UPND and PF cadres today clashed in Kaoma constituency of Western Province where campaigns for the council chairmanship have heated up.
Western Province police commissioner Charles Lungu told News Diggers in an interview that police had nabbed a UPND cadre who shot indiscriminately and injured two people, one of them his fellow opposition party member.
“It was around midday in Site and Service Compound where two convoys were on their usual campaign trails, they were kind of criss crossing from opposite directions near the PF camp. So the convoy for UPND stopped and challenged their counterparts. So there was commotion there and pandemonium and in the process, one UPND cadre produced a pistol and fired shots in discriminately and in the process shot two people. Then the other two were injured during beatings. These were all rushed to hospital, two were certified to have bullet wounds. The other two it was mere beatings. Officers made followups and apprehended one UPND cadre by the name of Chola Simwaba and recovered from him a pistol which he had used to fire so right now he is in police custody being interrogated,” narrated Lungu.
“Among those shot was a UPND cadre. Incidentally, during the indiscriminate shootings, he also shot one of his friends from the same party because there was commotion and pandemonium so one bullet landed on a UPND cadre. Police responded by giving chase to the ones who were running away with a pistol and apprehended him, there was no firing by police. By press time, all four are still in hospital.”
PF Western Province chairperson Charles Mututwa, however, claimed in a statement that it was six people who had been injured.
“Armed United Party for National Development (UPND) this morning trailed and shot at our Patriotic Front (PF) members who were in the field carrying out door to door campaigns, injuring about six (06) who are all hospitalized with one of them battling for his life. We find UPND’s desperation totally unacceptable that they would rather shade blood in order to win an election. PF has continued with violence free elections in the upcoming Kaoma by-election and it is regrettable that Opposition UPND have resorted to use of violence as they did in the Parliamentary by-election. Our candidate Mrs Ngombo Ngebe has remained favourite to win the Kaoma Council Chairperson by-election and we are calling on the Zambia Police to intensify security patrols in the area,” stated Mututwa.
“We are aware of UPNDs machinations ahead of voting day on 10th October 2019 and we hope the Police will maintain law and order otherwise our competitors are geared to turn this area into another bloodbath, the sort of politics we must all condemn. PF has been under very strict instructions from the Head of State who is also Party President His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu to conduct violence free and issue-based campaigns. This is a position we refuse to depart from even under extreme provocation from the Opposition.”
But efforts to get an account of events from the UPND camp proved futile as opposition party deputy spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa referred all queries to the campaign team on the ground whose phones were unreachable by press time.
Meanwhile, Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja asked politicians to disarm their supporters and advise them to avoid violence.
“I have received disturbing reports of violence in the Kaoma by- election campaigns in Western Province also the arming of political cadres with offensive weapons where some people involved in political activities have sustained injuries. I therefore call upon all those leading campaign teams of all Political Parties taking part in the by election to disarm their supporters immediately and advise their cadres to stay away from all forms of violence. Further, I appeal to members of the public including political players who may have information on those who have armed themselves with any form of offensive weapon during the ongoing political activities in Kaoma to report to the Police without delay,” Kanganja stated.
“I wish to remind all political players that going armed to any public gathering, procession or any other political activity is a serious offence which attracts stiff punishment. I therefore urge all Police Officers involved in policing the Kaoma by election to be firm and ensure that all those found wanting, irrespective of their standing in society or political affiliation, are arrested and dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the law. We are not going to allow lawlessness to take root during this by election therefore all acts of violence should immediately cease forthwith. All Political parties taking part in the election should focus on explaining their manifesto to the electorate as opposed to taking the route of provocation, harassment, intimidation and violence.”