Zambian Socialist Party Leader Released from Detention

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[Socialist Party of Zambia\Dr. Cosmas Musumali]
Archbishop Mpundu: “The intolerance by the government has reached such a dangerously high point that if not checked could easily lead to widespread bloodshed. This country cannot claim to be a democracy; it is a perfect dictatorship in all but in name.”
Photo: Facebook

The Secretary-General of the Socialist Party of Zambia, Dr. Cosmas Musumali, who was detained while participating in a meeting with party workers on the morning of Thursday, August 20, was released a few hours later.

Dr. Musumali, along with nearly 30 party workers, was arrested reportedly on charges of violating the prohibitions against public gathering under COVID-19.

Following the arrest, the party’s president, Fred M’membe, said these charges “don’t make sense legally or otherwise.” With parliamentary elections set to begin in less than a month, he drew attention to the unequal playground on which the opposition is contesting against the ruling party.

“Those in the ruling party are all over holding meetings without regard for any restrictions and with total impunity. And they are even boasting and mocking the opposition about… (them) being the only ones mobilizing.”

The ruling party, the Patriotic Front (PF), he said, was “going into a boxing ring with.. (the) opponent’s hands tied behind his back. Can you really claim true victory in such an unfair and unequal contest?”

He cautioned President Edgar Lungu that such abuse of power will have consequences. “Governments come and go. Even this President, no matter what he does, he will not be president forever,” he warned.

Zambian journalist Sheik Chifuwe told Peoples Dispatch that the COVID-related prohibitions have become a convenient tool for the government to stifle the opposition ahead of the polls, while the ruling party continues with large scale mobilizations. “This was not even a public gathering, but a meeting with party workers in the region,” he said.

Ever since its inception in 2019, the Socialist Party has been subjected to harassment in the form of raids, arrests, denial of permission to hold gatherings etc.

Archbishop Emeritus Telesphore Mpundu had previously warned about the heavy repression faced by the political opposition in Zambia and warned, “The intolerance by the government has reached such a dangerously high point that if not checked could easily lead to widespread bloodshed. This country cannot claim to be a democracy; it is a perfect dictatorship in all but in name.”

Read the rest of this Peoples Dispatch story here: https://peoplesdispatch.org/2020/08/20/zambian-socialist-party-secretary...

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