PRETORIA, The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) have staged a protest outside the Zambian High Commission (Embassy) in Pretoria demanding urgent steps to foster democracy and respect for human rights and press freedom in that country.

Zambia is a country which was once a safe haven for South Africans fleeing oppression under apartheid. Numsa will not be silenced while that country degenerates into a dictatorial state. To be frank, it is our view today that the (President Edgar) Lungu government in Zambia is no different from what the apartheid government used to do in South Africa, Numsa President Andrew Chirwa said during Tuesday’s picket.

We have observed that since the elections of 2016, Zambia has deteriorated into an authoritarian regime. It is common knowledge that the elections in that country were not free and fair. Since Mr President (Edgar Lungu) contentiously assumed power, there has been a steady increase in brutality and tyranny, and an erosion of democratic freedom in that country, Chirwa said.

He said current day Zambia was effectively a dictatorship.

The world must not wait until mass murders take place to arrest the fast deteriorating situation in Zambia. The time to act is now. It is in the best interest of all Zambians, and the people of Africa that the current situation in Zambia is arrested and measures to restore democracy are taken urgently, said Chirwa.

Among other demands, Chirwa said Numsa wanted an end to violence and brutality being meted against Lungu’s opponents in Zambia.

We demand that the fake state of emergency which Mr Lungu called for, be immediately rescinded. We see this as an apartheid tactic to silence dissent and arrest opponents in that country. We demand the withdrawal of the trumped-up treason charges against the UPND (United Party for National Development) leader, Hakainde Hichilema. and for him and all other political prisoners to be released with immediate effect. This man has been arrested for months now, being charged with treason, for what is actually just a traffic offence, said Chirwa.


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