-Sikazwe warns UPND over Luangwa burial

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Lusaka Province Minister Freedom Sikazwe has
warned that the Patriotic Front (PF) members in Luangwa district will not attend
the burial of seven people that perished in an accident on Sunday if
the opposition UPND becomes uncooperative.

Mr. Sikazwe said the UPND exhibited some signs of antagonism this
morning when some of its members converged at Luangwa Clinic demanding
to get bodies of the deceased for burial.

This was in contrast with government’s position that the burial of
the accident victims should only take place after a post-mortem.

He said arguments that the UPND had authority to decide when and how
to bury its members was disappointing especially that government and
all Zambians were equally affected by the death of the nine people.

Mr. Sikazwe said he was nearly roughed up by some UPND members in Luangwa when he tried to reason with them over government’s concern on the matter.

The UPND has already procured coffins for the burial of the seven accident victims in Kavalamanja tomorrow on Wednesday.

But Mr Sikazwe maintained that for this reason, the PF members may not attend the burial of the UPND members that died on Sunday when the light truck they were travelling in lost control and plunged into a stream.

Mr. Sikazwe also advised bereaved families not to be swayed by people
who were aiming at gaining political mileage out of the unfortunate

About 20 other people sustained injuries and were admitted to Katondwe
mission hospital in Luangwa.

Meanwhile, opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) spokesperson Charles Kakoma has called for restraint from all political parties not to turn the funeral into a campaign.

Mr. Kakoma told ZANIS in a telephone interview in Lusaka today that if the Patriotic Front (PF) government wanted to assist in burying the seven, government should have engaged his party and coordinated the programme instead of hijacking it.

He further explained that it was surprising that government went ahead to take over without consulting the UPND as the seven members that died belonged to the UPND and their respective families.

Mr. Kakoma appealed to politicians to desist from turning the funeral into a political campaign with the view of gaining political mileage.

He stated that some senior UPND members have been sent to Luangwa  to sort out the problem that arose when the party were denied permission by police to collect the remains of the seven by insisting that their bodies belonged to the state.

“Yesterday, we bought coffins, foodstuffs, arranged transport and other logistics to enable us bury our colleagues in a dignified manner but to our utmost disappointment, we were not allowed to get the bodies”, said Mr Kakoma.

“ We have since sent some senior members to sort out the problem and advise when we can bury our colleagues as you know they were our members and belonged to their respective families”, he added.

Mr Kakoma urged politicians to allow the party to bury their members in dignity.