THE madness must end.
Government must put its foot down and end the lawlessness being perpetrated by UPND cadres especially in Lusaka.
The lawlessness could easily degenerate into widespread civil unrest if the “victims” decide to hit back to defend their interests.
The cosmetic assurances from the top brass of the UPND assuring that all Zambians are free to trade from markets will not do.
Yesterday, rowdy UPND cadres terrorised residents of Chilenje where they stripped a woman who was wearing a PF t-shirt and asked her to walk home without a top.
The cadres stripped the woman’s t-shirt and her bra before letting her go.
The cadres also engaged in running battles with the police in Chilenje market after forcefully closing some shops of perceived PF members and beating traders.
“All traders occupying these spaces are members of the PF,” they chanted. Since when has it been a criminal offence not to belong to the party in government?
Yet, President Hakainde Hichilema has gone on record promising that the UPND would run a government of laws in which all people are guaranteed their individual freedoms.
He has promised that no one will be harassed on account of belonging to a different political party. After all, that is the hallmark of democracy.
But it is sad that the pronouncements from the top leadership of the UPND are not moving in tandem with what is happening on the ground. There is mayhem.
It is a shame that people who have operated market stalls for years are now being forced out and denied to earn a decent livelihood.
Moreover, those market stalls do not belong to the Patriotic Front but the Lusaka City Council to which the traders pay their rent.
It is therefore unacceptable that the UPND is allowing mob psychology to guide its foot soldiers oblivious of the injustice they are causing to innocent people.
The mentality among the UPND cadres is that having won the August 12 general elections gives them the power and right to “take over” public facilities like markets and bus stations.
They put this into motion immediately the results were announced. They swiftly started sharing trading spaces at the new Soweto Market and the roads.
At bus stations, those accused of being PF sympathisers were ejected.
We note that even Local Government Minister Garry Nkombo has advised the UPND cadres not to stop those from other parties from operating from the facilities.
What Mr Nkombo should be working on is to ensure that there is no physical presence of any political cadres at these public facilities.
There should be no section or branch offices. That is where the mischief starts as they have learnt from experience under the PF.
Any failure to declare an outright ban is an exercise in futility. And the chances are that the UPND is going to end up with markets and bus stations supervised by its cadres.
At the end of the day, people will be asking themselves if there is any change between the old and new regimes.