Power and Politics

Heavily armed police prevent Socialist Party rally in Kitwe, citing fresh orders from Lusaka (Video)


Heavily armed police officers in Kitwe, equipped with armoured and anti-riot gear, on Saturday surrounded Changanamai Grounds, where the Socialist Party was scheduled to hold a mass rally.

Initially, the police had denied the Socialist Party permission to hold the rally, citing “security concerns.”

However, in a dramatic turn of events, the police issued fresh communication authorizing the rally.

Officer in Charge of Kitwe Police Station, Thomas Swala, granted the authority and advised the party to strengthen its internal security to help the police marshal the event.

Socialist Party President, Dr Fred M’membe and Secretary-General, Dr Cosmas Musumali, who had traveled to Kitwe for the rally, confirmed the developments.

Despite the prior authorization, they were informed that the rally would not proceed.

Upon inspection, the police had cordoned off and secured Changanamai Grounds.

Lawyer Simon Mulenga was engaged in negotiations with the police, but the officers were adamant that the rally would not take place, citing fresh instructions from Lusaka to prevent the event.

Members of the Socialist Party and the public were seen arriving at the rally site in anticipation.

Read More: New Heritage Party condemns government’s use of force to stop rally

Since August 2021, the Zambia Police have consistently denied the opposition the right to hold public rallies, processions, or meetings, citing security risks.

This situation has attracted attention from Human Rights Watch International, which has decried the shrinking democratic space and the rapid emergence of human rights abuses under President Hakainde Hichilema’s administration.

Recently, Inspector General of Police Graphael Musamba stated that his office could not allow opposition meetings due to the risk of attacks from ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres.

In a similar incident in Lusaka, heavily armed police officers arrived at Chipata Grounds in Mandevu early on a Saturday morning to prevent a proposed pro-democracy rally organized by the New Heritage Party.

This rally was also called off following police intervention.

Suspected UPND cadres, brandishing dangerous weapons, were seen being transported to the rally site in Chipata Compound, contributing to the tension and subsequent police action.

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