UPND secretary general Batuke Imenda says Pambashe and Kawambwa PF members of parliament Ronald Chitotela and Nickson Chilangwa, respectively, must concentrate on defending themselves in court rather than blaming the ruling party for their plight.

On Tuesday, police arrested Chitotela, Chilangwa and five others on charges of arson, threatening violence, malicious damage to property as well as assault.

Chitotela and six others are accused of assaulting some UPND members, damaging the windscreen of a motor vehicle and setting it on fire as well as threatening violence on August 12, 2021.

The accused have since been released on police bond and will appear in court on November 18 and 19, 2021.

Addressing their supporters, Chitotela urged them to pray and remain united because they were at war, while Chilangwa said the arrest was a witch-hunt by the UPND government.

But in an interview, Imenda said Chitotela and Chilangwa must not seek public sympathy by running away from the police and dragging UPND into such matters.

“Mr Chitotela was first arrested by his own party at the time we were in opposition. So was his party witch-hunting? Secondly, our position as a party is very clear and categorical in the sense that we have left the execution of law and order to the law enforcement officers. The institutions such as the DEC, ACC and the police have been given the mandate to freely do what they know best outside political interference. So what the police are doing currently is what they think is right. So let them not attract public sympathy by running away from the police by bringing in the UPND as a party,” he said.

“As the party, we did not even know they were being called. I just read it this morning but if you had asked me yesterday, I was going to say I have not seen it. Today I was going through social media and saw it. So if by trying to shift blame to the UPND with a view of attracting public sympathy and hope to run away…they are wasting their time. Let them just sit down, organise their thoughts and find out how they are going to run away from what they are being accused of. We do not know what they are being accused of, we do not know the crimes they committed and we do not know what the police called them for. So let them concentrate on those matters.”

Imenda said Zambians were still bitter with the PF and would not easily spare them until they were cleared by the courts.

“There is no fighting for democracy with a government which is being blamed by the people. Their government was in power but when they lost power people said they were liberated. How can a government which is responsible be described as suppressive to the extent that when theirs lost, a lot of people celebrated and called it independence, liberty and freedom? They should know that they tortured Zambians, mentally, physically and psychologically. So they must feel ashamed to even say that they will continue fighting for Zambians,” he said.

“Zambians are still very bitter with them, just like we said earlier that Edgar Lungu apologising was a mockery to the Zambian people who suffered so much. So what they are doing that they are fighting for Zambians can be described as a mockery and insulting the intelligence of the Zambian people. What they should know is that Zambians will not spare them easily until they are cleared by the courts of law. It is up to the police to prove their points before the courts of law.”

Meanwhile, Imenda lamented that UPND was being accused of delaying matters of public interest when law enforcement agencies had been given the mandate to operate independently.

“Today the Zambian people are not too happy with us because the institutions of governance are delaying in taking these cases before the courts of law. Zambian people want us to do it quickly but the question is when they say ‘us’ they are referring to the party but the party is saying ‘let us leave the law enforcement agencies to do their work’. So we are being blamed for the rate at which the police, DEC and ACC are taking their time. They are used to governments that bully institutions against individuals and that is what Zambia has been used to in the last 10 years,” said Imenda.

“When they see a situation where the government ensures that these institutions operate professionally, we are being blamed for taking time but they must understand that the power is vested in these institutions. So Mr Chilangwa and Mr Chitotela must know very well that let them continue preparing their defence against what the police think is right. Let them not throw the UPND in the ring.”