By BENNIE MUNDANDO
THE Zambian High Commission in London has expressed its disappointment to the editorial board of the Sunday Times UK over what it terms a malicious article titled “Zambia’s President tries to kill opponent”.
First secretary for press and public relations at the embassy Abigail Chaponda yesterday said the mission had written to the newspaper categorically stating that the article was malicious and did not portray a true reflection of the situation in the country.
“We feel disappointed that the newspaper sensationalised accusations made by the opposition leader and his political party. Such sensational headings are not just misleading but are in bad taste given the fact that the journalist did not verify her story.
“We take exception to the fact that the newspaper saw it fit to publish false accusations, from the political leader against a sitting Head of State bordering on liable and slander,” read the letter in parts. Ms. Chaponda said contrary to lies peddled by the newspaper, Zambia cherished freedom of assembly and expected that every citizen to respect the rule of law irrespective of their status in society. “We further advise the Sunday Times that while we appreciate and espouse freedom of speech and press freedom, we feel the story has not been balanced and the Sunday Times should have endeavored to get the position of “Government and the police on the matter. In this regard, the Mission is requesting for an urgent meeting with the Sunday Times to discuss the matter and future relations. We wish to reiterate our commitment to responding to any queries from the media on issues relating to Zambia,” she said.
Police in Sesheke on Friday last week discharged teargas canisters to disperse UPND cadres who had initially attempted to block the road that President Lungu’s motorcade was using.
This was after police had advised UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema to leave the area and allow President Lungu to campaign to avoid clashes among rival party cadres since the opposition leader had previously been given time to canvass for votes in the area.
However, Mr. Hichilema refused to leave Sesheke and instead opted to hold a rally in the same area.
Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo said the clash between police and UPND cadres was caused by Mr. Hichilema after ignoring police advice to stay away from the district,
Speaking after the clashes, Mr. Kampyongo said Mr. Hichilema was advised by police on Friday to stay away from the area since he has had his own time to campaign before President Lungu went to the area but that he refused and opted to hold his rally, leading to the clash with the police.
“If Mr. Hichilema continues daring the police, the law will visit him. On Friday, Mr. Hichilema was advised to stay away from the district since he had been given days earlier to campaign so that he could pave way for the Head of State but he refused,” Mr. Kampyongo said.
And police in Sesheke on Saturday quickly moved in to quell a near-fracas when a procession led by a named senior UPND official started blocking roads, including one which was to be used by President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade.
District police commanding officer Shapa Wakung’uma said police moved in to disperse the unruly cadres because they could not endanger the life of the Head of State.
After a failed road blockade, the UPND then went on rampage after invading the PF Maonde Ward camp where they destroyed property and food staffs before burning down the camp.
The cadres then moved in the villages destroying innocent villagers’ homes and shops and beating up PF members they could lay their hands on.