Police in Lusaka have denied the nine opposition political parties permission to conduct a peaceful protest against government expenditure of public resources, citing limited manpower in the service to protect them this festive season.
Speaking shortly after a meeting with Lusaka Police Commissioner Nelson Phiri, ADD president Charles Milupi, who spoke on behalf of the other parties expressed disappointment that Police could deny them a permit when they had followed the necessary procedure.
“We stand here members representing the nine political parties that appended their signatures to a notification to the police for us to hold peaceful demonstration this coming Friday, the 14th of December. I must say that we fully complied with the law, including the Public Order Act, there is nothing that we’ve done that is outside the Public Order Act. We have given the requisite number of days as notice for us to hold this peaceful demonstration and we have given a subject on which we want to demonstrate because of what is happening in the country in terms of misuse or use of public resources. The Commissioner of Police for Lusaka Province called us this morning to come and engage in a conversation. The essence of our meeting is that, our belief is that once you have given the notification, it is our Constitutional right to hold that demonstration. Our rights in this particular instance have been denied to us,” Milupi complained.
“The reasons given by the Commissioner of Police is that this is during festive season and therefore, the police are engaged elsewhere for other activities. We think that festive is nearer Christmas than three weeks away. However, in the spirit of further corporation in following the law, we asked him to define to us the end of the festive season, they have given us a date that it finishes around 5th January. He has committed himself to giving us a day by the end of today that he will give us a day through on which all of us political parties and all citizens can express their anxiety over what is happening.”
Milupi wondered why the police did not arrest PF cadres who conducted a public meeting to celebrate the Concourt ruling which pronounced President Edgar Lungu eligible to stand in 2021.
“We know that when we go by history, rights of members of the public, especially the opposition have been denied. We must remind you members of the press that not long ago, last Friday, there was a huge demonstration at the Constitutional Court by members of the PF. Our information is, there was no application or notification for that meeting and so far, in spite of the fact that that broke the public order act as it stands now, we are not aware of any arrest that has been made on those that congregated unlawfully. So we stand here, not from a position of weariness, we are saying as collective opposition political parties that we will obey the law in as far it is reasonable and we ask the police to be reasonable in this matter. By the end of today, we expect to see a day and on that day, the people of this country shall be informed so that collectively, they can exercise their constitutional right to demonstrate, to assemble,” said Milupi.