Police in Western Province have said roadblocks mounted in Longe area and at Katunda junction in Kaoma are meant to curb a proliferation of offensive weapons into the area.
Reacting to opposition United Party for National Development (UPND)’s concern over an increase of the police presence in the area, Western Province police commissioner Lombe Kamukoshi said the police need to verify that people do not bring offensive weapons in the area where parliamentary and ward by-elections are being held in Mangango and Luampa, respectively.
UPND candidate for the Mangango by-election Godwin Putu said the decision by the police to mount checkpoints was meant to intimidate the opposition supporters, an assertion the police dismissed as false saying there was no segregating when carrying out the searches.
Mr Putu said Patriotic Front (PF) cadres are being allowed to cross at will while the rest of the people are being denied their freedom of movement.
But Ms Kamukoshi urged the opposition party to lodge a formal written complaint to her office so that their grievances can be addressed, insisting that all travellers to the area are being subjected to the search regardless of their party allegiances.
Mr Putu said Western Province is a peaceful area as evidenced by the incident-free by-elections in Mitete, which should be replicated in the Mangango polls.
And UPND assistant campaign manager Kenny Ndumba said the party will not be unsettled by any action by the law enforcers and any attempt by the police to crack down the opposition in the run-up to the by-election will be met by resistance.
Mr Ndumba said the searches people are being subjected to at Longe and Katunda are meant to suppress the citizens’ freedom of movement and instil fear amongst the masses especially that the relevant stakeholders were not consulted over the decision to mount the roadblocks.
He said such undertakings breed discontent and suspicion, adding that the UPND would like to see a situation where a cordial relationship exists between the police and opposition political parties.
Meanwhile, Mr Ndumba has alleged that PF campaign manager Obvious Mwaliteta has been peddling lies that Mr Putu was a grade two drop-out when the UPND candidate had actually completed his grade twelve and records are there for verification.
He said the PF should desist from politics of character assassination and instead tell the people what they have done in the area as the UPND equally has a dossier on Mr Mwaliteta’s educational background but does not want to use it as a basis for campaigning.
Mr Ndumba said during the campaigns in Mangango, Mr Mwaliteta was constantly reminding the electorate the UPND aspirant was born in Kabompo as though the district is not part of Zambia.
Mr Mwaliteta could not be reached for a comment by press time as his phone was outside coverage in the vast Mangango constituency.
Zambia Daily Mail