EASTERN Province PF information and publicity secretary William Phiri has been assaulted by party members just days after suggesting that the ruling party needed the help of former members.
A week ago, Phiri appealed to President Edgar Lungu to bring Lameck Mangani back in the party’s political system.
He warned that the political landscape in the province was not okay.
“Let’s not beat about the bush. We need help,” Phiri said.
But on Wednesday, Phiri, who is also a PF councillor for Kanjala ward in Chipata Central Constituency, was beaten by PF youths at Eliboma Lodge soon after attending the funeral of chief Nyamphande in Petauke on Wednesday.
According Phiri, a gang of about 30 PF cadres, whom he claimed were sponsored by Eastern Province PF chairman Andrew Lubusha and his provincial youth chairman Emmanuel Banda, kicked and punched him while others used huge sticks.
Phiri said he was only rescued from the violent attack by other guests at the lodge who witnessed the incident.
He sustained injuries to the chest, head and elbow, according to a medical report obtained from Petauke District Hospital.
Following the attack, Phiri was initially treated at Petauke District Hospital before he was evacuated to the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka.
In an interview after being discharged from UTH yesterday, Phiri described the attack as barbaric.
“The most affected part is the left ribs. I have recorded some damaged tissue on the left side and head injury. Doctors are suspecting that I have some internal injuries. So I am going back to the hospital tomorrow (today),” he said.
He vowed to continue speaking the truth for the good of the party.
“We were attending the burial of late chief Nyampande. The first lady and all party officials were there. Immediately after the burial we went to the lodge just nearby. I was seated within the vicinity of Eriboma Lodge in Petauke. Then I saw a mob of about 30 cadres led by a well-known person. They were all clad in PF regalia and they didn’t ask me anything [but] the only thing they said is ‘ndiwe udelela ba provincial chairman naba provincial youth chairman’. And from there, I asked them that, you guys don’t you know who I am? I am a provincial IPS. [They responded] ‘no, we don’t care’. They were led by a known person, the boy is called Forty-forty,” Phiri explained.
“He dragged me from where I was. Three of them had big sticks which they used to hit me with. Others threw punches and kicks. They were more than 30. Others went for my pockets. They wanted to get the phones and money. I tried to resist but they hit me with something on my hand and got the money.”
Phiri said the attack happened in full view of Lubusha and Banda who were about 50 metres away.
He said the beating emanated from the statement he made that PF in Eastern Province needs help.
“The provincial chairman thinks that I am fighting him, that we should relinquish his position and give it to someone. But the essence of that article was to call upon these old guys who helped the party to win the 2011 elections. With their experience, and with their political manoeuvres they can come and help the PF, because the landscape is not okay,” he said.
He said he was one of the founder members of the PF and for him to call upon former party members to come and assist with mobilisation of the party was done in good faith.
“For me it was a noble cause, because I was appealing to the President [Edgar Lungu] to consider bring these people. The differences that we have with the people that have left the PF is very minimal that we cannot fail to bring them. Where there is a problem, you sit on a round table. Our focus is not on any other person. When we talk of 2021, we are not talking about Eastern Province alone. We are talking of the entire nation. We should bring back Honourable Chishimba Kambwili, we should bring back KBF (Kelvin Bwalya Fube), we should bring back, Chilubanama, Lukas Phiri, bring back Honourable Mangani, Panji Kaunda. All these people that are talking, it is small misunderstanding that we have,” he said.
“My focus and my concern is not to lose power but to maintain our President in 2021, Edgar Chagwa Lungu. The stance that the provincial chairman has taken, I think it is very barbaric to beat his own people in the party who have got divergent views to bring developments to the party and to call for reinforcement of the old gangs to come and assist us,” Phiri said.
He said violence was not the politics Zambians were looking for.
“You cannot make the Patriotic Front to be attractive with such behaviour, especially from a provincial leader who is supposed to bring people together. Who is supposed to unite the party? You want to kill your own officials?” wondered Phiri.
“My appeal to the President is that such a provincial chairman is not fit to hold office, even the provincial youth chairman. If they continue to be in office, they might cost the party. I think it is better that the President takes the bold step and probably consider replacing them with people who are ready to work for the party and ready to unite the party.”