SINDA PF chairperson Michael Phiri has warned village headmen that they risk having the PF branded bicycles taken away from them if they support the opposition.
Speaking during distribution of the bicycles to village headmen in Kapoche and Mwangaila wards on Thursday, Phiri reminded the traditional leaders that they had been crying to area member of parliament Charles Banda for the bicycles who also reported to President Edgar Lungu who in turn donated the bicycles.
Phiri said the party would not hesitate to retrieve the bicycles if some village headmen would be seen dining with the opposition.
“It’s good to support President Edgar Lungu and government expects you to work with it because the laws guide you to work with the government of the day. You have been crying to the MP about bicycles and he kept on informing the President who has remembered you but if you will be noticed using the bicycle to mobilise the meetings for the opposition then we will send our guys (cadres) to come and grab the bicycle from you. We expect you to work with the government of the day,” Phiri said. “If you think you can do anything by going to the police after we take back the bicycles, you are wasting your time because there is nothing the police can do. The best way to go in [is] work with the government and things will be ok.”
Phiri, who is also district council chairperson, urged headmen to mark their bicycles for identification to avoid losing them.
He warned them against painting the entire bicycles in the colours of some political parties like red for UPND and orange for NDC.
“Put a mark that will allow you to identify it as you know these are PF branded bicycles and it will be easy to lose them but don’t paint the entire bicycles with colours relating to other political parties. If you paint it with red, we will relate you to UPND and if it’s orange we will think you are with Chishimba Kambwili of NDC so just put a little mark,” said Phiri
District secretary Best Mwanza said it would be so painful for the President to hear that some headmen who received the items were supporting the opposition.
“It will hurt us, it will hurt the President to hear that the people you gave bicycles are supporting opposition and they mobilise opposition meetings. If it happens like that then we will tell the President that some headmen are snakes. If you don’t know, we the politicians we grab what belongs to us if it is misused,” he said.
Mwanza reminded them that in the UNIP government, they never received that and in MMD only few headmen received bicycles.
However, headman Simulinda Lyford Phiri, who is also chairperson of the village headmen, regarded the bicycle distribution exercise as rubbish after he did not benefit.
He said this is the second time he is not given a bicycle with Mwanza accusing him of working with the opposition.
“This is rubbish. Last time you never gave me a bicycle, you said next time and now the same people who received that year are the same you are giving now! This is rubbish but I am not surprised because Best Mwanza told me that me I am working with opposition, which opposition do I work with?” asked Phiri.
Phiri, who claimed to have been in the same class with Dr Banda, said the exercise would split the support for the President Lungu.
“I can’t support Hakainde [Hichilema] but to be accused of working with opposition, it’s not Okay. If it’s what I spoke publicly in the media that the President is required to come to chieftainess Nyanje then it’s fine but I spoke the truth. So chairperson, I respect you so much so I don’t need a bicycle anymore,” said the visibly annoyed Phiri.
Phiri, a retired civil servant, said he would not work with the ruling party since they have shown that they don’t love him.
Headwoman Kakuni Mailess Mwale praised Dr Banda for informing the President about their plight.
It is feared the bicycle distribution exercise would divide people because the blacklisted headmen would dine with opposition who are watching the space.
Some chiefs talked to said the exercise was political as they have not been officially told neither have they had a glance of the said bicycles.
“We begged the bicycles for our headmen but we are surprised that politicians have taken over…so let the politicians give thanks to the President as for us we don’t even know that there are political party bicycles being distributed in our chiefdoms. We can’t be informed for we are not counted,” stated one chief.
Another chief said it was too early to sing praises because they have not received any report on how the exercise had gone.
“It’s too early to comment my son because I just hear rumours of the bicycles but I have not talked to the headmen to find out how it has gone…so I will comment later if need arise,” said the chief.