Police raid prayer meeting

There was confusion at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Choma yesterday when the police attempted to block people from  attending  a” Rescue our Constitution’ prayer meeting for Southern Province convened by the Grand Coalition demanding for the immediate release of a people driven constitution.  

The Grand Coalition, the conveners of the Rescue our Constitution prayer meeting were shocked that police could demand for a police permit for a prayer meeting which was scheduled to take place at St Mary’s Catholic Parish.

It took the legislative efforts of Choma Central Member of Parliament to school the police that a church service did not need the police permit and that it was a constitutional breach for the law enforcement officers to stop a church prayer meetings.

Earlier in the day, Southern Province police commissioner Mary Chikwanda came to assess the situation and threatened to block the prayer meeting because according to her, the organizers did not have a police permit.

The police decided to block the Choma ecclesiastical constitution meeting after they were informed that UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema was going to be among the people attending meeting.

But the police failed to stop the prayer meeting and Reverend Bernard Mwiinga who represented pastors’ fellowship in Choma said the demand for the constitution was not meant to fight government but to remind them of the pledge they made to Zambians while in the opposition.

Rev Mwiinga said no amount of social and economic development would be achieved without constitution.

He wondered why government had opted for antagonism and arrogance in the current constitution making impasse warning that the PF government would be taught a lesson for failing to honour its promise on the constitution.

He said government was deliberately procrastinating over the constitution making process to frustrate Zambians adding the technical committee which government was now demonizing had completed their its mandate.

“We are wondering what more are we still waiting for. The Technical Committee has completed its work and what we are expecting from government is the road map and the establishment of the referendum. Zambians want the constitution without pointing fingers to anyone,” Rev Mwiinga said.

And Mr Hichilema said Zambians were angry that the PF had cheated them about the constitution and that they had turned the constitution making process into a process of harassing and intimidating citizens.

Mr Hichilema said Zambians were behind time on the constitution making process and that the sooner the PF succumbed to the demands of the citizens, the better for them.

Mr Hichilema said taking long in releasing the document was an indication that the clauses that did not suit the PF government were under threat because there was a possible danger that the clauses could be expunged from the document. Meanwhile ADD leader Charles Milupi said time had come for Zambians to stop tolerating docility.

Mr Milupi said that the Zambians should stand and fight for what belonged to them without fear.  “Enough is enough and the people should get rid of the PF government that has messed up the nation.  It is shameful that 50 years of independence, Zambia was still struggling to have a universally accepted constitution.

And Grand Coalition spokesperson Mr Macdonald Chipenzi nothing would stop Zambians from demanding their constitution and that the coalition would intensify its countrywide prayer meetings until government released the new draft constitution.

“No matter much they would suffer from intimidation, the CSOs would continue demanding for the constitution. Mr Sata claims to rule this country by the Ten Commandments yet he has taken away the basic rights of the citizens,” Mr Chipenzi said.

Mr Chipenzi said the PF had become oppressive and could not allow citizens to express their views and that was why the Grand Coalition had decided to gather at Church to seek God’s intervention.