By STUART LISULO
NEWLY-elected Chilanga UPND Member of Parliament Sipho Hlazo says criminal elements using the party’s name are extorting money from local businesses in exchange for “protection.
In a statement, Hlazo bemoaned the escalated number of reports reaching him of unscrupulous elements carrying out extortion, further deploring land grabbing practices still going on by Patriotic Front (PF) cadres.
The MP has however distanced the UPND from such criminal acts and has advised all affected business entities to quickly report such cases to law enforcement agencies.
Hlazo triumphed over his closest rival and former PF Chilanga MP, Maria Langa, at the August 12 general election, polling 30,271 votes compared to Langa who garnered 15,265 votes.
“Our office is deeply concerned about the reports we are receiving on some people, camouflaging in the name of the UPND party and going round to companies in Chilanga constituency asking them to pay in exchange for protection. That is extortion and this is the same way PF started in 2011 when they were voted in. I, as Member of Parliament, will not allow this,” Hlazo said in a statement released recently.
The extortioners were undermining the will of Zambians who voted NO to such, “and as a result, we are calling upon the victims to report any case of such lawlessness to relevant authorities. Our policy is to create a favourable environment for all the companies in Chilanga for industrial growth and expansion so as to create more jobs for the youths who voted in large numbers for job creation.”
And he complained that land grabbing was still being perpetuated in his constituency by suspected PF cadres.
“Furthermore, our office is still receiving reports of suspected PF cadres, who are grabbing land in Namalombwe and Mwembeshi wards and sharing it amongst themselves. We are warning you to stop this illegal act or else face the other side of the law. To all those who have been victims of land grabbing at the expense of cadres from whichever party, please report the matter to relevant authorities. We promised that we will work for the people of Chilanga and bring sanity,” stated Hlazo.
The legislator has since taken his oath of office at the National Assembly in the newly-constituted Parliament where the UPND-led government now hold a majority of 82 MPs over the former ruling PF’s 59.