(By Chambwa Moonga in Mwinilunga)
WE want to advise that from here, we see you off, a Mwinilunga police officer-in-charge told an audacious Harry Kalaba on Sunday.
And the New Covenant Church in Mwinilunga has advised Kalaba, who is aspiring for the Republican presidency in 2021, never to exhibit enmity with the Church, should God elevate him to the presidency.
While attending mass at St Anthony Catholic Church within Mwinilunga town, a police pick up van, registration number ZP 2535 B, with armed police officers parked at the main entrance of the parish.
The police vehicle remained parked for more than 30 minutes and officers on board idled under sweltering weather.
In the meantime, Mwinilunga district commissioner Daniel Bukali ‘aimlessly’ drove around.
After mass, Kalaba went to bid farewell to St Anthony Catholic Church priest Fr Kennedy Musekwa before driving a few kilometres to Nswanakudya Primary School turnoff (towards Ikeleng’i district) where freedom fighter Peter Matoka is buried.
Kalaba went to lay a wreath on the grave of Matoka who died in September 2014.
As Kalaba’s entourage drove towards Matoka’s resting place, the police van pursued, speedily.
When he reached, Kalaba, a former foreign affairs minister, was met by Matoka’s relatives and he then paid respects to the fallen hero.
But it was when he went to greet Matoka’s brother at the nearby house that the police officers, who had parked at a distance, followed.
An officer-in-charge, who identified himself only as Mr Mwewa, told Kalaba that: “You have not informed us of your visit and your programmes. Church you can go but now, I have been reliably told that you also have other programmes.”
In response, Kalaba said he did not have a programme as he had exhausted his Mwinilunga schedule.
“I went to greet the old man (Matoka’s brother) and I’m going. Why do you create drama where there is no drama? Don’t intimidate citizens, ba Mwewa,” Kalaba, who is Bahati PF member of parliament, said.
But Mwewa could not agree with Kalaba.
“No! There is no drama, Honourable. We are not even intimidating you. This is the law that is at work,” he argued, prompting the lawmaker to ask: “Which law are you quoting?”
But Mwewa, surrounded by apparently uncompromising officers, said: “We want to advise that from here, we see you off!”
Upon being told that, Kalaba, Democratic Party (DP) spokesperson Judith Kabemba and national treasurer Justin Nkonge, tried hard to reason with Mwewa.
“No! You can’t say that, officer. If you say that I can go and book a lodge [in Mwinilunga township]” Kalaba countered, daringly.
Mwewa, however, insisted that: “If you are here [and] you want to be meeting people, you need to notify me, as officer-in-charge of this place.”
“Now, we are advising you…You have said it nicely that you are now going…We advise you…Now, listen; [do] you agree or you don’t agree? Okay, you have not agreed! If you start meeting people, you are going against the public order Act,” said Mwewa as he signaled his officers to follow him.
And Kalaba wondered why police officers had to wait for him while attending mass at St Anthony Parish.
“Why didn’t you wait, first of all, where you sat there to see whether Kalaba was going to meet people or not? I have just come to put a wreath, go and pay my respects on Mr Matoka and I’m on my way out now. [But] you have got manpower to follow me all this way and you’ve left your Minister [of Health] unattended! There is no law, officer, that says when a minister is in a place, citizens cannot interact,” explained Kalaba, as a sizeable group found at the scene rooted for him.
Health minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya was reportedly in Mwinilunga at the time of the spat.
Straight from Matoka’s burial site, Kalaba and his entourage went to Zambezi district, with ‘police escort,’ at least out of Mwinilunga town.
Meanwhile, New Covenant Church Bishop Julius Musesa cautioned Kalaba against showing enmity with God’s Church, as some politicians do, once elevated into prestigious positions.
“Should God elevate you to the position of President of this nation, never exhibit any enmity with the Church of God. If you continue with your friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ, God will bless you. So, continue with your good relationship with the Church not only in times of trouble but during your entire service you got to do in that position. May God bless you,” said Bishop Musesa at a service attended by Kalaba on Sunday morning.