[By Chambwa Moonga and Oliver Chisenga]
UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka says raising of a party symbol and shouting a party slogan to a Republican President does not amount to violence.
He was reacting to chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya’s statement on Wednesday that the UPND was the most violent party in Zambia’s history.
The statement by Siliya, the information minister, was necessitated by the ‘booing’ of President Edgar Lungu in Monze on July 4 this year.
“Dora Siliya said the UPND is the most violent party since independence. I want to dispel that; we cannot be labeled [as] the most violent because this violence was brought by the PF,” Katuka told journalists at the UPND secretariat in Lusaka on Friday.
“The first time that a panga was used on another person was under the leadership of Mr Michael Sata. Now the law has changed and a panga is called a dangerous weapon. Initially, it was a farm tool.”
He said what happened in Monze, to him, was nothing worth talking about.
“Booing a President is nothing. It is a way people show their displeasure to the manner of how certain things are done. Every leader has been booed at one time or another,” he argued.
“I was booed as a member of parliament but it was not an issue. People were sending a message when they behaved in that manner.”
Katuka recalled that at the instigation of violent and armed PF cadres, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema had to escape via the rooftop at Sun FM Radio in Ndola in April 2014.
“PF cadres went to that radio programme with guns…. Chishimba Kambwili was almost attacked in Kabwe when he featured on a radio programme. President Hakainde, at Moba Hotel in Kitwe, was attacked by PF cadres brandishing guns. That was a risk to his life,” Katuka said.
He said he did not see any risk to Lungu’s life in Monze.
“It was just people flashing their party symbol and people shouting their party slogan, which had completely nothing to do with being disrespectful. The problem in African leadership is that we want too much respect, which is not necessary,” he said, adding that the PF wanted to create an issue out of nothing.
“PF is the most violent party this country has ever seen. I’m privileged to have been around before independence, at independence and up to now. I have seen the colonial government, I have seen the UNIP government, I have seen the MMD government and I have seen the PF government. I can safely say that the PF is the most violent party.”
He also remembered: “how we scampered at Hotel Intercontinental when we went for that Bill 10 debate in February this year.”
“They just brought in cadres from Intercity [Bus Terminus] and we all scampered. That to them is not violence! Violence to them is only when a President is booed! Let’s respect each other; Lungu’s life is as important as HH’s and as important as my life,” said Katuka.
Meanwhile, UPND Copperbelt secretary Howard Kamwandi says his provincial leadership is amazed with the way President Lungu has reacted to his booing by some Monze residents.
In a statement, Kamwandi said as a leader, President Lungu had a duty to protect the rights of people to protest and express themselves.
He said he had noted the tendency of government leader’s desire only to hear and tolerate voices of their praise singers
“We are amazed with the way Edgar Lungu has reacted to his booing by some Monze residents. As a leader, it is the duty of Lungu to protect the right of people to protest and express themselves. But what we have seen with this government is a systematic crackdown on dissenting voices. The only voices they want to hear are of their praise singers. Anyone speaking a different language, they fall on them like a tonne of bricks,” Kamwandi said.
Kamwandi reminded President Lungu that Zambia was still a democracy, though not practiced, hence citizens had the right to express themselves in various ways, including booing him.
He said what transpired in Monze was a way of expressing their displeasure with his government and his governance style.
“We want to remind Edgar Lungu that Zambia is still a democracy (at least on paper). And as such, citizens have the right to express themselves as they did in Monze, which is a way of expressing their displeasure with his government; his style of governance. It is common knowledge that Lungu’s government has failed this country. His government is nothing short of a kleptocracy,” he said.
Kamwandi noted that corruption was the PF’s way of doing things and the bedrock of the regime.
He lamented that the cost of living for Zambians has continued to rise beyond what the ordinary man can afford.
“Did he expect the people of Monze or indeed anywhere else in the country to clap for him for destroying their livelihoods, for putting them, their children and children’s children in debt? No! They were showing him they are not happy with his leadership, his corruption, his Kleptocracy. What Lungu should have done after being booed is to look at himself, look at what he’s not doing right. He should have concerned himself with righting his wrongs,” Kamwandi said.
He added that by going into high gear denouncing those that booed him, it shows that President Lungu was not willing to change.
He said President Lungu’s reaction to the Monze booing shows that he is just in the Presidency to serve himself and does not care what the people think or say about his governance.
“We have seen also comments in the media to the effect that UPND president Hakainde Hichilema should have condemned the people who booed Lungu. First of all, what wrong did those people do? They have a democratic right to express themselves. Lungu’s government has exhibited political intolerance. How many people have been killed, maimed or assaulted for trying to express themselves via protests? Only those that sing his praises or protesting against his (perceived) enemies are actually allowed to protest,” Kamwandi said.
Kamwandi said the PF have sowed division across the country.
He further condemned insinuations that UPND president Hichilema would be mistreated when he travels to the Copperbelt as it has become a no go area for him.
“That’s laughable. As Copperbelt residents, we would like to warn those trying to divide our country that it is them that will be unwelcome to this province. Zambia is for everyone and no one has the right to bar anyone else from any part of our motherland. Let this government get it from us, that the only hope people on the Copperbelt have is the promise of president Hakainde Hichilema taking over the reins of government,” he said.
Kamwandi reminded the PF that people on the Copperbelt have lost jobs because of President Lungu’s inconsistent mining policy.
He said if there was any place where the effects of President Lungu’s bad governance were more evident it was the Copperbelt.
“Families are not only failing to take their children to higher learning institutions but also failing to provide two, not three, decent meals in a day. Despite all the doom and gloom on the Copperbelt, HH is the only bright spot that we are looking forward to in 2021 and therefore anyone who touches him should be prepared to fight all the people of the Copperbelt,” warned Kamwandi.