Kakoma Kanganja, the Inspector General of Police, has denied social media accusations that the Zambia Police attempted to shoot at opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema.
Mr. Kanganja refuted claims that police shot live gunfire at the opposition UPND leader while he was on the Copperbelt on Saturday, calling the accusations “cheap propaganda” aimed at duping people and gaining sympathy from the general public for political gain.
According to a press statement issued by Police Spokesperson Esther Katongo to the media in Lusaka yesterday, Mr. Kanganja has since appealed to political parties to be truthful as the general public expects to hear nothing but the truth from them.
“At no point did the police fire live ammunition to disperse crowds during the time when the UPND leader was conducting the illegal activities as all the officers were only armed with tear smoke canisters,” Mr. Kanganja explained.
The Inspector General said he is disappointed with political parties especially the opposition UPND for failing to observe the provisions of the public order Act and opting to dare the police.
He said the UPND failed to notify the police of its activities on the Copperbelt province as required by law but instead took the law into their hands and held public rallies in Mushili compound in Ndola.
He explained that police only learnt that Mr. Hichilema, who was on the Copperbelt, was scheduled to attend a church service on Saturday but the activity later turned into a mass crowd after busloads of cadres invaded the area and the party had held a roadshow, forcing their way into markets to hold rallies.
Mr. Kanganja further said police received reports of the general public being beaten for being in other regalia of political parties than the UPND with some being wounded with screw drivers and iron bars while others were hacked with machetes.
He said police did not move into the area which is a compound for security reasons and patiently kept vigil and allowed the UPND to conclude their illegal activities after 18:00 hours.
Mr. Kanganja said the police sealed off routes leading into Ndola town and forced the UPND to use alternative routes.
The Inspector General also said as the UPND leader proceeded to Kitwe in a convoy of over 100 motor vehicles, police were prompted to stop the fleet for security reasons but the cadres budged through the security checkpoint and hit police officers with stones fired from catapults.
He said this prompted the police to discharge tear gas canisters to disperse the unruly cadres.
He disclosed that today on Sunday, Mr. Hichilema attempted to go to a local Catholic church in Chingola district and the police only allowed 10 motor vehicles to follow but several vehicles joined, turning the processing into an unlawful one.
Mr. Kanganja explained that at this point, police discharged tear gas to disperse the convoy and crowds adding that at no point did the officers use live ammunition.
He denied allegations that the police are preventing opposition parties from campaigning and pointed out that the UPND campaigned in Ndola from 13 hours to 19 hours.
Mr. Kanganja said police will intensify snap checks on all motor vehicles following reports that political cadres are moving with offensive weapons in motor vehicles such as stones and catapults.
He reiterated his warning to political parties taking part in the August 12 general elections and said police will not allow them to orchestrate and perpetuate lawlessness and illegalities aimed at disturbing public order.
Mr. Kanganja said all that the Zambia Police wants is for all political parties to conduct their campaigns and activities within the confines of the law.
The Inspector General of Police has since encouraged the police to continue being firm and ensure that law and order is maintained as the country goes to the polls.