ALERT United Party for National Development (UPND) supporters in Livingstone this morning impounded and searched eight new Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) trucks which were accompanied by State Police on suspicion that the trucks were carrying materials for rigging elections.
The search, which was conducted by the Police and UPND cadres from morning up to around mid-day at the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) Port Office, revealed that seven trucks were empty while one truck was carrying spares for the rest of the trucks.
At the end of the search, UPND resolved to send a team of officials to accompany the trucks alongside the Police to Lusaka to ensure that nothing was put in them along the way.
Southern Province Commissioner of Police Godwin Phiri said the convoy of trucks started off to Lusaka at12:55 hours and UPND supporters were accompanying the trucks.
Mr Phiri said the outcome of the search had vindicated both ECZ and the Police and warned that all acts of lawlessness would be met with force.
And addressing party supporters after a successful search, UPND Livingstone campaign manager Christopher Syamwenya said his party was satisfied that the trucks were not carrying materials for rigging the elections.
Mr Syamwenya told the cheering UPND supporters to remain alert and vigilant so safeguard the votes.
“We must continue to be vigilant to ensure a free and credible election. We have advised that the trucks should proceed to Lusaka since they don’t have suspicious materials.
“Our party officials will escort these to Lusaka and they will meet other UPND officials in Kafue and Lusaka to beef up the escort team,” he said.
Mr Syamwenya however blamed the Livingstone police for not handling the matter professionally.
“When the trucks arrived in the morning, local residents and UPND supporters rushed to the scene to see what was inside the trucks but the local police responded by firing teargas and shot a boy Owen Mupika.
“This boy was rushed to Livingstone Central Hospital where he was operated and he is still admitted to Hospital,” Mr Syamwenya said.
Some UPND cadres at the scene also claimed that they had a video on alleged the police shooting of the boy.
In his reaction to the claims by UPND, Mr Phiri said the police acted to disperse violent cadres after they were attacking motorists and that one person known as Own Mupika, 34, fell while running away from police and sustained bruises.
Mr Phiri said Mupika was undergoing treatment at Livingstone Central Hospital and he was expected to be discharged.
Earlier, Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) Spokesperson Chris Akufuna has expressed ignorance over the eight newly bought trucks by the commission being impounded by the opposition UPND supporters in Livingstone, Reports Pan African African Radio Journalist Hermit Hachilonde.
The trucks have caused anxiety in Livingstone town such that some suspected UPND cadres have started protesting.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Akufuna said the eight trucks are new trucks for Electoral Commission of Zambia ordered from South Africa to be used in ferrying of election materials.
Mr. Akufuna has since stated that the trucks will be opened to enable those suspicious to check what is inside.
“How can I know am in lusaka! The commission bought trucks from south Africa, they are coming to Lusaka via katima mulilo boarder post, if they suspect anything let them open the trucks and verify” he said
Meanwhile, Zambia Police Deputy Spokesperson Esther Mwata Katongo explained that when the eight trucks reached Sesheke, UPND cadres became suspicious and demanded to check what was inside and after checking through , they discovered that there was nothing in the containers.
She noted that the trucks proceeded and when they reached Livingstone, UPND cadres begun protesting burning tyres on roads demanding that the trucks be opened.
Ms Katongo urged political parties to avoid causing anarchy over speculations.
Ms Katongo said there was need for political parties to remain calm and follow procedures in instances where they had doubt.
“The said eight new trucks for ECZ, which are for ferrying election materials, were ordered from South Africa and they passed through Katima Mulilo Border Post.
“When the trucks reached Sesheke, UPND cadres because suspicious and demanded to check inside but they found nothing. When the trucks reached Livingstone, cadres began protesting and burnt tyres on the road demanding for the trucks to be opened.
“ECZ allowed the trucks to be opened and they did not find anything but empty containers. ECZ has also allowed those who want to escort the trucks to Lusaka in the spirit of eliminating suspicion,” Ms Katongo said.