And Hichilema says PF has a scheme to close down media houses to silence alternative voices in the country.
On Monday evening, Iso FM in Isoka was attacked by suspected PF cadres who threw a container with an unknown gas into the studio as a live phone program was being aired on which Hichilema featured.
Narrating the ordeal in an interview, Iso FM station manager Frederick Mkandawire said a mob of over 30 unknown people pounced on the station, overpowered the security and demanded that the program be stopped immediately.
“We had a program with UPND president Hakainde Hichilema. He was addressing the country on various issues, namely, the pandemic and the like. 30 minutes after the program [started], we just heard people shouting, throwing stones all over. Eventually, we couldn’t continue the program. Our security who were at the main gate were over powered by unknown people and they came through the studios, I personally was the one on phone with Mr Hichilema and a group of unknown people pounced on the studios, switched off the genset and the whole studio was blacked out. It happened while the interview was on-going, 30 minutes into the program. God has protected us, no one has been injured, for those who I was with in the studio. There was no chance to talk to anyone, it was just noise and then they threw something like teargas in the studios, as I am talking to you, I am choking because of the gas,” said Mkandawire.
“They were just insulting [and shouting] ‘stop this program, we don’t want this program to be on air, can you stop it’ and no explanation was given. So immediately we called police and they came and they rescued us, as I am talking to you right now, the station is completely off and there is peace and calm now at the station but we are off air.”
And during a press briefing, Tuesday, Hichilema said Zambians shouldn’t repeat the mistake of “giving public office to people that are terrorists at heart.”
“This is not an accident, I insist. I want Zambians to open their eyes that this is a pattern, this is a programme, this is state-sponsored terrorism by the PF. Only dictators do that. There is no government that can claim to be democratic and act in the manner PF has been acting, there is none at all. So this qualifies PF to be called a terrorist organization, a dictatorship,” Hichilema charged.
“We talked about this, people, but you did not pay attention. I got arrested around 2012/2013 for saying that PF were training militias, most of you may have forgotten, but please, institutional memory, national memory, must be kept alive in order for us to avoid making the same mistakes, giving public office to people that are terrorist at heart, that are brutal by nature. By philosophical orientation, the PF is a terrorist organization, it’s a brutal organization and it’s an offensive organization. Earlier in the week, they attacked, again, my radio programme in Chinsali, Muchinga, radio station, viciously so in a similar manner. Brutal individuals!”
He wondered where Mpika DC Moses Katebe got the power to stop a radio programme on Mpika Radio.
“Before, I was to appear on Mpika Radio, a civil servant, one who gets a salary from you and me, a district commissioner called Moses Katebe, instructed Mpika Radio Station not to cover my programme, where does he get the powers from? Which law is he using? None at all. Hooliganism, terrorism, that’s what it is. The provincial chairman for PF Muchinga Province, a chap by the name of Simuwelu issued a threatening statement that Muchinga was a no-go area for me, for HH, which law was he using? None at all. The Bill of Rights, which is in our Constitution, entitles every citizen to the freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of the media. But one Simuwelu, who later I understand, was supported by some character called Sunday Chanda. You know some citizens, God denied them further and gave them such bad manners that one individual can consistently continue taking away the rights of citizens as though there is a different law that applies to them and that which applies to us,” Hichilema said.
The opposition leader charged that PF perpetrated gassing attacks because they did the same to the radio station.
“Yesterday, at Isoka Radio station, I was appearing on that program and the PF thugs, waging weapons I understand because I did hear gunshots myself, including guns. Dangerous weapons, but they did not just carry guns, they actually brutally, viciously attacked a radio station and those who were inside the radio station with, first, some gas. They spilled some gas in the station, now, how do civilians, if they are civilians, why carry gasses, what gasses are those?” he asked.
“What poisons are those? They gassed the station and then attacked individuals, who were inside and their search was to eliminate a citizen called HH. Why? Why injure innocent journalists when we have the freedom of the media, we are supposed to have the freedom of the media. So, are they not the same people, who were gassing citizens a few months ago? We can conclude they are the ones and yet the PF were looking for suspects when the suspects were themselves, their members. This is what’s going on in our country. They went ahead and injured innocent people, knife injuries and the police had to battle, after some time of course, to disperse them.”
And Hichilema said that Prime TV’s closure of was just part of PF’s broader plan to shut down critical media organisations in the country.
“What have they done to the media, the PF closed The Post Newspapers. Post Newspapers were in existence even under the One-Party State, even under that time, the One-Party State, president Ba shikulu ba Kaunda respected law and order, he did not shut The Post. Although it was critical of him, ba shikulu ba Kaunda never went to the extent of closing the Post down, who closed the Post down? The PF and Mr Lungu. Was that by coincidence? No, it was a scheme to silence independent opinions, that’s what Zambians need to know. They went ahead, for some time closed Ithezhi-tezhi Radio Station. The PF, not a mistake, a plan, a scheme to silence all independent voices, alternative voices, that’s what we are facing today. They went ahead and for some time closed Komboni Radio, they closed Muvi Television for some time. And when they closed Muvi Television, we spoke, we said this is not a one-off, this is what PF is going to continue doing in order to silence democratic voices, alternative voices. Surprise, surprise, Zambians can say they are surprised, they shouldn’t be surprised, Prime Television gets closed. So, the closure of Prime Television is part of this grandiose scheme under the PF to shut down the media,” said Hichilema.