UPND will defend itself – warns Katuka

By Staff Reporter

OPPOSITION United Party for National Development (UPND) Secretary General Stephen Katuka says the party will defend itself from violent PF thags in the ongoing by-elections.

In Lundazi, Independent Member of Parliament, Lawrence Nyirenda on Tuesday led a gang of violent PF cadres to attack the UPND campaign center in Mukomba ward, while the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has failed to address the situation.

Meanwhile, police in Sesheke have received a report that suspected UPND supporters were removing campaign materials for their opponents.

Speaking in the aftermath of these violent attacks Katuka said UPND had the capacity to defend itself against the PF which was hiding behind the strength of some bad elements in the Zambia police.

“UPND is a sober, civilised and disciplined political party but has also the capacity to defend itself when provoked. It is shameful that ECZ has failed to play its constitutional role as an election referee. Instead, it is siding with the ruling party thus creating a source of conflict and mistrust among political players,” he said.

“We do not believe in violence like the PF. But this manner of uncivilised behavior by the PF leaves us with no choice but to demand that our members defend themselves against PF and ‘police’ aggression on them because we are equal to the task. What defensive mechanisms the members will employ is dependent on themselves. This is not right and the ECZ is watching instead of playing its role as an election referee. This we shall not tolerate”.

He said the party had a meeting with the ECZ on January 7, 2019 at which they told the commission was informed of its shortcomings during elections.

“Yesterday’s violent attacks in Lundazi and Sesheke have vindicated us. It is the role of the ECZ to manage the elections by detailing the police and telling them what is expected of them,” Katuka said. “Teargas is unnecessary in an election. Elections should not be a source of conflict but a joy for choosing representatives”.

He said his party had written to ECZ and attached a video evidence of the PF violence in Lundazi and hoped that the commission would take remedial action in accordance with Electoral Act.

“Any failure by the commission to take remedial steps against the PF will leave us with no choice but believe that they are in collusion with the PF,” Katuka said.

Meanwhile, Lundazi Central Independent Member of Parliament, Lawrence Nyirenda on Tuesday led a gang of violent PF cadres to attack the UPND campaign center in Mukomba ward.

Information gathered by newsdayzambia.com from Lundazi, the violent PF cadres who were under the command of Nyirenda, a troubled lawmaker and Lundazi district PF information publicity secretary Potipher Mbewe caused havoc in Mukomba, beating up UPND supporters.

And in a video, armed with stones, sticks and other offensive weapons, PF cadres followed UPND members at the campaign center, smashed windows of a Toyota Harrier BAH 8822 as well as damaged the house of the UPND campaign manager before looting his shop.

The matter was reported to the police but no arrests have been made yet.

Eight UPND members were injured and received medical treatment at Lundazi General Hospital.

The attack was however repelled by an irate mob of villagers who outnumbered the assailants while police fired teargas canisters in Sesheke after a show of defiance by residents which lasted more than two hours.

Meanwhile, police public relations officer Esther Mwaata Katongo said police apprehended four men and one woman and also recovered improvised shot buttons (offensive weapons) from a Land cruiser which was being used by the UPND team.

She explained that UPND cadres later went to the Police Station to find out why their colleagues had been arrested and later blocked the road with stones on their way back.

“Order was restored after police officers rushed to the scene,” she said.

She added that So far, the campaigns have been going on well in Sesheke as there have been no clashes recorded between participating political parties.

“We however, appeal to all political parties to adhere to electoral laws and always preach messages of peace,” Katongo said.

She urged all participating parties to desist from destroying or removing campaign materials of their opponents as such conduct had potential to breed anarchy.






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