United Liberal Party president Sakwiba Sikota says a number of UPND members of parliament who shunned the National Dialogue Forum were texting him to sneak in their ideas during the forum.

And Sikota says those who stayed away from the process should not complain about the resolutions that were passed because their absence made it possible for certain resolutions to go through.

Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Sikota said some UPND MPs told him that they stayed away from the forum because they were threatened with not being adopted in 2021 if they went against the party’s resolution not to participate in the process.

He said some of them were sending him text messages to sneak in their ideas.

“What happened is that the NDF was being broadcast live in real time to the people, I had lots of people who in between would send me messages as to what we were discussing. And the bills were also put on the website which was created by the NDF. Other participants also confirmed that they were receiving messages from people outside who were adding their voice to the discussion. Some of the people who contacted me funnily are those who were actually boycotting the process. Quite a number of UPND MPs, not those who were participating, but those that stayed away, would ring me and give me their submissions. Some of them had very good points and I kept on telling them that it would have been nice if you were here and giving these bright ideas that you are giving me behind closed doors. And all of them said ‘you know, we would have loved to be there but basically we have been told that we will not be adopted by our party if we come there.’ That’s the only reason they didn’t come there, but they actually wanted to, and they did participate behind the scenes,” Sikota said.

Sikota said the Catholic church was also represented at the forum because the chair, Professor Muyunda Mwanalushi, is Catholic.

“The NDF was very well represented; almost every political party there, churches were well represented there, independent MPs were represented, civil society organisation was also represented and so, it was not shunned. When you look at opposition political parties in Parliament, every single one of them was represented. The obvious thing that someone would say is ‘oh, what of UPND?’ UPND was well represented, one third of the UPND MPs attended. If you talk about the church mother bodies, EFZ was there and for them one of their representatives was even co-chairing one of the sub-committees, that’s how far their participation went. If you talk about the Catholic Church, they were well represented; the chairING of the NDF was done by Professor Mwanalushi who is a Catholic, the NDF secretary Patrick Chisanga is also a Catholic. If the people who belong to that church were there, then the church was represented; the church is not the secretary general, it is the people who go there,” Sikota said.

Meanhwile, Sikota said that those who shunned the forum should not complain about its outcomes.

“So now what we have is that those who boycotted the process are now speaking out and saying ‘why did they do this, why did they do that?’ the question is: why didn’t they come when the process was on and say ‘don’t do this, don’t do that?’ they were behaving like little kids who after being annoyed refuse to eat but when they are hungry they come and start pleading for food. There was no reason for them to lose faith in the process even before they tested the waters. They are now complaining about bills such as the proposal to bring back the position of deputy minister, they shouldn’t complain. If they came, they could have voted against that proposal and it could have not gone through, and in fact people should be pointing fingers and at them for shunning the process and allow certain proposals to go through,” said Sikota.