Johannesburg – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) on Saturday said it “condemns in the strongest terms” the actions of the Zambian government, under the leadership of President Hakainde Hichilema, for issuing a warrant of arrest against Dr. Fred Mmembe.
Dr. Mmembe is a well-known journalist who has gained international recognition for his work.
He was named World Press Freedom Hero by the International Press Institute in 2000.
Dr. Mmembe is also President of the Socialist Party of Zambia.
NUMSA stands in solidarity with comrade Fred and also with all our friends at the Socialist Party of Zambia.
“We are deeply shocked to find out that he is being targeted by the state and that a warrant of arrest has been issued against him,” NUMSA said in a statement issued on Saturday by Irvin Jim NUMSA General Secretary.
“Comrade Fred is wanted for allegedly publishing forged letters by President Hakainde and Home Affairs Permanent Secretary, Josephs Akafumba on Containing the Catholic Church.
The document is said to outline a five-point plan for Hichilemas 2026 election campaign and in it, it claims that Hichilema has plans to contain the Catholic Church in Zambia, cover up the corruption of the governing UPND which he leads, whilst weakening opposition parties, and capturing the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
“Comrade Fred denies ever having published such a document,” NUMSA said.
“It is outrageous that he should be facing arrest over such a ridiculous allegation.
“There is a popular saying that, ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’, and Hichilema is a living representation of this saying.”
NUMSA said Dr. Mmembe has “alerted us” to the possibility that the state may execute the arrest warrant at any time because the Zambian government has been cracking down on opposition leaders.
There has been a spate of abductions in Zambia where members of opposition parties are kidnapped and beaten by the police.
“It is alleged that Emmanuel Mwamba, who is the former Zambian Ambassador to South Africa and also a senior leader in the Patriotic Front, was a victim of such an attack,”‘ NUMSA said.
“Pictures of him with bruises on his body have been doing the rounds on social media.”
He says on his Facebook page that police abducted him when he was at a car wash before he was detained at Emmasdale Police Station for two days.
“Mwamba was released with visible bruises on his body allegedly from being physically assaulted by the police,” NUMSA said.
The union said Zambian dissidents are under siege from attacks led by Fanwell Siandenge, the Deputy Inspector General in charge of the State House in Zambia.
He is allegedly leading “Gestapo type” arrests and detention against all of Hichilemas opponents. NUMSA said.
“It is ironic for NUMSA to have to write such a statement because in April 2017, prior to Hichilemas election to the presidency, he was also a victim of unlawful detention by the state, under former President Lungu,” the union said.
“At that time Hichilema was charged with treason for blocking Lungu’s presidential motorcade and he faced life imprisonment.
“He was detained in a maximum security prison.
“NUMSA was part of an international campaign calling for his unconditional release.”
NUMSA said Hichilema was eventually released, in part, because the union mobilised the media and its members marched to the office of the High Commission in Pretoria to expose the brutality of the Lungu regime.
“At that time we said we were fighting for him not because we supported his liberal views, but because his rights as a human being were being grossly violated,” NUMSA said.
Mwamba, was the Zambia High Commissioner at that time, and he received the memorandum of demands from NUMSA President Andrew Chirwa.
“Fast forward to 2023 and it is Mwamba who is tasting the same medicine that Lungu was dishing out, and he is now a victim of the brutality of Hichilemas government,” NUMSA said.
Hichilema was celebrated by the liberal media when he was elected and portrayed as hero and a saviour to the people of Zambia.
“But he is showing his true colours and behaving like a tin-pot dictator. His behaviour is an excellent lesson to all those who naïvely believe that liberalism is democratic,” NUMSA said.
“Liberalism is democracy for the benefit of the corporation. Liberals will only listen to what their capitalist donors want.
“If at that time democracy is dispensable, they will dispense with it, as long as it advances their interests.”
NUMSA said it was fighting for genuine democracy which is a dictatorship of the working class majority, and this is how Socialism is defined.
“Liberal democracy is fake and it will never result in meaningful positive improvements in the lives of the majority of people,” NUMSA said.
“We are demanding that Hichilema must stop his senseless and ruthless attacks on members of the opposition.
“We say, Hands off Fred Mmembe, hands off! and that the state must stop attacking members of the opposition.
“We demand the unconditional withdrawal of the arrest warrant against comrade Fred and that the persistent abuse and harassment of opposition leaders must cease immediately.”