UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema was on Thursday attacked by suspected Patriotic Front (PF) cadres as he and his entourage undertook an impromptu tour of markets and residential areas through which he has been preaching about the recent increase in fuel prices.
And now the police have summoned Mr Hichilema to appear at Kabwata Police Station on Monday to explain why he was endangering his own life with the township visits which have been proveked his opponents.
The UPND leader yesterday failed to appear before the Police, claiming that he had been summoned at short notice and the meeting was rescheduled to Monday.
Mr Hichilema had been touring Kamwala shopping centre on Thursday and many other places around Lusaka and while walking along the corridors of the shops with his entourage that included national chairperson Mutale Nalumango, some suspected PF cadres armed with pangas and bottles allegedly attacked the UPND leader and ordered him to leave the area.
The cadres demanded that Mr Hichilema and his entourage should leave the market place before the situation could turn uglier and he was immediately whisked away by his aides.
In the last few days since the increase of fuel, Mr Hichilema has been visiting communities, boarding buses and cooking nshima and shelling maize to demonstrate how Zambians have been suffering under the PF Government.
Mrs Nalumango was almost hit by a bottle in the fracas and complained that it was unacceptable for the police to have summoned Mr Hichilema who was a victim of violence instead of hunting for the assailants.
According to police, the campaign tour had been undertaken without notification as was required by the Public Order Act and was consequently summoned for questioning at Kamwala Police over the incident.
Lusaka Province Police Commissioner Charity Katanga arrived at Kabwata Police station just after 10:00 hours along with her battalion and sealed off the premises anticipating unruly behavior from the UPND cadres.
Mr Hichilema’s lawyer Martha Mushipe arrived moments later and immediately went to meet the police command and after 30 minutes, the battalion was called off and left Kabwata police.
Ms Katanga latter said in an interview that police had rescheduled the meeting with Mr Hichilema to Monday because his lawyers said the call-out was at short notice.
Ms Katanga said Mr Hichilema’s lawyers said they needed to be prepared and asked that the questioning of Mr Hichilema be rescheduled to Monday.
“We could not go ahead with programme because Mr Hichilema failed to turn up for the interviews. His lawyers came and informed us that the call-out was at short notice and therefore Mr Hichilema could not make it to Kabwata Police. We have since rescheduled the programme to Monday at the same time,” Ms Katanga said.
Mrs Nalumango however, said it was surprising that the police decided to summon Mr Hichilema, who was a victim of violence perpetrated by PF cadres instead of looking for the assailants.
Mrs Nalumango condemned the behavior by the cadres, stating that citizens had the fundamental right to walk the streets of Lusaka without the fear of being attacked by political cadres.
She said in a democracy, it was important for citizens to co-exist despite differences in political opinions and that it was unacceptable for any citizen to hurt another on account of associating with political parties of their choice.
Mrs Nalumango told the Daily Nation that she was disappointed that political intolerance had continued among political party cadres and advised that citizens should not maim each other because of differences in political opinions.
“As far as we are concerned, we were walking along the streets of Kwamwala and we have the rights to do so.
But from nowhere, some youths emerged from nowhere with stones, pangas and bottles with intent to harm us. I was missed with a sprite bottle but this kind of behavior is not good in a democracy.
Democracy promotes fundamental rights and even if the PF did not like us or we did not like PF, we should never raise weapons against each other.
I am upset because I do not know why my life should be in danger for walking in my streets. Governments come and go but as citizens we shall be there and we must learn to co-exist,” Mrs Nalumango said.
Mrs Nalumango advised the media to guard against any form of biasness because they had a role to defend the democracy of the country. She said there was a tendency by some media houses that would never give credit to Government no matter how good it was because of the partisan position such media houses had taken.