Police and party cadres

What happened at Woodlands Police Station yesterday was totally unacceptable.

The entire fracas was inevitable and therefore contrived. There was nothing spontaneous about it. It was planned.

From the moment that UPND leaders sent out text messages some from very senior offices calling on their members to assemble for the mother of all rallies at the Police station, it became obvious that a violent confrontation was inevitable.

It would have been a miracle for the occasion to have ended peacefully. This is not the first time that violence has erupted at the Police station in similar circumstances.

Barely four years ago, Police clashed with Patriotic Front cadres who accompanied their leaders summoned for questioning at the same Police station. They suffered the same fate.

It is most unrealistic, bordering on insensitivity and callousness to expect a restive, emotional and clearly agitated crowd to maintain order in circumstances of high political drama.

The tragedy, as usual is that innocent people at the Woodlands Shopping mall and nearby Woodlands School were affected by teargas and the stampede that followed the fracas.

Whoever called the rally must have known that hundreds of cadres would be bussed to the Police station which is adjacent to public facilities and that a real danger of violence and chaos was inevitable.

That is why it is not difficult to conclude that this was a calculated ploy intended to elicit negative publicity to promote the cause of the opposition.

This was uncalled for as it could have been avoided. The confrontation would have been avoided if the advice from the Police was heeded.

For a start there was widespread uproar and condemnation when Wynter Kabimba, then Secretary General of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) accompanied by a horde of cadres invaded the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) offices where he was summoned for questioning.

That the UPND leadership decided to declare the event as a mass rally to which all members were invited was a grave error that exposed innocent souls to harm and injury.

We have the text messages that said as much.

We had warned of the confrontation long before it took place because the sequence of event pointed to an inevitable outbreak of violence.

Unless circumstances change this may not even be the last time that the Police clash with political cadres in contested situations. It is for this reason among others that Police have a riot police section to deal with the breakdown of the law.

What happened at Woodlands yesterday was not only unpatriotic but also went to show the extent to which the opposition political party was prepared to dare law enforcers.

 The arrest of 10 UPND members was equally inevitable.

This is because summoning of UPND vice president for administration Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba to Police to answer questions on the circumstances which led to the arrest of 19 people who were found at his premises, some with weapons was within the law.

When Police summoned Mr Mwamba, they made it clear that there was no need for him to invite cadres.

 But the top leadership of UPND was upbeat about the call out and encouraged their cadres to show ‘solidarity’.

And the result was the clash between Police and the UPND cadres.

All political players should allow the Police to carry out their duties to ensure a peaceful election in the next few months.

Political party cadres should market their policies rather than engage in physical confrontation which does not add any value to the democratic dispensation.

It is not in dispute that running battles with the Police because of cadre trouble does not add value to enrichment of Zambia’s democracy.

The Police should be allowed to perform their duties in a professional manner.

Categorized | Editorial

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