Police in Lusaka have advised the Joint Action for Accountability in Zambia not to proceed with their planned protest at Parliament this Friday over the controversial procurement of the 42 fire tenders.
Organisation Chairperson Laura Miti disclosed at a media briefing in Lusaka that police yesterday advised them not to go ahead with the protest but put their grievances in writing to the relevant authorities.
Ms. Miti said the police also advised the grouping not to demonstrate as they risk being attacked by rival groups because the placards they will be displaying are likely to have insulting language.
But Ms. Miti go said the organization is going ahead with its peaceful protest at Parliament this Friday because the reasons advanced by the police are unconstitutional.
She has since urged members of the public to turn up in large numbers and dress in national colors.
Below is the full statement
CITIZEN DEMONSTRATION TO DEMAND FULL DISCLOUSURE OF PUBLIC RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PRIOCESSES LEADING TO PURCHASE OF 42 FIRE TENDERS FOR $42 MILLION
Press Statement – 26 September 2017
Alliance for Community Action Offices
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, we would like to take the opportunity this morning to introduce to you the Joint Action for Accountability in Zambia (JAAZ).
JAAZ is an initiative that seeks to combine the voices of civil society organisations as well as citizen actors advocating for strengthened public resource accountability in Zambia.
In particular, this morning JAAZ seeks to provide details for its first activity, which is a peaceful demonstration planned for this Friday the 29th of September, at Parliament.
The planned demonstration will demand that the full public resource management processes that led to the purchase of the 42 fire trucks by the Ministry of Local government at a cost of 42 million US dollars, be opened to public scrutiny.
It is the collective view of the parties to JAAZ that the budgetary choice making and procurement process of the fire engines represents the kind of imprudent use and mismanagement of public resources that must be brought to an end if the quality of life of ordinary Zambian citizens is to improve. It is a mismanagement of resources that the country can ill afford.
We would like to make mention of the fact that in accordance with the provisions of section 5 subsection (4) of the Public Order Act, Chapter 113 of the Laws of Zambia, the Alliance for Community Action, on behalf of wider civil society, on Wednesday 20 September, notified the police of its intention to hold the peaceful demonstration.
Yesterday, the 25th of September, the ACA was called to Lusaka Central Police where they were told that the police would not allow the protest for the following reasons:
1) The police were of the view that the matters that were to be raised through the demonstration should be put down in a letter to the appropriate authority or other ways found to communicate with government
2) Citizens could not be allowed to protest at Parliament
3) That some placards could have insulting language
4) Demonstrators could be attacked by counter protestors. The police command were asked to put their response in writing, something which they have not yet done.
JAAZ would like to take this opportunity to notify Zambians that the peaceful protest will proceed as planned this Friday, 29 September for the following reasons:
1) The reasons given by the police for preventing the peaceful demonstration for which they were given timely notification, are all unconstitutional. The law does not allow the police to decide how citizens will exercise their right to be heard.
2) It is the constitutional right of citizens to protest and the duty of the police to facilitate that protest
3) The matter for which JAAZ would like to lead citizens in protest is critical and of public concern and citizens have chosen budget day to call attention to Members of Parliament of their duty to protect public resources. There is no justifiable reason why citizen cannot stand quietly on Parliament road with placards that articulate their concerns
4) Once the police have been duly notified in a timely manner, the law does not allow them to refuse permission for any of the reasons verbally given to ACA.
JAAZ takes this opportunity to call on the police to carry out their mandate to facilitate this citizen protest. The convenors of this protest are not interested in defying the police. Our objective is to carry out our constitutional right and duty to call the attention of elected leaders to an issue in our democracy that we are concerned about.
We further call on the Members of Parliament from both the ruling and opposition parties to speak up and defend the constitutional right of citizens to be heard and to engage them
JAAZ calls on members of the general public to turn out in large numbers for this peaceful demonstration dressed up in the colours of the flag.
The hashtag for the event will be #42for42Demo