Residents of Kawambwa district yesterday voted in fear of bloodshed as a physical confrontation ensued between Luapula Province Minister Nickson Chilangwa and UPND national chairperson Mutale Nalumango.
In an interview, Nalumango who is leading the opposition party’s campaign team in the local government elections in Ntumbachushi ward, narrated that Chilangwa who is PF provincial chairman almost beat her up after unleashing cadres to chase them from their camp.
But Chilangwa charged that Nalumango was behaving like a 10-year-old girl who doesn’t know the law, adding that he only told her to grow up and get away from the poling station where she was camped with UPND cadres.
Narrating the ordeal, Nalumango who is also former National Assembly deputy speaker, said Chilangwa called her an idiot while attacking her.
“Chilangwa came and parked along the road, then he started shouting insults at me. I said ‘ah, minister, come over’, but he continued insulting. He was saying to the cadres that he was with, ‘beat this idiot! Beat that idiot!’ My daughter you know that I can’t lie. Us we had no cadres here, we were just five women and two young ladies who have been helping us cook because the place had been our camp. That is all, there was no man, but they charged and Chilangwa was commanding ‘beat the idiots!’ I was sitting on a stool, then I stood and I was going towards him, then when he said ‘beat the idiots’ and the cadres started coming, I had to stand and the cadres truly came and they were not five or 10, they were a number of them,” she narrated.
“From what I hear, there was the mayor, the people here know them well. So this is how they came, thank God that the cadres who he commanded to beat us didn’t beat us but they came and said ‘ba mayo kabiyeni. Fumeni pano! Tamumwene ati pano palemoneka epo balevotela? Fumeni apa!’ (get out from here, can’t you see that it’s close to the poling station?) As they were pushing us around, the police arrived and Chilangwa got out to come and physically beat me. ‘You idiot! You fool!’ And whatever invectives he could think of. It took the police to say ‘you have to get out’. A police officer is the one who had to hold him while another police officer was pushing me into a police vehicle and all the three women with me got in expect one woman who was trapped and ran into the bush.”
She said after police picked them, they were forced to leave the electoral process because their lives were threatened by Chilangwa and his PF cadres.
“That’s how we were driven away and I am told they don’t want to see Nalumango here. I don’t know what they want to do, whether Chilangwa wants to murder me but he said ‘beat the idiots!’ and many other insults. I said ‘minister!’ …My daughter that’s the first time I have seen him face to face because he got quite close when he was coming to beat me. I said ‘you Chilangwa! You are insulting me?’ Namenso kwati alele mukupepa umuti mubuloshi. (He came with red eyes like he was from bewitching someone). I was shocked that these are the ministers we have,” Nalumango charged.
“The police took me and right now they are escorting me to load my luggage with my people so that we can leave. Because people can’t vote now, they are just looking. Those who will vote will vote PF because they are scared. You know, this is a village. As far as they are concerned, since we have been picked by police, we are arrested and to them, we are already guilty. We will give you footage of last night how they were distributing food, bags of mealie meal! Chicken and cabbages, we have footage.”
Nalumango complained that the PF did not allow them to campaign.
“We had agreed on days for campaigns, on Thursday it was UPND, they blocked it; they came here to fight so UPND didn’t campaign. On Sunday it was UPND, again we couldn’t. You know it is a small community and they told people they would distribute social cash transfer and those who wouldn’t attend their meetings wouldn’t benefit,” claimed Nalumango.
But Chilangwa said Nalumango was a liar.
“She is lying! What she did was, she went and camped within 4-500 metres of the polling station and we called the police to say, ‘you cannot camp here, 500 metres within the polling station, it is illegal and unlawful. Please move your camp immediately’. Nobody attacked her or assaulted her. We just told her to say you know better, you have been in government, stop misbehaving. So yes, we told her to stop misbehaving and we called the police and they came and picked her. They tried to reason with her but she was adamant,” Chilangwa explained.
“Nalumango had imported thugs from outside Kawambwa to start with, who she wanted to use to cause confusion and secondly, nobody insulted her. The only thing we did was to tell her to grow up. A person of her standing should know better what is lawful and what is unlawful. She is behaving like a 10-year-old girl who has no regard for law and anything else. We only told her to grow up and behave like an adult. Because she was misbehaving. She cannot go and camp within the precincts of the polling station. It is unthinkable and then they were calling people to say when you come from voting, come and pass through our camp, we have got a special package for you. So that’s how we called the police to say take them away and close this camp which is nearby. That’s what we did.”
He denied commanding his cadres to beat Nalumanga, adding that it was instead the police who came to deal with her.
“She is a liar and she has no proof, we were only three of us. There were not even a big group, we were three of us. And have you ever seen a camp which is set by women alone? They had all the youths there and everybody and they were stationed in and around the area. She should not think that she is clever by running to the press. She needs to grow up!” he said.
On allegations that PF was buying off votes by giving people food, Chilangwa said it was the UPND doing so.
“We didn’t have anybody in the field in the night. It was her and her team. None of our people were out in the field last night. They were giving chickens in Matende and everywhere. She is just miserable for nothing,” said Chilangwa.