UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says COVID-19 should not be weaponized against the opposition whereby they should not campaign in the name of the pandemic, while the ruling party is doing so.
Speaking when he featured on Hot FM’s Beyond the Headlines programme, Wednesday evening, Hichilema said the opposition party would campaign under the COVID-19 health guidelines.
“COVID-19 is not a joke, it has taken our dear relatives, friends, fellow citizens. We have to do things, we have to take measures that address this pandemic at a personal level, are we going to take those measures? Yes. At family level, community, country, global level. Amongst those things is to make sure that we continue to social distance, we can continue to wear masks when we go in public places, we will insist as we campaign that our members wear masks because we have to campaign. Other countries have done it within the COVID environment. Malawi had an election, Ghana had an election, the United States of America had an election within the COVID environment,” Hichilema said.
“The important thing is that COVID must not be weaponized against the opposition whereby the opposition should not campaign in the name of COVID-19, the ruling party is campaigning that is unacceptable. They have been having public rallies for two/three years, they have not been allowing us to have public rallies. We are obligated to do that which is right, to protect lives. But I am making an additional point that COVID should not be weaponized, should not be politicized to disadvantage competitors in an electrical electoral process. COVID arrived on our doors, on our national boundaries in February 2020, did PF not have rallies throughout 2020? They had, yet they did not allow us to have rallies. That is weaponizing the pandemic, that is not meek that is cheek. We should not allow that to happen.”
When asked if the defection of UPND members to the PF meant that there was something wrong with the party, Hichilema responded in the negative.
He said those that defected could not handle the disappointment of not being adopted, adding that they were merely migrants.
“Those that got adopted, very rigorous process, difficult, not everybody could be a councilor. I know there are disappointments and some people could not handle the disappointment and exit. Including an MP who was accorded the opportunity to serve the people of Zambia for ten years. They applied to be MPs three times. First time they were adopted they served five years, they were happy, sang songs about UPND, and the second time they were adopted they served another five years. When thousands of people in that constituency want to be MPs on the UPND ticket. The first time, the local people, the voters did not adopt them because it is not me who adopts, it is not us who adopt in Lusaka, it is the constituencies. This individual says ‘this party is bad, I have gone to PF’,” Hichilema said.
“Do you really think that that individual means that the party is bad? No! It’s just because they associated as members of the UPND only in the eyes of being members of Parliament, that is wrong, that is not being a genuine public servant. How can one who served as MP for ten years and say ‘this party is not well managed’? This is the party that made them MPs. They are called migrants in politics, they migrate.”
He further called on the police to arrest Lusaka PF provincial chairman Kennedy Kamba for threatening Constitutional Lawyer John Sangwa.
“The message goes to the PF thugs, you saw them threatening John Sangwa. The police must move in to arrest Kamba today. Because it is the police that must provide law and order in a fair manner. Do you think that a UPND member would have said what Kamba said and they would have never been arrested? They would have been arrested within an hour. We are asking the Inspector General of police to arrest Kamba for threatening John Sangwa. John is not the one being threatened, it is all of us. The threats on John Sangwa are threats on all the citizens of Zambia. Here is a breakdown in the rule of law. Someone is threatening violence, the life of Sangwa and he is seated at home. Police have not sent him a call out. Send Kamba and his fellow thugs a call out,” Hichilema said.
And commenting on a billboard mounted by the Socialist Party which states ‘five times too many, it’s time for the real red,’ Hichilema said this was done out of hatred.
“I looked at that, I watched the comments from people, my decision was to ignore this. When you see an opposition party attacking a fellow opposition party you only know two things, that the opposition party does not understand Zambian politics, that the opposition party are part of the ruling party, they are a surrogate of the ruling party. Why would you attack UPND and HH? What would motivate the Socialist Party to attack the UPND? The third issue is colossal hatred which comes way back. A little bit of jealousy, pettiness, hatred, all sandwiched in there. It is an old problem. Personalities that have never liked UPND from day one. They used the tools that were available to them to demonize UPND. Go back to the papers and see who was demonizing the UPND throughout under Mazoka’s time. It is the same individual. I just inherited that hatred. Do I care about that? I don’t,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hichilema said no one should temper with this year’s polls.