UPND cadres who want to take the country to the dark days when political hoodlums reigned supreme at bus stations and markets must be stopped.
They should realise that the country has moved on and no one would want to return to those dark days when criminality prevailed under the guise of being political activists.
It is in this vein that we condemn the violence perpetrated by political cadres who claimed to belong to the ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) in Lusaka on Thursday afternoon.
The cadres attacked bus drivers at Soweto’s Munyaule Market which left several buses with shattered windows, windscreens and raptured tyres.
They were demanding that the bus drivers start paying them “levies.”
This resulted in mayhem at Munyaule Market in Lusaka after attacking and assaulting bus drivers who resisted to pay the illegal levies to the cadres.
There was pandemonium at the market as the said UPND cadres engaged in a free-for-all fight after they demanded to be given money by the drivers, a demand that was curtly resisted.
These so-called UPND cadres are mere criminals who should be locked up and made to face the full wrath of the law.
If they were committed members of the UPND, they would know that one of President Hakainde Hichilema’s earliest decisions was to order the removal of political cadres from extorting money from bus crews and marketeers.
This was a practice perpetuated by the former Patriotic Front cadres. Their violent behaviour largely contributed to the party’s loss in the August 2021 general elections.
We are glad that the UPND spokesperson, Mr Cornelius Mweetwa, has not taken time to condemn the youth claiming to belong to the ruling party whilst committing illegalities in the name of the governing party.
As Mr Mweetwa noted, the UPND and President Hichilema had not changed its stance and policy on caderism and that those perpetuating the vice should know that they were on their own.
Police should therefore act swiftly and round up the ringleaders of Thursday’s fracas. They must be made to pay for the damages they caused – smashed windows and windscreens as well as raptured tyres.
Not only did they disrupt bus operations, they also forced street vendors to abandon their stands.
Youths who attacked the Munyaule bus stand cannot claim that they have been neglected by the UPND leadership hence their attempt to make a living off levies on bus crews.
They do not have any legal right to do so and should realise that even though it was done during the PF regime, it was and remains illegal.
Being unemployed must not be used as a passport to take to crime.
As Mr Mweetwa said, the UPND had put up a number of measures that were aimed at empowering youths through the Constituency Development Fund as well as the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission.
The best they can do is to engage their leaders at ward level as to how they can access some of the empowerment programmes put in place.
Crime will not solve their problems.