UPND deputy Secretary General Patrick Mucheleka has told the ruling Patriotic Front to stop “buying off” opposition councillors if they have the interest of the country at heart.

Mucheleka, however, said the ruling party was only buying off “weak souls” from the UPND and in the process disadvantaging the citizenry through unnecessary by-elections.

“Why are they continuing to buy councillors because one would have thought that with the coming in of a new finance minister, they are going to change their behaviour, their mindset is going to change but they can’t change. That is why Kambwili said ‘kapoli ni kapoli’ (meaning, a wild pig will always be a wild pig). The point is we are a multi-party democracy and must be able to make our democracy work. You don’t do what PF is doing by going out, enticing people to defect, inciting people to resign; it doesn’t make sense. You recall the issue of the resignation of the Kaoma Council Chairperson who resigned, who funded his press conference at Chrismar Hotel? It is PF,” Mucheleka alleged in an interview.

“You know, their mindset is polluted with corruption such that even in the midst of high levels of poverty, inequality, lack of basic services…they think they can continue to waste taxpayer’s money and loot. Fine, if they have money, which they have stolen, they may use it to buy weak souls. These are people you are hearing resigning here and there, being bought, it’s PF at play. The real issue is that, at the end of the day, if you have a council chairman who has been bought because he is a weak soul, ultimately, a costly by-election is going to be held so you go to them and tell them that the UPND is accusing you of buying these councillors using stolen money.”

He added that the costly by-elections being created by the Patriotic Front were costing the country huge sums of money that could otherwise be used on development projects.

“When you are going into a by-election, the ECZ will require money from the Treasury to fund that particular by-election, which is where the issue of prioritisation comes in. Where do you want to spend your meagre resources? Is it to cause ECZ to conduct by-elections? Because by-elections, when there is a vacancy, must be held within 90 days and the Treasury has to make a choice. Where do they get the money because, by law, constitutionally, an election must be held? They are going to do that at the expense of the health sector. The hospitals require medicine, you go to government departments, they have not been funded because the money that could have been used to fund those departments is going towards ECZ because it did its budget a long time ago,” said Mucheleka.

“They buy council chairmen, they attempt to buy MPs and obviously, the weak will fall by the wayside and as those weak souls fall by the wayside, we must be able to ask difficult questions to the PF. Have you ever heard of the Ministry of Finance coming up and saying ‘today, we will not give ECZ money to conduct by-elections because you have overblown your budget’? No, money will be found. When that money is found, it is being taken from money that should have gone to sink boreholes for our people across the country; it is money that should have been given to FRA to pay the farmers on time.”