CHOMBA MUSIKA, Lusaka
ZAMBIA’S charge d’affaires to Sweden, Anthony Mukwita, says the release of United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema from prison is clear demonstration of Zambia’s ability to solve its own political challenges in its quest to continue being a progressive democracy.
Mr Mukwita said the release of Mr Hichilema through a nolle prosequi is a clear indication of Zambia’s quest to promote unity of purpose.
He said this on Monday during an Al Jazeera television programme dubbed ‘The Stream’ and also featured a UPND communication specialist, Jacqueline Chishimba.
The discussion was on the release of Mr Hichilema and five others who had been facing a treason charge.
“Zambia and Zambians shall never stop to show that there is no bottom to the well from which they drew an inspiration to be a stable and progressive democracy that will always have differences and at the end of the day still come together and find that there is more that unites us than that which divides us,” Mr Mukwita said.
Mr Mukwita commended President Lungu for his commitment to the promotion of dialogue between him and Mr Hichilema.
He said President Lungu will continue to be willing to dialogue and finding a lasting solution to peace and stability in Zambia.
“In accepting high-level meetings with Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Catholic bishops, President Lungu had shown magnanimity and, clearly, willingness to dialogue,” said Mr Mukwita, the author of President Lungu’s biography, `Against All Odds’.
During Mr Hichilema’s incarceration, Ms Scotland, Mr Obasanjo and church leaders separately met the opposition leader and Mr Lungu to facilitate dialogue between the leaders.
And Ms Chishimba said the release of Mr Hichilema was “highly relieving”. “Even those in the ruling party [PF] were happy that Mr Hichilema was released because it was obvious that the tension we experienced the period that he was in prison was slowly dying out,” she said. Ms Chishimba, however, claimed that the treason charge against Mr Hichilema was ‘trumped up’ and accused the judiciary of being incompetent. But Mr Mukwita advised Ms Chishimba against showing open contempt to the country’s judiciary because doing so paints a bad picture on the nation. “We are not fully competent to state that [treason] charges were trumped up,” he said.
He said President Lungu’s election was duly endorsed using internationally accepted standards that remain unquestioned by the European Union, among others.