GONE are the days when staunch former UNIP political cadres, commonly known as vigilantes, ruled almost everything from the markets, State shops to bus stops.
These were ‘hell’ days as the unruly panga-wielding cadres took control of all the State shops that sold essential commodities such as sugar, cooking oil, salt, bathing soap and washing powder, which were all scarce because of the economic crisis the country was facing at the time.
The situation was the same at bus stations where the vigilantes virtually controlled queues and forcefully demanded for money from unsuspecting passengers before they boarded buses to their destinations. No one, including police, had the power to question them.
The vigilantes were powerful and were ‘worshipped’ by all marketeers, bus drivers and ordinary individuals alike and rode on the back of the ruling UNIP party.
They could do anything in the name of UNIP because the party slogan was ‘UNIP Mulilo Uwaikatako Apya’ meaning UNIP was fire and could burn any one who touched it.
This band of thugs was unruly and untouchable, not even the highest police authorities could discipline it. Those days went with the defeat of UNIP by the MMD in the 1991 multiparty elections.
But now it looks like the same breed of hooligans has resurfaced, this time around, riding on the back of an innocent Patriotic Front (PF) whose leadership has been preaching peace since inception.
This is the same group that has been terrorising people in the manner the UNIP vigilantes were operating and no one knows exactly what their motive is and who is behind their sinister behaviour.
It is in this light that we condemn the unruly behaviour of these so called ‘cadres’ who recently went on an orgy of destruction at the Lusaka City Market Bus Station.
This lawlessness should not be condoned and accepted by law-abiding citizens at any level.
According to the City Market Bus drivers representative Peter Mati, this group was armed with machetes, guns and all sorts of offensive weapons and threatened to take over the City Bus Station for reasons best know to themselves.
Not only did they threaten to take over the bus station, but also beat up and injured many innocent people and smashed motor vehicles in the process.
Lusaka Province Police Chief Charity Katanga says although she is aware of the incident, she is awaiting a detailed report from the police post at the station.
This a very serious matter that borders on the city’s security situation and should not be left hanging especially that, these people are using the name of the ruling Party which does not condone such draconian behaviour.
Police should ensure that they bring these thugs to book as soon as possible before they tarnish the name of the PF. This should not be condoned at all costs.
Times of Zambia