Police seize Zambian opposition leader over 'unlawful' meeting

Zambia's opposition Movement for Multi-party Democracy party leader Nevers Mumba was arrested in the Copperbelt for addressing supporters.  PHOTO | FILE

Zambia police late Monday arrested the leader of the former ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), Dr Nevers Mumba, for "unlawful assembly", state television reported.

He was later expected to appear in court.

Dr Mumba, who served as vice-president under President Levy Mwanawasa, was arrested along with four of MMD members of Parliament after holding a meeting with Senior Chief Nkana and later addressing MMD members without a permit in the Copperbelt Province, north of the capital Lusaka.

Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation reported that Dr Mumba was arrested in the mining town of Kalulushi in the Copperbelt where he was interrogated by police before being moved to Kitwe Central Police Station.

“I can confirm that police officers interviewed Dr Mumba over his meeting with Senior Chief Nkana before cautioning and charging him with unlawful assembly," police spokesperson Elizabeth Kanjela said.

Dr Mumba was briefly released before being taken for a second round of questioning together with his four MPs.

He later told reporters in Kitwe that he had a right to meet any person “without seeking police permission”.

Debt claim

Meanwhile, the former ruling party’s financial woes have deepened with the Bank of Zambia demanding the settlement of a $755,936.38 debt.

The debt is owed by the MMD and its former subsidiaries, Moped Investments Limited, Commerce Bank Zambia (in liquidation) and Meridian BIAO Bank Zambia.

This is according to letter of claim written by the Bank of Zambia assistant director for Regulatory Policy and Liquidations, Norbert Mumba, addressed to the party’s national secretary dated October 18, 2011.

The letter said the Bank of Zambia and the former liquidation managers have on several occasions written and contacted MMD seeking settlement of the debt but to no avail.

The Central Bank is now demanding a prompt settlement of the debt.

MMD had been stripped of its legal status, a decision overturned by the High Court later this year, for not paying fees for the past 20 years - amounting to $75,000.

It has since settled the debt.

The MMD is one of Zambia's significant political parties, sweeping to power in 1991 in the country's first multi-party elections.