Dr Fred M’membe, the President of the Socialist Party, has accused the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) of being responsible for the violent conduct of their cadres and supporters.
In a statement on his Facebook page yesterday, Dr M’membe said, “Please don’t believe or trust whatever the UPND leadership says about them being against political violence. They support, encourage, and sponsor the violence of their cadres and supporters.”
He further claimed that UPND leaders were selective in their condemnation of political violence, and that they only spoke out against the violence of their political opponents.
Dr M’membe said, “They certainly don’t like the violence of their political opponents and are truly against it. But they have no problems with the violence of those who belong to them, who support them and campaign for their party.”
Dr M’membe also cited recent incidents of violence allegedly perpetrated by UPND cadres, including an attack on Patriotic Front (PF) leaders who were attending church in Chililabombwe. He said, “Yesterday, UPND cadres were mobilised and transported to a Catholic Church in Chililabombwe, where PF leaders were worshipping – among them Mr Chishimba Kambwili, Mr Bowman Lusambo and Mr Richard Musukwa – to attack them. This disgusting conduct was strongly condemned by the parish priest. There isn’t even a hypocritical condemnation of this barbarism from the key UPND leadership. Why?”
The Socialist Party leader also accused UPND cadres of attacking his party’s supporters in Serenje and looting their campaign materials and foodstuffs. He claimed that UPND leaders had put pressure on the police to arrest and charge people who were attacked and had to defend themselves, but no UPND cadre had been arrested for the attack.
Dr M’membe also questioned why UPND cadres seemed to be above the law, saying, “Why are UPND cadres untouchable by the police or seem to be above the law? It is because their violence is sponsored and supported by their leaders, who command the police and other law enforcement agencies, and to some extent the courts of law.”
He concluded by calling on UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema to take action to stop the violence of his supporters.
Dr M’membe said, “If Mr Hakainde Hichilema really wanted political violence to end he could easily achieve this by stopping UPND violence first. If this were stopped the police would easily deal with whatever opposition violence arises. The rotten elements in the opposition can easily be dealt with.”
“Part of this UPND cadres’ violence arises from their leaders’ desire to win every by-election at any cost. Violence is used as a tool to stop, paralyse, slow down, or frustrate their opponents’ campaigns. Leaders with uncontrolled appetites for electoral victory will have no scruples deploying violence as an electoral tool. We shouldn’t forget that even the most violent don’t say they want violence; they claim to stand for peace. It’s not what they say that matters, but what they do. It is said that actions speak louder than words. Moreover, how many things have they promised but not delivered, or even delivered the opposite – fertilisers, mealie meal, fuel, jobs? And the buck for UPND cadres’ violence stops with Mr Hichilema,” he said.