The Zambian police have announced that they intend to arrest opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) leader, Hakainde Hichilema, in the next few weeks on the grounds that he caused riots in the Copperbelt region.
Inspector general of police, Kakoma Kanganja, made the announcement on Tuesday, explaining that police investigations showed that Hichilema’s “careless remarks” had caused Monday’s riots in Kitwe, the Zambian Observer reported.
Zambia's home affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo also confirmed on Tuesday that the government wanted to lock Hichilema “up for good”.
The riots were sparked by reports that the government is in the process of selling off Zaffico, a strategic government owned business responsible for timber and wood resources, to a private Chinese buyer.
Business was brought to a standstill in the Racecourse, Kamatipa and Kawama compounds on Monday as saw millers and residents alike fought running battles with the police, blockading the road to two compounds with burning tyres and logs.
A number of Chinese-owned shops in Kawama compound were also looted following accusations by residents that the government was favouring the Chinese at the expense of locals.
Two hundred people were arrested by the Zambian police following Monday’s clashes.
Hichilema made headlines in April 2017 when he was arrested and charged with treason when he allegedly obstructed President Edgar Lungu's motorcade on a main road.
He was released in August after the state prosecutor dropped charges against him of plotting to overthrow the government.