Justice - Alliance for Better Zambia leader, Father Frank Bwalya, on Tuesday appeared before a Magistrate court in Kasama, Northern Zambia, for 'defaming' President Michael Sata and proposing violence.
Bwalya, who was arrested on Monday, is alleged to have defamed President Sata, and proposing violence when he appeared on a live programme on Radio Mano in Kasama.
Bwalya, who appeared before Principal Resident Magistrate Vincent Silota, denied the charges and has since been released on bail.
Opposition National Restoration Party President Elias Chipimo said he was saddened and deeply troubled about the arrest of Fr. Bwalya, saying that it would be a gross mistake to arrest him for describing any leader as “chumbu munshololwa”.
“His only crime appears to have been to describe republican president as ‘cumbu mushololwa’ during the course of the interview. It should be categorically stated that this Bemba expression is not an insult. It is merely an expression used to describe someone who is ‘stubborn’ of ‘unable to be advised’. It is in fact a perfectly legitimate way for one politician to describe a fellow politician, if indeed that person is stubborn by nature,” Chipimo stated Tuesday.
He wondered where the nation is heading to if a leader of the opposition can be arrested for stating the obvious.
“Everything we fought for in restoring multiparty politics will have been lost if the seed of intolerance that has been planted with the arrest of Fr. Bwalya is allowed to germinate,” Chipimo added.
He charged that prior to the police effecting the arrest and before the interview had come to an end, cadres from the ruling Patriotic Front party had already taken it upon themselves to storm the radio station in a bid to mete out mob justice and that no action was taken against this threatened violence.
The court has set 6 February as date for trial.