Religious affairs minister Reverend Godfridah Saili yesterday overruled the Zambia Police and asked Lusaka Province police commissioner Nelson Phiri to allow the church to conduct freed UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s thanksgiving prayers.
The prayers were organised by Pastor Kangwa Chileshe of City of Refuge Ministries in Lusaka.
However, police cancelled the meeting that was scheduled for the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka and summoned the covenor.
Pastor Chileshe had wanted to pray for the release of Hichilema who spent four-month detention in jail alongside five others on treason related charges.
Pastor Chileshe appeared before the Lusaka Province commissioner Nelson Phiri at Central Police and was advised his prayers could not go ahead.
Armed police were deployed to seal off the venue of the proposed thanksgiving service.
Later, Phiri phoned Pastor Chileshe and informed him that Rev Sumaili had overruled his decision.
“When I called and there was no answer, I said pastor is very annoyed with me today…I got a call from the minister overruling my decision, saying ‘you allow people to go for prayers’ but I said now I gave them already this…probably just like I advised, they push in some notice for some day so that they reconvene,” Phiri told pastor Chileshe according to a recording that has circulated on social media.
Pastor Chileshe advised Phiri that he would forward a request to the police tomorrow for permission to hold the thanksgiving prayers.