UPND has written to the Minister of Home Affairs Steven Kampyongo requesting that his office overturns the decision by the police to cancel their Eastern Province card renewal exercise saying that there might be a political hand involved.

Meanwhile, UPND has also written to Ministry of Tourism permanent secretary Liya Mutale opposing government’s decision to sell Chichele Presidential Lodge in South Lwangwa National Park saying it’s an abuse of public office.

According to a letter dated February 12, addressed to Kampyongo and signed by the UPND Secretary General Stephen Katuka, the decision by police to cancel the planned card renewal in Eastern Province was unconstitutional.

“The UPND submitted a notice of intention to hold a card renewal program to the Zambia Police in Eastern Province on the date of 10th February, 2018. The Zambia Police response was not in the affirmative but informed us of the need to postpone to 17th February, 2018, citing the outbreak of cholera. As law abiding citizens, we complied. Having been advised to hold the said program on 17th February, 2018, our party officials advanced to set the program on 17th February, 2018 which, unfortunately, hit a snug as the police came back to us with fresh instructions suggesting that our planned program would not go ahead on 17th February, 2018 on account of lack of manpower,” he stated.

“We wish to draw your attention to a realisation that we have so far had five similar programs in five regions, and we have not had any problem requiring police presence. All the meetings we held for our card renewal did not require the police presence as this was an in-house routine program. Suffices to mention that, the suggestion by the police to stop the planned card renewal in Eastern Province is not only ill-timed but unconstitutional.”

Katuka stated that UPND felt there was a political hand in the cancellation of the planned meeting.

“We also wish to draw your attention to Christine Mulundika’s case in which the court was of the view that particular clauses of the Public Order Act were repugnant to fundamental rights and freedoms of the appellants. Also in the case the resident Doctors Vs the Attorney General in which held that “the rights to free speech and freedom to assemble are not only fundamental, but central to the concept and ideal of democracy and that “…the police fragrantly violated the Public Order Act and consequently, infringed the petitioners rights as enshrined in Articles 20 and 21 of the Constitution. We feel there is a political hand in the police decision to cancel our planned meeting and this might heighten the political tension unnecessarily in the country. In view of the foregoing, we request through your office that you overturn the decision of the police to preserve the integrity of the police,” stated Katuka

In a letter dated February 8, addressed to the Ministry of Tourism permanent secretary Liya Mutale, UPND deputy secretary general Gertrude Imenda stated that the decision to sell Chichele Presidential Lodge was abuse of public office.

“We are writing to seek clarification on media reports suggesting that your office resolved to sell the Chichele Presidential Lodge in South Lwangwa National Park together with the adjoining land that forms part of the National Park that the lodge is sitting on. We wish to categorically indicate that as a party, we are obliged to ensure, on behalf of the people of Zambia, that National National assets are well managed and protected by the government through checks balances. We have also heard that a named company running lodges in collision with a named senior government official are in the process of buying Chichele Presidential Lodge, which in our view is abuse of public office,” she stated.

Imenda stated that UPND opposed the idea to sell the lodge and any part of any the National Park.

“We wish to put it succinctly that we oppose the idea to sell Chichele Lodge and any part of any National Park for the following reasons : (i) If the lodge in question is sold to the said buyer, the new management will monopolize the tourism sector, thus making Zambia a bad tourist destination. (ii) If the named buyer goes ahead, then the senior government official who is reportedly part of the would-be buyer must express interest. (iii) It is lack of direction and recklessness to think that selling the lodge is a solution to its management woes. (iv) The lodge, if prudently run can be made more viable. (v) We also believe that the biggest challenge that Chichele lodge is faced with is not scarcity of finances but poor management. (vi) We need to have a sense of ownership of our natural resources and the tourism industry. (vii) Your ministry should rather start thinking of a more professional way of running the tourism sector and avoid handling over the facilities in the national parks to individuals who are working for the same ministry,” stated Imenda who added that her party would hold Mutale responsible if the sale went ahead.