UPND deputy Secretary General Patrick Mucheleka says the party’s failure to contest the Kasenengwa parliamentary by elections after its preferred candidate Dr Faustin Banda disappeared on nominations day is a wake up call.
And Mucheleka says the party has not yet sat to decide on who to support in the September 6 by-elections but that UPND would certainly stand in solidarity with the two opposition parties taking party in the elections.
Mucheleka said this to News Diggers in an interview when he was called to explain what measures his party had put in place to avoid facing the same misfortune.
And Mucheleka vowed that the UPND would not rest until legal action was taken against Dr Banda who was alleged to have run way with materials and money meant for campaigns.
“I can tell you frankly, what happened in Kasenengwa is a lesson for us, it’s really a wake up call. But I want to tell you, the way that person (Dr Faustin Banda) behaved and especially that he claims to be educated – he is a PhD holder who is supposed to inspire many other people in Zambia like politicians – was in such a way that we didn’t know what to do. Remember he was our candidate in 2016, so because of that we felt that we needed to trust him. And by the way, there were a lot of people who were there and wanted to be adopted but what we did, those who had appeared even for interviews, we had to wait for them to move to Lusaka first. We unveiled Banda and at that point, he should have left for Chipata. But after unveiling him, he just disappeared, meaning that those who we could have fallen back on were not in Chipata,” Mucheleka explained.
“If we had to look for a replacement candidate in Chipata, it meant that that person had to travel to Lusaka to go to the ECZ, then we would have had to move that person to go to verify the documentations in Chipata and then send that to Chipata… and Kasenengwa is not within the central business district of Chipata where it could have been easier. Kasengwa is quite a distance from the district such that it would have been almost unattainable for us to be able to meet the deadline given to us by the Electoral Commission of Zambia. So that is were am saying that it’s a lesson and next time we shall be able to plan ahead for such challenges.”
He however said the party would not rest until legal action was taken against Dr Banda.
“But then that shouldn’t mean that it is allowed to just dupe political parties, why should you behave like that? In whose interest? People should be able to have a little bit of integrity, it’s about an individual’s integrity, you can just say ‘sorry my friends, I am not with you. I am with the other party’ because doing things the way that man [Dr Banda] did is what is making PF think that it is normal and people can just be bought like a commodity but where is the morality of a person who behaves like this? Don’t think that this country begins and ends with PF, what about the time when PF is gone, what are you going to do? Who will ever trust you? If you want to leave a political party, do it in a way that does not injure the colleagues that may have trusted you,” Mucheleka said.
“We reported the matter to the police and the charge that he should have been given was ‘obtaining campaign material and cash by false pretenses’. As UPND, our position is that we expect the police to move in and summon this person to the police for questioning and if a prima facie case is established then he should be taken to court. If that does not happen because someone is interfering from somewhere, well nothing even stops us from using a private prosecutor to prosecute the matter. The case is still on and we are just waiting for feedback from the police,” he said.
Asked if the UPND had intentions of supporting any of the two opposition parties taking party in the Kasengwa by-elections, Mucheleka said UPN would always stand with the opposition.
“Well we have not met as a party to decide on who to support, suffice to say that we would certainly stand in solidarity with the other opposition political parties that could be participating. But I want to tell you frankly, we haven’t met as a party to decide on who to support,” said Mucheleka.