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 2009-09-08 10:01 am Back to NEWS
Mansa MMD cadres celebrate Chiluba’s acquittal

SCORES of MMD cadres in Mansa yesterday marched around the town centre to celebrate former president Frederick Chiluba's acquittal on corruption charges. During the march which attracted people's attention, MMD cadres carried banners predominantly in support of Chiluba's acquittal and walked from CR bus station on Mansa-Kashikishi Road through Mulenshi Road into Independence Road and back into Mansa Kashikishi Road to the provincial headquarters at the boma offices.

Some of the messages on the banners read: "Chiluba is a humble person of God please respect the court judgment; Respect the independence of the judiciary's power on Chiluba's acquittal."

Others who carried messages in solidarity with Chiluba purported to have been from senior chief Puta, chief Chisunka and chief Kalasa Lukangaba.

The cadres, most of them clad in party regalia, sang songs in solidarity with Chiluba and others in support of President Rupiah Banda. There was a heavy police presence in Mansa as officers were stationed throughout the route of the march to maintain order.

After the march, lands deputy minister and MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga towards the end of his speech acknowledged the messages on the banners but said he was not schooled enough to comment on Chiluba's acquittal as this was for the judiciary.

Mabenga said he would soon instruct the MMD secretariat to look at the petition from Luapula Province calling for the MMD convention due next year to be postponed.

He said the MMD constitution stated that if there was a petition from six or more provinces, that would have to be tabled before NEC for discussion. He said this when he received a petition from acting Luapula Province MMD chairman and local government deputy minister Chrispine Musosha.

He expressed delight that MMD in Luapula had given him 'panadol' to cure the headaches that he had been suffering from owing to the problems that the party in the area was embroiled in.

He said the MMD did not have time for insults and finger pointing and was only interested in development.

And in reference to the PF-UPND pact, Mabenga warned Zambians to be wary of lies which did not build nor assure peace.

Mabenga said campaigns for the 2011 elections had begun and he urged everyone to talk about President Banda in whatever they did to sell his candidature.

MMD insiders in Mansa said Chiluba and MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba, who is also Chiengi member of parliament in Luapula Province, were supposed to attend the celebratory function in Mansa.

"Dr Chiluba was supposed to come but they changed. He was removed from the programme so that people don't know his role in the organisation of this party. Initially he was supposed to be here," an MMD official said.

Another source said the function was meant to show that people in Luapula Province, where Chiluba hails from, had welcomed his acquittal.

"We are enjoying here. We have a function at the provincial minister's office," the source said. "We are celebrating the acquittal of Chiluba."

On August 17, Ndola High Court Registrar Jones Chinyama, sitting as a magistrate in Lusaka, acquitted Chiluba of theft charges involving US $500, 000 public funds.

And addressing the cadres, MMD deputy national secretary Jeff Kaande warned Chilanga member of parliament Ng'andu Magande and his Kafulafuta MP George Mpombo of possible expulsion if they continued 'insulting' the party.

Kaande said the party had ignored the utterances of the two members of parliament because they did not want by-elections.

"We have two members of parliament who have been insulting the party and government; MMD members of parliament, Magande and Mpombo," Kaande said. "We are not weak towards them and I am giving a timely warning to them. We have resisted to charge them simply because we don't want by-elections; by-elections are costly; we have a lot of responsibilities...but let me warn them if they push us against the wall, I will raise the charges and NEC [national executive committee] will react."

He warned that should Magande and Mpombo respond to his threat, he would act after the funeral of late local government and housing minister Benny Tetamashimba.

"If they are men enough, let them answer me. I will raise the charges," he said.

Kaande also urged MMD cadres in Luapula to be united.

He said what had weakened the MMD in Luapula Province were the constant quarrels.

"If you can stop quarrelling and do more of what we have done today, we would be strong," Kaande said. "MMD members are enemies of themselves because what you do is that when you wake up 'is Kaande; what lie can I make on Kaande so that he's in trouble; what lie can I make on Chungu? What lie can I make on the DC [District Commissioner]; the PS [Permanent Secretary]'?"

He advised members of MMD to approach officials whom they thought were in the wrong as opposed to lying about them.

Kaande directed MMD officials to pay courtesy calls on the Mansa district commissioner whenever they were in town.

"Even if the DC does not want your greeting, tell me. It's me to deal with him," Kaande said.

He said the directive was to signify unity between "the party and its government".

Kaande further warned that he would dissolve constituency and ward structures in Luapula Province wherever there were losses in local government by-elections.

And Musosha, in an apparent reference to The Post, said the private media was working with the opposition to bring down the government. He expressed disappointment at what he termed as the private media's incessant attacks on President Banda.

However, he congratulated President Banda for uniting the nation and accommodating the private media despite their "useless stories" against him.

After the march, the cadres were asked to see certain district officials for further instructions.

Police sources told The Post that 120 paramilitary officers from Kamfinsa were dispatched to Mansa for the march and that other police officers were drawn from other towns in Luapula.

There were concerns that PF cadres could disrupt the MMD march after they were earlier denied permission to hold a procession to celebrate their local government by-election victory for Mansa Central last month.

Police sources said police had initially wanted to block the MMD from marching but provincial officials sought intervention from State House and that eventually Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde ordered that the procession be permitted.

And in a letter obtained by The Post dated September 4, 2009, to the officer-in-charge at Mansa Central Police Station, PF provincial chairman Rasford Mwale protested against MMD being allowed to march to celebrate Chiluba's acquittal.

"You will recall that on 14th August 2009, the PF applied to be allowed to march along the streets of Mansa town in order to celebrate the sweet victory that our party the PF won in the two by-elections in Chilyapa and Muchinka wards here in Mansa," stated Mwale. "You the police refused this citing security concerns. Sir as I write to you, the MMD is preparing to celebrate the acquittal of Dr Chiluba in the streets of Mansa to celebrate our victory and I can assure you they have the money but we have the people and anything that will happen will squarely lie on your shoulders. We refuse to be treated unfairly by the police in our own land. Zambia is for all of us. We want to thank you for receiving our verbal petition and later this written petition."

(The Post)

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