If the PF cannot stand the heat on the ground ahead of this local government by-election in Sinda district, they should get out of the way, says UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka.
Last Wednesday, 15 Patriotic Front cadres beat up a UPND supporter at Sinda Police Station around 22:00 hours.
Eastern Province Police Commissioner Sharon Zulu confirmed the incident in an interview, saying only two officers were on duty and they could not do anything.
“It’s a case of assault received from Rabson Banda, aged 45 years old, of Nyanje compound in Sinda that he was being followed all the way from Chibuyu ward where they are having those by-elections by a group of about 15 PF cadres as he was driving coming towards town. When he saw that they were following him, he decided to drive to the police yard for safety and they continued following him. They got hold of him and started beating him. This happened on 18th April 2018 at about 22:00 hours at Sinda police station. The two officers who were at the inquiry when the victim was rushing for rescue couldn’t identify them because none of these PF cadres were from Sinda. And we are talking of about 15 of them versus two police officers who were at the inquiry. One was in the inquiry, the other one was in the office of the CID where he was writing. So, they were also taken by surprise and by the time they realised somebody was being beaten within their yard, it was too late and they couldn’t even do anything,” said Zulu.
But commenting on the incident in an interview, Katuta observed that the PF was crying foul on one single attack in Monze when his party had suffered massive violence from time immemorial.
And Katuka said it was clear that police had no capacity to protect citizens.
“Every by-election there is violence, which is perpetuated by the Patriotic Front. And we have never written to ECZ to cancel or postpone any election. But for them one small touch they are already crying foul. In English they say if you can’t stand the heat, don’t stay in the kitchen. So if they can’t stand the heat, let them get out. It is them who cannot stand it. For us we have been standing it from time immemorial,” Katuka said.
He accused PF of writing to ECZ to cancel the Monze by-election because the party knows they will lose.
“The first incident was in Kasempa, Kanongo ward, where the PF went to attack our campaign team and we never complained. The police were told, they came and made a few arrests. Some of our people were taken to hospital and so on and so forth. This Sinda one is just another one after the so many. So that is the nature of PF; we all know that they are a violent party. Now for them, one little attack they are now crying ‘no, cancel the election’, for what? It’s just that they were smelling a loss there but for us we are used, we have been in so many, we have participated in every by-election ever since this party was formed. From 1998 to today; every by-election that comes on the scene, we are part [of it], we participate. And you know Mufumbwe was a very bloody one, we participated up to the end,” Katuka said.
And Katuka condemned the conduct by police officers at Sinda for allowing cadres attack their members within the police premises.
“For us we don’t believe that the police can protect us in this country in any way because this is a PF police, they are all cadres. So when one is being butchered, you find that the police are the ones who are there to help them and so many have been butchered in the presence of the police officers and they do nothing about it. So we know that the police cannot protect us. That is why if chance allows we feel that we should protect ourselves. That is a classic example [like the one in Sinda] where somebody runs to the police for safety, now in full view of the police, somebody is being butchered. The issue of numbers should not be our responsibility, we don’t deploy policemen. And the Police Commissioner is the one who should know how many people should be on duty at any given time. It’s not for us to know. For us we only know that when you are under attack, you rush there,” said Katuka.
“You know in the developed world, even from my home, if I feel my life is under threat, I can run to the police station. They will provide safety there. But here if you go to the police station, you are in a worse situation than when in a home. So you know that some police officers are more cadres than professionals. They are not professional. That is why if it were us, they would have thrown teargas there. But in that incident, they couldn’t even use teargas because they are friendly forces.”