By Times Reporter
Police are investigating a report that Patriotic Front (PF) president, Michael Sata, assaulted an MMD member whom he allegedly punched as PF cadres and those from the ruling party clashed during the ballot verification exercise in Lusaka.
Lusaka Town Clerk, Timothy Hakuyu, was consequently forced to put off the verification of ballot papers indefinitely following the confusion in which MMD and PF cadres exchanged punches at Nakatindi Hall.
But PF spokesperson, Given Lubinda, who was found at Nakatindi Hall, denied that Mr Sata had punched the MMD member.
Police spokesperson, Bonny Kapeso, confirmed receiving an assault report from two MMD officials
Trouble started when Mr Sata arrived at Nakatindi Hall where the voter verification exercise was taking place and found some polling agents outside the hall, whom he asked to enter the premises.
The polling agents who were outside the hall were waiting to be paid for the work that they did during the election period. Representatives of various political parties and some election agents were already in the hall to witness the verification exercise.
It was at that point that Mr Sata allegedly confronted and accused an MMD cadre, only identified as Monica, while pointing at her that the ruling party had stolen victory from him, hence, her increased weight.
The said cadre allegedly told Mr Sata to stop pointing at her and in the confusion that ensued, the PF leader punched MMD ward chairperson for Chawama, William Matalauzi, as he tried to move a nearby ballot box.
A free-for-all punch-up then erupted and one of the PF leader’s aides punched MMD Chawama ward secretary, Moses Banda.
Both Mr Matalauzi and Mr Banda reported the matter to Kabwata police station.
Mr Kapeso said Mr Matalauzi complained to the police that Mr Sata had assaulted him.
“We received the report at Kabwata police and medical reports have also been received. They have complained of being assaulted by Mr Sata and his aide,” Mr Kapeso said.
According to the medical report signed by sub-inspector Muleya of Kabwata police station, Mr Matalauzi complained of a swollen right hand and a bruise on the lower lip.
“William Matalauzi complains of a bruise on the lower lip and swollen right hand assaulted by a known person. Fists are alleged to have been used to inflict the injury,” reads the report by sub-inspector Muleya.
An officer at Kabwata Clinic who examined Mr Matalauzi stated on the medical report that he had certified a marked painful and swollen right hand and shaky tooth on the upper jaw.
Speaking in an interview at Kabwata police station, Mr Matalauzi said that he did not provoke Mr Sata but that because of the confusion, he attempted to move a ballot box for fear that it might be damaged.
Mr Matalauzi said Mr Sata punched him as he attempted to move the ballot box to safety and he even lost his mobile phone during the fracas.
“He was insulting Monica saying she and the MMD stole his votes and when I wanted to get the ballot box, he punched me and his bodyguard also punched my friend,” he said.
Lusaka Province MMD chairperson, Paul Chihande, described the incident as unfortunate and said that the situation could have worsened had the MMD members not restrained themselves.
Mr Lubinda denied Mr Sata had assaulted Mr Matalauzi.
“There was an exchange of fists between PF and MMD cadres but I have not seen president Sata assaulting anybody. I did not see president Sata being involved in any fists,” Mr Lubinda said.
Mr Lubinda agreed with the decision by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to suspend the verification exercise saying it should be done when people are sober. He said that the exercise was important and should, therefore, be conducted when tempers were at their best.
Mr Hakuyu said that he had consulted ECZ chairperson, Florence Mumba, who advised that the verification exercise should be put off indefinitely.
“This place was reserved for verification and some agents were outside, but later invited to come in and so there was commotion. The exercise might take place next week and not tomorrow,” Mr Hakuyu said.
In Ndola, there was commotion between MMD and PF cadres during the Ndola Central parliamentary by-election verification exercise at the civic centre when they differed over figures.
The two factions exchanged abusive language and nearly exchanged blows due to differences that arose from typographical and other errors.
The two parliamentary candidates for both parties, Mark Mushili, the winner of the election and Mary Zambezi of the MMD were also caught up in the confusion.
Ms Zambezi had raised queries on the figures announced by returning officer, Roy Kuseka, from five polling stations as she believed they were recorded wrongly and denied her of the votes she deserved.
Mr Kuseka reminded the gathering that the exercise was there to verify certain issues and that patience needed to be exercised.
Ndola Town Clerk, Charity Mpande, had to restrain the police from entering the chambers, as that would have caused panic and subsequently physical confrontation.
Ms Mpande said she had asked the police to stay out of the confusion but reminded the cadres that officers were outside the chambers.
In Kitwe, the verification of ballot papers yesterday kicked off without representation from the ruling MMD but went on smoothly.
Only PF and United Party for National Development representatives were present.
In Kalulushi, the exercise went on smoothly and all the political parties were represented.
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