I refused to allow a UPND helicopter to land during the 2016 general election campaign because from what I know, a chopper can land anywhere, even on a rooftop or a toilet, Shiwang’andu District Commissioner Evelyn Kangwa told the Commission of Inquiry into the Voting Patterns and Electoral Violence.
And the Commission has recommended that appropriate authorities should re-open the case involving Home Affairs Minister Steven Kampyongo’s cousin Andrew’s involvement in the 2015 and 2016 helicopter incidents.
In its report, the Commission revealed that it received numerous submissions from UPND officials, led by its party deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka to the effect that when his team flew to Shiwang’andu to campaign on January 1, 2015, their helicopter was attacked and almost brought down by PF cadres when it wanted to land at Kalalantekwe Primary School ground.
“The UPND campaign team comprised Hon. Mutale Nalumango, Mrs Maureen Mwanawasa (former first lady), Hon. Felix Mutati and Hon. Mucheleka. He also submitted that the UPND had secured a police permit to hold the intended rally and that its supporters were gathered at Kalalantekwe Primary School grounds. Hon. Mucheleka further submitted that upon arrival at the venue of the rally, the helicopter was attacked and almost brought down by PF cadres. He submitted that this happened in the presence of police officers who were assigned to police the rally. Hon. Mucheleka submitted that the said police officers did not act to restrain the PF cadres. In addition, Hon. Mucheleka submitted that: ‘I was personally able to see Hon. Kampyongo in a GRZ Pajero from a distance watching and giving instructions. I saw him with my two eyes that was in January, 2015. The matter was reported at Shiwang’andu District Police Station and no single culprit was arrested; the local people gave names of those who were responsible.’ Hon. Mucheleka further submitted that he had a video footage of the whole incident in his possession and would avail the same to the Commission,” the Commission revealed.
The Commission narrated that another petitioner named Felix Chabatama in Shiwang’andu District submitted that whilst waiting to be addressed by UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema at the named school ground in 2015, he saw Kangwa coming in a GRZ vehicle that was being driven by Kampyongo.
“The petitioner also submitted that, just before the helicopter could land, he saw about 200 PF cadres with PF chitenge materials, supplied by the Shiwang’andu DC, running towards the school grounds. The petitioner further submitted that, when the helicopter landed, he was unable to move because over 100 PF cadres attacked him and other UPND supporters. He submitted that, ‘next I saw the younger brother to Hon. Kampyongo, Andrew Kampyongo, driving a Land Cruiser with four doors, speeding to where we were.’ The petitioner further submitted that he fell down and Andrew drove over his left hand and then sped off towards the helicopter, but, fortunately, the helicopter flew away before Andrew got there. Subsequently, a lot of confusion erupted’,” the Commission disclosed.
It added that another petitioner at the Shiwang’andu public sitting named Kangwa Chitongo submitted that during the same period under review, his light truck was hired to ferry UPND cadres to Kalalantekwe Primary School on the day of the UPND rally and whilst at that place, Andrew Kampyongo drove to where he was parked and directed him to move his vehicle, failure to which, the Minister’s cousin would smash his truck.
The Commission revealed that:
“Another petitioner at the Shiwang’andu public sitting, Maureen Bwembya, submitted that there was another helicopter incident in Shiwang’andu District that happened on the 13th June, 2016. She submitted that this incident involved a helicopter, which was carrying the UPND leader, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, and other party officials. The petitioner submitted that this helicopter was prevented from landing at Kalalantekwe Primary School grounds by PF cadres. The petitioner submitted that, on the material day, she was coming from Mukwikile Village, and as she approached the venue of the UPND meeting, she saw a lot of people in PF regalia within the vicinity and wondered whether the meeting was for PF or UPND. Upon inquiry, she was assured by the UPND security detail that it was their meeting and that they would ensure that law and order was maintained.”
It also disclosed how it heard that PF cadres lit a huge fire at the school ground with a view to block the UPND helicopter from landing.
“The petitioner further submitted that when the helicopter carrying their party president and other officials arrived, PF cadres lit a huge fire on Kalalantekwe Primary School grounds and kept on lighting more fires in the surrounding areas, therefore, making the helicopter have nowhere to land. The petitioner further submitted that there was a lot of confusion at this stage and that the UPND meeting was disrupted. She submitted that the helicopter flew away and ended up landing at another place where the UPND proceeded to hold their meeting,” the Commission stated.
And when summoned during the sitting, Kangwa admitted that there were two helicopter incidences in the district in 2015 and 2016, but denied having been involved in the 2015 one, saying that she was not DC as the time.
On the 2016 incident, the Commission stated that Kangwa refused to allow the helicopter to land at Kallantekwe Primary School grounds because it was exam time and it would have disturbed the pupils.
“On the 2016 incident, Ms Kangwa submitted that she refused to allow the helicopter to land at Kalalantekwe Primary School grounds because it was during examination time and the pupils would have been disturbed. She submitted that, ‘I denied permission to the police who came to ask for permission from me. I refused, as DC! I serve the pupils as well as the community. What I know is that a chopper can land anywhere, on a pipeline or even on a roof or a toilet. I was following the guidelines of the PF, it should not be like the old UNIP days where pupils were disturbed and they would even miss class. It is our policy to prevent that’,” Kangwa told the Commission.
“On the allegation that a Landcruiser prevented the helicopter from landing, Ms Kangwa submitted that, ‘I want to say that, yes, there was a Landcruiser, but it did not disturb the helicopter. I don’t know who was driving the Landcruiser, but I suspect it was a UPND person. People say it was Andrew Kampyongo, but I know Andrew Kampyongo, he also has a Landcruiser, but he was not the one driving that very Landcruiser, I was with him in Chinsali when all that was happening. I am also aware that based on these allegations, Andrew Kampyongo was arrested by the police, but after the findings, they discovered that it was not him and they let him go’.”
The Commission added that when accorded chance to defend himself, Home Affairs Minister Kampyongo submitted that the allegations against him were false and that it was a misrepresentation of the truth as he was 65 kilometres away from the place where the incident happened.
The Commission further stated that Kampyongo also submitted that Andrew was his cousin and that, being a youth, he found himself on the wrong side of the law at times.
In its observations, however, the Commission, however, noted that there was no action taken against the perpetrators of both helicopter incidences.
It further observed that Andrew Kampyongo was at the centre of both the 2015 and 2016 helicopter incidents and, that Kangwa acted outside her mandate as a public servant by being actively engaged in partisan politics.
The Commission recommended the need for thorough investigations by the relevant authorities to ascertain the actual number of instigators and perpetrators of the 2015 and 2016 Shiwang’andu incidents.
Further, the Commission insisted that there was need for appropriate authorities to re-open the case relating to Andrew’s involvement in the 2015 and 2016 helicopter incidences.
It also stated that there was need for Kangwa to be censured and appropriate sanctions against her be taken by the appointing authority.