The harassment of the newly launched Socialist Party of Zambia (SP) continued with its members being assaulted by cadre of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) in the Chipata district of the Eastern Province.
The incident occurred around 4:30 p.m. at the Katpata market when some women followed the members of the SP and enquired about the party’s programme and ideology. Minutes later, PF cadres arrived at the spot and assaulted the SP members, accusing them of campaigning in the area. Death threats were also made, the party said.
“I was rescued by well-meaning citizens. The cadre then threatened to burn our house if I continued engaging with people for our party programmes,” one of the victims said.
The PF assailants declared that the Eastern province was President Edgar Lungu’s home region and that no opposition party was allowed to carry out its activities in the area.
One of the SP members who was assaulted said she was at the market to buy vegetables and it was only after the women asked her about the party that she began talking to them.
“It was not a meeting or a rally for which I’m supposed to have a permit from the police. I was just passing and people stopped me, asking about the SP, whose leadership and agenda they had heard about and welcome,” she said.
This is the latest in a series of incidents of harassment of the party and its members since its launch on March 31. The Zambian government sought the recall of the Cuban Ambassador from the country for attending the launch. Nine foreign delegates who had come for the event were deported.
On April 10, two members from the party were arrested for organizing a training camp in Matero, one of the poorest compounds in the country. A whiteboard, phones and women’s handbags were confiscated by the police.
The persistent attacks on the newly launched party is being seen as reflecting the government’s fear of the emergence of a socialist opposition.