UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka has distanced himself from the violence that occurred at the party secretariat where youths were involved in a punch-up, Friday, saying he was only made aware of the fracas after it happened.

Last Friday, UPND youths, led by media committee member Langison Ngungu, were assaulted by senior members, who were allegedly instructed by Katuka as they wanted to present a petition seeking clarity and redefinition of the UPND constitution clause, which was meant to spell out who qualified to be a youth.

But in an interview, Katuka, distanced himself from the alleged assault and that he was only told about the matter by some UPND cadres who were present.

“I know nothing about the whole story. I don’t know when they clashed and why they clashed. I am also just getting it from media. I am told there is a boy who is part of the media team and I really don’t know him, who claims to have been beaten, and he claims that the instructions came from me. How do I instruct someone to beat another person? They are all my members. How can I instruct someone, or even encourage them, to fight? It is total nonsense! There was nothing like that. I don’t really know what happened and I was not there so I really do not know,” Katuka said.

“I called Dante (Ruth) to find out, but she was also not really aware of the story. But some boys, who were telling me that there was a boy…you know, we have partially closed down the office because of this Coronavirus, so, we have even put a notice on the board that no loitering, no nothing. Even those cadres that loiter around the office, we have told them to stay home. Now, I hear that that boy was being chased away from there because we have closed down, and he was restricting and they dragged him out, that is what I heard. I can’t confirm that because it is a one-sided story.”

He explained that he was only aware of a petition that was brought to him last week before the day of the alleged assault where some youths wanted all youth positions to be filled by youths.

“Others are saying, ‘no, he brought a petition,’ I don’t know what petition he brought because I received a petition some four/five days back from one youth, who brought a petition signed by many demanding that youth positions must be filled by youths and not those above 45. So, that petition, I received it, and I advised him that the party constitution did not prescribe the age. However, if the youths feel strongly that they want a youth to be in charge, there is nothing wrong; the constitution says any member of party can aspire for any position in the party, meaning even if you are 15 years and you are a bonafide member of the party, you want to be secretary general of the party, no law stops you from contesting. You are free to contest, whether you want to be chairman of the youth, you are free to contest,” said Katuka.

“So, I advised him that if you want youthful youth leaders, it is up to you to mobilize yourselves; we’ll be going to a general assembly soon, so mobilize yourselves. Pick whoever you want to lead you and campaign for him or her so that when it goes to the general assembly, you elect the one you want; that is the whole purpose of elections; that was the advice I gave to him and he left. That was not the day of the scuffle or confusion. So, he went away and I thought he took my advice, but I am hearing that he took a petition and he was roughed up for taking that petition. I don’t think those two are in any way related.”