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Opposition Leaders Express Concern Over Human Rights Abuses in Zambia

Nine opposition political party Presidents have written to Republic President Hakainde Hichilema to express their concern over the alleged human rights abuse happening during the reign of his UPND Government.

The letter has been jointly written by PF acting President Given Lubinda, Citizens First leader Harry Kalaba, Chishala Kateka of New Heritage Party, NDC leader Saboi Imboela, Sean E. Tembo –of PeP, Kelvin Fube Bwalya of ZMP, EF’s Wynter M Kabimba, Kasonde Mwenda of EFF President and Golden Party President Jackson Silavwe.

The opposition leaders say the recent arrest of former Permanent Representative to the African Union and PF presidential candidate Ambassador Emmanuel Mwamba is an example of human rights abuse and brutality being seen under the UPND regime.

They charged that it has become evident that the UPND government is sliding into a brutal dictatorship where the Rule of Law, human rights and freedoms, including press freedom, are being taken away.

Below is the full letter.



19th June 2023

H.E. Mr. Hakainde Hichilema

President of the Republic of Zambia

State House


Dear Mr. President


We, the undersigned, would like to express our concerns at the rate at which rights and freedoms that citizens are being denied in Zambia, under a regime that has continued to purport that it promotes an agenda of being inclusive and accommodates human rights in the eyes of the international community.

The recent arrest of former Permanent Representative to the African Union, Ambassador Emmanuel Mwamba is one such example that has caused us to bring this issue and other matters to your attention.

While you, Sir, would like to be perceived as an international peace builder, it is sad to note that at home, you are running a repressive government that has seen political opponents being abducted and detained without being taken to court in due course.

It has become evident that the UPND government is fast descending into a brutal dictatorship where the Rule of Law, human rights and freedoms, including press freedom, are routinely being taken away.

It is our collective view that if the situation in the country is not addressed, this has the potential to threaten national peace and the security of the nation. It must be noted that those countries that have gone through instability, civil conflict and war, have done so on the back of oppressive leaders seeking to undermine the will of the people.

As we have always stated, it is not a secret that UPND was voted into government, owing to the numerous, lofty and utopian campaign promises that you personally made to the Zambian people relating to the economy, democracy and the rule of law. We are holding you accountable for your own promises.

We are concerned with the increasing use of Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) to silence members of the Opposition. There is a systematic use of these LEAs to muzzle the voice of the Opposition and the media. This is being done by your government and falls firmly under your watch.

We wish to give examples but these are by no means exhaustive;

1. Abuse of Citizens Rights:

The country has experienced a spike in the rate of detentions that do not result in the detainees being taken to court within 48 hours as stipulated in the Zambian constitution.

Your government has been arresting perceived political enemies to a point where some members of the opposition have been detained over ten times in the last 22 months of the UPND being in government.

Human Rights are guaranteed in the Republican Constitution and the expectation is that the government MUST do everything possible to ensure that the rights and freedoms of citizens are not just upheld, but also guaranteed.

It is important for you, Sir, to remember that you swore an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution of Zambia, the very constitution that guarantees the Bill of Rights to the citizens of Zambia.

We find it hypocritical and insincere that you as Head of State are seeking to broker peace in other countries when you are busy abusing the rights of your citizens by arresting and oppressing perceived political opponents. We thus demand that you start walking the talk and stop the fanfare of reading good inclusive speeches while your actions are contrary and meant to disenfranchise citizens.

2. Destabilization of Political Parties:

You and your government have been at the fore-front of destabilizing opposition political parties with a view to weaken the opposition in Zambia. The actions of your government are not only retrogressive, but also go against the established tenets of good governance.

Your level of over-bearance on the governance of the country has left some senior citizens key stakeholders such as the Human Rights Commission, Civil Society and some senior citizens silent in the face of clear human rights abuses including the incarceration of opposition leaders on trumped up and fabricated charges.

Zambia is a multiparty democracy as enshrined in the country’s constitution. It is therefore of great concern that you and your government are busy making machinations that are intended to bring back a de-facto repressive one-party system by frustrating and intimidating other political players and in some cases using the oversight institutions such as the Registrar of Societies to deregister political parties on baseless grounds.

This level of intimidation must stop forthwith, as it threatens the peace and security that Zambia has enjoyed over the many years of the country’s independence.

3. Freedom of Information:

Besides the promise to have the Freedom of Information Bill enacted, this issue still remains unattended despite the rhetoric and no tangible action has been taken by your government to ensure fulfillment of its enactment.

The result of the government’s failure to enact the freedom of Information Bill has seen the continued harassment of journalists whose duty it is to pursue facts and the truth to achieve objective coverage.

Radio and TV Station managers have frequently been threatened or at the worst summoned to the Police to provide sources of information, in clear breach of the ethics of their profession. This a clear abrogation of Freedom of Information and it goes against the values of a democratic state such as Zambia that is supposed to guarantee the safety of its citizens including members of the Fourth Estate.

You must therefore make haste to enact the Freedom of Information Bill to ensure that you meet this campaign promise. This is long overdue and requires immediate redress especially in the face of the many accusations of corruption that this government has been faced with. If the government is serious about fighting corruption, they should ensure that the bill is enacted in the next legislative session of Parliament.

4. The Executive’s Control of Constitutional Offices

We are concerned with the control level of influence and intimidation by the executive on constitutional offices.

The continued housing of key oversight institutions such as the Drug Enforcement Commission and the Ant- Corruption Commission under the Office of the President, has made a mockery of the fight against corruption. These institutions are now being used as instruments of oppression and of frustrating opposition leaders and perceived political enemies of those in the ruling UPND or the Executive.

The current stand-off at the Auditor General’s Office is most embarrassing to the nation and calls for closer scrutiny by all well-meaning Zambians. Government’s failure, to date, to provide a proper account of how the forfeited K65m was received and utilized is one such example of how this government has already failed the fight against corruption.

To retain the integrity of oversight institutions such as the DEC and the ACC, we are demanding that these institutions be allowed to operate with the required autonomy rather than the current situation where they operate under instructions from the Executive.

Whereas the intent and purpose of this letter is to address the subject of abuse of Opposition leaders which was triggered by the inhumane manner in which Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba was assaulted while in custody, we have also taken time to address some excesses and anomalies that are happening under the UNPD led government.

Zambia is a peaceful nation and the leaders of all the Parties, who have appended their signatures to this letter are committed to a continued peaceful Zambia, but our desire for a peaceful Zambia must not be taken for weakness.

Finally, we would like to serve notice that we will not allow this harassment of opposition leaders and incessant corruption activities taking place under your government to continue unchallenged.

We thank you as we look forward to engaging with you further in the interest of safeguarding Zambia’s democracy, governance and the rule of law.

Yours Sincerely,

Chishala Kateka – NHP President

Harry Kalaba – CF President

Given Lubinda – PF A/President

Saboi Imboela – SI – NDC President

Sean E. Tembo – PeP President

Kelvin Fube Bwalya – KBF – ZMP President

Wynter M Kabimba – EF President

Kasonde Mwenda C – EFF President

Jackson Silavwe – Golden Party President

Distribution List:

The High Commission – COMESA

The World Bank Country Representative

The AU Leader

The US Ambassador – US Embassy in Zambia – The EU Delegation Head – EU The Russian Ambassador – Russian Embassy in Zambia The British High Commissioner – British High Commission BBC Media Action Independent Media Owners All Media Houses All Online Platforms All Party Communication Platforms.