United Party for National Development (UPND) secretary general Stephen Katuka says the arrest of five senior party officials by police in Mongu yesterday was foolish and illegal.
And Katuka says the bahaviour of today’s police command under the Patriotic Front leadership is worse than that of colonial masters.
He told News Diggers! in interview today that the actions of the police in Mongu were aimed at intimidating the UPND as there was no provisions in the Public Order Act which allowed them to arrest anyone for holding a meeting in their office.
“The police acted foolishly, irresponsibly and unprofessionally because I don’t know how you sense that those who are sitting in that office are discussing this so go and round them up. It is not professional. How do you operate on that basis because we sit in those offices and operate from their. So now at this level it means that even when we are sitting in our offices writing a letter, if we are more than six or ten then we should notify the police, is that how we are going to run this country?,” Katuka wondered.
“That is how we have lost it as a country. It is the loss of the rule of law and unprofessional behaviour by the police to arrest people who are in their office because if you are holding a meeting in your office, I don’t think you need to notify the police. The Public Order Act doesn’t say so, but because of the cadre behaviour by the police, Kanganja’s police who follow people in their offices and in their homes to arrest them, you wonder. Now if we can not hold a meeting in our offices where else do we hold our meetings from?”
He recalled that in the past, police had asked UPND to hold a meeting at their secretariat without a permit.
“Remember, last time when we went to Chainama to hold a press briefing, police came and told us ‘this is a public place you cant’s hold a meeting from here unless you notify the police. They asked us to go to our secretariat and that’s where we held our meeting from. All along, people have been holding meetings from their Secretariats. It’s like having a function in my home, I don’t need to notify the police. Now the incident in Mongu is very disappointing that people having a meeting in their office and you arrest them. Whatever the issue is, that was a foolish and unprofessional move,” he said.
Katuka accused police of applying the law selectively with the aim of intimidating UPND members.
“They just want to intimidate UPND members so that they stop gathering. We have seen press briefings from the PF, do they notify anybody? Mumbi Phiri has been at briefings before including Sunday Chanda and Frank Bwalya these hold press briefings almost everyday, why should there be selective application of the law? If others are doing it why can’t we do it? In fact it is not a favour from the police, it is our right to assemble in our offices as long we are doing that which is in he confines of the law,” he said.
Katuka also said a Muvi TV journalist was among the arrested officials.
“Even a journalist who was performing his duties to disseminate that information to the public, even if the police refuted, there was Royd Kapusa? There was that name there, is Royd Kapusa a UPND member? He is a Journalist from Muvi TV. Even though I don’t know him personally, So they can’t dispute that,” said Katuka.
“Enough is enough, every Zambian has the right to be protected by the police because they are there to maintain law and order regardless of political affiliation. But they have been misbehaving, they have been conducting themselves very very unprofessionally for the first time in the history of this country, even the colonialist police where better than this police.”