In a dramatic turn of events and a clear show of dictatorial tendency, President Michael Sata has ordered the Zambia Police to disregard a court order and deploy a battalion of officer at the venue of a scheduled public meeting in Lusaka’s Kanyama area.
Police, who claimed they did not have manpower to provide security for the meeting, have surprisingly managed to mobilize to stop the meeting.
Reports suggest that hundreds of cops are now at Twashuka Basic School grounds where UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema is due to address a meeting at 14:00 hours.
“They are allowing no one near the ground. We are surprised at the way police can disregard the law in their effort to clampdown UPND,” a UPND source said advising its members, friends and stakeholders to remain calm as they monitor the situation.
Police had initially claimed its manpower would be deployed at yesterday soccer match between Zambia and Uganda in Ndola and withdrew the permit for the meeting prompting UPND lawyers to rush to court.
Meanwhile, Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) information officer Obby Chibuluma said the move was a clear attempt by the police to deny the UPND members their constitutional right to assemble and express themselves.
Chibuluma said Lusaka Province commissioner Dr Solomon Jere ought to know being an educated person that the current public order Act had received interpretation by the Supreme Court which clearly stated that the police had no power to license people’s meetings.
“The judgment also makes it clear that the police do not have the powers to deny citizens these rights, but rather, have a responsibility to ensure these events receive police protection.
“Dr Jere wants to use the excuse of the Zambia vs. Uganda match as a reason to suspend people’s rights; one is left to wonder whether football is more important than rights which our people are supposed to enjoy.
“How can the police cancel the UPND rally ‘until further notice’ as though it were a police event?” he asked.
“We therefore find it strange that the police want to take this country back to the old days when they violated people’s rights with impunity going by the way they administered the public order act.”
President Sata has been accused of turning Zambia into a police state by disrespecting people’s rights and the sources at State House say the insistence by the police to cancel the meeting is based on orders from the Head of State.