Maimane's detainment highlighted Zambia's problems – Hichilema

Two leaders say Africans need to unite to fight against dictatorships and oppression on continent

Maimane's detainment highlighted Zambia's problems - Hichilema

31 August 2017

Cape Town – Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema says the involvement of Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane in his own detainment helped highlight the plight his country is facing.

Maimane was prevented from leaving his plane in Zambia when attempting to visit Hichilema in jail during his court trial in May. Maimane claimed he and colleagues were manhandled and eventually forced to leave the country.

Hichilema and Maimane told the media in Parliament on Thursday that Africans needed to unite to fight against dictatorships and oppression on the continent.

"To my brother, Mmusi Maimane, I say thank you for standing up for democracy in my country, and please allow me to apologise on behalf of the 16 million Zambians over what happened to you on our soil," Hichilema said at the joint press conference.

Hichilema himself was detained for 127 days on trumped up charges of treason, after speaking out against election results. He was freed two weeks ago after the State prosecutor dropped the charges.

He highlighted some of the oppression facing Zambian opposition in speaking out against President Edgar Lungu.

It includes blatant ignoring of court decisions, clamping down on journalists and the media, questions around election results, banning of freedom of assembly and wrongful arrests without bail.

Maimane said it was important to support one another to further democracy in the region and rid the region of corrupt, self-centred "Big Man" governments.

He criticised President Jacob Zuma for not speaking out against Hichilema's ordeal, and for "cosying up" to Lungu's presidency.

Hichilema said some of the ruling African National Congress members have forgotten Zambia's role during apartheid. Some of the ANC's members had been put up in Zambia while in exile, and received degrees while there.

"Surprise, surprise they've forgotten that. Apartheid collapses, they take the office occupied by oppressors, and they are justifying oppression. It can't be right."

Hichilema said ordinary South Africans can help them in small ways.

"Zambia carried the can by providing room, space for the anti-apartheid movement, to live in Zambia. Ordinary citizens did what they could within their limitations.

"It took long before anti-apartheid became a worldwide struggle, but Zambia played its part."

Hichilema recounted how police officials came to his house one night in April where his family was to, in his belief, kill him. The occasion had been different to the 10 prior calls for his arrest, where he was asked to avail himself at a police station.

If his house was not designed the way it was with the means to protect him and his family from an intruder, "somebody would have died that night", he said.

Maimane said it was time for the African continent to embrace democracy, and to do that, Africans needed to be democrats.

"For Africa to prosper as a continent, we must break the stronghold of liberation movements and the dictators which they create. We are going to have to relegate all forms of narrow Nationalist politics to the scrapheap of history."

Maimane is chairperson of the Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change, a group of opposition leaders in Africa. News24