In a recent turn of events, the Zambia Police Service has officially announced the denial of the Patriotic Front (PF) Party’s request to hold a mass public rally at Muchinga grounds of Zingalume compound on August 26, 2023. The decision, citing security concerns, has sparked controversy and a flurry of political discussions across the nation.
The saga began on August 10, 2023, when the Patriotic Front submitted a formal notice to the Zambia Police, requesting permission to hold a public rally on August 26th. While the notice was received and acknowledged by the police on the same day, their request was met with skepticism due to the prevailing traces of Covid-19 in the region. Consequently, the police advised the PF to notify the Lusaka City Council in light of health precautions.
On August 11th, the PF promptly complied with the police’s request by submitting their notification to the Lusaka City Council regarding the proposed public rally.
However, on August 15, 2023, the Zambia Police Service responded to the PF’s request with a rejection, citing security concerns. This decision set off a chain of discussions and negotiations between the party and the authorities.
On August 16th, the Acting President of the PF, Hon. Given Lubinda, met with the Deputy Inspector General of Police – Operations, Mr. Milner Muyambango, to address the rejection. Unfortunately, no conclusive decision was reached during this meeting.
Undeterred, on August 17th, the Patriotic Front, in accordance with legal requirements, appealed to the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Jack Jacob Mwiimbu, regarding the Zambia Police’s decision to deny them the opportunity to hold the rally.
In a series of meetings, including one on August 23, 2023, with Hon. Nakacinda and others, the Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security granted his approval for the rally, providing directives for it to proceed. However, the PF was advised to make a fresh application to the Inspector General of Police to agree on an alternative date and security arrangements.
On August 24, 2023, the Patriotic Front met with the Inspector General of Police and his two deputies to discuss the Minister’s approval and their intention to hold the rally. The PF presented a fresh notice proposing the original date of August 26, 2023. They also indicated their willingness to comply with the law requiring a 7-day notice period, suggesting a date of September 2, 2023, as an alternative.
In response, the Inspector General of Police insisted that the PF could only hold a public rally at the end of September 2023. This decision left the PF in a challenging position, as they had already complied with legal requirements and believed authorities were being insincere.
Consequently, on August 25th, the Patriotic Front announced their intention to proceed with the rally on August 26, 2023, asserting that they had adhered to the provisions of the Public Order Act and that the authorities were not acting in good faith.
This development has raised concerns about the relationship between political parties and law enforcement in Zambia, prompting calls for transparency and adherence to due process from various quarters.