17 July 2010

Zambia: 'Banda's Rally Was Cancelled Due to Violence'

THE Lusaka High Court yesterday heard that President Rupiah Banda's planned rally for Mufumbwe Boma was cancelled because of violence prior to the April 29 parliamentary by-election.

Before High Court Judge Phillip Musonda was MUVI television technical director, Daddy Chitalu, 35, of 307/85 John Howard Township in Lusaka, who during cross-examination said President Banda was scheduled to hold a public rally but it was cancelled because of violence.

This was in a matter where losing MMD candidate in the election Mulondwe Muzungu is petitioning the election of United Party for National Development (UPND) Elliot Kamondo's election as member of Parliament.

"The president was supposed to have a rally but because of violence, it was cancelled, we were supposed to have covered six places but we managed to cover five. When we reached Mufumbwe, everything was cool and when we wanted to go to town we found that the roads were blocked," Mr Chitalu said.

Mr Chitalu said since the violence was sporadic, the MUVI television crew had to seek refuge at the police station but during the night of the polls, they were camped at the civic centre.

He said despite the assurance from Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde that the elections would be peaceful, the opposite was the case.

Mr Chitalu said this when questioned by the respondent's lawyer Jack Mwiimbu, who said Mr Kabonde assured the electorate a day before the election that the voting would be peaceful.

In response, Mr Chitalu said the police were not in any way engaged in the violence but were actually curbing anarchy. He said the violence was among MMD, UPND and UNIP cadres.

"The police were only stopping the fight. When stopping the fight, they were whipping. From what I saw, they were stopping people from fighting by beating them. MMD, UPND and UNIP were fighting," Mr Chitalu said.

Mr Chitalu said from the happenings in Mufumbwe, it was clear the role of the police was to protect and that was the reason why MUVI television crew had to seek refuge from police officers.

He said this during re-examination by Attorney General Abyudi Shonga, who asked him to state the role that the police were playing.

"The role of the police was to make sure that the situation was calm. Without the police, something else could have happened. They blocked us from going to certain areas for our own safety," Mr Chitalu said.

Another witness, Bwanga Bwalya told the court that his bus which was ferrying MMD cadres was damaged by suspected UPND cadres.

Mr Bwalya, 25 of 101 New Kaunda Square, said he went to Mufumbwe and while there, his brother-in-law, Stephen Masumba asked him to help cover the campaigns.

Mr Masumba, who was co-assistant campaign manager for MMD, assigned Mr Bwalya to ferry MMD officials using his bus.

The bus had its wind screen shattered when the fight between suspected MMD and UPND supporters ensued.

And Justice Musonda advised both the appellant and respondent to consult their clients so as not to inconvenience witnesses that were coming from far-flung areas.

Justice Musonda said there were witnesses who came from far areas and it would be wrong for both parties to be constantly asking for adjournments.

The hearing continues.

And at the magistrates' court, the hearing into the inquiry of the death of former Ministry of Health permanent secretary, Gavin Silwamba was adjourned to August 13.

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