SCORES of United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres yesterday turned the Lusaka Magistrates Court into a political arena in support of Chongwe Patriotic Front (PF) member of Parliament Sylvia Masebo who appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to two counts of abuse of authority of office.
Just after Ms Masebo emerged from court six where she pleaded not guilty, the placard-carrying UPND cadres broke into spontaneous jubilation and sloganeering ‘Masebo not guilty’, virtually bringing the proceedings of the other courts to a complete halt.
Many onlookers and court marshals as well as clerks watched as the crowd of cadres interrupted the quiet decorum characteristic of quite of the courts. They chanted slogans denouncing the ruling party and its leadership.
The cadres led Ms Masebo to the main entrance of the courts and the PF Chongwe MP was made to address the cadres within the court grounds and charged that the State should not concentrate on politically fixing perceived enemies but should be working at mending the country’s economic and political affairs.
Ms Masebo said it was good that she was going through the court process and that she hoped those who were accusing her of being corrupt would be ready to prove their accusations in court.
She said the court process was going to reveal a lot of scandals within the Ministry of Tourism stating that those who had caused her arrest should be ready to be witnesses against her.
Ms Masebo claimed that Zambians were awakening from their social and political slumber and that they were not going to be cheated by political slogans that were not providing solutions to the economic challenges Zambians were facing/
“I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the massive support you have given me and it is my prayer that it shall continue to the end of the case because there shall be a lot of things that will be revealed. Your country is under attack but it is heartening that Zambians are awakening and understand what is at play. This matter is not Masebo but the country and they must not concentrate on fixing me but they should fix the many wrong things that are happening in the country,” Ms Masebo said.
The Chongwe parliamentarian was accompanied by her sympathizer, former Lubansenshi Independent member of Parliament Patrick Mucheleka and Chikankanta UPND MP Munji Habenzu who joined her in accusing the PF of having orchestrated her arrest.
Mr Mucheleka claimed that the country was under siege under the PF and that time had come for Zambians to liberate themselves from the yoke of poverty, hunger and political persecution.
He charged that it was unfortunate that those who were speaking for the poor and the voiceless had become victims of political persecution.
Mr Mucheleka told the jubilant cadres that change was coming and that they should be ready for it and avoid what he termed political hooliganism because governing the country was more than just shouting slogans.
He said the tribulations Ms Masebo was going through was meant to make her stronger in her continued political journey and that the UPND should therefore continue supporting her.
And Mr Habeenzu claimed the PF was failing to Govern the country and that was why it was allegedly resorting to intimidation of perceived political opponents.
“The prices of fuel, mealie meal and other basic needs have continued to soar. Zesco has intensified its load shedding and it has been our plea to government to concentrate on finding solutions to these economic challenges. We are not going to achieve anything by hunting and pursuing political opponents,” he said.
Last month, Ms Masebo was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and is facing two counts of abuse of authority of office for allegedly breaching the Ministerial Code of Conduct when she unilaterally cancelled the hunting concessions without following the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA).
Ms Masebo is also facing a charge of abuse of authority of her office after she allegedly breached the Zambia Wildlife Authority Act when she terminated the contracts of ZAWA directors without following procedure.
The case was adjourned to 20th August, 2015 for commencement of trial and would continue on 14th, 15th, and 18th, September 2015.