Police in Mongu ban radio stations from hosting opposition leaders

The police in Western Province have banned all local radio stations from hosting opposition political party leaders and have threatened to revoke broadcasting licences of the radio stations that would fail to comply with the ban.

In a letter 16th June 2014 and addressed to Radio Liseli station manager and delivered to other radio stations in Mongu, J.B Kasanda, Mongu Central Police officer in-charge said he had with immediate effect cancelled the scheduled radio programmes where UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema was expected to feature.

In a letter dated June 16, 2014 written to the Radio Liseli Station Manager, Kasanda said the cancellation was due to alleged violent conduct of UPND members after some police officers were assaulted.

“You are therefore directed to cancel any interview which you have on the schedule with Mr Hakainde Hichilema without fail,” Kasanda said in a letter.

But SACCORD Executive Director Boniface Cheembe said it was unfair for the Zambia Police Service to apply the Public Order Act selectively.

“Public Order Act being an important piece of legislation and responsible for regulating freedom of association, expression and assembly which must be applied fairly not only to the ruling party but also opposition political parties in the country,” Mr Cheembe said.

He said SACCORD has since taken note of a numerous number of complaints that opposition political parties have raised with regards to implementation and administration of the Public Order Act.

“It is increasingly becoming concerning that whenever opposition political parties want to converse with the people, hold rallies or meetings with their members they are seemingly stopped by the Zambia Police Service by the way of using the Public Order Act,” Mr Cheembe said.

He said selective application of the Public Order Act has raised serous concern of fairness because whenever the ruling party wanted to hold a rally they were not being hindered by anyone.

Mr Cheembe however said opposition political parties were being hindered by the Zambia Police Service.

“As SACCORD we want to appeal to the Zambia Police Service to really look at the fairness application of the Public Order Act so that everybody in Zambia irrespective of political affiliation is given that opportunity to enjoy the administration of the Public Order Act in view of the basic freedom of association, expression and assembly,” Mr Cheembe said.

He said fairness in the application of the Public Order Act in order to reduce the tension which the Act had created in the country.

“It becomes incredibly difficulty for opposition political parties to have cordial relations with Zambia Police Service being the chief administrator of the Act so as SACCORD we would like to see a situation where cordial relation exit between the police and opposition political parties,” he said.

Mr Cheembe said SACCORD also took note of some successes that had been scored by the police such as allowing the UPND rally in Mandevu constituency.

“We also want to appeal that should there be any difficulties or challenges by Zambia Police. It is absolutely important that they communicate very clear with the relevant stakeholders who are involved so that such challenges are appreciated in a proper way forward and mapped up with stakeholder’s participation,” he said.

Mr Cheembe said the Public Order Act should be a peace of legislation that allowed everybody to enjoy their basic freedom and coexist together.