UPND goes to court over Kasama police ban

Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba - GBM
Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba - GBM

THE United Party for National Development (UPND) has petitioned the Lusaka High Court seeking an order of judicial review of the Kasama Police commanding officer’s decision to cancel it’s meetings in the Northen Province

Mr Steven Katuka, suing in his capacity as UPND secretary general, states in his application filed in the High Court that the party was on November 27 to December 10 this year slated to commence verification and monitoring meetings but were cancelled by the police, arguing that constitutional rights of the party to assemble were likely to continue being violated.
Mr Katuka explained that on November 10, the Zambia Police in Kasama were notified by Mr Katuka that UPND intended to hold branch committee verification and monitoring meetings in Kasama Central constituency from November 27 until December 10 which were to be addressed by Mr Geoffery Bwalya Mwamba (GBM), Mr N. Ilunga, Mr D.Chanda Mr A.Mulenga and seven other speakers.
He said on November 23 he was informed by the police that the meetings would not be allowed due to the unsafe security on the ground.
Mr Katuka contends that the decision by the commanding officer to bar UPND from holding its branch verification and monitoring meetings violated Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution which guarantee the applicant protection of freedom of expression and assembly.
He further contends that his notice met the additional requirements in Section 5(5) of cap 113 which provides for inter alia for the dates, venue and time of the meetings and intended speakers.
Mr Katuka argues that there was ‘‘illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety’’ in the manner in which UPND was barred from proceeding with the planned meetings.
He further indicated that that the decision of the police has adversely affected the interests of UPND as it has been denied a chance to mobilize its members which was a core function of a political party.
Mr Katuka added that the conduct of the police did not comply with the provisions of Section 5(5) of cap 113 and the act of cancelling the meetings when the power to do so was not provided for by the law was therefore null and void
He added that and if the court grants leave to commence judicial review proceedings against the State, the said leave should act to stay the decision of the police to cancel their meetings in Kasama.