LIKE a movie scene, thugs trying to corner their victim is what this reporter experienced as PF cadres on the Copperbelt trailed Democratic Party (DP) leader Harry Kalaba on Monday.
It all started in Mansa where Kalaba went to attend the funeral of Catholic priest Nicodemus Chalikosa where he was trailed by Office of the President officers down the Mansa-Chembe road all the way to the checkpoint.
After crossing into Copperbelt through Mukambo Border Post, Kalaba drove to Shoprite in Mufulira to buy some refreshments and youths mobbed him on his way out. While talking to them, some muscled black-bottle sipping youths approached the gathering and told Kalaba to leave immediately because it “wasn’t campaigns and rally time” yet.
With his two vehicle entourage, Kalaba left for Kitwe where he was scheduled to pass through Radio Icengelo before proceeding to Lusaka.
On the way to Kitwe, a blue Toyota Corolla whose registration only showed the letters AIC trailed Kalaba.
The same men who had asked Kalaba to leave Mufulira made chase and when they realised they had been noticed, they sped off and parked at a lay-by ahead. After passing them, they again joined the road and continued trailing the convoy, this time brandishing bottles. But when Kalaba’s entourage stopped to engage them, they quickly u-turned and sped off in the direction of Mufulira.
Kalaba aboard a Toyota VX drove ahead of the white Landcruiser carrying journalists from Prime TV, KNC TV, CBC TV and The Mast.
In Kitwe, Kalaba headed to Radio Icengelo where he met a horde of cadres sprinkled with white stuff on their faces and heads with the aim of masking themselves, who blocked the the entrance to the station with a Toyota Surf registration BCA 3879.
This whole episode was unfolding just a few minutes after 17:00 hours. The cadres quickly alighted from the vehicle while the ringleader was constantly on the phone, probably giving and receiving orders. The others kept hurling unprintables at the Democratic Party and its leader.
After about five minutes of negotiations to enter the station, Kalaba advised that they proceed with their journey and swiftly drove off into the now darkening streets.
But just after passing the roundabout near ZNBC Kitwe offices, a minibus carrying cadres blocked the Kalaba entourage from the front while the Toyota Surf blocked the back, trapping the journalists’ vehicle.
Hurling insults and threatening to kill the passengers, the men in vests charged towards the vehicle carrying journalists.
Before they could attack, the man who earlier was on the phone moved in quickly.
“Commanders, twebeni tufiponone, fyali tumpa naka Harry Kalaba. We can even rape them all if you just give us the command,” said one of the charged thugs. But he was told to cool off.
“No tebo,” said their ‘commander’. “Kabiyeni ku radio station and make sure he (Kalaba) doesn’t come there.”
They drove off and headed towards the roundabout but the Surf continued trailing the journalists’ vehicle towards Kitwe central business district and all the way towards the Luanshya junction.
However, the Toyota Surf was not able to keep pace with the now speeding Landcruiser carrying journalists.
Asked to comment on the incident, Kalaba said the PF knew what was coming their way and it was therefore no wonder that they can’t allow him to freely go about his business.
“You have seen for yourself, but we are not a violent party like they are. We don’t want to engage in uncivilised politics. It is because the PF know that they are losing that is why they are doing all these things,” said Kalaba.
“Why use youths for such vices? These are the [last] kicks of a dying horse. This will not happen in our government.”