THE United Party for National Development (UPND) has set May 22 for their planned demonstrations to push for a referendum but police have denied giving a go-ahead to the protest.
UPND deputy secretary general Kuchunga Simusamba told the Daily Nation that his party was granted a go-ahead by police for the planned demonstration and what changed was only the date from May 13 to May 22.
Mr. Simusamba maintained that the UPND would go ahead with the protest against Government’s plans to have piecemeal amendments to the Constitution on contentious clauses and subjecting the rest of the document for adoption together with the general elections in 2016.
“We don’t need a permit from the police, it is a notification, and the police have been notified and we have had a meeting with them including Commissioner Katanga and her deputy who have told us that they have no issues on our demonstrations. In any case, you don’t require permission from the police, but a notice,” Mr. Simusamba said.
He said his party conferred with the police command after the police advised them against the initial date for the planned demonstrations on May 13, 2015.
“We had a meeting in Lusaka with Police in Commissioner Charity Katanga’s office where we discussed this demonstration. We had earlier written about this demonstration in April and they advised us that we could not have it in April because it was clashing with another event and they asked us to choose any other day. They told us they were not against our demonstration in any form, but that we just needed to give them a notice, which we have done. Our demonstration is on a Friday next week and everything is set and we are going ahead with the demonstration,” he explained.
But when contacted for a comment, Ms. Katanga said she was not aware of anyone who had given a go-ahead to the UPND. She explained that the UPND had only given the police a notice of their intentions to have a demonstration but police had not advised them on whether to go ahead.
“We have not yet responded to their notice to the police but I wish to confirm that my officers received their notice of their intended procession on 22nd May from their secretariat through Independence Avenue to State House. It is still with the police and we have not yet responded,” Ms. Katanga said.
She said the UPND sent their notice to her office and as far as she was concerned, it was her office to give guidance whether the UPND should go-ahead.
“Am the Commissioner of police here and am not speaking in my individual capacity. So, if they were given, then I don’t know who gave them because I have a notice here, signed by their Deputy Secretary Kuchunga Simusamba, it is here, dated 8th May 2015 and is addressed to the Commissioner of Police. So, if they have been given a go ahead, then it was not me,” she maintained.