The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has called for the immediate and unconditional release of Fred M’membe’s wife Mutinta and all those detained.
In a strongly worded statement, NUMSA General Secretary Irvin Jim said his union wants to launch a campaign to boycott Zambian goods and to end South African trade with Zambia.
Mr Jim has also revealed that the union wants to launch mounting protest action outside the Zambian embassy in South Africa.
He said the union is also calling on all its sister unions to expose what has become a police state and a brutal regime of Edgar Lungu.
Below is the full statement from NUMSA.
NUMSA Condemns the Attack on Media Freedom in Zambia
16 February 2017
On behalf of the more than 340,000 members of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), and indeed on behalf of more than 21,000,000 South African Workers’ we want to register our extreme concern over the continued harassment of the independent media in Zambia and on Comrade Fred M’membe and his wife and all the workers of The Post Newspaper.
A warrant of arrest has been issued for Comrade M’membe.
Our information confirms that his wife and several workers connected to The Zambian Post Newspaper have been arrested. What is extremely worrying is the violent raid on his house by scores of armed police.
We have no doubt that the intentions behind the latest violent assault on Comrade M’membe’s family and workers of The Post are aimed at shutting down The Mast Newspaper and eliminating the most irksome independent voice to President Edgar Lungu, his Patriotic Front party and their followers.
The ruthless persistency and violence with which M’membe and The Post have been pursued by the Lungu government are impossible to defend. The allegations that the paper is not registered with the Zambian Revenue Authority are bogus and malicious.
These political objectives are very clear even to the most fanatical Patriotic Front and Lungu supporter.
It is clear for all to see that the Patriotic Front is determined to eliminate The Post Newspaper, and Fred M’membe himself by any means necessary. Obviously this is an attack on freedom of the press, which is the cornerstone of any democratic society.
As the working class we have a revolutionary duty to prevent the rise of tyranny in any of our countries.
We have a responsibility to defend and advance democracy, human rights and full human freedom. We have a duty to defend and advance the interests of justice.
It is time for the working class in all sectors to rise in defense of Democracy. NUMSA calls on workers in the transportation industry; workers in the import and export industry; workers in the public sector; workers in the security cluster; all workers must unite and fight against the rise of tyranny in the sub-region of the continent. We must fight to protect democracy in Africa.
NUMSA calls on the New Federation; the United Front and all working class organizations all over the world to demand an audit of Zambian trade with other countries that include South Africa.
NUMSA wants to launch a campaign to boycott Zambian goods and to end South African trade with Zambia.
This includes mounting protest action outside the Zambian embassy in South Africa. We are calling on all our sister unions to expose what has become a police state and a brutal regime of President Lungu.
We pledge our solidarity with all the working class and socialist forces in Zambia in general, and to the Socialist Party of Zambia in particular. We also extend our support to comrade Fred and The Post, during this tough time.
To President Lungu of Zambia we demand the following:
Stop, forthwith, the harassment of Comrade Fred, his wife and workers of The Post.
Fred M’membe’s wife and all those detained must be released, immediately and unconditionally.
The warrant of arrest for Fred M’membe must be withdrawn immediately.
Ensure that Zambian tax authorities comply with the order to have The Post opened and operating normally, and to allow for the normal resolutions of the tax matters between the two parties.
The Mast must operate normally, without hindrance or harassment.
These demands are all well within the powers and duties of the President of Zambia, who in effect has sworn to protect all Zambians.
As the working class of this African sub region, we reserve the right to adopt whatever campaigns and measures to ensure that we advance and entrench a culture of democracy, protection of human rights, defend justice and prevent the rise of tyranny. This is not an idle threat; it is a timely warning!
NUMSA General Secretary.
As a postscript, we just want to say that now we are leaving our battles for a better Zambia to non Zambians to fight on our behalf. We think as Zambians we should hang our heads in shame for allowing a situation where outsiders can see how inept and gutless we are to take on a brutal, oppressive yet corrupt and useless government. They pity us to the point of taking up the fight on our behalf. Shame!