Zambia’s opposition candidate Eric Chanda has been arrested for defamation of President Edgar Lungu.
Charity Munganga Chanda, the spokesperson for the police said the arrest was due to a statement Mr Chanda made last year in an article in ‘The Post’ newspaper on 9th May. The article alleged that president Lungu had gone to Mfuwe to club and play pool at the expense of tax payers.
Last year, President Lungu left for a retreat to Mfuwe. The president stressed that this temporary leave was neither a honeymoon nor a vacation but a time to plan strategically regarding Zambia, and possibly appoint his cabinet and make structural changes to the government.
Critics believe Chanda’s arrest to be a political move to disrupt his presidential ambitions. The reason being that the statement was made last year and the case could have been dealt with then, and not a few months to the presidential and parliamentary elections.
As Zambia’s elections draw near, Zambians can feel the tension of the Lungu administration especially against the opposition.
Earlier this month, the Vice president of the United Party For National Development (UPND) was arrested for allegedly equipping a militia and threatening president Lungu.
Eric Chanda who is the Fourth Revolution leader and also Secretary General of the Orange Alliance is currently in custody at the Lusaka police station and will appear in court soon.
This is however not the first time a Zambian leader has arrested the opposition for defamation of character. In 2014, president Michael Sata arrested Frank Bwalya, head of the Alliance for a Better Zambia for referring to him as a “Chumbu Mushololwa” during a live radio broadcast. The statement means a sweet potato, the kind that breaks when bent, figuratively meaning a person who doesn’t take advice. Sata also arrested an opposition member who had called him a liar.