Saturday, October 20, 2012

GBM supporters storm Post, threaten to burn newspapers

GBM supporters storm Post, threaten to burn newspapers
By Roy Habaalu in Lusaka and Royce Phiri in Kasama
Fri 19 Oct. 2012, 14:00 CAT

SYLVIA Masebo has replaced Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba as PF chairperson for elections. And Mwamba's supporters yesterday stormed The Post newspapers offices and wanted to block the newspaper from being sold in Kasama while some of them wanted to confiscate copies and burn them.

PF secretary general Wynter Kabimba said Masebo took up the role of chairperson after the last central committee meeting.

"Yes she's the new chairperson for the elections committee of the central committee," said Kabimba.

Mwamba relinquished his position as chairperson for election after temporarily resigning as Kasama member of parliament after beating up his wife Chama.

"It's in public domain that GBM resigned on his own after press reports condemned him for battering his wife. He said he was no longer interested in politics but surprising he's been coming from the back door to lobby for the position," a source said.

The sources said Mwamba had been carrying himself as the chairperson for elections and the party even tolerated him as such.

"But the PF thought that the position was a serious one and needed to be filled. So the one in charge of elections is Masebo and not GBM," said the sources.

And Mwamba's supporters that stormed The Post Newspaper offices presented a petition against the paper's coverage on Mwamba.

The group, who displayed banners denouncing both The Post and the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) chanted "No more Post" slogans and shouted at The Post employees, who were locked up in the office, to tell their superiors that they should leave GBM alone.

The protestors, some of them high on alcohol early in the morning, nearly turned violent but for quick action by police.

The cadres warned Post staff at Kasama office that they should stop writing bad stories about GBM who is also Kasama Central member of parliament.

Meanwhile Kasama police officer in-charge Darius Kakompe assured the staff that police would do whatever they could to protect them and that they would see to it that a police officer was assigned at the office for some days until the situation was calm.

Northern Province permanent secretary Emmanuel Mwamba said Mwamba's campaign manager Nathan Ilunga in the 2011 election led the protestors.

"As soon as we heard that Mr Mwamba's supporters were protesting and went to your offices in Kasama, I directed the commissioner of police to send police officers and ensure they kept peace and that life and property was protected. They were led by Mr. Mwamba's campaign manager Nathan Ilunga because they were displeased about your reporting," said
Mwamba in an interview.

"They handed over the petition to the manager in which they accused Mr Fred M'membe of siding with the minister of Justice Mr Wynter Kabimba and writing bad about Mr Mwamba. Police went there and advised them to disperse and the situation right now is normal," he said.

Kasama Post customer account executive Chitalu Musonda said one of the PF cadres called him shortly before the group arrived at the newspaper offices and informed him that they were about to attack.

"He called me to say 'boss lock yourselves, we are almost there and we are coming to attack your office," Musonda said. "Within two minutes of receiving the call, we saw the cadres and when we closed the door they rushed quickly and one of them shouted 'look they are closing the door. Just open the door, we want to sort you out.'"

He narrated that the situation calmed down after the police officers arrived on the scene but that he has since warned newspaper vendors to be extra careful in view of the incident.

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