POLICE in Petauke on Saturday hounded the visiting National Democratic Congress delegation led by general secretary Mwenya Musenge out of Eastern Province.
And Musenge says as long as Edgar Lungu and his PF fail to deliver, NDC will not give them peace. Meanwhile, the police have cancelled the UPND’s card renewal exercise scheduled for Chipata’s Mpezeni park due to “inadequate manpower”.
Narrating the ordeal, the former PF central committee member said his team was visiting the party structures in the province but that police and PF cadres hounded them out of the province.
“We had a programme and this programme was to cover the entire Eastern Province, we had discussions with the police before and what they told us was that we needed to be informing them, to tell them that we are meeting our structures. These were not public meetings but indoor meetings to meet our staff which we have put in place. So we communicated with colleagues and our first stop was Nyimba, we got into Nyimba, we were told everything is fine,” Musenge said.
He said on Saturday morning, the Nyimba police officer in-charge directed that all the people who came to meet them should disperse.
“My entourage was of ten people and at this lodge in Nyimba, we were told that we should leave immediately but we told them that we haven’t even paid the bills, we came in last night (Friday). She was not interested, all she wanted was to see us out of Nyimba and advised that we needed to put in an application for a permit, so there and then, we were given a form which we filled in. You know there was so much intimidation, the people were scattered and the owner of the lodge was also intimidated to an extent that he asked us to leave quickly and that he didn’t mind even if we don’t pay, so we had to convince him. He could not even come closer to us, we just had to convince the worker to receive the money,” Musenge said.
He said the officer in-charge had to make sure they left the lodge and they started heading to Petauke.
“A kilometer before Petauke turn-off, the first thing we noticed was a Land Cruiser laden with cadres that had by passed us. Menyani (Zulu, NDC official) is a resident of Nyimba, Petauke around that area; he immediately identified the cadres and the Land Cruiser. Before the cadres, we also saw another vehicle laden with armed police officers which also by passed us. Now we just noticed that police mounted a road block from nowhere and we found heavy police presence who were heavily armed,” Musenge narrated.
He said the police officers stopped them and asked them to park.
“We just saw the Land Cruiser for the cadres also came and parked. The cadres ordered the police officers to make us turn and go back wherever we were coming from. There was commotion there because we could not really understand. They did not know whether we were going into Petauke or Chipata, now even if we were going into Petauke, are there any restrictions for any Zambian to visit any place in Zambia? Secondly, we are a registered political party, are we restricted from visiting certain areas? We asked the police and they could not make a decision, they now ordered that we go to the police station,” Musenge said.
He said his team was “sandwiched” by police officers who had two vehicles ahead and behind them.
“We were being treated like criminals and I don’t think even a criminal could be treated in the manner we were treated in Petauke. When we reached the turn to get into Petauke, just there, the PF cadres who had mobilized themselves blocked the police patrol car from proceeding into Petauke town. The cadres instructed the police that ‘we have instructions from the boss that these people should not enter Petauke town’. The police officers could not do anything, they turned to us, asked us where we were going but we told them that we were going to Petauke and they told us we cannot enter because the situation was volatile,” Musenge said.
He said as they tried to proceed to Chipata, the Land Cruiser carrying the cadres blocked them.
“The cadres said, ‘they will not go to Chipata, all we want is for them to go back where they are coming from’. The police officers again obliged to what the cadres were telling them and they turned to us and said ‘you just have to turn, go back’ and we had no option but to turn back. There was heavy police escort for us out of Petauke into Nyimba, they followed us even out of Nyimba. The Land Cruiser for the cadres was also following to make sure that we were out. This is not the only incident, there were our people who were waiting for us in Sinda, the report we have received is that they were badly beaten by PF cadres and other people are still missing by now,”
He said the NDC members who were beaten in Sinda went to the police and were told to go back today.
He said no matter how much the PF tried to use cadres and all tricks to restrain them from entering Eastern Province, they were everywhere in the region.
“No levels of intimidation will stop us from reaching out to any part of this country. It is our mandate as Zambians to defend our country from such kind of anarchy because this is not the route that we would want to go. We want a country where Zambians enjoy their freedom. As long as Edgar Chagwa Lungu and his people fail to deliver to the promises they gave to the Zambian people before and during the elections, we shall not give them peace until they start performing,”
He said Zambians did not send President Lungu and his people to State House to abuse their offices.
“The corruption we have seen in the country, the 54 years that Zambia has been independent, this has been the worst ever. It is there for every one of us to see, even a small child can be able to tell that ‘koma mu boma yaba Edgar bakuba’ (but there’s stealing in Edgar’s government). Most of them are known…What good things can we talk about? Dora Siliya, the history is there; most of those people, we know how they made their money. As Zambians, we are not going to sit back, we are going to take them on,”
He said the tendency of unleashing cadres on innocent opposition political parties was not good.
“Our keeping quite is not a sign of weakness, it is simply because we know that this is primitive and we do not want to promote such. Some of these youths they are using are innocent who do not even understand why they are doing certain things they are told to do,” said Musenge.
“Edgar is a lawyer; he should behave better than he is currently behaving. Can he take control of the country? Let him stop being arrogant; wherever he goes, he is uttering words of arrogance. You cannot have a leader who is not humble, it’s the people who put you there as President.”
And Sinda NDC chairperson James Banda said about 15 PF cadres attacked the opposition members at a well-known lodge where they were waiting for Musenge.
“We have been attacked by the PF cadres who followed us where we had met to wait for the SG to talk to us but we just suddenly saw these cadres most of whom we know as callboys. When they came, they said ‘you are the people that want to disturb our government so can you disperse’ and before we could start or talk to them, they started beating us,” said Banda.
“A lot of our members have been badly beaten and some we don’t know where they are as we scampered in all directions since things were not ok. Some of the members beaten are myself, James Banda, my secretary, Anton Daka, Blackson Banda – all these have been beaten badly by these cadres. Others are Bolian, Moja, Christopher and many more.”
But Sinda PF chairperson Michael Phiri said the party’s cadres did not know that there was a meeting where NDC members were as they had gone there for a braii. He claimed that the NDC members who didn’t have a police permit started running away on their own, causing others to fall to the ground and injure themselves.
“That our guys descended on them, no that’s a lie. Sinda has no violent cadres as most violent cadres are foreigners who are mobile,” claimed Phiri.
Meanwhile, Eastern Province police have denied the UPND a permit for a card renewal exercise on the pretext that they did not have enough manpower to police the event.
In response to a notice lodged on February 2 by UPND member Paul Benjamin Thole for the renewal exercise scheduled for February 17, Assistant Superintendent Kabwe of Chipata Central Police Station stated that the notice was not supported as there was “no enough officers to [police] the event. Effectively, I propose second week of March, 2018.”
This denial is however contrary to President Lungu’s statement last week that the opposition were free to start campaigning for the 2021 elections as he was equally busy working for the whole country.