My scary encounter with political hooligans

Machete Wielding PF cadres
Machete Wielding PF cadres

HAVE you ever reached a point of zero option, the literal dead end where survival is seemingly not a possibility? For some, it may just be conjecture but for me, it was the stark truth.
I sat in the front seat of a 4×4 pickup on a narrow road deep in the jungles of Mulobezi in Western Province as the vehicle rambled, leaving a cloud of dust behind it.


In the rear seat was Davies Chama, the Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general, whose mission in the district was to drum up support for his party’s candidate in the June 30, 2015 parliamentary by-election.


His aide-de-camp sat by his side on this somewhat torturous trip from Lusaka to the typically rural set-up of Mulobezi, one of the new districts in that province.


It was Saturday, June 6, 2015 and the weather was forgiving. We had been on the road for more than 11 hours before rolling into Mulobezi for Mr Chama to link up with the PF team that had been campaigning for Patricia Mulasikwanda.


Having taken a meal in Livingstone and somehow washed it down, it was expected that one would take a nap, trusting the man behind the wheel would not follow suit.


We left Livingstone for Mulobezi at 13:00 hours and entered the new district at 17:30 hours.
On arrival we immediately proceeded to a place called Machile, where the PF had a meeting but we found that the campaign team had just finished addressing the electorate and was about to go to another place to address another rally.


But while Mr Chama was being greeted by PF supporters who welcomed him at Machile, we saw a Toyota Hilux stop at the area where we had stopped but left when its occupants noticed that it was the PF secretary general who had arrived in Mulobezi.


We didn’t know its registration number and the one who was driving it because it had stopped at a distance.
After spending minutes with PF supporters, Mr Chama asked the campaign manager to give us someone to accompany us so that we could go to the campaign centre.


We were given three people, one of them I only knew as a Mr Lombe who sat with Mr Chama while the two PF supporters sat at the back of the vehicle, one of them clad in the PF regalia and the other in a plain T-shirt.


We started off to the campaign centre. Mr Chama was getting more information from Mr Lombe on how the campaigns were going while I kept listening in to their conversation.
As we were going we approached a curve and suddenly saw that three vehicles had blocked the road.
The vehicles were facing where we were coming from. At first I thought they wanted us to give way, but I only realised that it was an ambush and that we were under attack when I saw that the people who blocked the road were wearing United Party for National Development (UPND) regalia.


Others were wearing the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) uniform.
At this point, I realised that it was an ambush and before we could ponder the next move the cadres started advancing towards where we had stopped, wielding machetes, knives and axes.
I immediately realised that the cadres were not only interested in attacking us but also in killing us.


Within a minute, the two PF cadres who sat at the back of the vehicle were severely attacked and were almost stabbed with knives when they were thrown to the ground.
The thugs, who were over 20 in number, were heard shouting “tiyeni tibapaye [let us kill them]”.
The two PF cadres shouted for help and pleaded with the attackers to spare their lives.


“Musatipaye tipelekezachabe ba SG [don’t kill us we are just escorting the SG],” they screamed.
The assailants quickly shifted their attention to those of us who were in the vehicle and immediately came to me thinking I was the PF secretary general because I was sitting in front with the driver.
They tried to open the door, but at this point the driver had already locked the doors. The attackers were shouting, “Let us kill the SG so that we see what the PF will do in Mulobezi.”


I prayed to God to spare my life because I was not ready to die, but while I was deep in prayer Mr Chama’s aide-de-camp produced a pistol to fire a warning shoot but the thugs became too wild and almost tried to smash the windows of our vehicle with axes and machetes.
Despite firing a warning shot, the attackers did not retreat but instead decided to regroup and again charged at us with the same offensive weapons.


It was at this point that the driver decided to fire another warning shot, but the knife and machete-carrying thugs could not retreat again.
This forced Mr Chama’s bodyguard to shoot one of them in the buttocks, forcing them to scamper in different directions.


The aid-de-camp captured the cadre whom he had shot on the buttocks and decided to follow one of the vehicles that had blocked us as it sped off immediately after the vicious attack.
The driver of the ‘fleeing’ vehicle headed towards the same direction we were heading to, and the aide-de-camp kept chasing him because we wanted to get the registration number of the vehicle.


Luckily, there was a truck carrying diesel in front and because of the narrow road the fleeing driver failed to overtake it and we were able to read his vehicle’s registration number, which was ALD 9469.
When he approached Sichili Police Post in Mulobezi, we also arrived to report the matter while carrying the cadre who had been shot.
It was established that the owner of the vehicle was Sesheke UPND lawmaker Siyauya Sianga.
When Mr Sianga’s vehicle was searched in our presence the police found a cache of machetes, an axe and a pistol with seven rounds of ammunition.


Mr Sianga was detained together with the people he was with in the vehicle.
What happened at the scene where we were attacked was like I was watching an action movie, but I was too confused to believe it because that was the first time for me to travel to Mulobezi and to be attacked in such a manner.
Had it not been for God’s favour and His Grace, we could have died and people could have been mourning by now.
And I hope that what happened to us will not happen to anyone in future because elections, be it parliamentary, general or presidential, are not there for people to start perpetrating violence or inflicting pain on others, but to promote peace and unity through the sale of different political ideologies.