I have called this press conference to fulfil a promise I made to address the media regarding the case of United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres who attacked me at Sky FM radio station in Monze last year on 18th March 2016.
NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME TO TALK ABOUT THE ATTACK
When I was attacked by three known UPND cadres I gave a few interviews answering questions about how the attack happened and who I thought was behind it. I was categorical that the attackers namely Kelvin Conhill aged 38, Lawrence Sakala aged 38 and Ackson Kambani Miyoba 42 were known UPND cadres. Some reporters aligned to UPND asked for proof that the trio were UPND. Two of them even insinuated that I was lying and engaging in cheap politics by accusing the UPND of being behind the attack.
Of-course the UPND vehemently denied knowing the attackers and said those who attacked me were PF members who differed with me over money. Many of you will remember that the UPND set in motion their propaganda machinery and manufactured a number of malicious stories around the issue.
My own mother called me and complained about our Deputy Secretary General Madam Mumbi Phiri because of a story that was attributed to her saying I was to blame for the attack because instead of going where the party sent me I ended up at my girlfriend’s house in a compound where I got beaten up.
Upon wondering what my mother was talking about she explained that her neighbour showed her a story on social media quoting Mrs Phiri as such. I took time to explain to my mother about the animal called propaganda and that the story was malicious. I convinced her that Mrs Phiri never said such a thing and would never be part of such cheap lies. My mother was happy after getting the truth but still sad that she was made to believe such a story and succumbed to being misled.
Upon realising the extent of the propaganda I decided to stop commenting on the matter knowing too well that one day the truth would be laid bare and that justice would be done at the right time.
I have decided to speak now because the truth has been known and justice has been done. What I mean is that my attackers namely Kelvin Conhill, Lawrence Sakala and Ackson Kambani Miyoba who had been appearing in the Monze Magistrates Court were found guilty of assaulting me and stealing K 4,100 which was in my wallet together with my National Registration Card (NRC) and some business cards. So on Thursday March 23, 2017 the trio were jailed for 30 months which is two years six months. Conhill was further slapped with a jail sentence of 18 months (one year six months) for robing me. The two sentences for Conhill will run concurrently.
It is important at this stage to explain why I have decided to include in my statement the issue of the denial by the UPND and the propaganda that was manufactured to mislead the public and scandalise my name. My motive is to reiterate what we have been saying that the UPND top leadership exhibits dangerous levels of dishonesty when their members cause violence.
Mr Hichilema and fellow top leaders have been refusing to condemn violence perpetrated by their violent members by simply claiming that they don’t know the perpetrators. And when they deny knowing their violent members they use their propaganda outlets especially on-line publications and other social media outlets to mount a slander campaign to scandalise innocent people and misleading the public about straightforward issues.
This is unacceptable. It is immoral and it should attract condemnation from all right thinking Zambians.
MY ATTACKERS WERE BODYGUARDS OF MR HAKAINDE HICHILEMA
The three thugs that assaulted me at Sky FM are well known UPND members from Monze who are also Mr Hichilema’s bodyguards. During that time when I was attacked one of those three thugs, Cornhill lived within the premises of Mr Hichilema’s residence as one of his trusted bodyguards.
No rational Zambian can believe that their attack which was well planned and coordinated could have been done without the knowledge of their boss Mr Hichilema. The truth is that the UPND leader knew about the attack.
As a matter of fact, after attacking me, the trio left Monze for Lusaka probably to come and report that they had accomplished the mission and to receive congratulations and encouragement. Few days later they travelled back to Monze and presented themselves to the police. That is how they got arrested.
What does this say about the UPND leader Mr Hichlema who has been accusing others of violence? It says that Mr Hichilema condones political violence. He sees nothing wrong with violence perpetrated against his political enemies especially those that he detests.
This means that Mr Hichilema has no moral right to condemn political violence. Moreover, Mr Hichilema doesn’t respect the right of citizens to free speech, also called freedom of expression which is a hallmark of democracy. And since the attack happened at a radio station where I was just recording a statement it follows that Mr Hichilema has no regard for media freedom.
What no one should doubt is that my attack was a form of intimidation on the reporters that were interviewing me. Therefore, we urge the media to oppose this barbaric behaviour and refuse to be intimidated by thugs such as Mr Hichilema’s bodyguards who are now serving their sentences at Mazabuka prison.
SOURCE OF THE IMPUNITY OF HH’S BODYGUARDS
Many people would wonder how known UPND cadres including the bodyguards of Mr Hichilema committed crimes in broad daylight in a country of laws. The reason is that Conhill and his friends believed that Mr Hichilema was going to become Republican President after August 11, 2016.
They became notorious and committed crimes of political violence with impunity while boasting that their leader Mr Hichilema would become President and the cases would go nowhere. Truth be told, when I went to identify my attackers their supporters openly kept warning me that they would deal with me after 11th August. Even in court Conhill tried to intimidate me but the magistrate maintained order.
I have decided to talk about this to make peace loving Zambians understand that had UPND won the presidential election last year many of us would have become targets of retribution for no cause at all.
As a matter of fact even UPND callers on many radio programmes around the country especially in Lusaka keep warning of retribution and sending PF members to jail when they form government. When such people are challenged to explain the crimes for which they would arrest PF members they fail to explain.
So we should thank God that UPND lost otherwise they would have mounted a vicious witch hunt which would have endangered the peace we have enjoyed in Zambian even during periods of power transition.
We wish to put it on record that as a party we highly commend Mr Norbert Zulu, the Resident Magistrate (RM) from Choma who concluded the case and delivered justice. He refused to succumb to threats and various forms of intimidation. He also resisted intimations of bribery to acquit Mr Hichilema’s bodyguards or at least give them suspended sentences.
This is important to us because our members in Southern province especially Monze and surrounding areas have suffered attacks perpetrated by known UPND thugs including the trio who assaulted me. The attacks have been done with impunity and a kind of notorious conduct that has left our members and would be members intimidated. As a matter of fact, our failure to grow the party in Southern province is partly due to the violence that is unleashed on our innocent members and those that express interest to join us by attending our meetings, to mention but a few.
Against this background, we wish to remind the public about what happened when President Edgar Chagwa Lungu visited Bweengwa near Monze ahead of the August 2016 Presidential and General Elections. You may be interested to know that Bweengwa is a place where Mr Hichilema boasts of having more than 15,000 relatives. Shortly after the presidential rally UPND thugs went on rampage smashing government vehicles and attacking innocent people who were walking or driving to their homes after listening to President Lungu’s message of unity and development.
So the incarceration of Mr Hichilema’s violent bodyguards gives us hope that other equally violent UPND cadres in Southern province will learn a lesson and stop attacking our members and innocent citizens.
We also wish to commend the police for their professionalism exhibited in the manner they protected us from further attacks when I went to identify the culprits and later when we went to testify in court. If it had not been for the uncompromising stance by the police it would have been very difficult for the trial to take off.
Last but not the least, I wish to commend President Lungu for his love and care. When I was attacked he was out of the country but few minutes after the assault he called me to find out how I was and offer words of encouragement. He advised me to do X-ray tests to determine the extent of my injuries especially in the ribs where Mr Hakainde’s bodyguards took turns kicking after I fell to the floor during the attack.
I also wish to thank senior party officials, church leaders and friends that visited me during the two weeks when I was grounded nursing injuries.
I can’t forget to mention the leader of Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) Madam Edith Nawakwi who also called shortly after word went round about my ordeal. She called the radio station line and demanded to speak to me. I must be honest and mention that the way she spoke to me at a time when she was very critical of our party and leader President Lungu made me conclude one thing that she is a leader with a good heart.
Moreover I must admit that I sampled her integrity regarding condemning violence even when the victims are your bitter competitors. In this vein my prayer is that Mr Hchilema can learn something from leaders like President Lungu and Madam Nawakwi.
The public may be interested to learn something about the true character of Mr Hichilema as exposed in a number of simple interactions. When I was arrested in Kasama in January 2014 and I was leader of Alliance for Better Zambia (ABZ) Mr Hichilema called me and offered solidarity. I was just arrested not beaten. But when I was beaten by his own bodyguards he never called. The first time I met him after the assault was at the reconciliation meeting called by Church Mother Bodies at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka on March 29th 2016. Mr Hichilema shamelessly refused to accept my greeting in full view of Arch-Bishop Mpundu, one of the convenors.
In conclusion we wish to reiterate our condemnation of political violence and indeed all forms of violence. Zambia is a democracy. As such, we should all value free speech and exhibit high levels of tolerance even under extreme provocation. Moreover, we should always endeavour to use civil ways of resolving our differences, personal or national in nature.
Let us all do more to make our democracy a shining example. Let us reject politics of bitterness, anger and violence. Let us love one another and make progress in consummating our declaration as Christian Nation.
God bless our nation.
I thank you all.