The conduct of the police in Eastern Province was an assault on democracy and a severe affront to the tenets and principles of good Governance.
All peace loving citizens should condemn the show of force exhibited by the Police in hounding UPND President Hakainde Hichilema out of the Province escorted by heavily armed Police Officers.
This is not the democracy that the people of Zambia fought for. It is nowhere near the principle of multi party democracy
HH should not have been curtailed in his political campaign by the Police whose duty is to defend the law and democracy as enshrined in the constitution, the supreme law of the land.
Most of the high ranking Police Officer were in service in the run up to the 2011 General Elections and will testify that the Patriotic Front had free reign to hold meetings in any part of the country. Several meetings were held in Lusaka without the provocative requirements that they are making against opposition groups.
It is a disgrace therefore that Police who should be enforcing the law are not doing so. They are instead violating an important constitutional right, namely the right of assembly. Sadly they are doing so for political expedience.
There is absolutely no justification for the Police to stop a politician from meeting the electorate in order to canvas his political ideas and vision; this is what multi party democracy is all about. It was for the right of freedom of assembly and conscience among others that the one party UNIP Government of President Kenneth Kaunda was thrown out office.
Zambians wanted a multiparty democracy where they had a free choice among political parties and ideas.
That is why we join in the disappointment of veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga, who denounces the one party conduct of the Police.
Mwaanga has expressed disappointment with the continued misapplication of the Public Order Act by the Zambia Police Service who are using the law used during the one party state, requiring political parties and civil society organizations to obtain permits before holding meetings.
This law was struck down. There is no such requirement any more.
Eastern Province Police Commissioner Grace Chipalila, speaking without any trace of regret triumphantly announced that HH whom she had not given a permit to hold meetings in the Province had been escorted out of the Province to ensure that he did not hold any more meetings.
Where are the Police getting these powers from?
VJ has rightly noted that “At the moment the requirement is to notify the police and not to have a permit but I continue to see that this party or that party has been denied a permit, there is no requirement in the current Act for a permit to be obtained that’s why am disappointed with the way the police are applying the Public Order Act”.
It may be necessary to take this matter to the judiciary to test the powers of the Police. If found wanting those involved should face the law.
From the footage shown on Muvi Television HH was very well received by the people. It was instead the armed police who caused a fracas in which we understand some people were injured. In whose interest was this being done? Surely, not for national interest.
We should not allow our country to sink into anarchy, regardless the source and especially not from those who are supposed to be custodians of the law. They should know that political power is transient and ephemeral, whereas the losses of peace, law and order have long term implications.