SUSPECTED PF cadres yesterday teargassed Chete FM radio station in Nakonde district.
The incident happened during a radio program that featured UPND provincial chairman reverend Mathews Chilekwa, UPND aspiring candidate for Nakonde George Sinkala and UPND former Nakonde district chairman Goodson Sichone.
According to witnesses, the suspected PF cadres were led by a well-known PF member from Nakonde identified as Mabvuto, who arrived at the station in a PF branded car, 15 minutes after the program started.
The cadres tried to force their way in the station in an effort to stop the radio program but quick action from Chete Fm staff who locked the entrance of the station stopped the cadres from entering the studio.
Out of frustration, the cadres then teargassed the radio station.
In a video that went viral afterwards, two Chete FM staff members were seen choking and gasping.
Explaining the ordeal in an interview, Chete Fm station manager Moses Mbewe said the PF cadres also threatened violence on radio staff.
“This happened during the interview that I had with the UPND at Chete FM this morning (yesterday). There is a program that we do every Wednesday, a political based program. The program featured the UPND provincial chairman reverend Mathews Chilekwa, there was aspiring candidate for Nakonde that is George Sinkala, then we also had the former district chairman for the UPND Goodson Sichone,” Mbewe narrated.
“So just some 15 minutes into the programme, I just noticed through the glass that my members of staff were moving up and down in all directions just to hide themselves from the thugs that were there at the entrance into the offices. Minutes later one of my members of staff came in just to tell me that ‘take a break then we will continue the programme later’, but I said no! Then I just realised that something was wrong downstairs.”
He said Mabvuto was a known PF ‘commander’ in Nakonde.
“There is a guy called Mabvuto, he is one of the so-called PF commanders, he was there at the door threatening violence and while he was coming in we just learnt that one of the UPND supporters had been affected by the teargas, our director was also partly affected also by the same gassing that happened downstairs. So, the program had to be canceled after noticing that police where not coming right after we called them. In spite of the director going there, they didn’t immediately come to the station. They came after an hour to check what was happening,” he said.
Mbewe said he had contacted the PF district chairman for intervention on the matter but that the party official declined to comment.
“Currently the situation looks normal but is it not guaranteed that it is really normal. We are not assured of any action that will be taken despite reporting to the police. No damage has been done to the property because we locked completely there was no way they could have entered. They where unable to enter into our offices and upstairs because we completely locked the entrance. But they teargassed the place and one of our guards was threatened with violence by the same guy Mabvuto. The guys came with stones loaded in their branded vehicles which they normally use in their everyday operations,” said Mbewe.
“All this has to do with that UPND members who were on the interview and were responding to some of the claims that were made at the PF rally yesterday (Tuesday), if you saw the story, ZNBC made a claim that 300 UPND members and the entire UPND executive had defected. I was just talking to the PF district chairman, he has declined to comment on the matter, he is saying that he will rely on the report from police.”
And Muchinga Province police commissioner Lizzy Machina said police were aware of the incident but she was yet to get full details on the matter.
“Yes I am aware of that, I have a bit of information but I have no full report because it hasn’t been brought to my attention. I am just hearing from other media groups who are calling me. I am yet to receive a report from Nakonde Police. I am likely to get a report very soon on the matter,” said Machina.