By CHARLES CHISALA
FOLLOWING the fatal shooting incident involving rival campaign teams from the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) conflicting statements have flooded the media.
Two versions have emerged: the first is that a known PF cadre shot the UPND cadre while the second is that a UPND cadre who was firing at a motor vehicle carrying unarmed PF officials, mostly women, accidentally shot his fellow UPND cadre who had stolen a hand bag from a female PF official and was trying to flee with it.
The shot UPND cadre was found lying on the ground with the hand bag he had allegedly snatched.
A UPND cadre only identified as Gadhafi died after being shot in the head during the fracas as the two parties campaigned in the Thursday Kaoma council chairman by-election.
A private tabloid gave a UPND member of Parliament a free full page on which he gave his lengthy version of the shooting story.
In his sympathy-seeking account, the MP accused the PF of killing his party’s member.
While in Kaoma, President Edgar Lungu condemned the violence and directed police to arrest and prosecute those involved regardless of which political party they belonged to.
Shortly after the incident, UPND president Hakainde Hichilema issued a scathing statement in which he called the PF “thugs” and ordered his cadres to “kindly defend” themselves should they come under attack from the ruling party.
Many people have, however, condemned Mr Hichilema’s statement saying it has the potential to fan more political violence. They have urged him to tone down and promote peace.
Hot FM radio station belatedly gave the PF a chance to give its side of the story.
During the Breakfast Show programme the presenters called PF deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri, who was at the scene and was caught up in the skirmish.
Here are excerpts of a distraught Ms Phiri’s eyewitness account:
Hot FM: We have on the line PF deputy secretary general madam Mumbi Phiri. Good morning.
Phiri: Good morning mwebana (children).
Hot FM: Good morning.
Phiri: Aha, nimwapusukeni (it was a narrow escape).
Hot FM: Madam, you were in Kaoma on Sunday when the incident happened. Just run us through. What exactly happened?
Phiri: I was there. We moved from Mongu at 06:00 hours to go to Kaoma and we arrived around 03:00 hours, and we divided ourselves. We were the three of us: myself, Honourable Kampamba Chewe, Honourable Olipa Phiri. The two, Honourable Kampamba Mulenga and Honourable Olipa Phiri, went to the Catholic Church.
I went with the candidate to UCZ where to congregate from. We prayed; we went back to our campaign centre, and we started now going where we were supposed to address a rally.
Me, Hon. Kampamba and Hon. Olipa we were in the third vehicle. You know kulya kumushi kwalibo tushila twatondo (in the village there are bush tracks). You give each other way.
We saw a UPND branded vehicle and we just heard gun shots, we started scampering in different directions, running for our lives.
Hot FM: And you were in the car still?
Phiri: We were in the car. Me, Hon Kampamba and Hon Phiri we were in the same vehicle, which was the third. The UPND blocked us because we were in the third vehicle.
The first vehicle, it was blocked and that’s when we heard gun shots. So we had to run for our lives.
It was in the morning. It was before 12(:00 hours], somewhere there. Yes.
One was shot in the leg, and the other one was shot in the head.
The police were having a meeting somewhere with the Electoral Commission of Zambia. Because it was not far from town they also heard gun shots. That’s how they rushed to the scene beside where those shots were coming from and they picked those two people because the one who was shot in the head and in the leg, they couldn’t walk.
They were picked and taken to the hospital. The others who were injured were taken.
There were no exchange of fire. There was one person who was firing indiscriminatoy [indiscriminately]. Just one from the UPND. There was no exchange of fire. The locals who were there, they know each other. That is why it is not good to bring people from outside because they will know that you, you are new there. So, the locals knew the person.
Later, this guy disguised himself, moved out of the vehicle, and got on a Honda (motor cycle) and because the locals knew him, a Mr Chola, an ex-soldier he was followed.
It was citizen’s arrest. They caught him, and guns were recovered from him.
And those people who were not there who are saying what they are saying, that guy who was shot in the head, I am sure the bullets are still in the head.
I am sure the police will match the guns which he had and our group is the group that picked even the magazine because it was dropped and we handed it over to the police.