Defence Minister Edgar Lungu was last week forced to abandon a party meeting because of the hostile reception he received from senior party officials in Chawama Constituency.
But Lungu has denied ever being threatened or beaten but admitted that he failed to address the party meeting because most of the senior party officials including Chawama constituency chairman Robert Chikwelete shunned the meeting.
Lungu said the meeting could not take place as scheduled because there were attempts by some Patriotic Front (PF) cadres who were allegedly plotting to harass and beat up Chikwelete whom they have branded a traitor over calls to have their secretary general Wynter Kabimba expelled from the party.
Lungu who is PF chairman for legal affairs said he was in Kapoche village in John Howard and that at no time did any cadre or party official threaten him with physical harassment.
The Defence Minister claimed that there were schemes within the party to scandalize him so that he could lose his popularity.
Lungu boasted that he was one of the most popular PF MPs in Lusaka and that it was not possible for the people in Chawama to attempt to rise against him because he was delivering what he had promised the people during his campaigns.
He said he was free to walk and interact with every resident in Chawama and that speculations that he was beaten were untrue and malicious meant to fracture his political standing in society.
“It is not true that I was beaten and whoever told you that; please ask him the motive of spreading such rumours. I cannot allow myself to be beaten as Minister of Defence and I am one of the most popular PF MPs in Lusaka. But what is true is that I was supposed to address a party meeting in Chawama but it could not take off because Chikwelete claimed there were party cadres who were plotting to beat him. I called him to assure him that he was safe and that I had asked for his protection from the police. I actually put the phone on speaker and he said he feared to be beaten. That is why the meeting could not take place,” Lungu said.
But Chikwelete said Lungu lied that he (Chikwelete) did not turn up for the meeting because of threats from party cadres.
Chikwelete said he was not aware of the meeting Lungu was supposed to address and that as Constituency chairman, he was not informed about the meeting.
Chikwelete said he was not even aware that Lungu was expected in the constituency for a meeting but admitted that there was confusion in the constituency because there were camps in the area.
He said most of the councilors shunned the meeting Lungu was supposed to address because the people who were organizing the meeting were from lower organs of the party and that they did not consult the leadership at the constituency.
“It is not true that there are PF cadres planning to beat me up. I did not even know that Lungu was expected in the constituency and from what I hear, almost all the ward chairmen and the councilors did not attend the meeting. Lungu told you that he talked to me and I complained that some people were plotting to beat me…no that is not true. That meeting was organized by some junior officials in the constituency and they did not expect me to attend that meeting,” Chikwelete said. On whether Lungu was chased from the constituency, Chikwelete said he did not know anything about the matter and could therefore not comment.