STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka
MINISTER of Defence Richwell Siamunene says the training of a suspected militia by the United Party for National Development (UPND) is tantamount to treason.
And the UPND has justified the keeping of dangerous weapons and training of the youths because the party anticipates a tough battle with police.
Mr Siamunene said Government will not sit idly by and watch but will defend the Constitution and the republic.
â€œThis is a very serious matter and the Ministry of Defence and other security wings are on red alert. We will not let Zambia be a breeding ground for any insurgency. We will defend the sovereignty of this country,â€ Mr Siamunene said yesterday.
Mr Siamunene said the government security system is on the ground and is fully aware of all the activities taking place as the nation goes to polls on August 11.
â€œThe State has eyes and ears everywhere and we are seeing and hearing everything. Zambia has been a shining example of peace and modern democracy. So, we will not allow a few people who are power-hungry to destroy this nation,â€ he said.
Mr Siamunene, who is UPND Sinazongwe member of Parliament, said one does not need to spill blood to win an election because elections â€œcome and goâ€.
The minister said leadership comes from God and that those planning to harm fellow Zambians will soon be brought to book.
He appealed to the youths to refuse to be used by selfish politicians.
â€œI wish to caution and advise my fellow youths not to be used by greedy politicians because most of them [politicians] have homes and bank accounts outside this country. If anything goes wrong in this country, these politicians will run away while our youths have nowhere to run to,â€ Mr Siamunene said.
He alleged that such politicians desire power so that they can auction the country and enrich themselves further.
Inspector-General of Police Kakoma Kanganja said police have intensified investigations into the suspected clandestine militia training by the UPND.
â€œInvestigations have continued and we will ensure that those found wanting are brought to book. As for those on the run, we are pursuing them,â€ Mr Kanganja said.
PF deputy spokesperson Frank Bwalya warned Zambians to be wary of the gimmicks of the UPND.
â€œThe UPND must be truthful and abandon violence. They have been accusing the PF of having a militia when in the actual fact it is them engaged in these treacherous activities,â€ Mr Bwalya said.
But Geoffrey Mwamba, at whose premises police busted a training racket, denied the allegations.
â€œThere is no militia being trained by the UPND. My facility at Luanshya Road in Lusaka has been a place that I have offered to the MMD, the PF and now the UPND. One room has been turned into a normal gymnasium, with punching bags, cycles and weights. The youth use this to keep fit and pass time,â€ Mr Mwamba said.
Meanwhile, UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma told journalists in Lusaka yesterday that: â€œIt is normal to have a panga (machete) for gardening purposes.
â€œNearly every family has a panga. Since when did pangas and golf sticks become dangerous weapons?â€ Mr Kakoma asked as UPND cadres cheered.
He said the UPND youths are keeping physically fit because they anticipate running battles with the police in the run-up to elections.
â€œWe will meet them in court tomorrow [today]. Our lawyers will battle it out and we are getting a restraining order because that is a private property and they did not even have a search warrant,â€ he said.
Police on Saturday raided the building where the UPND has allegedly been training youths ahead of the general elections.
The police arrested 21 youths who were found with offensive weapons such as machetes, eight rounds of ammunition, spears and cannabis.
Last week, President Lungu revealed that the UPND is training a militia in Lusaka and directed them to disband.
STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka