By NCHIMUNYA MIYOBA
Democratic Party (DP) National Chairperson Nedson Nzowa says Patriotic Front (PF) has criminalised right to speak.
Mr Nzowa said that it is unfortunate to see that a right of Zambians to speak out when government is in the wrong has been criminalized by those in power.
He said government should have taken responsibility and explained the true position of ZAFFICO weather it was sold or not unlike resorting to arrest innocent citizens with impunity.
Speaking during a donation of various assorted food stuffs to families of the accused persons of the riots in Kitwe on Tuesday, Mr Nzowa advised government to engage citizens in dialogue and explain to them weather ZAFFICO was sold or not.
“The riots ensued because government left a gap which led to speculation by the citizens hence the riots. We are calling on all opposition political parties in the country to stand in solidarity with the affected residents and those imprisoned,” he said.
“The leadership under PF should learn to respect citizens and not take advantage of their poverty levels. There is no need for the police to arrest residents who protested over the sale of ZAFFICO because protesting is one of the basic tenets of democracy,” he said.
He said the issue of selling ZAFFICO could not have reached the stage it has now, if government had done its work properly.
He said government would have amicably handled the ZAFFICO issue unlike reactive handling of the issues affecting the citizens instead of been proactive.
Mr Nzowa further reminded government under the PF that they were elected by the people to provide a service for the people who put them in office.
And some relatives to the accused persons appealed to the DP to consider finding a lawyer to represent their loved ones as they cannot afford to pay legal fees.
One of the relatives Justina Chisanga accused the police officers for being abusive towards relatives of the accused and those incarcerated.
Democratic Party donated various food stuffs to the affected families to help alleviate poverty levels in households.
Yesterday 117 accused persons who allegedly rioted on 5th November 2018 pleaded not guilty to the charges when they appeared in the Kitwe Magistrate Court for plea.