Musician turned politician Saboi Imboela says it will be hard for the UPND to win the 2021 elections if they focus on “small” issues like her defection to newly formed National Democratic Congress.

On Monday, UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka said the largest opposition party was not affected by Imboela’s defection because she was an inactive member.

“What was Saboi in the party? And have you heard from her from last year after adoptions? The woman wanted to stand in Kafue, after she was left out, she went away. So it is nothing new for us, she hasn’t been active, she hasn’t said anything. And for us it is healthy for her to go wherever she wants to go. You know society is very dynamic, I know she wanted to stand in Kafue. Now that there is somebody, she must be finding a route to use for her to stand in another political party but it is not a threat to us. I don’t think she was such a big force that without her we will start crying, no!” exclaimed Katuka.

But in a statement yesterday, Imboela stated that people should avoid responding to defections with bitterness.

“After being quiet when many important things affecting the country are happening, you have woken up to issue a statement to a non factor like me? At least today the party general members will think you are working, because you know what they think of you. Congratulations sir. You stated clearly that UPND does not consider ordinary members as important but only those who hold positions in the party, I totally agree with you. And that is one of the very reasons why I left. That indeed is the position of the party that ordinary members are just there and good enough to add to the votes and nothing else,” Imboela stated.

“Defections will always be there and people should not resort to enmity and bitterness over nothing. It will be hard for UPND to win 2021 again if it wastes so much energy on such small matters instead of working hard to scoop 2021. Opposition parties should point their arsenals in one direction and not at each other.”

She claimed the only reason she did not hold a position in the UPND was because the party had not been to a convention since 2006.

“We did not have positions [in UPND] not because we cannot have them, but because the party has not had a convention since 2006 and your criteria for ‘anointing’ people is something I won’t even get into today. So why should my role be reduced or carefully structured to only escort others? So that they achieve their goals that are so different and not known by those that blindly follow? You have actually reminded me of one particular incident after I had made so much noise that the party had no gender in the constitution despite over 20 years in existence,” Imboela stated.

“Of course the country already knows me as a gender activist so I advocated for gender mainstreaming in the party constitution until a team was assembled to look into that. I was told to be part of the team because I had made so much noise about it and also qualified to offer advice for free on the matter. Just at the first or second meeting, as I sat in the meeting, the National Women’s Chairperson came to me and said we should go and talk outside. When we went outside, I was told that I could not be part of the meeting because I was not a member of the NMC. That’s how I went home that day never to attend any meeting again.”

Imboela also lamented that during her time in the UPND, she had to cover her own costs during campaigns.

“Of course I was grateful that I would save my gas because not even gas or allowances were being paid. We were just doing it for the good of the party. I was probably the only qualified person in the area of gender in that room that day aside from the facilitator, but my party chased me from attending a meeting. I had so much to give for free but because I was not a member of the NMC, really?” stated Imboela.

“My abilities and qualifications were being wasted in UPND hence it is better that I go where I can contribute effectively as a young professional and political scientist. Even as a musician. Ever wondered why PF win by songs and UPND has no idea yet they have musicians as committed members? It comes back to what the SG has said, as long as you don’t hold a position in UPND then you are a nobody. So just wish me well and hope that other parties that are not so preoccupied with positions and other issues may have better use for us.”