POLICE on the Copperbelt have arrested UPND chairman for policy research Dr Choolwe Beyani and six others in Chililabombwe for conducting intra party elections without notice.

They have been charged with unlawful assembly.

In an interview, Copperbelt police commissioner Charity Katanga confirmed the arrest and disclosed that five motor vehicles were also impounded in the process.

“We were not aware ourselves over them having intra-party elections. There was no such notification on the part of the police. What we received was information to the effect that the UPND cadres were having elections in the bush. So based on the fact that police had no notification, they followed up the report and picked up six people for unlawful assembly. This occurred yesterday, 25th July, 2020 around 15:00 hours at farm number one, Kakoso, Chililabombwe. So those that were picked, there is Choolwe Beyani of A86a Kasaka, Kafue in Lusaka. The other one is Mfumpa Nsinzo, 46, of plot number 1007, Congo road Chililabombwe. The third one is Jerry Mumba, 49 of house number 57, Shinde road, Chingola. Then we have Godfrey Besa, 62, of house number 12 Kambompo crescent Hellen Kaunda, Chililabombwe. The fifth one is Siachubo Benson, 44, of 6692 Mwase Close Riverside, Kitwe. And the last one is Sita Mwendesho, 63, of Shibuchinga in Lufwanyama,” Katanga said.

“The facts are that the group of UPND were spotted by a concerned citizen at farm number 1, Kakoso, casting votes and when alerted, police managed to apprehend six while the others ran away and also five motor vehicles were impounded. That’s registration number ACR 9264 Toyota Gaia, for Choolwe Beyani. Then the registration number ACZ4164 Toyota Noah for Godfrey Besa. The other one is BCB 1874, Regius for Siachubo and the two were the owners are not known are ABC 795, Alex and ACG 6481zm Vox. They were found in possession of 15 carton boxes for voting as voting boxes and 13 campaign materials. The six were detained yesterday at Chililabombwe police station for unlawful assembly.”

Katanga warned that police would not tolerate people flouting laws.

“Earlier, when police had spotted cadres at the Secretariat whilst clad in UPND regalia, I don’t know at whatever office, so they were called and advised not to hold a meeting without notification because what is happening nowadays, a meeting is accompanied by a form from the local authority over health matters. But all this was not the case. So it was done in full defiance of the law. It’s unfortunate that party cadres are flouting these laws, the Public Order Act, when the Public Order Act is so elaborate over the appellant procedure should they feel aggrieved. For instance, where possibly the police turns down such meetings, the law is clear, you appeal to the minister, if they are not satisfied, they take it to court, it’s as simple as that but in this case, there was not even a notification over the meeting and everything. They were just doing what they want. I think that cannot be tolerated and we are going to ensure that the law takes its course,” said Katanga.

And when contacted for a comment, UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka said being arrested was also part of the new normal under PF.

“You know, we get arrested every other day, it’s like it’s also another new normal that PF are abusing the police. They have unleashed the police to continuously harass us, arrest us as we observe the health regulations under the new normal, sanitizing, masking, social distancing, that is what we have endeavoured to do in all our activities. And you know, for some time now, some people have unfairly criticised us as a party that does not want to democratise. I want to tell you that as a party, we have taken steps the most part of this year to democratise by way of holding intra party elections from the lower organs of the party, coming upwards and at the moment, we are almost done with our intra party elections at ward, constituency, district levels, we are now moving to the provinces,” said Mucheleka.

“So our people, senior members of the party have gone everywhere, I just returned from Luapula where I was also being threatened with arrest by the police but I want to assure you that where I went, it was mission accomplished, we did what we had to do. Despite the arrest of Dr Beyani, we still want to assure the people of Zambia that as UPND, we remain undaunted, we shall continue to exercise our rights as enshrined in the contribution under the bill of rights. So they will try and do everything possible to try and disturb us frustrate us but it will not work.”