Police in Lusaka have arrested Alliance for Community Action executive director Laura Miti, PeP president Sean Tembo, singer Chama Fumba (Pilato) and several other protesters who marched to Parliament to demonstrate against the purchase of 42 fire tenders at a cost of US$42 million.
The protesters gathered at Puma Filling Station at Arcades around 12:30 led by Tembo, singer Pilato and ZCSD executive director Lewis Mwape and were later joined by Miti who had been summoned by police.
Miti and her fellow protesters carried placards inscribed “The President doesn’t know, the Minister doesn’t know, who knows?” Other banners were written, “wake up Zambia, it’s our money.
As they approached the National Assembly entrance, police officers grabbed and destroyed their placards, but resolved to go ahead with their protest, Miti and her colleagues went to sit peacefully on a pavement near the entrance to Parliament building.
However, a horde of PF cadres arrived a few minutes later chanting, “let the police do their work, get out of here”, among other rantings.
Police then moved on to arrest Miti, Pilato, Tembo and others.
As they were being led to a police van, Miti was heard shouting, “Let us protest, it is our money! Why are you arresting us when you have left the PF cadres just standing there?”
Earlier police summoned Miti to Force Headquarters to warn her against protesting.
“Mrs Katongo, Esther Katongo (Police Spokesperson) called me and said I was invited for a meeting with the Deputy IG before 12,” said Miti.
Earlier, Police delivered a letter to Miti’s office in which they requested her to schedule the protest for another time saying they did not have adequate manpower to facilitate.
But in her reply, Miti stated that the protests could not be postponed because they were strategically scheduled for today when Minister of Finance would present the national budget.
After the arrest of the protesters, Police issued a statement saying they would keep Miti and other protesters in detention until they were charged.
“Six persons were today arrested at Parliament by Police. Those arrested are: Laura Miti aged 52 of PHI in Lusaka who is Director of Alliance for Community Action, Female Mika Mwambazi aged 30 of NRDC and a freelance consultant, male Sean Tembo aged 37 of Lusaka’s Avondale who is party president for Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP), Male Fumba Chama aged 33 of Kansenshi in Ndola, Lewis Mwape aged 44 of Balastone Villa who is Executive Director for Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) and Male Bonwell Mwewa aged 43 of PHI in Lusaka.They are detained in custody and will soon be charged,” stated Katongo.