WE’RE decampaigning ourselves by unleashing the police to deny the opposition to campaign, warns Mwenya Musenge.
He has urged President Edgar Lungu to stop police from blocking and chasing the opposition during campaign time.
Police on the Copperbelt blocked UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema from going into Chingola for a church service on Sunday. And Democratic Party president Harry Kalaba was blocked in Mansa while conducting a roadshow.
Commenting on the development, Musenge, a PF member, said he does not support the police’s blocking of the opposition from reaching out to the electorates.
He said as campaign rallies were discouraged, parties were trying to find ways and means to reach out to the electorates.
Musenge said unleashing the police on the opposition was not right.
“Elo nga cakuti ifwe ba (if we as) PF have not done our homework, nga tatwabomba sana (if we have not worked hard) then it is our fault but I believe ukutila Edgar Lungu is very popular. PF has done extremely well but we are decampaigning ourselves by unleashing the police to deny the opposition to campaign,” he said. “This is what is leading cadres to rise with pangas (machetes), stones and what-have-you.”
Musenge appealed to President Lungu to seriously look at what was happening countrywide during the campaign period.
He said he appreciated the President’s directive to restrict public rallies to safeguard people’s lives in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Now in this situation where we are in a campaign period, all political parties, especially those in the opposition, have to look for other avenues of reaching out to the people and most of them, of course, you will be seeing them invited in churches, you will be seeing them doing roadshows trying to reach out to the people,” Musenge noted. “This new phenomenon which we have seen where the police are blocking the opposition wherever they go, I think it is uncalled for. The President really needs to give proper guidance and advise that this should come to a stop.”
He said in a campaign period, political parties should be given the latitude to go round as long as they were taking into account COVID-19 guidelines and observing them to the letter.
“By unleashing the police to be chasing around the opposition wherever they go, we are decampaigning ourselves as Patriotic Front,” he warned. “I think it is important to have a level playing field so that nobody will come tomorrow and blame the PF when they win elections.”
Musenge said parties should be given the latitude to reach out to people.
“This is the reason we opened the campaign. People should reach out and campaign, to sell themselves and let the people make a choice from an informed position. So by restricting the opposition, the President really has to do something,” he said. “Because the onus, I am saying the President, His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the onus falls at his doorstep as we are talking right now because there is no cabinet – it’s him who is running the country now. So it is for him to make the decision to make sure this comes to an end.”
He said he was very convinced that President Lungu would win the August election because he had performed beyond expectation.
Musenge said denying the opposition chance to campaign was a serious indictment on the PF.
“I have not been happy. I have read the way HH was treated in Chingola, in Ndola. Is this the news you want to be reading about?” Musenge asked. “We know very well that Copperbelt is set for PF. We know very well Luapula is set for PF and these other provinces. Let’s give them the latitude. If we have not done our work as Patriotic Front, we should not hide through unleashing the police on the opposition. Let us just go on the ground and do extra work and make sure that we retain and maximise the vote for His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu and win genuinely.”
He said the PF should beat the opposition with clean hands.
Musenge emphasized that the police’s work was to maintain law and order.
He said the police could only move in if the campaigners engaged in acts of lawlessness.
“It is these little things that end up decampaigning us, because people will now start questioning; why are they stopping their friends? Why are they doing this? What have the police done that?” Musenge said. “Let us, Patriotic Front, quickly get on our toes to campaign. Tafyakese fye nge imfwi nangu ameno ya mukanwa (victory will not come like grey hair or teeth). We have to work for it. Victory for Patriotic Front shall not just come easily. We have to work extremely hard not by blocking others or because we are in power then we flex our muscles.”
And Musenge advised PF members to sympathise with President Lungu by not engaging in violence.
He said engaging in violence make people change their minds about the party.
Musenge feared that even people that want to vote for the President might change their mind because of what PF members do.