Wednesday, January 23, 2013

UPND can't be trusted to hold violence-free events - police

UPND can't be trusted to hold violence-free events - police
By Kabanda Chulu and Moses Kuwema
Wed 23 Jan. 2013, 14:01 CAT

LUSAKA police have denied the UPND a permit to hold its planned rally in Kabwata, saying the opposition political party cannot be trusted to hold a violence-free event. But UPND deputy secretary general Kuchunga Simusamba said the party would go ahead with the rally because police had no powers to 'licence' a meeting.

Lusaka Division police commissioner Joyce Kasosa has informed UPND that their planned rally in Kabwata would not take place. Kasosa stated that police did not trust UPND to hold a violence-free rally due to what happened at Woodlands Police station, where suspected UPND cadres, who escorted UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, caused commotion, resulting in a police officer being assaulted.

But Simusamba accused Kasosa of condoning lawlessness by disregarding the Supreme Court ruling in a case involving Christine Mulundika and others against the state. He said it was clear under the PF government that opposition parties would not be allowed to meet freely.

"The ruling is clear that police should be notified and we did that and we shall go ahead and if they stop us, then the police will be causing anarchy and violence because they don't have powers to stop a meeting," Simusamba said.

"We know Commissioner Kasosa is ignoring the law because there is an invisible hand controlling her, hence we have changed our stance from cooperating to defying lawlessness since the police wants to operate under lawlessness."

Meanwhile, Kasosa, in an interview, said the police service was not interested in confrontations with UPND.

Commenting on the opposition UPND's vow to go ahead with their planned public rally in Kabwata this Sunday, with or without a police permit, Kasosa urged the UPND to dialogue with the police rather than take a confrontational approach.

"We are not here to engage in confrontations; it is in the best interest of them and us to work together so that we support each other in the peaceful nature of our country. Let them dialogue with us if they have any issues. My appeal is not for confrontation. We are not here for that because it will not lead us anywhere because some of us are interested in the development of our country. Confrontations will not build this country. They will not take us anywhere but backwards," she said.

Kasosa said so far, her office had not had any discussions with the UPND.

"That is why I am saying I would want to open dialogue with them so that we can discuss. We are open for dialogue. They have not come to us. They gave us a notification, I just came through the office on Monday and I am doing consultations," said Kasosa.

Simusamba said his party presented the notification to the police more than seven days ago and they had not responded yet.

"The rally is on this Sunday, how do they expect us to organise? They reduce our time to organise the rally. It is the things that they do that are creating this animosity and creating an environment that is not suitable for dialogue. If she has something to say to me, she will call me," he said.

"The issues of whether she was in or out of office, those are internal issues. We gave them more seven days' notice, so they should have found a way of resolving this issue. I was there on Friday and was assured that they would call me before the end of the day. They never called me. Monday the whole day they never called."

Simusamba said the UPND had resorted to hold rallies and would not be deterred anymore.

"We cannot falter, we have reached them but they have not done the same. We want to hold rallies as a party and we don't want to be deterred anymore and if the police don't want to cooperate, we shall defy, that's our position," said Simusamba.

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