We shall defend ourselves-UPND …but cops say otherwise

 We shall defend ourselves-UPND …but cops say otherwise

By JOHN SAKALA
The United Party for National Development (UPND) Secretary General Stephen Katuka says the party will defend itself from violence since the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has failed.

But Police Spokesperson Esther Katongo says the UPND supporters were removing campaign materials for PF.

Mr Katuka was speaking in the aftermath of the violence that rocked the Mkomba ward and Sesheke constituency elections in which a horde of PF cadres led by known elements attacked the UPND campaign posts yesterday.

He said the party has the capacity to defend itself against the PF which was hiding behind the strength of some bad elements in the Zambia Police Service.

“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.

“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.

He said the party had a meeting with the ECZ on January 7, 2019 with President Hakainde Hichilema and other senior party officials at which they told the commission that it was failing to manage elections in the country.

“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. Teargas is unnecessarily unnecessary in an election. Elections should not be a source of conflicts but a joy for choosing representatives.

‘We have since written to ECZ and attached video evidence of the PF violence in Lundazi. We have since demanded that the commission disciplines the PF as the sponsor of violence and show cause why its candidate should not be disqualified in line with the 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, “he said.

Eight UPND members were yesterday left with minor injuries after their camp was invaded by alleged PF members.

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

But Ms Katongo said Police in Sesheke recieved a report that suspected UPND supporters who were removing campaign materials for their opponents.

“When Police made a follow up of the report, they apprehended five people among them four men and one woman and also recovered improvised shot buttons (offensive weapons) from a Landcruiser which was being used by the UPND team. UPND cadres later went to the Police Station to find out why their colleagues had been arrested and on their way back they blocked the road with stones which they picked from a construction site which is located near their camp.

“Order was restored after Police Officers rushed to the scene.  So far, the campaigns have been going on well in Sesheke as there has 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,” she said.

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

 

The Independent Observer

https://tiozambia.com

John Sakala is a Journalist yearning for independent journalism

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