UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka says the interest by Chishimba Kambwili’s NDC to form a joint government with UPND in 2021 is a signal that the opposition party remains attractive ahead of the next elections, despite the departure of its vice-president.

And Mucheleka says PF has turned GBM into a ‘punching bag’, as even junior party members are telling him to apply to rejoin the party after duping him into resigning from UPND.

Meanwhile, UPND Chairman for Agriculture, Food and Water Development Levy Ngoma says GBM did not want Mazabuka Central MP Garry Nkombo and Monze Central MP Jack Mwiibu to continue being MPs, adding that GBM was scheming for duo’s expulsion from the party in order to cause by-elections in their constituencies.

Speaking when he featured on 5 FM’s ‘The Burning Issue’ programme, Mucheleka said the opposition party remained intact, as could be seen by the NDC interest to jointly form government with UPND.

“We need to unite as opposition in order to deliver Zambians from the hands of the PF, this is why you have seen the opposition alliance being formed and you saw how we worked together in Roan with the NDC. And NDC President even today he has been quoted by News Diggers! saying that NDC would form a working pact with UPND if that’s what Zambians want. So ‘bambibaleya, bambibaleisa, efyocaba.’ (as some are leaving, others are coming, that’s how it is). My uncle was saying he is going to make UPND members in Kasama leave the party, that’s not true, he can’t do that to all the people. People in Kasama are already saying that we can’t follow ba GBM in PF, we are suffering, we want change. My Uncle says he has a lot of people who will make UPND lose in 2021, I also come from Northern Province, I also have people who support me. So why should we be crying about an individual? What we want is to work for the Zambian people, to deliver this country.”

Mucheleka laughed at GBM for being duping into ditching UPND.

“For me who is his nephew, I went out of the way to try and keep him within the UPND family, sometimes unknown to a lot of people. I used to spend long hours with him, the two of us chatting. When I saw that the PF were moving to capture him, I got concerned and that’s what I have been doing, but that didn’t work. I don’t think there was anything that could have been done to keep him in the UPND, he was under severe pressure. The PF captured him and they have now abandoned him. Kennedy Kamba is the one saying he should write a letter and we shall sit to decide if he should come back. Junior members of the PF are the ones saying we won’t allow him to come back, he will just bring confusion. They have now turned him into a punching bag, a person who they have been ridiculing, they have him where they wanted him to be, today he is theirs, he is stuck!” Mucheleka said.

“We cannot celebrate that he has left UPND but we couldn’t make him stay. As for me, it’s not only losing him as a party, I have also lost my own uncle but you must understand that even as he goes that way, I will remain in UPND. He remains my uncle ‘umuto walupwa tawitika’ (A family does not break despite differences) and I have a lot of respect for him, that’s why I cannot even use disparaging remarks against him.”

And Mucheleka said Hichilema was the only political party leader who was making efforts to reach out to all Zambians by attempting to speak their different local languages.

“It’s not easy to be an opposition political party leader in Zambia, there are so many so-called opposition political parties who have sold their parties to PF, you know them. When you are opposition, you must be opposition. Opposition means giving checks and balances to the government, including having alternative policies, you are an alternative government. But today, can you say that about these opposition political parties? Most presidents of these parties masquerading as opposition have sold their souls to PF. It’s not easy to be in opposition, I take my hat off to president Hakainde Hichilema who has kept the party together. He has tried to reach out to several Zambians across the country so that we can work together,” Mucheleka said.

“He is the only president today who can go to Northern or Luapula province and speak Bemba, others used to say he does not speak Bemba but when he goes to Luaupala or Northern, he speaks Bemba, you saw him in Bahati, he was speaking Bemba. When he goes to North-Western province, he speaks Lunda, he speaks Luvale, he speaks Kaonde, when he is in Mongu he speaks Lozi. How many presidents are able to speak so many Zambian languages? President Lungu speaks Bemba and Nyanja, have you ever heard him even make an attempt to speak Lozi or Tonga? He doesn’t, but HH has been making efforts.”

Meanhwile, Levy Ngoma said GBM wanted Garry Nkombo and Jack Mwiimbu expelled from the party so that by elections could be held in their constituencies.

“He wanted some senior members of the party to be removed from the party, an example is in Mazabuka where he went and told party officials ‘I don’t want Garry Nkombo to be here in Mazabuka as MP and I want to indicate to the party leadership that if a by-election is created in Mazabuka, I am going to finance it, remove him. I don’t want Jack Mwiimbu in Moonze central, let’s find ways and means of creating by-elections in Moonze and as GBM I am ready to find money to fiancé the by-elections.’ He wanted to usurp the leadership of the party and anybody who appeared to stand in the way usurping the leadership of the party in a constitutional manner, was an enemy. Not only that, but people like Honourable Mutale Nalumango were not wanted by GBM, do you run a party like that? You don’t!” said Ngoma.