Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MMD cadres, cops assault UPND campaign manager in Mufumbwe

MMD cadres, cops assault UPND campaign manager in Mufumbwe
By Staff Reporters
Wed 28 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT

MMD cadres and two armed police officers on Monday attacked and assaulted UPND campaign manager in the Mufumbwe by-election Watson Lumba with a long button.

And police in Mufumbwe returned a bus load of UPND polling agents from the Copperbelt believing they were youths being bussed to counter the violence by MMD cadres.

Violence in Mufumbwe has continued despite the presence of President Rupiah Banda in the district, leaving residents and businessmen in the boma to live in fear.

On Monday, UPND youths were walking along the main road shouting their party slogan, ‘forward, forward,’ prompting the police and MMD cadres to storm the UPND main command centre where they found Lumba and attacked him.

The two police officers threw teargas canisters at the UPND command centre.
In a statement at the police stations, Lumba said the policemen and one MMD cadre manhandled him and hit him on the left hand with the long button.

“I was in my office at about 12:30 hours at the campaign centre planning for the day when I heard tear-gassing. Then an MMD chap whom I have identified in the company of two policemen stormed in my room and started beating me together with three women with a long button,” narrated Lumba. “I grabbed the button from the police and it was then that the MMD cadre targeted my left hand which as you can see now is swollen. I, however, managed to escape to the nearby village and come here (police station).”

The UPND youths in retaliation stoned and catapulted a court messenger dressed in police gear whom they believed was aiding the MMD.

And UPND vice-president Richard Kapita said he was baffled that President Banda with the police were perpetuating violence with impunity. He said President Banda and MMD Lusaka Province chairman William Banda were using the police to brutalise targeted leaders.

“I am very disgusted with the police. We have complained several times that we are also Zambians being treated like this by the likes of Rupiah and William. They have now beaten Lumba and four others of which one has been seriously injured and hosptalised,” said Kapita. “They arrested and released our cadres. This is surprising because no MMD cadre has been arrested since the inception of violence. They (President Banda and William Banda) will use the police to protect the cadres and brutalise the targeted opposition leaders.”

Earlier in the day, Kapita quarreled with the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) officials at the Mufumbwe Civic Centre over the MMD cadres who have ignored the deadline to vacate the polling stations they have been using as campaign centres.

And deputy police spokesperson Moses Suwali said a bus carrying about 70 UPND cadres was intercepted 30 kilometres before Mufumbwe. He said when asked, the cadres said they were from the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) but when the ECZ officials were contacted, they told police their officials were already in Mufumbwe.

Suwali claimed police were operating professionally in Mufumbwe and calls for Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde to resign were unfounded.

He said an additional 106 police officers from Kamfinsa and 50 from Lilayi were deployed on Sunday to beef up security.

Suwali said the 14 UPND cadres were arrested in Matushi area because they caused violence. He said police also arrested MMD Kikomge ward councillor for allegedly assaulting two UPND cadres.

“The incidence in Mushima where a further nine UPND cadres were arrested after killing a dog, these were arrested for malicious damage to a vehicle and conduct likely to cause the breach of peace and one escort driver for HH is on the wanted list after he allegedly stubbed an MMD cadre,” he said.

And Suwali said police were looking for MMD cadres in Mushima area who torched the Apostolic and Seventh Day Adventist churches.

And Suwali said no arrest had been effected on cadres that attacked UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma as he did not describe the type of people who attacked him.

Some MMD members said UPND was being framed into the violence. The source said the Mushima incidence where a dog was allegedly killed by UPND cadres was merely a frame because some MMD cadres led by Thabo Kawana who were in the area filmed a scene of a dead and decomposing dog and said the UPND had killed it.

The source said Kawana personally took the recording to ZNBC Kitwe studios to have it broadcast.
Meanwhile, UPND Copperbelt chairperson Elisha Matambo said the bus that was returned carried polling agents from the Copperbelt.

He said the party decided to bring in polling agents who were enlightened because they were serious rumours that the MMD wanted to rig the election and also compromise polling agents.

“If they are saying they wanted to counter the MMD, they are lying. In the same bus were female agents, they searched the bus and never found any weapon. If we decided to bring youths we would smoke them out of this place,” said Matambo. “These agents are here and they have not caused any violence.”

He accused the police of assisting MMD thugs to brutalise people in Mufumbwe.

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