THE United Party for National Development (UPND) has decided to ignore a presidential directive to ban the wearing of berettes by political party cadres and has directed its cadres to continue using their barrettes which are often associated with political violence.
But the Patriotic Front (PF) has described the UPND as a political party that was determined to continue fanning violence in the country through its cadres who are often dressed in red berettes to intimidate cadres from other political parties.
UPND deputy spokesperson Edwin Lifwekelo has instructed cadres in the opposition political party against abandoning their berettes stating that they formed part of the uniform for the party.
President Lungu has directed the PF cadres to stop wearing berettes and ordered the Zambia Police Service to rid the streets and trading places of political cadres who were in the habit of terrorizing marketeers and minibus drivers.
But the UPND says it is not going to abandon the use of berettes which had become a symbol of political violence in the country claiming that the directive by the PF leadership was purely an intra-party matter which could not affect the UPND.
Mr Lifwekelo said in a statement that the police should not misinterpret the directive from the PF to mean that the UPND should also be stopped from using berettes.
But PF Lusaka Province youth chairman Kennedy Kamba said it was not surprising that the UPND was resisting to stop using the berettes because the opposition political party did not believe in the values of peace and violent-free politics. Mr Kamba said there was need for the UPND to heed President Lungu’s directive that political party cadres should not be using berettes because such headgear was associated with violence amongst cadres.
“President Lungu has always been preaching peace and condemned violence wherever it has occurred. The President has condemned violence within the PF and his directive that we should stop using berettes is a clear testimony that the Head of State abhors violence and it was our expectation that the UPND was going to heed the advice. But we are not surprised that the UPND leadership is directing its cadres to continue using the brrettes because that is a political party that does not believe in peace and violence-free political activities,” Mr Kamba said.
Mr Kamba said President Lungu was a leader who cherished peace and respected democracy and did not want political party cadres to create a political environment which was a recipe of violence.
And Mr Lifwekelo has appealed to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to consider halting the voter registration exercise in all regions where the National Registration Cards department is currently issuing NRCs. Mr Lifwekelo alleged that the issuing of NRCs was being done in a discriminatory manner with the view of disadvantaging the opposition political parties. He threatened that the UPND was going to seek the intervention of the courts of law if the ECZ was not going to halt the voter registration exercise in areas where the Ministry of Home Affairs was conducting the issuance of NRCs.
Mr Lifwekelo said in a statement that the registration of voters should be halted until after the issuance of NRCs by the Ministry of Home Affairs was completed in all the remaining areas where the exercise was still going on.
He stated that the UPND was of the strong suspicion that the issuance of NRCs in areas where the opposition was strong was being conducted in a chaotic manner which he claimed was meant to disfranchise supporters and potential voters of the opposition.
Mr Lifwekelo said Government was aware that a lot of first-time-voters particularly the youths were eager to register as voters and therefore desperate to obtain NRCs but that there was a danger that they could be disfranchised if the chaotic voter registration exercise was not stopped.