The United Party for National Development (UPND) in Zambia has been facing criticism over the behavior of some of its youth members, who have been accused of exhibiting a level of indiscipline and harassing opposition party leaders.
UPND National Youth Chairperson Gilbert Liswaniso has issued a warning to party members, reminding them that the opposition should be allowed to express themselves freely and that the party does not condone such behavior. He has also apologized to the media for the harassment suffered by Economic and Equity Party leader Chilufya Tayali during recent incidents in the Mufulira and Chingola districts, in which Tayali was prevented from appearing on two radio programmes.
Some UPND youths have threatened to take matters into their own hands if the police do not take action against Tayali for his disparaging remarks against President Hakainde Hichilema. Tayali recently called for a check on the mental health of the president, which has sparked outrage among some UPND members. UPND National Vice Chairperson for Party Resource Mobilization, Biggy Chiiya, has said that the fact that the president assented to the removal of the law on defamation does not mean the opposition can start insulting him. Chiiya added that the youths will not sit idle and watch the name of the president be put into disrepute and have called on the police to be alert to some opposition leaders speaking against the president in a disrespectful manner.
Tayali, in response, has said that UPND cadres are moving from one radio station to the next in the rain because they are scared he will have another interview in Kitwe. He added that he has abandoned that mission for now and will instead talk from Lusaka on his Facebook page tonight, where he will reach more people than on radio. Tayali also plans to offload everything from his chest on Muvi TV tomorrow at 19:30.
Christopher Kang’ombe, Kamfinsa Member of Parliament and PF National Youth Chairperson, has issued a statement condemning the “unruly” behavior of UPND members who have been disrupting radio programmes in Chingola and Mufulira. Kang’ombe called on the Zambia Police Service to summon the perpetrators, for the UPND leadership to not sanction such undemocratic behavior, and for President Hichilema to condemn the assault on the freedoms and rights of Tayali.
The incident has raised concerns over the state of political discourse in Zambia and the need for all parties to respect the rights and freedoms of their opponents. It is important for all political parties to refrain from inciting violence and instead engage in constructive dialogue and debate in order to address the issues facing the country.