United Party for National Development Secretary General Stephen Katuka says police must also allow his party to carry out their activities freely like they have allowed Felix Mutati protests during the Threatened State of Emergency.
In a statement today, Katuka observed that the countrywide anti-Mutati demonstrations by ruling party supporters was proof that police were selective in their application of the Public Order Act.
“We note with interest the seemingly countrywide demonstration by PF cadres against the Minister of Finance Felix Mutati calling for his resignation. Our interest is not on the merits or demerits of these demonstrations as that is really none of our business as we regard that as purely an internal PF and MMD led Mutati faction. But our interest is on the usual selective application of the Public Order Act in the country where PF members can easily get into the busy streets without a police ‘permit’ and start demonstrating,” Katuka stated.
“Of interest equally is how these PF members are being allowed to demonstrate especially at a time when the country is under the [Threatened] State of Emergency where such activities are not allowed. We hope now the PF leadership that have been issuing statements against the UPND President Hakainde Hichilema on what he has been saying at various fora, including at a Press Conference in South Africa, can understand what he means that there is selective justice and application of laws in the country that favours those in the ruling party to the disadvantage of the opposition especially the UPND.”
Katuka stated that he was hoping the Zambia Police Service could reflect and change from its discriminatory application of the Public Order Act.
“Mr Hichilema and other UPND members have been very consistent in their messages both home and abroad that there is suppression of the rights of those holding different views from those of the PF in the country, something that Zambian citizens and the international community must pay attention to, with a view to correct the situation so that it favours all citizens,” he stated.
“We now hope the Zambia Police Service have finally reflected and have had a change of mind on the discriminatory application of the Public Order Act so that even UPND members will be allowed to freely hold both indoor and outdoor party mobilisation meetings as well as given their constitutional and democratic space to actively engage citizens and share their messages without hindrance.”
And Katuka called on the police to allow his members conduct party rallies in peace just like those in ruling party were allowed to conduct theirs.
“We therefore wish to commend the Zambia Police Service for this seemingly change of heart and professional conduct and hope that from now onwards, they will also allow the UPND members who wish to hold thanksgiving rallies on the release of their party leader Mr. Hichilema to do so according to the provisions of the Public Order Act,” stated Katuka.
“As a matter of fact, the UPND intends to hold several thanksgiving rallies across the country some that will be addressed by the UPND senior leadership that includes the UPND President Hakainde Hichilema and his Vice-President Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM). We believe that peaceful and lawful assemblies, demonstrations, meetings and rallies are part of the democratic tenets that must be allowed like the PF members have been doing against Finance Minister Felix Mutati of late.”