- Title: Case against opposition leader in Zambia fans anxiety.
- Date: 21st June 2017
- Summary: LUSAKA, ZAMBIA (FILE) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF HICHILEMA WAVING AT SUPPORTERS OUTSIDE COURT VARIOUS OF HICHILEMA SUPPORTERS IN COURTROOM CORRIDORS CHEERING/ WOMAN SAYS (English): "UNBELIEVABLE, UNBELIEVABLE" SUPPORTERS AT COURTS
- Embargoed: 5th July 2017 14:09
- Keywords: Hakainde Hichilema Opposition Edgar Lungu court trial treason economy business
- Location: LUSAKA, ZAMBIA
- City: LUSAKA, ZAMBIA
- Country: Zambia
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0046M817IV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Twenty seven-year-old Siwulaji Sinkala has a diploma in human resources and business management.
Unable to find a job in his field, he started a metal fabrication workshop in Zambia's capital Lusaka two years ago.
On a good month he makes 500 US dollars but business has been slow, he says, and the political climate in the country has left many business people anxious.
"It's a very bad environment we live in, where two dominant politicians are fighting over power, that's what the fight is all about, it is about power," said Sinkala.
Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema is facing treason charges, accused of trying to overthrow the government after a column of opposition vehicles failed to make way for President Edgar Lungu.
Hichilema is being held in a maximum security facility outside of Lusaka.
The case has stoked political tensions in what is regarded as one of Africa's more stable and functional democracies following a disputed election last year.
Sinkala says the government's priorities seem misplaced.
"If you see where we come from, if you see where we come from, you wouldn't believe that there is a government that is saying it is for the people. If the government is for the people, why are people suffering? Why are there no jobs?"
Rising political temperatures in Zambia, Africa's number 2 copper producer has come against the backdrop of an economy hobbled by low commodity prices, mine closures, rising unemployment, power shortages, a widening budget deficit and diminishing foreign-currency reserves.
The political turbulence, however, does not appear to have closed the taps of international finance or aid.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it may grant Zambia up to $1.3 billion in a three-year credit facility to help plug a budget deficit of around 7 percent.
But the widening political rift in the country has raised concerns among rights groups.
Zambia's parliament suspended 48 opposition lawmakers last week for boycotting a speech by the president.
Church leaders including those from the influential Catholic church released a statement urging for the release of Hichilema, calling him a political prisoner.
"Zambia being a democratic country, we believe in democracy and as for me, myself, I don't think there's democracy anymore. I am a youth and I have got the right to choose who to support but it is like we are not allowed to," said Sarah Banda, a Lusaka resident.
"It is having those social implications where we are afraid as a nation of the possibility of eruption of civil strife, which we cannot say it is good for a citizenry," said James Lukuku, another Lusaka resident.
Hichilema's case is awaiting its allocation to a High Court judge who will then set the dates for trial. He was arrested with five others.
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