Zambian President Edgar Lungu File picture: Rogan Ward/Reuters

Lusaka - The situation in Zambia is deteriorating rapidly. On Wednesday President Edgar Lungu declared that he would seek parliament’s approval to impose a state of emergency in that country.
 
Lungu claimed the recent fire which gutted the country's biggest market was politically-motivated arson.
 
“It seems Lungu is using the fire as a justification for increased authoritarian rule. The nation which was once famous for providing refuge to South Africans who were escaping the tyranny of the apartheid government, is now in the clutches of tyranny,” the National Union of Metal Works in South Africa (Numsa) said in a statement Wednesday.
 
Condemning Lungu’s call for a state of emergency, Numsa accused Zambia of increasingly suppressing any voices of dissent, including clamping down on independent media houses in the country.
 
“Furthermore, Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, of the United Party for National Development (UPND), has been languishing in jail since April for daring to defy the Lungu autocratic regime,” added the press release.
 
Hichilema wa arrested and charged with treason for allegedly blocking Lungu’s presidential motorcade and is now facing the death penalty for a traffic violation.
 
“The right to associate in Zambia has been suppressed by the current administration and workers have been denied the right to organise. Those who publicly voice criticism of the Lungu administration find themselves victims of harassment and state sanctioned brutality,” added Numsa.
 
“However, we are encouraged by the voices of the clergy, particularly the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ); the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) who have raised their voices to denounce the dictatorial regime of President Lungu.”
 
The three arms of the church condemned “the muzzling of people's freedoms and the violation of basic human rights” which have occurred under Lungu’s leadership.
 
The clergy have also bravely denounced the Lungu administration for being oppressive, added Numsa.
 
The union described itself as a Marxist-Leninist inspired trade union and said it did not share the same ideology as Hakainde and the UPND. “However, we will not be silent when ordinary citizens are being brutalised. We cannot stand back when the current Zambian government behaves like the apartheid government and continues to violate basic human rights.

“We owe a huge debt to the people of Zambia for the sacrifices they made for the liberation movement in our country. And now that they are in need, we will stand in solidarity with them," concluded Numsa.