Let Harry Kalaba peacefully engage his followers without police intimidation – UPND

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The UPND has come out in solidarity with Bahati PF Member of Parliament Harry Kalaba who was summoned by police yesterday for allegedly holding illegal meetings in the Copperbelt Province.

And the opposition party says it is not surprised by the ‘deafening’ silence by organisations like the Zambia Centre for Inter-Party Dialogue (ZCID) and the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in the face of the harassment of Kalaba because they are compromised.

Police summoned Kalaba and interrogated him for more than two hours before recording a warn and caution statement from the prominent lawmaker who has fallen out of favour with his party for harbouring presidential ambitions.

“The UPND, wishes to condemn in the strongest possible terms, the harassment of Harry Kalaba by Zambia Police on the Copperbelt for simply exercising his rights of movement, association, assembly and free speech,” said UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka.

“We also deplore the police action of summoning and issuing of a warn and caution statement on Hon. Harry Kalaba who’s a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bahati MP and a respected member of our community.

“We understand Hon. Kalaba was being warned and cautioned for merely peacefully engaging his supporters, something we believe is within his rights.”

The PF sees the Copperbelt Province as crucial to its political survival and has seen to it that state police do not allow opponents of the ruling party to mobilise in the area.

“This incident like many others before, demonstrates once again what we have been saying, that the PF leadership does not believe in democratic coexistence where citizens can freely, peacefully and openly enjoy their rights and freedoms without political intimidation and police harassment,” said Mucheleka, adding “It is these issues that the PF are running away from fully engaging in the dialogue process, which would have gone a long way in addressing and ironing out all the thorny issues that are denting the democratic credentials of our country.”

Mucheleka says the deafening silence by organizations like the Zambia Centre for Inter-Party Dialogue (ZCID) and the Human Rights Commission (HRC) is not unexpected and surprising, adding “It shows and confirms how toothless, ineffective and compromised they are in handling common matters affecting our country.

“Why should it honestly require police notifications which is now treated and qualifies as Police permits, for political leaders to merely interact with their supporters and mobilise their structures on the ground?

“On the other hand, the PF leadership at various levels are busy traversing the breadth and length of our country, buying UPND councillors and engaging their structures on the ground without any police notifications.”

He says his party has resolved to start mobilising its structures around the country.

“As UPND, we shall not accept this injustice in our country and by virtue of this statement, we want to inform the nation that our party President Hakainde Hichilema and other senior party officials will be immediately hitting the ground to visit our structures and engage our citizens as a way to fully appreciate the suffering they are going through under the corrupt PF leadership.

“Hon. Harry Kalaba committed no offence and we shall not be committing any offence by visiting our party structures and peacefully engage our citizens around the country.”

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