GOVERNMENT has refuted reports that security officers were mobilised to stop planned meetings by United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Haikande Hichilema in Mambwe District.
Eastern Province Minister Malozo Sichone said at a media briefing in his office in Chipata on Wednesday that reports that Government had mobilised enough security personnel in the country to travel to Mambwe District to stop Mr Hichilema’s meetings were false.
Mr Sichone said only 20 Police officers were sent from Chipata to beef up security in Mambwe which had 18 officers.
He explained that the Police officers were sent to Mambwe to give protection to Mr Hichilema. “Even Mr Hakainde Hichilema himself wants protection from the security personnel and it is not true that Government had mobilised Police officers across the country to go and disturb Mr Hichilema’s meetings in Mambwe District,” he said.
He said the opposition leader left the province on his own after failing to hold his meetings. He said the Police did not give him a go-ahead after he notified them about his planned meetings in the province. The minister said it was a well-known fact that Mambwe, Chipata, Vubwi and Petauke where Mr Hichilema planned to hold rallies had pending parliamentary by-elections. Mr Sichone said he was also taken aback with civil society organisations (CSOs) in the province which wanted to hold mass prayers over the Constitution-making process. He said the Patriotic Front (PF) Government had not failed to enact a people-driven Constitution. He said the PF was determined to conclude the issue of the Constitution because it was embedded in the party manifesto. Meanwhile, Mr Hichilema has said he will not meet with President Michael Sata to discuss national matters. “I will not meet Mr Sata to dialogue with him on national issues or peace in the nation because I know that he can call for my arrest before we finish the meeting as I can tell him the truth that might injure his feelings.
“The best I can do if I want to dialogue with him is to write to him and not meeting him in person, never. I have been writing to him and responses have been given,” Mr Hichilema said during a programme on Hot FM in Lusaka yesterday.
Times of Zambia