NANCY SIAME, Lusaka
INSPECTOR-GENERAL of Police Kakoma Kanganja has warned of stern action against United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema for his drag race against the presidential motorcade in Mongu on Saturday.
Images and videos of Mr Hichilemaâ€™s convoy moving alongside President Lunguâ€™s motorcade on the Mongu-Limulunga road have gone viral on social media.
Mr Kanganja said in a statement yesterday that failing to give way to a presidential motorcade is tantamount to endangering the Presidentâ€™s life.
The video shows President Lunguâ€™s motorcade blazing past Mr Hichilemaâ€™s convoy which did not pull off the road.
Mr Kanganja said officers acted reasonably by overtaking Mr Hichilemaâ€™s motorcade to avoid loss of life.
â€œAs Zambia Police, we are not going to sit and watch such lawlessness in this country,â€ Mr Kanganja said.
He is waiting for a full report from officers on the ground and that appropriate action will be taken in accordance with the State Security Act and other relevant pieces of legislation.
UPND secretary-general Steven Katuka said he did not have details of the incident as he was not in Mongu and referred all queries to party spokesperson Charles Kakoma whose mobile phone was switched off by press time.
Mr Hichilema has refused to recognise results of last yearâ€™s general election which President Lungu won by more than 50 percent of the votes cast.
This is despite local and international monitors declaring the election free and fair and authenticating the results, which tallied with their parallel voter tabulation.
The UPND leaderâ€™s behaviour has shocked many, with Government condemning his latest behaviour in Mongu.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Charles Banda said yesterday that the refusal by Mr Hichilema and his entourage to give way to the presidential motorcade on the Mongu-Limulunga road was a security threat and danger to the Presidentâ€™s life.
â€œItâ€™s unfortunate that the UPND leadership resorted to disrespecting President Lungu, who was invited to officiate at the Kuomboka traditional ceremony,â€ he said.
Mr Banda said such unruly behaviour by the opposition leader at the Kuomboka ceremony has a negative impact on the countryâ€™s tourism sector.
He said the ceremony, which was attended by people from all over the world, exhibited rich cultural heritage of the Lozi people and was not a political forum.
Mr Banda said Mr Hichilemaâ€™s conduct painted a picture that there is no law and order in the country.
â€œPolice did well to restrain themselves but relevant authorities must get to the root of this matter and deal with it amicably,â€ he said.
Mr Banda said it is important for the opposition to accept that Zambia only has one President who was duly elected by the people.
Special assistant to the President for press and public relations Amos Chanda said Mr Hichilema passed major checkpoints in good time but slowed down so that the presidential motorcade could find him, thereby putting his life and that of his entourage in danger.
Mr Chanda said the presidential motorcade had two options; to slow down and allow Mr Hakainde to reach Limulunga or bump him off and create some scene, â€œwhich is what he wantedâ€.
â€œA decision was made to by-pass him and in our mind we were clear no danger was posed to the President unless Mr Hakainde rammed his car into Eagle One.
â€œThis is why it was spectacularly foolish for Mr Hichilema and his minders to place themselves in that real and imminent danger,â€ Mr Chanda said.
He said as per established security and protocol orders, a decision to bump off all strange objects was made but a quick consultation upwards resulted in a different option which was undertaken.