According to a source close to the government, the PF is elevating its organisation of youth cadres who have occasionally participated in political violence to provide them with specific formal training, identified targets, and in some cases, weapons.
The new security wing has recruited a militia of several dozen youths who are inducted and trained via a non-government organisation (NGO) front with offices located on Nangwenya Road in Lusaka. According to the source, the militia wing is the brainchild of PF Secretary General and Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba, who is said to give direct orders to the group.
One of the militia’s first attacks was the recent beating and intimidation of Bowman Lusambo, a longtime diehard member of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), which occurred on May 21 in the area behind Soweto Market in Lusaka. Lusambo was allegedly punched, kicked, and beaten by the group of PF youths, and then allegedly forced at gunpoint to read a statement apologizing to President Michael Sata.
The source reports that the militia’s new top targets are musicians Petersen and Pilato, performers of the hit song ‘Bufi’ which has become an anti-government anthem, as well as UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.
“The militia has been attending classes and being trained in the physical aspect to discipline anyone opposed to the ruling party,” the source said.
“So far, about five of them have been expelled from classes for allegedly leaking information about the training programme.”
The militia, the sources added, are the ones that have been transported to all places where by-elections are taking place.
The sources said a physical and martial arts trainer has been engaged for the programme.
“They are directly working under Kabimba and also have links with the intelligence system. They are being told the movements of their targets and top on the agenda is Pilato whose concerts are being monitored,” the sources added.
“The idea is to beat up anyone they think is opposed to the government. There’s no compromise with these militia; theirs is just violence.”
Last year, the Patriotic Front signed an agreement of cooperation with the National Congress Party of Sudan, the ruling party of dictator Omar al Bashir. When opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema suggested in a media interview that the PF was cooperating with Sudan in order to train youth militias, he was arrested, jailed, and then finally sued by the government for “publication of false news” before the state ultimately entered a noelle prosequi against him.