FORMER Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda was shot in the forehaead and wounded on Saturday when police attacked an opposition rally at Kabwe, 140km north of the capital Lusaka. Also hit by the same bullet that injured Kaunda was Liberal Prograssive Front leader Roger Chongwe, who was hit in the neck and is recovering after emergency surgery.
Accusing the police of deliberately trying to kill him under orders from ruling party officials, Kaunda warned that his supporters may react violently to the attack. “I will continue to remain non-violent in word and action, but not everyone will do so,” said Kaunda, still dressed in bloodsoaked jeans and T-shirt. “These frightened little men do not know how a civil war starts.”
Zambian police arrested 53 opposition supporters at the rally, which they said was illegal, although Kaunda said authorities had given permission for the meeting.
Afterwards, at Kaunda’s home in Lusaka, United National Independence Party chairman General Malimba Masheke called for opposition supporters to “be ready to defend this country”.
“we will try not to contribute to the bloodshed in this country but, at the same time, we will not accept being shot. If Kaunda is killed, there will be no Chiluba,” Masheke said.
Reaction from Zambian authorities on Monday was denials all round.
Police denied using live ammunition and said they are investigating the possibility that the shot which hit Kaunda and Chongwe was fired by a third party. Despite claiming to have no idea who pulled the trigger, police have already absolved the government of involvement.
Meanwhile, Acting President Godfrey Miyanda, standing in for Chiluba who is abroad, vehemently denied that the government wants to assassinate Kaunda. Miyanda promised an official inquiry into the shooting.
Among those arrested at Saturday’s rally was The Post editor Matsautso Phiri who, according to witnesses was severley assaulted during the arrest. Phiri was seized after photographing armed police smashing up the podium and seating ahead of the rally. His camera was also seized and the film exposed.