Saturday, October 25, 2008

MMD cadres complain over Rupiah’s hurried Kabwe rally

MMD cadres complain over Rupiah’s hurried Kabwe rally
Written by Mwala Kalaluka in Kabwe
Saturday, October 25, 2008 10:09:11 PM

SOME MMD cadres on Thursday complained over the manner in which their presidential candidate Vice-President Rupiah Banda hurriedly addressed them during a public rally held at Kabwe Civic Centre.

And Vice-President Banda said Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata will see blue everywhere he goes now and after next week's presidential election.

Meanwhile, police officers in Keembe swung into action and removed a lone PF cadre who was spotted dressed in his party t-shirt at a shop a few metres from where Vice-President Banda was expected to address the rally.

In Kabwe, as Vice-President Banda was winding up his short-spaced address, some of the MMD cadres in front of the pulpit complained that he had not addressed some of the issues they expected him to touch on.

"Nanga fertiliser, tamwalandepo? [What about the issue of fertilister, won't you say anything?]," asked one of the cadres, as Vice-President Banda explained to the audience that he was sorry he had to rush.

Vice-President Banda then thanked the people that had supported him in the run-up to the presidential poll and he reiterated his commitment to better the lives of Zambians once elected into office and to continue late president Levy Mwanawasa's programmes.

"I am so glad to hear you say my full names are Rupiah Bwezani Banda Mwanawasa," he said amidst cheers.

And Vice-President Banda said the MMD's blue colours would overwhelm Sata before and after the presidential campaigns.

"When he is sleeping and touring, Sata will just see blue," he said. "There will be blue everywhere, not just now but even after the elections."

Before concluding his speech, Vice-President Banda performed a quick dance and the National Anthem was sung before the crowd dispersed with some expressing mixed feelings about the rally whilst others expressed confidence that the MMD would win next week's election.

As the crowd left the Civic Centre into Freedom Way, they were met by some PF cadres shouting "Pa bwato, pa bwato."

And Vice-President Banda was earlier in the day expected to address a public rally in Keembe in Chibombo but the programme was abandoned following the death of chieftainess Chitanda.

However, scores of MMD cadres had been ferried from various parts of the constituency to Keembe Farm Training Institute grounds from as early as 09:00 hours to attend the rally.

Central Province Permanent Secretary Denny Lumbama confirmed that chieftainess Chitanda died on October 19, 2008 after a short illness and that burial is expected to take place today.

But on Thursday, October 23, 2008, the MMD had planned to hold a public rally at Keembe, as part of Vice-President Banda's campaign trail in Central Province.

According to the programme, Vice-President Banda held his first rally in Mumbwa and was expected in Keembe around midday but around 15:00 hours whilst his motorcarde was waiting to receive him at a nearby school, information filtered through that the Chibombo rally had been cancelled and that the MMD candidate was flying straight to Kabwe to address another public rally.

The MMD cadres were seen dispersing from the ground where the rally was supposed to have taken place, heading for the nearby shops and taverns, as Vice-President Banda's motorcade drove away empty to Kabwe.

Earlier, during their long wait some MMD cadres were heard directing their colleagues to ensure that as soon as the rally starts, children should not be allowed to sit in front lest they be captured by The Post photographers.

Meanwhile, a team of uniformed and plain-clothes police officers working on a complaint from some MMD cadres, earlier pulled out Newton Chilunga from the group of people that were sitting outside the shop and asked him why he was trying to be provocative.

As they led him away to the nearby police post, the security officers told Chilunga to take off the PF T-shirt on grounds that it might provoke the MMD cadres that were waiting for Vice-President Banda's arrival at the rally grounds from Mumbwa.

When he came out from the police station, Chilunga was wearing his PF T-shirt inside-out.

Chilunga, who confirmed that he was a PF cadre, narrated in an interview shortly that he was not a resident of Keembe and was just in transit to his home village within Keembe Ward and he was not aware that there would be an MMD rally at Keembe.

"I was cautioned by the police that I should remove this (PF) t-shirt. They said I should go back home or I call for another t-shirt from someone else," Chilunga said. "I was not put in the cell but I was given a chance to take off this T-shirt."

However, Chilunga said he felt that the action by the police and the MMD cadres was just harassment.
"I did not know the police could handle me like this," complained Chilunga.

But Keembe MMD youth chairman, a Mr Chikatu, who confirmed having reported the matter to the police said Chilunga was embroiled in arguments with some MMD officials whilst dressed in his PF regalia.

"I was with my council chairman for Chibombo and when we came I just observed that there was a conflict between him (Chilunga) and one of our councillors.

He said ' I am PF and I am doing this deliberately because I can't fear anybody," said Chikatu who was reluctant to disclose his full names to The Post. "When I saw that conflict, I wanted to bring peace by telling him that it was wrong for him to start arguing here and then he started arguing with one of my colleagues again."

Chikatu refuted Chilunga's claims that he had been victimised.

"He is not a victim and what I did was that I told him to get out of this place and change what he was wearing because people might see that he was trying to confuse the situation.

If you start arguing with the MMD when you are dressed in a PF T-shirt, they will say you have been sent to spy," said Chikatu. "So what I did was that I called police officer Muloongo to come and advise."

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