Cape Town – The Democratic Alliance on Sunday called on International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to engage with the Zambian government over the very concerning situation of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema.
"The DA is deeply concerned by reports that Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema’s health is deteriorating. This follows a raid on his house last week where an unknown gas was allegedly released before Hichilema was arrested by Zambian police," DA spokesperson Stevens Mokgalapa said.
Nkoana-Mashabane should urge the Zambian government to give access to independent medical personnel to assess Hichilema’s health and to ensure that his human rights were being upheld.
The DA condemned all actions which would seek to disrespect due process and the rule of law. The arbitrary arrest of political opponents in Zambia was deeply concerning in a constitutional democracy such as Zambia. Moreover, the grave human rights concerns that were associated with this arrest were to be condemned, he said.
"If the ANC-led government is still committed to a human rights-based foreign policy, which they should be, then the minister needs to make a statement against these actions and needs to put pressure on her Zambian counterparts to release Mr Hichilema.
"No country can be truly democratic when opposition parties are not free to challenge government power and to hold those in power accountable. When they face arrest and human rights abuses for such actions then that country is no longer free."
The DA believed South Africa should be leading the charge for the entrenchment of democracy and upholding human rights across the continent and the DA would continue to pressure government to do so, Mokgalapa said.