Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Don’t succumb to political pressure, Sata urges C/belt cops

Don’t succumb to political pressure, Sata urges C/belt cops
By George Chellah in Lusaka and Abgail Chaponda, Darious Kapemb
Wed 04 Aug. 2010, 10:00 CAT

PF leader Michael Sata yesterday warned police against using President Rupiah Banda’s trip to Ndola as a scapegoat to frustrate PF campaign activities in Chifubu. And violence erupted in Chibufu on Monday evening as cadres from MMD and PF clashed in a stone throwing scenario that left one woman with deep wounds in the head.

In an interview, Sata urged the police command on the Copperbelt not to succumb to political pressure from the MMD.

“I have been informed that the police are trying to cause unnecessary problems in Chifubu. Just because Rupiah is away in Ndola and he is going to have a walk about and tour markets they want to ground our campaign activities in Ndola,” Sata said.

“I am very disappointed with this behaviour. They want all PF activities to stop in Chifubu, which is very unfair for police to interfere in elections in this manner.”

Sata said President Banda wanted to use the police to facilitate the rigging of elections in Chifubu.

“They got the message and they have seen that things are tough for them in Chifubu so they now want to use the police. Probably, they want to compensate for George Kunda’s motorcade incident. We have told our people to remain upbeat because victory in Chifubu is certain,” Sata said.

“We have told them not to resort to violence despite the provocation from the police and the MMD. There is nothing for Rupiah to fear in Chifubu because our people will not harm him in any way. What we have told our people in Chifubu is to simply greet him politely wherever he goes with the PF symbol so that he knows that we still exist.”

Sata advised the police not abuse the Public Order Act just to facilitate rigging in favour of the MMD.

“Why are they stopping the PF people from campaigning? Does Rupiah want to rig the elections the Malawian way?” Sata asked.

But Copperbelt police commanding officer Antoniel Mutentwa denied that the police were frustrating PF campaign activities.

“It’s a lie. They PF did not apply for any programme today. What they are doing is the door-to-door campaigns,” he said.

And MMD’s Chiko Chibale on Monday threatened to report Chifubu police station criminal investigations officer Martin Chilando to the Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde for refusing to obey his orders to arrest PF cadres.

Confusion started immediately after Sata’s motorcade left Chifubu after he addressed a campaign rally. MMD supporters that sell fuel just opposite Chifubu market grabbed a PF cadre and tore his clothes for flashing a red card at them (MMD cadres).

This angered the opposition supporters, mostly Chifubu residents, who retaliated with stones and started advancing towards the MMD.

After realising that they were out-numbered by the opposition supporters, the MMD gave in and released the youth they had earlier detained.

Patriotic Front Ndola district chairperson Rebby Chanda emerged and convinced his youths to stop throwing stones and to disperse but the slogan chanting youths defied the instructions as they shouted: “We want change! We want change! We want change!”

As Chanda was addressing a huge crowd of angry PF youths, others heckled that “MMD would be taught a bitter lesson in Chifubu if they wanted to repeat the violence they caused in Mufumbwe”.

“Balemona kwati ni ku Mufumbwe kuno, kuno tulebalanga ati MMD yalipwa tatuli bakwangalako ifwe (they think this is Mufumbwe, here we will show them that MMD is finished, they shouldn’t play with us).”

And Ndola district police commanding officer Stella Libongani arrived at the scene with police officers in riot gear to reinforce security.

Libongani together with officers from Chifubu police station managed to calm the situation and ordered the other MMD youths who had gathered a heap of stones in readiness for a show down to disperse.

Earlier, Chibale - who arrived at the scene a few minutes after the confusion - accosted Chilando asking him why he had gone to the MMD camp with a gun.
“Why did you come here with a gun, you think we can be threatened by this gun? Come on arrest those opposition chaps! Why should you allow this anarchy by the opposition?” asked Chibale.

But Chilando furiously told Chibale to leave the police to do their job professionally.

“Who do you think you are? Do you know how police work? Can you just concentrate on what you came to do here and leave us to our job,” he said.
At this point, Chibale almost grabbed the left hand of the police officer and threatened to report him to Kabonde.

“Do you know what you are doing? You don’t know me, I talk to the IG and I can put you into serious problems if you are playing with me,” he warned the officer.
But Chilando responded: “Which IG? Do you have your own IG? Go ahead and report, you want me to antagonise the situation? Those opposition have humbly obeyed our orders but you want us to move with force? Come on, go ahead and tell your own IG,” said Chilando.

As the argument was going on, other officers were heard saying that MMD always wanted to claim innocence when they aggravate the situation but fail to contend when they are outnumbered.

Upon realising that it was getting dark, Libongani ordered all the officers at the scene to move in and disperse cadres on both sides of the main road.
About four people were injured in the fracas.

Mutentwa said that no one was arrested but that police were going to put their foot down. He said the police had been very good and were working hard to maintain peace in the area and that they were not going to allow anyone to bring violence in Chifubu.

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