Armed thugs sponsored and sent by the ruling Patriotic Front have beaten up people who assembled at a church in Matero to demonstrate against the removal of subsidies on fuel and corn.
The demonstrators first gathered at Bible Gospel Church Matero congregation to pray before beginning the procession.
Before prayers began, PF thugs armed with pangas, axes and hoe-handles forced their way into the Church and began assaulting people indiscriminately.
Bishop John Mambo was badly beaten and rushed to hospital.
A ZNBC news crew was attacked and camera destroyed. People were forced to flee through windows in the ensuing commotion.
MMD vice president and Solwezi MP Lucky Mulusa were in attendance but managed to escape unhurt.
Overseer of the Church Bishop Peter Ndlhovu later told reporters that what has happened is unacceptable.
Wielding machetes and axe handles, supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front, some clad in party T-shirts, stormed the church hall where the former and late president Frederick Chiluba used to worship.
“Why are you here and what is your problem you people? You will be sorted out,” a young government supporter who appeared inebriated, was heard shouting.
They immediately started beating up the protestors. A cameraman for the state-run broadcaster (ZNBC) was also assaulted, while the AFP reporter fled through a window.
Two weeks ago, police arrested 31 university students who had been detained on the president’s orders after they staged protests against the government’s decision to scrap food subsidies. They were later freed.
BIGOCA church overseer Peter Ndlovu told reporters after the attack that the church was a place of worship and should be respected.
“This is a place of worship and people should not come here with axes to kill worshippers. Look at how my brother has been harmed, it’s unacceptable” said Ndlovu.
He urged Sata to fulfil his campaign promises.
“The man should just fulfil the promise. We are not against him but we want things to be done correctly.”
Michael Kaingu, vice president of Zambia’s main opposition party Movement for Multiparty Democracy, who was accompanied by a lawmaker, was also inside the church, but escaped unharmed.
“They came into power through deceit,” charged Kaingu. “We won’t be cowed by their arrests and harassment,” he said.
Sata swept to power in 2011 on a populist vote, promising to end poverty, but his new move to scrap food subsidies could hit the poor the hardest and fuel inflation.
In 1990, then president Kenneth Kaunda’s government was rocked by food riots, which led to his ousting in elections the following year.