POLICE on Wednesday summoned Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) president Edith Nawakwi for allegedly holding an illegal meeting in Mufulira.
Police spokesperson Charity Chanda said in an interview yesterday that Police in Mufulira summoned Ms Nawakwi to Mufulira Police Station to counsel her on the correct procedure to follow before holding a public meeting because she had one on Wednesday without giving police sufficient notification.
Ms Chanda dismissed assertions that Ms Nawakwi had been detained, but said she had merely been summoned for guidance on procedure for holding public meetings.
“Ms Nawakwi had a meeting without giving police enough notice. So police officers went to the meeting and told her to follow them to the police station where she was told to adhere to the Public Order Act,” Ms Chanda.
She said Ms Nawakwi was in the company of other FDD members when she was summoned and that her party meeting was also stopped.
Ms Chanda said even the next time Ms Nawakwi and the FDD would want to have a public meeting, they should give police seven days notice as per correct procedure.
But FDD spokesperson Antonio Mwanza, who also confirmed the incidence in an interview, said Police were wrong to detain Ms Nawakwi.
Mr Mwanza said Ms Nawakwi was detained around 17:00 hours on Wednesday for about 50 minutes over holding the alleged illegal meeting.
He said FDD had a meeting at Mufulira’s Hindu Hall for the party’s Mufulira District elections when 40 armed police officers stopped the meeting and demanded that the party officials accompany them to the police station.
Mr Mwanza said those attending the meeting were about 150 people.
“At the police station, we were told that we abrogated the Public Order Act because we did not get permission to hold an assembly but we do not need a permit to have a meeting,” he said.
Mr Mwanza said FDD had notified the police about Ms Nawakwi’s visit to the Copperbelt and in which places she would be holding meetings and so it was wrong for the police to detain Ms Nawakwi as the notification was sufficient.
He said because of the confusion, the FDD has decided to write to the Ministry of Home Affairs to offer their resources to hold a conference for police officers and other stakeholders to retrain them on the Public Order Act.
Times of Zambia