UGLY scenes of bloody intraparty violence marred Chishimba Kambwili’s return to the ruling Patriotic Front yesterday.
Party renegade Innocent Kalimanshi was at the receiving end of a savage attack that rendered him a ‘stretcher case’ and his new Ford Ranger was seriously damaged.
Kambwili was scheduled to officially announce his return to PF at a ceremony at the party’s secretariat in Lusaka at 09:00 hours.
All was well and peaceful as hordes of muscled cadres, along with an all-women choir, treated waiting crowds to some song and dance and running commentary.
Kambwili eventually made a grand entry into the PF secretariat around 10:10 hours and instantly sent the gathering into cheers, ululations and “Imbwili” chants.
He was met by Lusaka Province PF chairman Kennedy Kamba and national mobilisation chairman Richard Musukwa, who clasped him in fond embraces before ushering the former NDC leader into the offices.
As soon as Kambwili and his hosts vanished from sight, hell broke loose.
Kalimanshi’s vehicle, which was trailing Kambwili’s, was blocked from entering by cadres who were angry that he had been hurling insults on their party leadership.
But Kalimanshi ignored the instructions and sped into the premises, angering his fellow cadres who responded with violence.
Without his Embenenzer-singing ensemble to protect him, Kalimanshi was plucked off the drivers’ seat for a free-for-all beating.
Helpless, Kalimanshi was juggled amongst the cadres with slaps, kicks, fists and knuckles.
Cadres that were not close enough to punch or kick Kalimanshi threw missiles in his direction, some of which landed on waiting journalists and triggering a run-for-life scamper.
As the mob competed to ‘knock out’ Kalimanshi’s teeth, others thought iron bars would do the job better.
It had to take Kamba to ‘fly down’ the stairs of the double-story building to save Kalimanshi.
Seeing that his screaming orders to the cadres to cease the violence were not working, Kamba threw himself in the melee and personally dragged Kalimanshi to safety in the offices.
The cadres then turned their anger on Kalimanshi’s vehicle, smashing its windows and slashing all its tyres.
Two journalists Nancy Malwele and Francis Maingaila were injured in the fracas.
The ceremony to welcome Kambwili was suspended for close to an hour until the arrival of police officers.
Later, Kambwili said he was not rejoining the PF but simply renewing his membership card.
Accompanied by his son Mwamba, among others, Kambwili warned that he was not back in the PF to be a praise singer but to make sure that prices of commodities were reduced.
He eulogised the PF led government that not too long ago described as poinson, claiming that it had worked a lot for the people.
“If you compare what MMD did in 20 years to what PF has done in a few years, it would be unreasonable to vote PF out. I want to promise my friends that I will never let you down,” Kambwili said.
Kambwili said one who had never suffered would not know how painful it is.
“Some people are saying Kambwili, you have let down the people of Zambia but when I came here I came with a flag of Zambia. Why I came with the flag of Zambia is because whatever I do, the people I think of first are the poor people,” said Kambwili. “But if the person who thinks about the poor Zambians be the first to lose them by taking them to where a Leopard is running away from…but please forgive me. I know things are hard in Zambia but let’s look at the bigger picture. Countrymen, there are no things that happen at the same time and there are no things that are perfected at the same time, things are perfected slowly.”
Kambwili who spoke in Bemba said to the cheering crowd that development was a process.
And PF secretary general Davies Mwila, whom Kambwili once accused of hiring a young man to write his Grade 12 papers, welcomed him.
In welcoming Kambwili, Mwila quoted the Biblical proverb of the prodigal son.
He said the PF would give Kambwili a role to play in the party.