LUSAKA (BBC) –Hakainde Hichilema, the Zambian opposition leader who has been in custody since a traffic incident when his convoy refused to give way to the motorcade of President Edgar Lungu, has posted an update from prison on his Facebook page.
Mr Hichilema said he and those with him are “in good spirits, despite numerous measures aimed at killing our spirit”.
He faces treason charges over the motorcade incident and said he was being treated like a convicted criminal despite no trial yet having taken place.
“What we want is the truth to see its day in court. Ours is a fight for democracy and a better Zambia for all,” he wrote.
He also condemned acts of violence in the country, which he described as being “on autopilot”.
The case has prompted questions over whether Zambia’s reputation as a bastion of democracy is under threat.
Hakainde Hichilema Facebook
We would like to assure you that we are alive and still in good spirits, despite numerous measures aimed at killing our spirit. And we would like to most sincerely thank you colleagues out there for sending us books and other literary works for us to just have a full understanding of what is going on.
Certainly, we are also grateful to one mother out there who gave us the book, “Long Walk to Freedom”. This is the story of Nelson Mandela which is very instructive.
However, we would like to paraphrase it this way “Prison is meant to destroy your spirit, this is the reason they give you the same clothes and treat you the same way.” We are not yet convicted but the treatment we are receiving is like that of a convicted prisoner.
Nevertheless, that does not bother us at all. We have seen it all, experienced it all in the days we have been here, nothing can be worse than what we have already been subjected to, but we are telling the persecutors that our minds are intact. Our Lord God and His son Jesus Christ have been on our side.
Colleagues as we stated earlier, we are here for justice. We have heard many progressive citizens and groups call for our release. We are truly grateful for your efforts.
We have equally heard another school of thought going round that there is no President with powers to release us; Yes, at the moment that is true and we agree with that school of thought also. There is no President who can release us because this matter is before the courts of law.
In any case, we are not here on a sympathy expedition colleagues; we are here because someone somewhere thinks we committed a crime. And what we want is the truth to see its day in court. Ours is a fight for democracy and a better Zambia for all.
Our democracy is being abrogated every day, but we can assure you that we are here to address this cancer that is eating the country alive while we watch. The Patriotic Front and its leaders are a failed project. That is a fact and even the PF know that they have failed.
However, we remain determined not to allow the PF to destroy this country. We would like you, fellow citizens, who care for this country to add your voices and throw your weight behind this crusade called “operation restore democracy.”
We have one country and that country is Zambia, we therefore cannot allow it to be taken backwards as the case is now.
The second issue we want to touch on is the issue of the violence that is now escalating and even reaching sacrosanct places such as the graveyard.
This is totally unacceptable and immoral. When we say this country is on autopilot, this is what we mean. We are vindicated. We cannot have a situation like that happen in our country, for Christ’s sake, such behavior must be stopped forthwith.
What is happening colleagues are signs of a failed state? You might want to argue with us on this point, but the issue is simple; who is in charge of this country? Who is supposed to protect those citizens being attacked at funerals? Where is Zambia police?
If Government cannot show up where innocent mourners are attacked by criminals from a party claiming leadership, at a place that is just 3 kilometers from the center of power, tell us how that Government will show up in Nakonde which is 1700 kilometers from Lusaka?
This violence we are abating will one day escalate to a level where we shall fail to manage it. Whoever claims to be in Government must step up now and address this issue aggressively.
If we were irresponsible we would have called on our supporters to arm and protect themselves, but where will that get us, as a country? Is it asking too much to at least respect our burial sites? Are we animals now that we have failed to reason as human beings and turning every opportunity into a battle field?
This is very shameful countrymen and women, let us respect our departed loved ones. We cannot belittle our lost beloved ones like that and this is why when our time to run the affairs of our country come, we will surely respect all of you and uphold morals befitting a Christian nation.
Have a productive week colleagues and we can assure you that we are fine.
Thank you for the sustained support.
God Bless you all,
God Bless Zambia