POLICE have asked UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema to retract his statement that the government is training youths as militias in Sudan or face prosecution in the courts of law.
However, Hichilema, when he was earlier summoned at Lusaka Central Police yesterday, refused to retract his statement as his lawyers said he was not ready to do so.
“In consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions, he directed that Mr. Hichilema should retract his earlier statement so that the case comes to a close.
We had an opportunity to discuss with his lawyers for him to retract the statement but the lawyers stated that Mr. Hichilema was not ready to make a retraction,” said Lusaka Province police commissioner Solomon Jere during a press briefing yesterday.
He said the matter was very sensitive and asked Hichilema to follow the instructions given.
“…If he doesn’t, then we have to prosecute him in the courts of law. So today’s meeting was a follow-up to police investigations in which Mr. Hichilema on June 14, 2012 was warned and cautioned for the alleged offence of publication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public contrary to section 667 of the Penal Code CAP 87 of the Laws of Zambia,” Jere said. “But due to the unruly behaviour of his cadres who had accompanied him, we could not proceed with the interview.
To this effect, we are again summoning him tomorrow (today) at 09:00 hours at Police Headquarters. We want to warn all unruly cadres, whether from the PF, UPND, MMD or any other political parties or grouping that police will not tolerate uncouth behaviour.”
Unruly UPND cadres yesterday disrupted Hichilema’s interview with the police at Lusaka Central Police.
In trying to disperse the cadres, police fired teargas canisters which, in the process, also affected journalists who went to cover Hichilema’s interview.
Hichilema, who was summoned to appear before police, arrived at Lusaka Central Police around 10:20 hours in the company of singing and slogan-chanting UPND cadres and some party leaders.
Immediately he arrived, Hichilema proceeded to the second floor of the station where the interview was supposed to have taken place and cadres forced their way while chanting slogans of: “Get one get all! Moto wayaka!!
The cadres, who were almost stampeding into the room where Hichilema was headed to, were then blocked by the police.
It was at this point that the cadres continued chanting slogans against the government and police. Some of them taunted police and mockingly told them they had no teargas canisters. Others became uncontrollable, forcing the police to fire teargas canisters, which sent them and journalists scampering for safety in different directions.
In June, police recorded a warn and caution statement from Hichilema for defamation of President Michael Sata after he likened the head of state to a clueless hyena.
A warn and caution statement was also recorded from him for publication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public when he claimed that the government was training youths as militias in Sudan.
Meanwhile, chief government spokesperson and information minister Kennedy Sakeni said Hakainde had a tendency of turning police stations into show-off facilities.
“This is indiscipline of the highest order,” he said in his comments on the unruly behaviour of UPND cadres at Lusaka Central Police.
Sakeni said police stations were not for politics and officers who operate from there should be allowed to work freely without interference.
“The police station is not for politics; it is for serious business. You cannot make a police station as a political show-off facility where you have to mobilise all your cadres and take them to the police station and disturb the process of how the officers are supposed to handle matters. It’s unfair, it’s uncalled for and that is the worst kind of indiscipline…,” he said.
He said Hichilema was summoned to appear before the police in his individual capacity and as such, he was supposed go there with only his lawyers.
“I don’t know if these political machinations will take him anywhere but I believe Zambians are able to judge the type of leader he is. He is exposing himself that he is not a leader worth following. A matter of such nature, you cannot just carry cadres with you, police want to interview you. He should just own up and answer the charges against him,” said Sakeni.
And Lusaka Province PF youth chairperson Kennedy Kamba said they were incensed by unwarranted attacks on President Sata from Hakainde, saying they would send him into early retirement from politics.
And Lusaka Province PF youth publicity and information secretary Stanley Chumiah said the youths had notified the police on their intended protest against Hichilema’s conduct.
“We are going to take a step forward to demonstrate,” said Chumiah.