We are shocked and appalled by the tear-gassing and harassment of MMD President Nevers Mumba and his team yesterday in Lundazi in Eastern Province where he was addressing an indoor meeting. What is even more shocking is that this teargas canister was thrown by a police officer who is supposed to be trained in handling such deadly things. This is a criminal act and we call upon the Police Service to take appropriate disciplinary measures against the officer and his supervisors.
This is a gross violation of their freedoms and democratic rights, and such behaviour should not have any place in our democratic nation. Dr Mumba was addressing an indoor meeting, which does not require a police notification. It is a illegal for the police to disrupt a peaceful meeting and perhaps Dr.Mumba should sue the Police for criminal trespass.
As we have been on the receiving end of this unwarranted force repeatedly since 2011, we truly sympathise with those who have suffered and we offer our support to any calls for redress.
Regrettably while we are dismayed by this latest attack on opposition politicians we are no longer surprised by such incidents. Under the PF these attacks and the trampling of democratic freedoms has become routine, to the detriment of our nation and to our great shame. Once again we call for reform of the Public Order Act. It has become clear that so long as it remains in its current form the PF will use it to try and justify all sorts of repression and authoritarian behaviour. In his usual rhetoric, President Lungu in his opening speech in Parliament said he is directing parliament to review the POA. Has that happened? In Lundazi, we saw deplorable Police action against innocent and peaceful citizens encouraging lawlessness instead of maintaining law and order.
There must be an end to the use of police officers for political agendas or the hope for free and fair elections in 2016 will be brought into question. President Lungu should now make a clear and public statement on this matter and openly condemn the persecution of anyone on the basis of their political affiliation. Such incidents also demonstrate why we still urgently need to secure a new Bill of Rights for Zambians which was thrown away by PF.
We once again appeal to the PF Government to channel their energies into governing and delivering on the promises they have made to the Zambian people, rather than spending their time hounding the opposition. If they could concentrate on governing then we can start to repair the damage done and improve life for citizens across the country.
UPND Chair – Media