Rainbow Party General Secretary Wynter Kabimba has charged that it is hypocritical for UPND leaders to frequent churches every weekend when they abandoned their Chilanga member of parliament Keith Mukata in his time of need.

But UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka says Kabimba should direct his anger at Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo who abandoned his friend when the two were together on the night of the murder.

Speaking when he featured on Hot FM’s Hot Seat programme, Thursday, Kabimba said he was saddened that senior UPND officials abandoned Mukata by not attending his judgment on Wednesday.

“Those of us who knew Keith Mukata, we were saddened to see that when the poor guy went for the judgement, there were no senior members of the UPND. Even as Keith is a member of parliament for UPND in Chilanga, they all abandoned [him]. The people that were wailing in court when the sentence was pronounced, were members of the family, a few of his friends and sympathisers. The only offence that Keith has committed to his party is not agreeing to go along with the UPND when the the UPND members of parliament walked out [of Parliament]. He was the UPND MP that remained behind and decided to rebel that action by the UPND,” Kabimba said.

He wondered what kind of leaders the UPND would be when they failed to forgive and support their MP.

“Now, if we are offering ourselves to be leaders of this country and can’t forgive a man who is in a helpless situation like Keith Mukata, we decide to abandon him, what type of leaders are we? And these are the same leaders that are patronising churches every weekend and yet they are not practicing what Jesus Christ said. It means even the patronising of churches is political, it has nothing to do with the change of heart. I want to say to Zambians out there, like Jesus Christ said, ‘not everybody that shouts my fathers name is a child of God’. I was very sad, having known Keith Mukata personally that he could be abandoned by the UPND when his chips were down,” he said.

“And this coming weekend we shall see some leaders of the UPND going to attend a church service somewhere. Not because they believe in Christ, but because they believe in the votes of the congregants. There is a lot of hypocrisy. There is a lot of making appearances wearing sheep skin. Keith Mukata needed his party yesterday (Wednesday) more than ever before, to comfort him and his family. Those of you that were with Keith in the party must have empathy. You must exercise forgiveness because the man is helpless now, he needs strength [and] comfort. So you can’t rub it in by saying walamona (you will now see). That is not the spirit of leaders because if you become a President with such a heart, how many people are you going to unjustly treat because you have harboured a grudge or strong feelings against them?”

And Kabimba it was premature to start saying that the ‘2021 elections will be rigged’.

“How transparent will that system be? We want ECZ to tell the stakeholders including PF because when it comes to management of elections, PF is just one of the stakeholders. What are the security measures that ECZ and that company will put in place to guarantee to us, stakeholders that there will be no prospects of extra ballot papers printed in favour of anyone of the stakeholders? Yes if the system is transparent, if the security measures are water tight, if there will be representation of the stakeholders, like it has happened in the past, obviously then we are going to give our final position. So we can’t jump to this debate which is subjective and is speculative. It is premature to start saying that ‘no 2021 elections will be rigged’,” he said.

“We want ECZ to come to us now, not in 2021. Because ECZ also has a problem, they sit back like a lame duck, when it comes to a few weeks before 2021, that’s when they become busy with press statements and appear to be working. ECZ is supposed to start work now. Government has taken a position, has made policy pronouncement, we want ECZ to take up this matter and run with it.”

And Kabimba said the planned establishment of the national airline by government was a stillborn venture which would not succeed.

“That is an unfortunate venture. If you listen to the reasons for establishing the national airline, we are told that this is in order to promote our national pride. I don’t know what that means myself, that you can get into a venture however, enviable is, as long as that promotes your national pride? British airways used to fly to Zambia, they stopped because they found the route uneconomical. Zambia Airways collapsed because it became so expensive to run the airline. And our economy at that time was better than it is today,” said Kabimba.

“So I do not understand how an economy which is worse than it was in 1990 can venture into such a competitive venture purely on account of promoting national pride? If South African Airways is collapsing, how can a small economy like Zambia ever hope to get into the airline business to make money? It can’t, in my view. I see this as a stillborn venture before it even takes off the ground. So I hope that government knows what it’s doing but from our view point as Rainbow party, we don’t think that they do. You can mark my words today that this venture will not succeed. We will remain with our national pride but the venture will not succeed.”

But reacting to Kabimba’s remarks in an interview, Thursday, Mucheleka asked Kabimba to direct his anger at Kampyongo.

“We are aware about the issue surrounding honourable Keith Mukata. A life was lost and the High Court made a decision with regard to honourable Mukata being charged and sentenced to death by hanging. Surely is that something anyone can celebrate? Honourable Kabimba may not be aware but in that packed court room, there were a lot of UPND members who were there. As I talk to you, our structures in Chilanga were there, our MPs were there. The fact that Mucheleka, GBM and HH were not seen, does not mean that we abandoned Mukata. The fact that I was not seen there does not mean we have abandoned Keith Mukata,” Mucheleka said.

“In fact, that question should be directed to [Stephen] Kampyongo because from what we read or heard, on that day honourable Mukata was with Kampyongo. So instead of directing that issue on innocent people like myself and the UPND, that issue should be directed at Kampyongo. Wynter Kabimba should be asking why Kampyongo was not at court to give solidarity to the person he was with on the day that person was shot dead.”

He urged Kabimba not to politicise the matter.

“There is no one who can celebrate anyone being harmed, not even your greatest enemy. Life is so precious and is not worth being politicised so if that’s the way our brother wants to do his politics, I think to bring in UPND is not fair. We sympathise with the person who was shot dead and we also sympathise with honourable Mukata and the family. It is not right that we should politicize Mutaka’s sentence. And the issue of [UPND] going to church [every weekend] in this particular case with Mukata’s sentencing are totally not related at all,” said Mucheleka.