THE Government has described as thuggery, the action by United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres who on Thursday assaulted a police officer when police were arresting UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.
Consequently, the Government has with immediate effect banned political party cadres from escorting their leaders when they are appearing for questioning at any police station.
This follows the fracas that characterised the arrest of Mr Hichilema for allegedly defaming President Michael Sata.
In a statement in Lusaka yesterday, Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu directed police to investigate thoroughly and bring to book suspected UPND cadres who assaulted a police officer, Adam Banda at Woodlands Police Station.
"This is not only hooliganism but also thuggery," Mr Lungu said.
Unruly UPND cadres on Thursday turned Woodlands Police Station into a battle ground and severely injured Mr Banda during the arrest of their leader.
Mr Hichilema was arrested for allegedly uttering a defamatory statement against Mr Sata during a tour of Kalikiliki Market recently.
Mr Lungu said the escort by party cadres or a mob was banned because it was a recipe for causing unruly behaviour and anarchy.
He advised any summoned person by police to only be escorted by a lawyer of their choice if they opted for one.
"However, using their discretion, the officer in charge will allow the person summoned to be accompanied by their spouse or relative," Mr Lungu said.
He said the ministry would not sit idle by seeing the culture of anarchy prevail and become the order of the day.
"I am charged with the responsibility of ensuring that law and order in the nation is maintained and I will do just that," he said.
He warned that his ministry would not take things lightly or kindly with anybody who interfered with the operations of police officers in the course of their duties.
In the case of the suspected UPND cadres' behaviour, Mr Lungu said, it was unacceptable and inhumane for the cadres to go to an extent of hitting an innocent police officer with a brick in the head.
He said the assault of the police officer by the unruly cadres was regrettable.
The minister said the police should expedite investigations into the matter and bring to book all the culprits.
Mr Banda sustained a deep cut and bled profusely as the opposition leader pleaded with his supporters to be peaceful.
Meanwhile, Hellen Zulu reports that Patriotic Front (PF) youths in Lusaka Province have demanded that UPND leaders be arrested for advocating for full-scale electoral violence through the 'Mapatizya Formula'.
PF Lusaka Province youth chairperson Kennedy Kamba said the violence on police officers by the suspected UPND cadres at Woodlands Police Station was a dress rehearsal for the so-called Mapatizya Formula.
Mr Kamba said the UPND had failed to differentiate the 'Mapatizya Formula' from the violence they had been perpetrating during elections.
"We demand that police should arrest UPND leaders who are advocating for full-scale electoral violence through the Mapatizya Formula.
"We have observed that the UPND has failed to differentiate the Mapatizya Formula from the violence they have been perpetrating during elections," Mr Kamba said.