President Lungu must first commit to restoring democracy in Zambia

I have noted Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s public appeal to schedule a meeting with me this weekend while he is in South Africa attending the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit in Pretoria. The Zambian High Commission has also made contact with my office to formally request such a meeting.
I will only agree to meet with President Lungu if he publicly commits to a programme that works to restore Zambia’s democracy. This must include lifting the 90-day state of emergency; reconvening Parliament; restoring the independence of the justice system; ensuring the media is free from suppression and intimidation; and ending the oppressive treatment of the opposition in Zambia. Furthermore, an apology must be made to Mr Hakainde Hichilema, the Leader of the Opposition, who was arrested on trumped up treason charges and detained for almost four months in the most inhumane conditions – only for the charges to dropped as baseless.
Under President Lungu, Zambia is fast heading towards a dictatorship. The country is still under a state of emergency, characterised by “increased security measures” and the suppression of free speech and press freedom. Opposition party members have been arrested en masse, and opposition members are still not present in Parliament.
Part of my work as Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Chairperson of the Southern African Platform for Democratic Change (SAPDC) is to work constructively with leaders, form both governing and opposition parties of democratic states in the SADC region. That said, we must ensure that those who we work with are committed to democratic practices such as human rights, constitutionalism, and the rule of law.
Having consulted with Mr Hichilema and the United Party for National Development (UNPD), I am well aware of the deteriorating state of democracy in Zambia, and I will constructively engage with all sides who are genuinely committed to reversing this trend.
The SADC Summit, which is being hosted in South Africa, presents an opportune moment for the South African Government to condemn and act against leaders in the region – and across the continent – who continue to undermine democracy and commit human rights violations.
Africa’s prosperity will only be fully realised when ‘big men’ humble themselves by submitting to the institutions and laws of democracy, and work towards building for their people and future generations.

Hichilema’s release the first step towards restoring democracy in Zambia

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the release of Zambian opposition leader, Hakainde Hichelima, from prison this morning following a decision by the State to drop the baseless treason charges brought against him in April this year.
The DA has said from the beginning that the charges of treason against Mr Hichilema were trumped up and clearly motivated by a government intent on eliminating a political opponent. Hichilema was arrested back in April for allegedly failing to give way to President Lungu’s motorcade.
The violent nature of his arrest, and the inhumane treatment that Hichilema received in detention, confirms the political motives behind these charges. The arbitrary arrest of political opponents is a hallmark of authoritarian regimes, which seek to systematically eliminate any potential threat to their rule.
The release of Hichilema is the first step towards restoring democracy in Zambia, and ensuring that the rule of law and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech are entrenched not just in Zambia, but across the African continent.
There is still much more to be done to restore true democracy to Zambia. The country is still under a state of emergency, characterised by “increased security measures” and the suppression of free speech and press freedom. Opposition party members have been arrested en masse, and opposition members are still not present in Parliament. Democracy cannot survive without an effect opposition, holding those in power to account.
The party Mr Hichilema leads, the United Party for National Development (UPND), is a sister party to the DA and a co-member of Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change (SAPDC) – a body which I chair. As such, the DA will continue to work with Mr Hichilema and the UPND to deepen democracy in the Southern African region and advance values such as freedom of speech and human rights.
We call on the African Union (AU), the South African Development Community (SADC), and all other regional bodies, political parties, and civil society to join us in the fight for democratic change on the African continent.

Zuma must use Zambia trip to call for HH's release from prison

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes President Zuma’s planned trip to Zambia tomorrow, on the invitation of the President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu. President Zuma must use this engagement with President Lungu to raise South Africa’s strong objections to the crisis unfolding in Zambia under Lungu’s watch. In particular, President Zuma should denounce the inhumane treatment in prison of the Zambian Leader of the Opposition, Hakainde Hichilema, and to call for his immediate release.
Hichilema was arrested almost four months ago for allegedly attempting to block a motorcade in which President Lungu was a part of. The opposition leader now faces charges of treason – a crime punishable by death in Zambia. The human rights abuses faced by Mr. Hichilema must be condemned in the strongest terms. It is clear that these trumped up charges are a witch hunt by an increasingly threatened President Lungu, and pose a very real threat to democracy on the African continent.
We call on President Zuma to show leadership and disassociate himself with anti-democratic dictators on the continent, such as Edgar Lungu. The “quiet diplomacy” of the past cannot be allowed to repeat itself and, as history has shown, has the potential to allow for democracy to be undermined. South Africa must work with its neighbours to protect democracy because, in Africa, a threat to democracy for some is a threat to democracy for all.
We will continue to advocate for the advancement of vibrant, competitive, multiparty democracy, the rule of law and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech across Africa.

Hichilema’s treason trial an attack on democracy in Africa

Today, a decision was handed down in the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court that opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, is to be tried for treason in a Zambian High Court at an unspecified date.
The Democratic Alliance condemns this decision, which is nothing but a political witch hunt by an increasingly threatened President Lungu. Mr Hichilema’s arrest and detention on trumped-up charges in April is an attack on democracy and threatens to destabilise Zambia.
The party Mr Hichilema leads, the United Party for National Development, is a sister party to the DA and a co-member of the Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change (SAPDC). Together, we seek to deepen democracy in the Southern African region and advance vibrant, competitive, multiparty democracy, the rule of law, and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech across Africa.
Once a date has been set for the trial, I aim to travel to Zambia to attend his trial and give him my full support.
The DA stands in solidarity with Mr Hichilema and we will continue to focus global attention on this shameful treatment at the hands of an increasingly autocratic government.
The DA is committed to seeing improved protections of human rights for all. Until every person has the same protections in terms of the law we will not be free as people on the African continent.

SA Government must defend democracy in Africa and help #FreeHH

The following remarks were delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane MP, at a press briefing in Pretoria outside the Zambian High Commission to South Africa.
Yesterday, on Africa Day, I intended to visit Lusaka to attend the treason trial of my good friend, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, the Leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND) in Zambia.
Mr Hichilema was violently arrested over six weeks ago and faces charges of treason – a crime punishable by death in Zambia – for allegedly attempting to block a motorcade in which Zambian President Edgar Lungu was a part of.
The violent nature of his arrest, and the inhumane treatment that Hichilema has received in detention, confirms the political motives behind these charges. I have no doubt these charges were manufactured by the Zambian government to intimidate those who are opposed to its oppressive rule, which is an abuse of power and a serious disregard of the rule of law. From my previous engagements with Mr Hichilema, he painted a very grim picture of the state of democracy in Zambia under the current Lungu administration. The government is hell-bent on reversing the gains of democracy in Zambia, and has moved swiftly over the past months to capture the state and its institutions, stifle political debate, limit free speech and the media, and violate basic human rights.
The Zambian government clearly feels threatened by Mr Hichilema and his party, the UPND, who have been working tirelessly in their attempts to stop the decay of democracy in Zambia. As the sister party of the Democratic Alliance (DA), they too are committed to the advancement of vibrant, competitive, multiparty democracy, the rule of law and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech across Africa. Mr Hichilema is also a founding member of the Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change (SAPDC), a body of opposition parties from across Southern Africa who are committed to securing democracy across the region, and which I am the current Chairman of.
It is for these reasons I decided to attend the trial of Mr Hichilema, in order to show solidarity with him and with the project of building and deepening democracy that we are engaged in across the continent. In respecting the Zambian government’s wishes, I honoured their call to refrain from visiting Mr Hichilema in prison, as the government claims there exists a court order preventing such visitation by members of the public. It should be noted that the Lungu administration even blocked Zambia’s founding father, President Kenneth Kaunda, from visiting Mr Hichilema in prison. It is a truly tragic collapse of a once stable democracy.
Moreover, my office notified the Zambian High Commission to South Africa. The visit was entirely legal and in line with the required prescripts. At no point were we informed that we would not be welcome.
I therefore did not anticipate the events which unfolded yesterday evening when I landed at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka. On arrival, members of the Zambian Police boarded the aircraft and aggressively confronted me and the delegation I was travelling with. I was not allowed off the aircraft and was told I was not welcome in Zambia. When I demanded reasons for being refused entry, I was told that the authorities are not required to furnish me with a reason. I have still yet to receive any reasons as to why I was restricted entry. In the altercation, my private cellphone was confiscated, along with other mobile devices. Within an hour of arrival, I was deported back to South Africa.
It is important to add that a member of the South African diplomatic team from the SA High Commission in Zambia was waiting for us on arrival, as was a delegation of Zambian MPs and the Chief Whip of the Opposition. They too were not allowed to speak to us, despite their best efforts.
It is an indictment on the Zambian government that a Leader of the Opposition from a neighbouring African state cannot pass freely into the country – especially on Africa Day – a day where unity on the continent ought to be fostered and celebrated.
The Republic of Zambia is a regional partner of the Republic of South Africa and their treatment today of our country’s Leader of the Opposition flies in the face of these relations. However, this matter does not stop here.
We have been in touch with the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, and we have asked that they seek in writing a full explanation and reasons from the Zambian government for denying lawful access to the country, and for the belligerent treatment I received. We have been greatly encouraged by the feedback we have received from DIRCO thus far.
Moreover, it is now time that President Jacob Zuma and the South African government speaks out against the anti-democratic practices occurring in Zambia. South Africa ought to be the leader on the continent in protecting and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law. We call on President Zuma to show his concern and speak out against such actions by fellow leaders on the continent.
The DA will continue to advocate for the advancement of vibrant, competitive, multiparty democracy, the rule of law and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech across Africa. We will ensure this specific matter is raised in the relevant forums across the continent, including the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) of which Zambia is a member.
We stand by Mr Hichilema in his trial today, and we once again call on the Zambian government to withdraw these unfounded charges against Mr Hichilema.

Zambian Police forcefully prevent DA Leader Maimane entering Zambia on Africa Day

DA Leader Mmusi Maimane, a Constitutional Office Bearer of South Africa, has this evening been forcefully prevented from entering the Republic of Zambia, by Zambian Police who boarded his arriving SAA flight upon touchdown.
The DA Leader was arriving in Zambia, on Africa Day, to attend and observe the treason trial of Zambian Opposition Leader Hakainde Hichilema tomorrow at the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court. Mr Maimane was en route there to show support to Mr Hichilema who is being unduly persecuted by his government, and to show the DA’s commitment to a human-rights based foreign policy.
Mr Maimane had strongly denounced the trumped up charges against Hichilema, and had condemned the ANC government for not yet taking a stand against his treason charges.
Upon arrival Zambian Police boarded the aircraft, aggressively confronted Maimane, and have taken his private cell phone from his possession.
We have taken this matter up urgently with the Ministry of International Relations, and we expect that they will dispatch South African Diplomats to Kenneth Kaunda airport immediately.
The South Africa government has the right and the duty to issue a demarche, or diplomatic order, and we expect that they will do so.
It is a deeply shameful day for the Republic of Zambia, when a Leader of the Opposition from South Africa cannot pass freely into the country – especially on Africa Day. But we will not be deterred.
The Republic of Zambia is a regional partner of the Republic of South Africa and their treatment today of our country’s Leader of the Opposition flies in the face of these relations on Africa Day.
DA Leader Maimane will address the media on his return to South Africa. It is unclear at this stage at what time he will return.
A press briefing will be announced imminently.
This will not deter the DA from our objectives of fostering a culture of democracy and human rights in South Africa and in the region.
The DA is committed to seeing improved protections of human rights for all. Until every person has the same protections in terms of the law, we will not be free on the African continent.

Human rights need to be the guiding principle of our international relations

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Stevens Mokgalapa MP, during the Budget Vote on International Relations and Co-operation.
Today, as we mark the 54th anniversary of the AU, we salute the founding fathers and visionary leaders of the African continent. Happy Africa Day.
Agenda 2063 contains the blueprint for a paradigm shift in Africa’s future that aims to create an environment of inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. It strives for an integrated continent with shared values, good governance, democracy, rule of law, justice and a peaceful and secure Africa.
We want to acknowledge and commend the hard work done by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) programmes that seek to facilitate Africa’s renewal and reshape its future. Unfortunately, the current crop of leaders are working hard to reverse the noble deeds of our forefathers and in the process, are tainting the legacy of our continent. Africa is still ravaged by civil wars, conflict, underdevelopment, unemployment, power-obsessed dictators, undemocratic regimes, human rights abuses and corruption.
The current global environment is volatile, as the rise of populist, nationalistic and extremist movements are posing a threat to global security and undermines international order, which brings fear and mistrust among people and states.
This trend has led to many states adopting a narrow nationalistic approach as opposed to globalisation to foreign policy. For example, the presidential election in the USA and BREXIT.
This trend is compounded by growing expectations and disappointments, as well as demographic shifts and migration.
All of this leads to a scramble for scarce resources due to jobless economic growth which contribute to unemployment and poverty. National interests become the focal centre of a state’s approach to foreign policy. States are pursuing a zero-sum game through a narrow nationalistic focus in trying to outsmart each other for the maximum benefit of attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Globalisation and urbanization are a twin reality which must be managed by states, as non-state actors are intensifying their role and involvement in the foreign policy space.
Chairperson, allow me to address you on some of the Department’s programmes:
Programme 1: We are concerned about the ill-discipline of the staff and urge the Minister to take steps against the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) immediately.
Programme 2: International Relations addresses the core business of the Department with a budget of R3.6 billion. This programme still remains a source of concern with 126 missions abroad in 107 countries and 160 resident in South Africa. This is unsustainable and hurtful to the fiscus under the current economic conditions.
It is prudent under these circumstances to follow the National Development Plan (NDP) and National Treasury’s advice to consider rationalization of our missions and to cut expenditure on foreign infrastructure projects.
It is also important to consider the reduction of maintenance costs on foreign leased properties, as over 1000 properties are leased at a cost of R575 million.
Economic diplomacy is still lagging behind the number of high level visits and bilateral commissions still yield little in terms of value for money. We need quality outcomes, not quantity in number of visits. This requires a concerted effort in skilling and equipping our diplomats as economic diplomats to market and sell our country abroad.
Our current crop of diplomatic cadets are a shame as they serve personal interests rather than public interests.
Some are criminals, others are dishonest by faking their academic credentials.
We need more vigorous vetting processes to ensure that these cadets are beyond reproach and are people of integrity, ready to serve with pride, dedication and patriotism.
This is the reason why the DA supports the finalization of the Foreign Service Bill to professionalise and regulate our foreign service and eliminate the dumping ground syndrome.
Programme 3: This provides an opportunity for South Africa to play a meaningful role and take leadership in global politics by influencing the multilateral agenda through its constitutional values.
However, South Africa is failing dismally in multilateral forums when it comes to promoting our constitutional values and principles and championing human rights. This is evident from our failed withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and our relationship with dictators like Mugabe, al-Bashir, Nkurunziza and Kabila.
We cannot afford to be quiet when opposition leaders are persecuted and on fabricated charges as is the case in Zambia with Hakainde Hichilema. That is why DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, will attend the treason trial of Mr Hichilema in Zambia tomorrow to offer him our full support.
We must also use our chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to address this serious issue. In a seemingly democratic country like Zambia, the intimidation and suppression of opposition parties should be strongly condemned.
Programme 4: On public diplomacy, we are happy to see an increase in the allocation to this programme. We would like to see this programme provide early warning systems on major international events and we suggest organising a national dialogue on South African foreign policy and national interests to ensure participatory diplomacy of non-state actors and civil society in foreign policy matters.
Programme 5: We need to evaluate our participation and commitment to international membership. We also need to ensure that we respect and uphold our constitutional values in the global arena.
The DA is concerned about the recurring and serial adverse audit opinions. For three consecutive years, the Department has received a qualified opinion. This raises serious concerns in the Department and we hope that these issues will be addressed urgently.
We have abandoned our moral high ground to stoop low to a slippery slope. If South Africa is to realise its vision of a better South Africa in a better Africa and a better world, we must shape up and be counted or ship out and lose all credibility in the global arena.
We must be vocal and speak out against wrongdoings and also be bold to challenge our allies when they do wrong. The days of failed quiet diplomacy are over. We need to redeem ourselves by ensuring that our voting patterns in the multilateral forums are consistent with our values.
In conclusion, Chairperson, the DA foreign policy is centred on three key pillars of constitutionalism, human rights and economic diplomacy. Under the DA government, we will not roll out a red carpet to dictators and mass murderers. We will respect international law and institutions, we will speak out against wrongdoings, we will ensure our diplomats are well trained in economic diplomacy and are assessed on what value they add to FDI.
Human rights will be the guiding principle in our international relations as we aim to promote intra Africa trade and prioritise regional integration and trade. In 2019, South Africans can choose more racial nationalism, populism and division on the basis of race, or we can choose progress towards an open opportunity society for all. Our country’s national interest consensus will be defined clearly and pursued in all our international relations for the benefit of the people and not only the connected elite.
I thank you.

DA Leader Maimane to attend treason trial of Zambian Opposition Leader Hakainde Hichilema

Tomorrow, Friday 26 May 2017, Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, will attend the treason trial of Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, the detained President of Zambia’s largest opposition party – the United Party for National Development (UPND) – in Lusaka, Zambia.
As we celebrate Africa Day, the leader of the opposition in Zambia faces trumped up criminal charges brought against him by a government intent on reversing the gains of democracy in Zambia and in Southern Africa.
Six weeks ago, Zambian Police arrested Hichilema and charged him with treason whilst he was on route to a ceremony in the Western province of Zambia. The initial “crime” he is alleged to have committed, is that he attempted to block Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade which was travelling on the same road.
However, when the state prosecutors failed to substantiate that charge, they amended the charge and alleged that Hichilema and 60 others had conspired to declare Mr Hichilema the President of Zambia, and therefore charged him with treason. Treason is a non-bailable offence in Zambia, with a minimum jail term of 15 years and a maximum sentence of the death penalty.
The violent nature of his arrest, and the inhumane treatment that Hichilema has received in detention, confirms the political motives behind these charges. The arbitrary arrest of political opponents is a hallmark of authoritarian regimes, which seek to systematically eliminate any potential threat to their rule. Hichilema has suffered injury in detention, and attempts we have made to visit him in prison have been blocked by the Zambian government. Even Zambia’s founding President Kenneth Kaunda was stopped from visiting Mr Hichilema in prison.
The circumstances which led to Hichilema’s arrest are an affront to democracy across the region, and point clearly to a political motivation. The South African government has maintained a deafening silence in this matter, despite our calls for President Zuma to intervene to stop this outrageous political trial. President Zuma and the ANC’s silence says much about their disregard for democratic values and principles on the continent.
The Democratic Alliance will not be silent. We will stand up for democracy and the rule of law on the African continent and we will be there in person to show our support for Mr. Hichilema. We also call on the Zambian government to drop these trumped up charges against the Leader of the Opposition, and release him from prison.
The ANC will be out of government in 2019. Authoritarian leaders in the region must know that South Africa’s post-ANC government will stand up for democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.
The DA is unequivocally committed to the advancement of vibrant, competitive, multiparty democracy, the rule of law, and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech across Africa. The persecution of Mr. Hichilema goes against these values, and as such we must stand in solidarity with those who are fighting for true democracy on the continent.
In this light, the lack of action by regional bodies and other African nations is a great cause of concern. There has been not one word of condemnation by the South African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU). This silence from the regional bodies responsible for fostering democracy and unity across Africa is unacceptable. We once again call on these bodies – and other African states committed to democracy – to condemn the actions of the Lungu administration.
The DA will re-establish South Africa’s leading voice on the continent for the entrenchment of democracy and the upholding of human rights on the continent, a role we surrendered after the Mandela presidency.  In this light, I will be making contact with African leaders, including Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and Mr Tendai Biti, in order to establish a plan of action on the way forward in entrenching democratic values and the rule of law in Africa. We must not cease in our efforts to liberate Africa from the stranglehold of “big man politics”. Indeed, opposition parties have a role in realising this through cooperation.
The Democratic Alliance stands by Mr Hichilema and we offer him our full support, and will attend his trial tomorrow to demonstrate our support. We call on the Zambian government to stop this ludicrous trial.
The details of the trial are as follows:
Date: Friday, 26 May 2017
Time: 11:30
Location: Magistrate Court Complex, Hibiscus Rd, Lusaka, Zambia