Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba has warned Jerabos on the Copperbelt that his party will meet them head-on if they dare disrupt the opposition party’s scheduled meetings in the region.
Mr Mwamba, popularly known as GBM, claimed that the Jerabos, the former illegal miners at Kitwe’s “Black Mountain” who sometimes operate as a vigilante group, have declared the Copperbelt a “no-go zone” for UPND.
But Simeon Kalobo, the leader of the group said even though the group was peaceful, it will not be intimidated by Mr. Mwamba’s threats and intimidation and was ready to meet the UPND to prove Mr. Mwamba that it was not a minority group.
Yesterday, Mr. Mwamba who is UPND vice president for administration, issued a statement that the Jerabos had declared Kitwe a no-go area for the UPND but warned that the group would not manage to foil the party’s programmes because the Jerabos were just a small group of people which the UPND could handle.
He said he was amazed that Mr. Kalobo could be daring the UPND when he was just a leader of a minority group consisting of about 30 members, warning that no one would stop the UPND from visiting the Copperbelt at any time it wished because that was its democratic right.
“It amazes me that Kalobo would be so daring as to threaten the UPND that his group would make Kitwe a no-go area for our party. For now, he probably only commands a small number of followers, maybe 30 and where he gets the authority to block us for carrying out our programmes amazes us.
“Let me make it plain and clear that no man or group shall stop us from carrying out party programmes and campaigns in any part of this country.
“It is our democratic right and we shall exercise it to the fullest without hindrance.
“Mr Kalobo, we shall come to Kitwe and the Copperbelt any time and all the time and we double dare you to carry out your thuggery but be rest assured that we will not sit idle and you will not stand in our way,” Mr. Mwamba warned.
But Mr. Kalobo said Mr. Mwamba’s statement was unfortunate and was only aimed at creating unnecessary agitation on the Copperbelt, adding that the group was not scared of the UPND or Mr. Mwamba himself.
Mr. Kalobo wondered why Mr. Mwamba was bitter with the group and himself in particular because he had been allegedly spreading falsehoods about the group from time to time that it had defected to the ruling Patriotic Front, adding that the Jerabos did not owe anyone an apology for belonging to the PF because it had constitutional rights to do so.
He said the Jerabos were a peaceful group which believed in working hard to sustain its businesses, adding that it was wrong for Mr. Mwamba to provoke a group that had not done anything wrong and that daring the group was “disastrous because it was also equal to the task if provoked’’ as it was not scared of anyone regardless of who they were.
He said people on the Copperbelt knew what the PF government had done for them and that not even machinations by the UPND leadership would change anything ‘‘because the track record is there for all to see that they cannot be trusted’’.
“They are there lying that they will give mining licences to us small-scale miners but the question is: where are they going to get the mines from when they are the same people who sold them?”.