(By Edwin Mbulo in Sesheke)

HAKAINDE Hichilema has accused President Edgar Lungu’s regime of targeting to eliminate him in Sesheke on Friday.

“This chap attempted an assassination on my life without any provocation. We were holding a peaceful campaign meeting (due to a by-election) in a village, in Sesheke, Western Province. We were almost 35 kilometres away from his [President Lungu’s] own meeting. He sent a group of about 100 heavily armed men who opened heavy fire (including machine guns) at us,” claimed Hichilema. “With God’s grace, I survived and had to hide in the forest, walked/run for eight (8) hours. This chap is ruthless, brutal, a real monster who, if unchecked, will destroy Zambia beyond recognition. We are still establishing how many people, extent of injuries, and their identities.”

As the UPND media team posted pictures and video of Friday’s brutal attack, President Lungu’s press aide Amos Chanda and Hichilema’s deputy press secretary Brian Mwiinga argued in a Whatsapp group Media and Sources.

Chanda wrote: “So in the ‘eight-hour chase and firing into a thick forest’, Brian was able to find time to duck the ‘bullets’ and pick up cartridges and he is able to tell us with precision ‘most of these missed HH’ my foot, perhaps this Sesheke witchcraft story has many followers!”

In response, Mwiinga wrote: “@Amos Chanda Lungu’s Press Aide, you may need a refresher course [for] your duties my brother.

For once, there is need for you to exercise maximise [maximum] restraint as one who once sat in that Journalism class at Evelyn Hone College.

You seem to know this operation too well and I seek your guidance to let us know if this was your again well-orchestrated plan. HH was 40 kilometres East of Sesheke constituency and you, Lungu and your party thugs where [sic] in the West part of the area but came gun blazing at HH and the mere villagers. Surely, you want to defend this myopic action by Lungu and your thugs dressed in police uniform? In your low thinking, when bullets are discharged, they can’t be picked from the scene? What a press aide that Lungu has! Help Lungu make this country governable and not being the misguided advisors. I understand your levels of journalism and perhaps you have never covered war or anything close to that but just to re-jig your mind in case it’s contaminated with corruption; Journalists will always find a way of telling stories even in most difficult environments such as this one you are creating with Lungu.

Guns will be blazing and journalists will be doing their work at the same time, so how can they not duck bullets, how can they not take footage of the bullet cartridges? My friend, for once let’s move with our age, I mean both in this Journalism and public relations field and technology. Don’t be that one dullest press aide who misled his President because of gluttonous desires for people’s lives and killing democracy. Unless you planned this assassination attempt, any further uncoordinated questions? I submit for now.”

And an immigration source told The Mast that police’s use of live ammunition against Hichilema and his supporters had forced several tourists enroute to Zambia from Namibia to return.

The source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the violence on Friday in Maondo village, east of Sesheke had led to loss of revenue by the Zambia Revenue Authority at Katima Mulilo border post.

“The violence of Friday which saw police shoot at unarmed innocent villagers and HH and his entourage has spread like wildfire in Namibia and a lot of tourists are turning back at the border,” the source said.

“What surprised us most is that the police, allegedly accompanied by PF cadres, had to follow HH and his team to Maondo which is over 30 kilometres from Sesheke at Sumungoma turn to Mulobezi and fired live ammunition. We also hear that that caused a lot of truck drivers and other foreign travellers to be stranded in between Maondo and Sesheke and before Maondo from Livingstone.”

The source further indicated that most of the police officers from Sesheke had been transferred on grounds that they were pro-UPND.

“We have new officers who were brought in after the nominations and this has exacerbated violence,” indicated the source.

But Inspector General of police Kakoma Kanganja said his service was concerned with Friday’s political violence in Sesheke.

“We would like to categorically state that we will not tolerate any individuals perpetrating violence and that we will sternly deal with any one that would be found wanting,” warned Kanganja. “The Zambia Police Service wishes to state that no live ammunition was fired by our officers that were dispersing the unruly crowd in Sesheke yesterday [Friday]. We also wish to further clarify that no life was lost yesterday as a result of this fracas. As Zambia Police, we have since reinforced our officers on the ground to deal with any further disturbances in the area. I therefore call upon all police officers to ensure that they use proportionate force in ensuring that violence is brought to a stop. The police will institute an inquiry to bring to book all those that could have perpetuated this violence. We are appealing to the electorates of Sesheke and all political parties participating in the Sesheke bye-election to exercise restraint and tolerance as required in a civilised democratic society during and after the elections.”

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