UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says PF leaders must promise to stop stealing from Zambians before inviting people for prayers.

Addressing journalists at his New Kasama residence in Lusaka yesterday, HH said the UPND could not pray with members of the Patriotic Front because they were thieves who were stealing from poor Zambians.

“I challenge Mr Lungu to dismiss the corrupt ministers because he has said he will not dismiss any minister because there is no evidence but the evidence is a lot. Fire tenders cost $300,000 but you buy them at $1 million and take $700,000 from one fire tender, that’s too much money in a poor country like ours where people go to bed without food. So tomorrow, redeem yourselves as PF leaders to the people of Zambia before you go to the alter to pray. Show us repentance that you will not be stealing government money before calling us and invite us to the alter to pray as a way of hoodwinking us, as a way of deception,” HH said.

He wondered how his party was expected to walk with the corrupt.

“If you remember, the colonialists came to colonise our country using the Bible on one hand and if you agreed they grabbed your land and they asked you to pray and pray while they were taking your land away and you became half citizens in your own land and they became the full citizens. This is what Lungu and the PF are doing today. The nation must do what needs to be done first to serve our country from destruction, reading from Amos 3 vs 3 says ‘two cannot walk together unless they agree’, how do we walk with the corrupt? How do we walk with those who are using the police and the PF cadres to brutalise innocent citizens? We cannot walk together unless we agree so we have not agreed on corruption, we have not agreed on violence and the human rights abuse. We have not agreed on all these issues so how do we get invited to the alter to pray?” HH wondered.

He said today’s prayers were not genuine because the PF were concealing their theft.

“It is actually hypocritical to pretend to pray when you are stealing from the people. It is hypocricy of the highest sense to steal on one hand and on the other you are concealing your theft. Tomorrow’s prayers are not genuine my dear brothers and sisters but let us pray every day and we must join together to pray against corruption, the violence and the brutality. And I must say to you that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom for anybody but it must be genuine fear of the Lord, not abuse of the Lord. God does not condone corruption, our own God does not encourage stealing,” said HH.

Meanwhile, UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka charged that National Guidance and Religious Affairs Minister Godfridah Sumaili lied that her ministry had invited the UPND to the prayers when in fact not.

“There is a propaganda coming from the Minister of Religious Affairs about our participation in the prayers tomorrow. There is this deception that we have been invited to Kitwe for the prayers but I can tell you that shortly before we started this press briefing, I counter checked that the invitation cards honorable Sumaili was talking about have not even been sent to our secretariat so they want to create an impression that they have invited the UPND to the prayers when they haven’t,” said Katuka.

“I think they (government) did not even plan to have the UPND invited to attend the prayers as we know the organisers most of them are those people who are Christians for Lungu so they will not invite anyone who is not a Christian for Lungu. But just to put this right, we are not going to Kitwe to participate in the prayers and the reasons have been stated in the President (HH)’s speech that we cannot go to pray with people who are corrupt, pray with thieves, people that are looting our property.”