UPND tells PF to stop using disabled people over Bill 10

STEPHEN Katuka has asked the PF to stop using disadvantaged people in illegal protests in support of the infamous Constitution (Amendment) Bill number 10 of 2019.

The opposition UPND secretary general revealed that on Wednesday over 60 differently abled PF women went to the residence of party leader Hakainde Hichilema in Lusaka’s New Kasama area with the hope of lobbying his members of parliament to support the Bill.

“We have been made aware of an incident that happened outside UPND president Hakainde Hichilema’s residence yesterday, involving known PF members led by Ms Julien Mwape that are alleged to be persons with disabilities. At the time these PF members came to Mr Hichilema’s residence in a number of buses, the UPND leader was having a meeting and a media briefing,” Katuka explained in a statement yesterday. “To start with, Mr Hichilema’s residence is a purely private property and he therefore has personal discretion on who can be invited there and at what period of time. This is in order to adhere to issues pertaining to security, both to the visitors and to his family. We wish to counsel our colleagues in the PF to desist from using disadvantaged people to illegally protest over a matter that belongs to the National Assembly. This is abusive, shameful and must stop.”

He wondered why Mwape and team did not go to the UPND secretariat in Rhodes Park.

“While Mr Hichilema is the UPND party president, the party has however a fully functioning secretariat where anybody with issues can table them or indeed request for an appointment with the party leadership at various levels, including the presidency,” Katuka stated. “Unlike the lawlessness seen in the PF where cadres can invade the streets and start demonstrating against anyone without notice or police permit, UPND is a very disciplined and organised party with respected and civilised systems of engagements, which includes the observance of the police requirement of the seven-day notice before a demonstration.”

Katuka stated that the group should have also notified police before convening such a large gathering.

“As a matter of fact, yesterday’s protest by known PF members at Mr Hichilema’s residence with over 60 people falls within the requirements for police notification under the public order Act. In addition, the nation has been given clear guidelines this time around regarding the levels of engagements in the light of the Coronavirus where even church gatherings have been restricted,” he stated. “And if these known PF members that came to Mr Hichilema’s residence have any grievance regarding the UPND MPs on Bill 10, our MPs are answerable to the Speaker of National Assembly and are the lawmakers on behalf of their constituencies and the people of Zambia.  In any case, if Ms Mwape means well and feels strongly about the people with disabilities, she would have been protesting against the PF thieves who stole Social Cash Transfer money meant for people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.”

He urged Mwape to lobby for cabinet appointments for the disabled, instead of fighting those against Bill 10.

“Ms Mwape should equally have lobbied her party president Mr Edgar Lungu to use the constitutional provision that allows the President to nominate eight MPs to appoint people with disabilities into Parliament and Cabinet instead of the likes of Raphael Nakacinda,” stated Katuka.

In a voice note, Mwape said the group went to Hichilema’s residence in buses and vans to seek an audience with the UPND leader over the party’s decision not to support Bill 10. She said Bill 10 had good clauses, especially on mixed representation, which can see persons with disabilities enter Parliament.

Mwape said when the group arrived at Hichilema’s residence, a security guard asked them to wait outside the gate. She recounted that the group, mostly disabled, sat on the lawn in the hope that Hichilema would meet them after his meeting. Mwape said afterwards, journalists attending the meeting started trooping out and some of them had interviews with the group. She said it was at that point that security personnel asked the group to leave the property because they were trespassing.

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