UPND has vowed to go ahead with its planned countrywide meetings and processions because the reasons advanced by the police to deny them permits are insufficient.
Last week the UPND wrote to Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani informing her of intentions to undertake political activities in the form rallies and demonstrations under the theme ‘no money, no jobs, high mealie meal prices and transport costs.’
The UPND further indicated to inform all Police Commissioners in all 10 provinces of the specifics of each of the events.
The UPND also wrote to Lusaka Division commissioner Joyce Kasosa informing her of intentions to hold a public meeting on May 26th 2013 in Lusaka’s Chawama area, where UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and several speakers are expected to address people.
The UPND also indicated intentions to provide 200 marshals for the rally to compliment the police.
However, the police have refused UPND to go ahead with the countrywide meetings.
“I regret to inform you that the police do not support your intended meetings and processions on various grounds, among them, lack of clarity on venues, dates, timings, routes and security plans for the events,” stated police director of operations Malcolm Mulenga. “While the police appreciate, your intention to inform the various Police Commissioners in respective provinces, we would have appreciated if the specifics of each event were provided in your correspondence. This would have created the basis upon which to consider the appropriateness of your intended events.”
And Kasosa said the planned meeting in Chawama was not supported because of the prevailing security situation in Lusaka which has left the police too-over stretched to accommodate any additional planned activities of such magnitude.
“We advise that the meeting should not take place, however, we will continue monitoring the situation and further encourage dialogue between the police and yourselves so that you have the meeting as soon as the current situation changes.”
But UPND deputy secretary general Kuchunga Simusamba said President Sata through the police has denied opposition parties the right to assemble freely.
“As UPND, we are not accepting reasons advanced by the police; it seems we won’t get the opportunity to enjoy out constitutional right of assembly,” Simusamba said. “It is strange that PF ministers are holding illegal meetings around the country to justify removal of subsidies after directive from President Sata but police has denied UPND to explain a viable alternative to what government has done so we shall defy police orders and assemble as planned because what Kasosa is trying to do is not law enforcement but promoting unlawlessness.”
Simusamba also said that UPNDA will write Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu to express displeasure at the conduct of the police.
“We hope that being a lawyer (Lungu), the Minister will understand the importance of the right to assembly,” he said.