THE United Party for National Development (UPND) has protested the arrest of two of their officials in Eastern Province who were allegedly beaten by suspected Patriotic Front (PF) cadres for interfering with the registration of voters in Vubwi.
UPND mobilization chairman Request Muntanga has threatened that the UPND is going to take the law in its own hands if the two officials, Mr Paul Thole who is the UPND provincial chairman and Mr Victor Mbuzi, the provincial secretary, were not released.
Mr Muntanga, who is UPND Kalomo member of Parliament, accused the PF of perpetrating violence to instil fear in the electorate in an attempt to rig the general elections next year.
Mr Muntanga said Mr Thole and Mr Mbuzi were allegedly assaulted by PF cadres along with two journalists, Kelvin Phiri of Feel Free Radio station and Peter Sukwa of the Post Newspaper, but the police had instead arrested the UPND officials for reporting the assault.
He alleged that Mr Thole and Mr Mbuzi in the company of Phiri and Sukwa were investigating reports that the PF was conducting a parallel voter registration in Vubwi and Chipangali when they were apprehended and beaten by the ruling party cadres.
Mr Muntanga said the police in Eastern Province were abating violence by failing to arrest the people who assaulted the UPND members, alleging that the police command in the region had ignored President Edgar Lungu’s directive to protect opposition members.
He said the two UPND officials and the two journalists were whistle blowers in the alleged electoral malpractice and should have been protected but were instead arrested.
He charged that the UPND had resolved to start defending itself from political violence and warned that Zambia was at risk of being thrown into chaos if the violence against the opposition was not going to be curbed.
“The PF is conducting an illegal and parallel voter registration exercise in Eastern, North-Western and Western Provinces and we are aware of this.
‘‘But we are deeply angered that the PF cadres over the weekend attacked out party officials who were in the company of journalists investigating the alleged parallel voter registration.
‘‘They beat up the two journalists and out officials. Mr Thole and Mr Mbuzi on Sunday went to police to report that they had been beaten and they were arrested.
‘‘We are warning the PF that the UPND is capable of defending itself and there will be anarchy in this country. The leadership of the PF will be responsible if violence is going to break out across the country,” Mr Muntanga said.
Mr Muntanga claimed that the PF was scared of losing the general elections next year and had allegedly resorted to violence to frighten the voters so that the outcome of the 2016 elections could be in their favour.
The Kalomo parliamentarian has appealed to President Lungu to firmly deal with the perpetrators of violence irrespective of their political affiliation because should there be anarchy in the country, it would affect every citizen.
He said violence did not know tribe and political affiliation and should never be condoned in a country that had known peace since the dawn of independence.
Mr Muntanga also said foreigners who were getting national registration cards and registering as voters would be identified on the polling day and would be dealt with.