Thursday, January 16, 2014

PF officials' lives in danger - Chumbwe
By Roy Habaalu, Alan Mulenga, Kombe Chimpinde-Mataka and Abel M
Sat 16 Nov. 2013, 14:00 CAT

PF Lusaka Province chairperson Geoffrey Chumbwe says some senior party officials are on a mission to destroy the Patriotic Front. And Chumbwe says PF thugs have put the lives of party officials in danger.

Commenting on Robert Chikwelete's statement that the people he worked with to champion the removal of party secretary general Wynter Kabimba want him dead, Chumbwe said there was a clique within PF working with "criminals" to destabilise the party.

"They are on a mission to destroy this party. We are not going to allow that. They are not genuine people. They are being paid to destroy this party. What is surprising is that when we work hard, they want to bring in confusion. If they were genuine members of the party they should have been mobilising the party, but when we mobilise the party they bring in confusion so that we don't work," he said.

Chumbwe wondered why some senior party officials were sponsoring violence, if they were genuine PF members.

"We are working under a lot of threats. There is a group of people that is working with criminals to destabilise the party. Personally, my houseboy told me that some two weeks ago about four vehicles went to my house. They wanted to force their way in but the garden boy stood his ground, they slapped him and beat him up and started throwing stones at him. But when they noticed that he was uncompromising, they left the house," he said.

And Chumbwe asked the police to protect the lives of party officials.

"What is happening to Chikwelete might spread to innocent people if it is not checked. The most disappointing thing is that the police know very well who these people are. On several occasions, I know my party officials have gone to the police to complain about these people, but nothing is being done," he said.

Chumbwe accused the police of being comfortable when dealing with members outside the party structures.

"If these people go to the police to complain against our party officials, the police are quick to move in and start questioning our party officials. We have a group of thugs and a group of party officials," he said.

"It seems the police are more comfortable to work with thugs, who are working with a few senior party officials, as compared to working with people who are in structures in the party. What is happening is disappointing and believe me, this thing when it is not checked properly, we are going to be in trouble."

Chumbwe urged the police to be professional in their conduct.

"I don't understand the motive because it is like party officials who are in structures, including Chikwelete, are enemies of this country. We are asking the police to be professional. We have complained already to the police. We told them our concerns and even names were mentioned. The police should protect us, we are Zambians, we are not enemies," said Chumbwe.

"It is not only Chikwelete alone; I have received so many complaints from people who are being harassed by well-known thugs. Even the places where they hold meetings are known places. If the people could sit down with Chikwelete, he will give them more information, because even where the meetings take place we have told the police. I can't understand why the police are not moving in. Our lives are in danger."

Meanwhil, Malimba Mashake has implored President Michael Sata to save the Patriotic Front from violent elements.

In an interview, Masheke, a former prime minister in the UNIP government, said he knew that if President Sata strongly stood against the infighting in the party that last week claimed one life, the violence would end immediately.

"I know that if the President stood up to stop it himself, it will stop at once," he said. "The violence we are seeing in PF is not by accident. Those that are doing it know that they are doing it. The only thing that is wrong is that they are using our young people. They have no remorse...they see people bleeding just to get an upper hand in politics, but that is not good."

"All that is fighting for leadership but a tall tree will always be there. In a forest you will always find one. You don't force yourself to be a leader. It seems there are people in there who are trying to be tall trees when they are not."

Masheke said violence should not have a place in the country today.
"We should focus on building the nation, uniting the people," advised Masheke.

And Ng'andu Magande has advised opposition political party leaders to stop celebrating the intra-party violence in the PF leadership because it affects the governance system.

In an interview yesterday, the National Movement for Progress president, said the PF could use people outside the party to resolve the infighting.

"Although, we opposition political parties might be celebrating that they the PF are failing, it is the country which is suffering. It is not only themselves there quarrelling, in particular it erodes confidence of the citizens in the country. Obviously, some foreigners are sacred visiting Zambia where people are running in the streets with machetes," he said.

Magande said the intra-party violence if not properly handled would negatively affect the PF's popularity.

"Depending on how the popularity was built, this will affect them. If it was build on promises of free money, some people are also fighting in order to see that free money wherever it is coming from and whose pockets it is going to. They might still be popular but obviously it is not the party that becomes unpopular, it is the leadership," he said.

"It means the leadership is failing to control and that unfortunately affects confidence of the people in the leaders. I think those are the things they must consider as they continue to fight amongst themselves."

Magande said the PF leadership should shoulder the blame over the violence that had rocked the party.

UPND deputy spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa said the PF should cleanse itself of bad elements that were funding 'thuggery' and 'hooliganism' as quickly as possible.

He said the recent violence which left one party cadre dead should not be entertained and President Michael Sata, as commander in chief and chief executive, should stamp his authority.

President Sata has since condemned and stopped the violent acts from going on in the party. The Head of State directed Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu to investigate the violence incident and ensure culprits were brought to book.

However, Mweetwa said the PF should tackle the root cause of the violence by identifying people that were financing such ugly acts in a country that had enjoyed continued peace over years.

"Political fanaticism and factionalism should not be allowed in a country which is at the advent of 50 years of independence, this state of affairs is extremely embarrassing and should not be entertained because it has economic connotations in that, we are beginning as a country to appear as though we are sliding into political instability and anarchy, something capable of frowning upon and frightening foreign direct investment," he said.

"So we think this political violence should not be left unattended to and it is high time President Sata really put a stop to this fanaticism in the PF."

He reiterated that the issue of a tribal clique in the PF and tribalism as alleged by Kabimba must be addressed fairly, squarely and in a sincere and magnanimous manner.

"As long as the sponsors of thugery and hooliganism in the PF remain looming large and are not addressed to stop this syndicate, divisions and wrangles will continue to consume the ruling party," he said.

He said the violence in the PF was now diverting the attention of the country from addressing real issues of economic development and other issues affecting it in a meaningful way.

"All of us are just focusing on political violence being orchestrated by the PF, so really, this should not be left to continue anymore," said Mweetwa.

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