media as saying that Mr Hichilema was poisoned when the police went to arrest him and that he was unwell.
But Mr Bwalya said it has become clear that after being examined by his own private doctors over the weekend, Mr Hichilema was not poisoned and that he is well.
â€œWe want Zambians to see that people surrounding Mr Hichilema are trying to propagate propaganda aimed at misleading the people of this country, especially their supporters to rise against a legitimate constituted government,â€ he said.
And PF director for media, Sunday Chanda, has said the allegations of Mr Hichilema being poisoned are absurd.
â€œClearly the UPND have nothing else to talk about. We urge them to invest their energy to reflect on their wrongdoings and seek forgiveness and not keep peddling falsehoods,â€ he said in a statement released yesterday.
And Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo says Zambia is a country of laws and that UPND cadres threatening peace will be picked by the police.
Mr Kampyongo said UPND cadres threatening their PF counterparts must not dare because the police will not hesitate but clamp them.
He said that the party will empower its youths in more productive ventures instead of gossiping and violence.
PRISCILLA CHIPULU, Lusaka