Zambia’s Home Affairs minister says President Michael Sata’s government will resist attempts by individuals or political groups to hinder the country’s burgeoning democracy.
Edgar Lungu says the administration is open to constructive dialogue with the opposition to ensure peace and an enabling environment for strong economic growth to better the lives of Zambians.
“With the issue of [party] infighting, you never know how far the fight can go and how badly it can affect other people and the country’s peace,” said Lungu.
Lungu’s comments came after the main opposition Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and other opposition groups accused the government of dictatorship and interference in their internal democracy.
The parties also accused the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party of inciting infighting within the groups, especially the MMD, in order to weaken opposition parties in the country. Lungu rejects the accusations.
“If our interest is to see them fragmented, we would encourage them to keep fighting,” continued Lungu. “If I was going to be malicious, I [would] do that on the eve of filing nominations so that they [couldn’t] take part in Mpongwe and Livingstone by-elections. So be forewarned, put your house in order. ... As we go to the filing of nominations, we want to have one MMD, not multiple MMD’s, because then it will be difficult for the commissioner of elections to receive candidates from [that party].”
Lungu says two factions within the MMD are creating confusion and tension. He says one of the MMD faction leaders called on him, as a government official, to arrest the other group’s leader.
“All I did was to call upon them to get their act together and try to remain one. This is in the interest of democracy, and we want to continue the culture of multiparty democracy,” said Lungu.
“Me, as a man in charge of law and order, I can anticipate problems. That is why I calling upon them to get their act together. In fact, I would not be calling for that if I was happy with the destruction of the opposition,” Lungu added.
He said the administration is mandated to take necessary measures to ensure the country’s stability and peace.
“The PF government is open to dialogue so that we enhance democracy, we conform to the rule of law, make sure that no one is above the law and that we enjoy equal protection under the law,” said Lungu.