Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya says pointing a gun at a person for merely buying fish at the market is unacceptable.

And Fr Chikoya says if there will be no genuine dialogue before the 2021 elections, the situation in the country will be “nasty”.

On Saturday night, about 20 police officers in riot gear arrived at Lunte lodge in Kitwe and demanded that Kambwili follows them to Kitwe Central Police for questioning over his Chisokone Market tour earlier in that day. During the ordeal an unidentified police officer pointed a gun at the opposition leader.

But in an interview, Fr Chikoya said the government was trying to make life difficult for the opposition.

“All political players must be allowed to exercise their right to mobilize, to engage, sell their manifesto and interact. I don’t see any reason why a political party leader should get permission to go and buy fish because that is not right. They can do that anytime, you shouldn’t have to get permission from somebody. And when you buy fish, you definitely talk to fellow human beings and that should be within the confines of the freedom of assembly, association and being able to propagate your ideals and values. Of course if somebody is propagating things that are breaking the law of the land, the law should visit them but I think in this in this case, it is more or less trying to make life difficult for those that are in the opposition which is not supposed to be the case,” Fr Chikoya said.

“We just want to advise those mandated to maintain law and order to properly apply the law so that they don’t discriminate or disadvantage other people. And pointing a gun on a person buying fish when you have people that have murdered people and they have not yet been arrested is not acceptable. Let us learn to love and respect each other and I think we will solve a lot of problems by giving each other space instead of wanting to police others to the extent that you may even stop them from going anywhere, it will be illegal for anything to happen. We would like to appreciate the work of the police working under difficult circumstances but at the end of the day, the right things should be done at all times all times.”

And asked what his expectations of the political field were if opposition party leaders continued being unfairly treated, Fr Chikoya said the outcome would be “nasty”.

“If we do not have genuine dialogue, you don’t need to be a prophet to know that the outcome would be quite nasty in the upcoming elections. So there is need to seriously…even if amendments are made to the constitution, if those that have the monopoly of power do not allow these wings of government to operate independently, peace will continue to be elusive. Imperfect as it is, the current law if properly applied can resolve most of our challenges. We have no doubt that the institutions in Zambia can and should function accordingly but sometimes they are not given that liberty. You see a scenario where cadres are too [powerful] and they can commit any offence,” said Fr Chikoya.