By AARON CHIYANZO and ANDREW MUKOMA
MY life is in danger as UPND cadres are hunting for me just because I am a Patriotic Front official, Choma based PF Member of the Central Committee, Kebby Mbewe has said.
A mob of UPND cadres yesterday closed down Choma’s Debonairs Pizza run by Mr Mbewe on the pretext that there was no portrait of President Hakainde Hichilema displayed in the shop.
The unruly cadres accused Mr Mbewe of tearing a portrait believed to have been earlier displayed in the store. Daily Nation investigations found that the cadres who closed Debonairs were sent by Kalundana Ward Councillor, Lungowe Sikwibele, in whose area the store is located.
When contacted, Ms Sikwibele said the party in the district had been engaging Mr Mbewe over the alleged failure to display President Hakainde Hichilema’s portrait in the business premises.
“We have been warning Mr Mbewe, we have been cautioning him politely as we have grown up with him. We have asked him several times to buy the President’s portrait but he hasn’t done that and it is already two months since the President was ushered into office. We took that as being disrespectful to our President,” Ms Sikwibele said.
Mr Mbewe however said it was a witch-hunt as the cadres had been after him since the day UPND formed government.
He said in an interview that the closure of his business in Choma was meant to intimidate him because of his political affiliation.
Mr Mbewe wondered why he would be targeted when it was not a crime to belong to a political party of one’s choice.
“The Government should protect us, we are all citizens and the President swore to protect all citizens regardless of party affiliation. I have been a businessman in Choma for over 30 years, so why should I be hunted now,” he said.
Mr Mbewe challenged the UPND government to stick to its assurance of ending cadrerism.
Asked on how long the closure of the business will be effected, Ms Sikwebele said, “it will be effected until when he shows us the portrait of the President.”
Mr Mbewe however wondered why the cadres had taken over the duty of law enforcement officers
He explained that his workers had put a small portrait of the President in the shop and he ordered that they remove it and replace with a bigger one. He denied tearing the presidential portrait.