A series of escalating violent attacks unleashed by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party during the Mkaika by-election have prompted the Coalition for the Defence of Democratic Rights (CDDR) to seek international sanctions against prominent members of the Zambian government.
Eyewitness reports and sources indicate to CDDR that on Sept. 4-5, a militia of PF cadres, allegedly organised under the direction of Defence Minister Geofrey Bwayla Mwamba and Deputy Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo, planned several premeditated violent attacks against supporters of the winning candidate.
"This is not the first, second, or third time the PF have incited political violence since coming to power, and the inability of the police to deliver any accountability means that we must target the assets and travel privileges of those responsible," said Robert Amsterdam, international counsel to the CDDR. "We have a situation in which the ruling party is behaving as an criminal organisation, using violence, intimidation, and racketeering to infringe upon basic civil rights such as freedom of speech and assembly."
According to evidence collected by the CDDR, late in the evening on Sept. 4 in Katete District, a PF militia attacked a group of Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) supporters, including Jeremiah Ndlovu, Abraham, and Michael Phiri. Mr. Phiri, who is the elder brother to the defeated PF candidate David Phiri, told local media that the PF militia abducted him by force and brought him to his father's home, where the losing candidate was personally present to supervise the violent assault against his own family member.
According to witnesses, on the following day this same militia allegedly planned premeditated attack in Mkaika against the son of the former president Andrew Banda. In full view of members of media and eyewitnesses, the militia repeatedly assaulted Mr. Banda, using an axe as a weapon. Witnesses tell CDDR that several calls to the police to intervene were ignored. The next day, police prevented him from visiting the hospital for treatment of his injuries, placing him under arrest on assault charges.
"Full responsibility for these illegal acts of violence lie at the feet of President Michael Sata, who has never once spoken out against thuggish behaviour by PF cadres," said Amsterdam. "It is clear that in the face of a landslide defeat in Mkaika, the PF does not offer ideas for leadership, but only resorts to brutal messages of intimidation."
The CDDR announces that evidence of the criminal conduct of the PF will be presented in briefings filed before the United States government, the European Union, and other international organisations in order to explore possible sanctions against individual PF officials, such as travel restrictions.
More information about the CDDR, including the full report to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, can be read on http://cddr-zambia.org.