Laura Miti says the Joint Action for Accountability in Zambia will go ahead with its planned peaceful demonstration at Parliament buildings this Friday even without police permission.
And Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) president Sean Tembo says the JAAZ demonstration will also serve as a platform for citizens to fight against the misapplication of the Public Order Act by law enforcers.
At a media briefing today, Miti who is Alliance for Community Action executive director said the law did not allow the constabulary to decide how citizens exercised their rights.
“Yesterday, the 25th of September, ACA (Alliance for Community Action) was called to Lusaka Police where they were told that police would not allow them to protest as requested on 29th September due to reasons among them that demonstrators could be attacked by counter protesters and that some placards could have insulting language. However, JAAZ would like to take this opportunity to notify Zambians that the peaceful protest will proceed as planned this Friday because the reasons given by the police for preventing the demonstration for which they were given timely notification are all unconstitutional. The law does not allow the police to decide how citizens will exercise their rights,” Miti said.
“It is the constitutional right of every citizen to protest and the duty of the police is to facilitate that protest. Moreover, the matter in which JAAZ would like to lead citizens in protests is critical and of public concern and citizens have chosen budget day to call attention to members of Parliament of their duty to protect public resources. There is no justifiable reason why citizens cannot stand quietly on Parliament road with placards that articulate their concerns. Once the police have been notified in a timely manner, the law does not allow them to refuse permission for any reason.”
Miti said even if their was no corruption involved in the purchase of 42 fire tenders at US$42 million, it was a misplaced priority.
“My own concern is not whether or not the purchase of 42 fire tenders at an amount of $42 million was a corrupt one or not. I want to know how government arrived at that decision, to take the whole $42 million and put in a garage. You see, this is what we have been talking about, our money goes to waste everyday not because someone has stolen it but because it has been misapplied. So this is what I want government to tell me and it’s what every other Zambian wants,” said Miti.
Meanwhile, Copperbelt based controversial singer Fumba Chama alias Pilato, said the demonstration was not in any way aimed at questioning the corruption that is in the country but that it was merely a call to hold leaders accountable on how public resources were applied.
“This is not a call to fight corruption, this is a call for proper use of public funds. So we are not in any way in line with what the President said, he called for investigations to determine whether their was corruption in the purchase of the fire trucks or not but for us we are saying that the $42 million dollars could have been used somewhere else where it could have been beneficial,” said Pilato.
“We can not sit and watch public money being misused or being used for something that won’t benefit the common person. It’s not like we have fires every day in Zambia, it’s not like we manufacture fire here no. we only have fires once in a while so that money could have been used on important sectors like the hospitals where our mothers and sisters are having problems of accessing drugs?”
And Patriots for Economic Progress leader Sean Tembo said JAAZ did need need a permit to demonstrate because Parliament has not given the police any powers to stop anyone from demonstrating.
“We as Patriots for Economic Progress felt the need to join hands with other advocates for public resources accountability in Zambia to try and hold the government accountable on the $42 million which was used to purchase the fire tenders. The reason we are demonstrating against this issue is because this purchase is unreasonable for all essence. The question that needs to be answered is whether this is a case of mismanagement of resources or whether there is an element of possible corruption, we can only determine that after a thorough investigation has been done,” said Tembo.