UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has warned the Patriotic Front (PF) against the abuse of the Public Order Act (POA) as exhibited in the manner former Kasama Central member of Parliament Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba was harassed by the police.
But the Patriotic Front (PF) has charged that Mr Mwamba was no longer a member of Parliament and could not enjoy the privileges of an office he had been stripped of.
Yesterday, Mr Hichilema accused the police of having harassed Mr Mwamba whom he claimed was still an MP despite the Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini having declared the Kasama Central seat vacant.
But Fr Bwalya said Mr Hichilema was exhibiting traits of a leader who if elected to the office of president would fail to respect the rule of law and the doctrine of the Separation of Powers.
Fr Bwalya said Mr Hichilema was fully aware that Mr Mwamba had challenged the decision of Dr Matibini in the courts of law and that the former Kasama central MP had not been granted a stay to continue attending Parliament.
In an interview with the Daily Nation yesterday, Mr Hichilema charged the PF could not be trusted with power because of the way they have continued abusing it.
Mr Hichilema said there was no need for the police to stop a member of Parliament from visiting his constituency in the manner it had happened.
“What happened on Monday afternoon when Police attempted to arrest our vice-president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba in Kasama Central as he continued to tour his constituency and also wanted to buy basic needs at the market is sad? This is how much we have been suffocated as politicians holding a different view from the PF,” Mr. Hichilema said.
He said Mr Mwamba was a national leader who attracted public attention and currently a serving Kasama PF Parliamentarian who had every right to tour his constituency and appreciate the living conditions of his people.
“On one hand we have heard several cases of MPs not visiting their constituencies, while on the other hand we want to be blocking those that want to visit their people purely for political reasons. How can the likes of Mr Mwamba and others know the challenges of their people they are representing if they cannot be allowed to move around and greet their electorates,” Mr Hichilema said.
Mr. Hichilema also said the PF should learn from other societies where key opposition figures were even allowed to visit military barracks and other security wings with a view to appreciating their needs and lobby for Government support.
And Mr Mwamba said he would continue visiting and meeting with people in his constituency with or without police permit because it was his birth right to do so.
Speaking after police failed to charge or caution him yesterday, Mr Mwamba told the Daily Nation that he was not a prisoner to be stopped or regulated when he should meet people or go to the market to buy food.
But Fr Bwalya said it was ironical for Mr Hichilema to argue that Mr Mwamba was free to visit his constituency when the seat had been declared vacant after the former Kasama law-maker defected to the UPND.
“I am personally very disappointed that suddenly Mr Hichilema is turning a blind eye at the violent conduct of his vice-president while at the same time falsely accusing President Edgar Lungu of violence. Mr Mwamba is not a member of Parliament because his seat was declared vacant upon joining the UPND where he is the
And police spokesperson Charity Munganga Chanda said in a statement that police had advised Mr Mwamba to notify the police each time he wanted to hold a public meeting.
Ms Chanda said Mr Mwamba told the police that he had gone to the market to buy relish when he was confronted by the police and was told to go home after the interview.