UNITED Party for National Development (UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has condemned the continued violence and retribution against his supporters and asked President Edgar Lungu to prevail upon Patriotic Front cadres promote peace and unity in the country.
And a Soweto market trader Agness Ndhlovu yesterday wept as she narrated her ordeal of how PF cadres allegedly brutally assaulted her and her children when she delivered her merchandise to the market on Saturday.
Mr Hichilema disclosed that he wrote to President Lungu soon after he assumed office asking him to stop the violence across the country which he said was being perpetrated by the ruling party against the UPND members.
Addressing the media at the UPND secretariat yesterday, Mr Hichilema said trading places should never be restricted to members of the ruling party because that was a recipe for violence and anarchy in the country.
Mr Hichilema accused the police of working with the ruling party in abetting criminal acts such as the beating up of citizens suspected of belonging to the opposition political parties.
He said during his campaigns in the presidential election last month, he condemned violence and that he had continued condemning the scourge but that he was angry that both Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani and the Government were paying lip service to his complaints.
Mr Hichilema said the UPND had reported more than 100 cases of violence to the police but that no arrests had been made yet Madam Libongani had continued assuring that the police would arrest any political party cadre involved in violent activities irrespective of political affiliation.
“Yesterday (Saturday), a woman who has been trading at Soweto market was attacked by a known PF cadre, who is the chairman of the ruling party in the market. They ransacked the truck that was delivering her merchandise to the market, beat her up, dragged her in the mud and told her she had been expelled from the market.
“This is unacceptable and I am asking President Lungu to stop the rot. He ordered that the police should arrest any party cadre harassing and maiming our members but as I am talking this Bright Mumba is not arrested.
Markets are public places where every citizen has the right to trade and we must end this culture of vengeance, retribution, violence and other divisive acts,” Mr Hichilema said.
On January 28, Mr Hichilema wrote to President Lungu in which he expressed his disappointment to what he termed unbridled violence by the PF cadres against UPND supporters.
He said in the letter that UPND members were being hunted, attacked and their properties damaged while some were evicted from trading places on account that they were supporting the opposition political party.
Mr Hichilema said he was disappointed that President Lungu had not responded to his letter while violence against his supporters had escalated as the police had allegedly decided to play a partisan role.
He said that when former president Levy Mwanawasa took over the MMD, he managed to stop political violence because he firmly believed in peace and unity but that the scourge resurfaced when the PF took over Government.
Mr Hichilema also appealed to Vice-President Inonge Wina to speak against violence targeted at women, saying that women were the worst hit by the hardships caused by poor governance.
And Ms Ndhlovu narrated that she was attacked by more than 10 cadres who beat her with planks before dragging her in the mud at Soweto market.
In between sobs, Ms Ndhlovu said she had been trading at Soweto market for the last 30 years and she had seen how women suffer from political violence, adding that she was terrified with the manner cadres were harassing people with impunity.
She said one of her sons was beaten, abducted and taken to Misisi police station where he was accused of having attacked the ruling party members.