Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja has warned that opposition political parties and NGOs that are planning to protest against load shedding and Bill 10, among other issues, will face the wrath of the law if they do not adhere to the Public Order Act.
But the UPND says although it is not part of the committee organising the protest, the party will fully support and participate in any such demonstration.
And Alliance for Community Action (ACA) Executive Director Laura Miti says her organisation will go ahead to legally protest against bad governance under the Yellow Card campaign.
In a statement, Tuesday, Kanganja stated that the police command had received information that some opposition parties and NGOs were planning “illegal protests”.
“We have received information to the effect that some opposition political parties working in collaboration with some Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have planned sporadic illegal protests around the country on the following issues: a. Load shedding, b. Truck drivers conditions of service, c. Bill number 10 amongst other issues. Further, information has revealed that the said groupings have also printed T-Shirts carrying certain messages and are mobilising musicians and members of the public to protest whilst clad in the said labeled T-shirts.I therefore warn all of you orchestrating these illegal protests to immediately stop your plans or face the wrath of the Law,” Kanganja warned.
“I am reminding you that the Law on protests is very clear as provided for under the Public Order Act; it is therefore prudent that all those wishing to conduct any such public activity should follow the provisions of the Law. Any conduct to the contrary will attract punitive action from police and no one should complain of the consequences there-of.”
He stated that members of the public would have themselves to blame if they joined such protests.
“I am calling upon members of the public to stay away from such planned activities or they will have themselves to blame. May I reiterate that the Police will not tolerate any public disorder orchestrated by any individual or grouping with a view to disturb public order and peace. Do not say you were not warned,” warned Kanganja
But UPND deputy secretary general for politics Patrick Mucheleka wondered whom the Inspector General was addressing, as his party and other civil society organisations were not aware of any such plans.
“We are not aware, we are not part of any organising committee. But if there is someone doing that, we will actually support it. Because they are not doing anything outside the law whoever is doing that. Kanganja, President [Edgar] Lungu can never take away our constitutional right, he can never. So they must know the rights. Provided that anybody willing to demonstrate, air their grievances does so within the confines of the law by giving a notice and the issue they want to protest about. For example this bill 10 they are talking about to want to restore constitution democracy we will not allow them. We will use every possible means to stop them using lawful means by the way,” said Mucheleka.
“There is nothing wrong with protesting peacefully! I mean what is wrong with that? He must know his boundaries. There is nothing wrong with people protesting peacefully as long as they make their intentions known if they give the police a minimum of seven days notice as required by law under the Public Order Act. So Kanganja is off side he doesn’t even know what he is doing. That guy now is exhibiting his incompetence. The Inspector General of Police is extremely incompetent; because perhaps he doesn’t even understand the law. He must not allow us to stoop to his level, he should not transfer that incompetence to us. There is nothing wrong in a democracy for people to demonstrate as long as we do it peacefully and still give notice. If we have grievances, it doesn’t matter who we are truck drivers, civil society organisations, professional bodies or individuals that is our right enshrined in the constitution.”
And Miti urged the Inspector General to prepare his men to provide security to the would be protestors.
“We have also just heard from the IG. But now that he is on the topic, we hope he is preparing his men to facilitate peaceful protests because the #Yellowcard campaign does intend to peacefully and legally protest bad governance. That’s what I said. [It’s good that] he is aware of a long list of issues citizens should protest about. Now he must do his job to facilitate those protests,” said Miti.
And singer Chama Fumba accused Kanganja of trying to incite people to protest against the continued challenges the country was facing.
“I don’t know of any protest being organised. If we organise, obviously we follow the laws so he shouldn’t even be worried about. We have not organised any protest, I am sure that IG is trying to be creative. We are not aware of any protest that is being organised. I am sure that the IG is trying to encourage people to protest. The IG is trying to incite people to protest. Because I don’t know any one who is trying to do that, so I am sure that he is suggesting that people should protest because he knows the problems, so he is suggesting that people should protest. I am sure that his creativity is trying to work around that,” said Chama.