ZAMBIA may end up degenerating into a civil war if government fails to stop the violence being perpetuated by its cadres, warns UPND deputy secretary general Gertrude Imenda.

And Imenda has warned the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) to be mindful of their news reports, saying the national broadcaster and its staff could be cited for promoting hate speech if conflict erupted.

In an interview, Imenda charged that the State was sponsoring its cadres to engage in terrorist activities where innocent citizens were being brutalised as the Zambia Police Service helplessly stood by.

“With what is going on right now, because of the State-sponsored terrorism in this country, don’t be surprised, we are going towards a civil war if somebody doesn’t do something to stop what is going on. Because of this State-sponsored terrorism, this country may be at the verge of a civil war. What is happening is unacceptable. People booed the President, yes, but who said that booing someone is a crime? It’s just another way of expressing dissatisfaction at the governance of this country. People are unhappy at the misrule of the PF,” Imenda said.

“And who said that all those who were booing were all UPND? Isn’t it the PF, themselves, who said: ‘even in Southern Province, there are people who belong to PF?’ So, what happened? Why should we blame the UPND and particularly singling out president Hakainde Hichilema? It’s uncalled for, how does he come in? The man is at his home observing the COVID-19 guidelines as was stipulated and flagged off by the Republican President. But something happens in Monze and someone says, ‘HH should apologise,’ for what? Did you see him there? In fact, it’s even good that our members of parliament did not go there because I can only imagine what could have happened if our political leaders, like members of parliament, were there in Monze. Our members of parliament, like Honourable Jack Mwiimbu, Cornelius Mweetwa and Gary Nkombo could have been the scapegoat; they could have charged them with treason.”

She told the police to stop shielding the PF and their violent conduct.

“The police in this country do not know how to play their role and I am warning them because they will also be cited for looking the other way when PF is involved in lawlessness. My message also goes to the Inspector General of Police [Kakoma Kanganja]; look, the PF organized a meeting just after the Monze booing, they held a meeting where they were threatening that, ‘HH shouldn’t go to Luapula and on the Copperbelt’ and things like that, did they get a permit to do that? I don’t think so. The youths wanted to demonstrate and they stopped because of COVID-19,” Imenda said. “But here are PF people two days ago or so, they had a meeting to churn out hate speech against Hakainde and the UPND. This shouldn’t happen; we need an impartial police service that will serve the interest of Zambia. The truth of the matter is that people express their anger at the leadership because what they were promised is not there. They were promised jobs. The youths were promised jobs by this PF government, but what is there? There is nothing, people have no jobs, no money in their pockets. There is poverty, and they say, ‘a hungry man is an angry man.’ So, when somebody expresses his displeasure, you don’t say, ‘he has committed an offence,’ who do they think the Head of State is? He’s not a god; we elected him to serve the interests of the people, not the bellies of his goons!”

And Imenda warned that ZNBC would equally bear the blame should a civil war erupt in Zambia because stories that in most times promote hate speech.

“That media outlet, if civil war breaks out, if genocide breaks out, ZNBC and its staff will be cited for causing that. They can be taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if genocide breaks out because of the messages that are churned out of ZNBC. I was watching their news the other day, hate speeches are going out on ZNBC to the people. Because of that, do you know what is happening today?” wondered Imenda. “The same State terrorism machinery has organised people in various towns; I received a phone call from Kasama, the PF youths went round insulting and making effigies of Hakainde. What has Hakainde done apart from being the leader of the biggest political party now in terms of following? We know that Hakainde, right now is at 60 per cent [in terms of following]. So, because of the pressure that the PF are feeling, they are organising State terrorism to cause chaos as we go into the 2021 elections. And I can really see this going out of hand, unless something is done.”