Panji angers Mpezeni

A row has erupted between Paramount Chief Mpezeni and Works, Supply and Communications deputy Minister Panji Kaunda after the later impounded a vehicle belonging to the traditional leadersat a check point and deflated all its tyres.

Colonel Kaunda yesterday confirmed that vehicle belonging to Paramount Chief Mpezeni was impounded at a check point in Chipata and that its tyres were deflated because the driver abandoned the said vehicle and run off to the palace.

But when contacted, Paramount Chief Mpezeni denied ever having his car impounded and said that it was not true that he was annoyed with Colonel Panji who had personally impounded the vehicle.

Col Kaunda said the traditional leader’s vehicle was impounded because it was on the road illegally and that it was operating as a pirate taxi without any valid documents.

He told the Daily Nation in an interview that Paramount Chief Mpezeni as a traditional leader should learn to respect the laws of the country and should not have allowed his vehicle to be on the road when it was unfit.

Col Kaunda said laws were never discriminative or selective and that the action to impound the vehicle for the traditional leader was justified as it was going to be wrong to allow the vehicle to continue being on the road when it had no road tax certificate and no fitness.

He said Paramount Chief Mpezeni’s driver did not have a driving licence yet he was allowed by the traditional leader to be on the road.

“Yes, it is correct that we impounded the vehicle to Paramount Chief Mpezeni in Chipata. The vehicle was with his driver and he had no licence. The vehicle had no insurance, no road tax certificate and no fitness. So we impounded the vehicle and when we asked the driver about his driving licence, he rudely said it was Mpezeni’s car and he walked away leaving the car in the middle of the road. So we pushed the car off the road and deflated all the tyres and left. When we came back, the car was gone,” Col Kaunda said.

He said it was not right for Paramount Chief Mpezeni to promote lawlessness in the country just because he was a traditional leader adding that society expected leaders to abide by the rules governing the country at all times.

Col Kaunda said there was no malice in his action and that he was only performing his duties and therefore the traditional leader should not think he (Col Kaunda) had anything personal against him.

He explained that even if the vehicle belonging to any senior citizen, it would have been impounded if it was found not to be road-worthy.

He said when on the road, Mpezeni must know that traffic regulations could not be applied selectively and that it would be wrong for the traditional leader to use his position to break the laws.

“We were just doing our duty and the chief should not think there was anything personal against him. When you are on the road, there is no chief and we are all equal before the law,” Col Kaunda said.

But when contacted, Paramount Chief Mpezeni denied having his car impounded and the tyres deflated.

He said his relationship with the Patriotic Front (PF) was still strong as he had no problems with Col Kaunda whom he said was a friend.

But sources from Mtenguleni, the official residence of Mpezeni have revealed that the traditional leader was angry with Col Kaunda and that he has since threatened to withdraw his support for the PF for embarrassing him by impounding his car.

The sources said Col Kaunda had ‘humiliated’ the traditional leader by impounding his car and deflating its tyres adding that Mpezeni has since reported the matter to President Sata.