By Staff Reporter
THE deportation of seven international delegates invited to attend the launch of the Socialist Party on Saturday is a sign of cowardice and desperation by the Patriotic Front government, party spokesperson Father Richard Luonde has said.
Zambian immigration authorities between Friday and Saturday deported seven delegates invited to witness the launch of the Socialist Party which was attended by more than 800 people at KingFisher Court in Lusaka’s Jesmondine area.
Fr Luonde said an attempt by government spokesperson Dora Siliya to justify the decision to deport seven delegates as soon as they arrived at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport only exposed government’s desperation and lack of capacity to deal with issues.
“Watching Dora on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) news trying to justify abuse of authority by deporting our guests was laughable, it exposed a lot of incompetences in the PF government. For instance, she was referring to one of the delegates as a court Judge when his name is Justice,” Fr Luonde said. “It is also worrying that a Government spokesperson can lie through her teeth that we invited journalists without clearance. She should know better that journalists are human beings who also have a right of movement and travel.”
He said the Socialist Party was aware that its activities had caused a lot of panic in the PF government as they were now feeling the real threat to their stay in power.
Two Ghanians who are also journalists by profession were deported on Friday evening while the other five were deported on Saturday as soon as they arrived at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
The president of the Burkinabé Sankarist party, Benewende Sankara, first vice president of the Burkinabe national assembly was turned back at the airport by the airport police and immigration despite carrying a diplomatic passport.
The Sankarist Party spokesperson in a solidarity message said, “we must fight for these puppet regimes to disappear from Africa. But we remain in solidarity with the struggles of our comrades in Zambia”.
Oracy Cruz from Cape Verde, Cynthia Machaba and Johnson from South Africa were stopped and sent back after telling authorities that they had been invited by the Socialist Party.
The officers harrased another South African national, in the company of a Zambian, who has gone to pick Machaba and Johnson.
“There were two South Africans, a woman and a man who had come at the invitation of the Socialist Party. So when my colleagues at immigration knew about this, they detained these two people,” explained a source from the immigration department.
“My colleagues who were getting instructions from our superiors wanted to lock them up, but the problem was what charge to give them. In fact there was another South African young man whom they wanted to lock up as well. He has been in the country for some days now, and legally so. I think the only problem here is the issue of the Socialist Party which the government is not comfortable with because it is associated with Mr Fred M’membe.”