A GROUP of villagers armed with spears, machetes, axes, knobkerries, knives, catapults and stones on Sunday abducted Government officials and a ZANIS crew and damaged their vehicles shortly after President Edgar Lungu addressed a rally in the area.
A ZANIS reporter who was among those abducted narrated that the villagers, believed to be UPND members, waylaid and ambushed the Government officials who were in Bweengwa to cover the President’s rally.
And the Patriotic Front has described as barbaric and uncivilized the violence, blocking of the road and abduction of the Government officials including a ZANIS crew at the weekend.
The ZANIS reporter, who did not want to be named, narrated that soon after the rally and President Lungu had left with his staff and along with Lusaka-based journalists, hell broke loose as the marauding villagers blocked the road, forcing Government officials to retreat to the venue of the rally where they were held hostage for hours.
The reporter said the ZANIS crew comprising journalists, photographers, cameramen and technicians were among those abducted and held hostage.
The reporter said many Government vehicles were smashed and that a Zambia Police Service truck was also damaged while five officers were among the hostages. “Soon after President Lungu had left after addressing a rally, all hell broke loose. An army of villagers armed with spears, pangas, axes, knobkerries, knives, catapults and stones waylaid and ambushed Government officials who were in Bweengwa on the presidential assignment.
‘‘They blocked the road and forced people to retreat to the venue of the rally where they were held hostage for hours before they were released. It was not something good and we have never seen such things before,” the reporter said.
And the PF has accused the UPND of perpetrating political violence and has challenged its leadership to take responsibility for the actions of its cadres.
PF information committee chairperson Sunday Chanda said UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema should condemn the violence that erupted in Bweengwa and take responsibility for the actions of the violent villagers believed to be his supporters.
Mr Chanda said the PF was demanding that Mr Hichilema should gather courage and openly condemn his party members for allegedly engaging in violent acts.
“The PF is calling upon the Church, civil society organizations and Zambians at large to condemn the abduction of Government officials and those from the media immediately after President Lungu’s rally in Bwengwa.
‘‘The behavior is only akin to terrorism and Zambia being a democratic State should not and will not promote this kind of lawlessness,” Mr Chanda said.
Mr Chanda advised the UPND to abandon its violent political culture and adopt a civilized and issued-based political discourse.
He said it was the hope of the ruling party that the police would get to the bottom of the violence in Bweengwa so that the perpetrators could be brought to book.