PATRIOTIC Front deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri has lamented that political lies in the media have cost her the good friendship she had with UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.

And Phiri has insisted that 2021 presidential aspirant Kelvin Fube Bwalya (KBF) does not qualify to contest the PF presidency because he is not a member of the party.

Meanwhile, Phiri has asked UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma to stop blaming PF for his party’s failure to go for a general convention from the time the Hichilema was ushered into office 15 years ago.

Speaking when she featured on UNZA Radio’s Lusaka Star programme, Wednesday, regretted that the “lies being spread about tribalism” in the country had cost her friendship with Hichilema.

“I am a victim of being called a tribalist because of lies and I lost a very good friend of mine. Mr Hakainde Hichilema was a very good friend of mine; I am one of those people who could go to Mr Hichilema’s house and have tea together. But our relationship was spoiled because of lies. I am appearing in the report of the Commission of Inquiry over a lie. Some people lied that I called Mr Hakainde Hichilema a kachema, words I never used,” Phiri lamented.

“I was talking to Gerald Shawa (Prime TV proprietor) over the weekend because he’s my brother-in-law, so I was telling him that I pleaded with his TV station then to play the original words; I said…but they decided not to clear me. So, when people are talking about our Minister of Livestock (Professor Nkandu Luo) said this, our Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry (Christopher Yaluma) said this, unless if I am there and I have proof. So, the words of tribalism are being perpetuated by people (who) want to get something out of politics to paint other people black and it makes me sad.”

And Phiri said KBF did not qualify to contest the presidency.

“Anybody who wants to challenge President Lungu is allowed, but what we look at is, are you a delegate? What does our [party] constitution say? We are supposed to pick four from the section; from the constituency; from the district; provincial leaders; councillors; members of central committee; if you are a member of parliament, you qualify and you are a delegate at the general conference. So, let us not even discuss names; if you are not any of those, you don’t qualify to contest. And for KBF, he is expelled from the party. This was a decision that was presided over by the central committee; it was a central committee decision. Let me explain further, it’s a rule which is there that when you leave the party, you have to apply if you want to come back and you are given three years (for re-admission). But there is discretion, if the President says, ‘let this person come back’ then the three years falls off. That’s what happened to GBM,” Phiri said.

“If a member of central committee suggests to say let us waiver these three years, it’s debated and when it’s finally agreed, then you are given a waiver of that three years. It’s not like Mumbi Phiri is making this up, it’s enshrined in our constitution. Mind you, KBF is my elder brother, we went together to Mufulira High School and I know him, it’s nothing personal, but it’s just the rules of the game. He does not qualify to contest the presidency as of now and he hasn’t indicated if he’s coming back to the party.”

Phiri refuted KBF’s claim that he never received an expulsion letter, saying it was actually delivered

“It is not true that he didn’t receive the suspension letter; I can even bring that letter to you, maybe if you deliver it to him, he will see it. Let us be sincere in what we do. We have a copy of the letter, which was written to him by the secretariat and we have copies to that letter. So, he can’t hide, and he can say whatever he wants to say, but we sent him the letter and it was even published in the newspapers, we even sent people to take the letter to his office. But I am willing to take the letter to his office again if that’s what he wants. Let us be straight in our politics,” Phiri said.

Meanwhile, Phiri refuted Kakoma’s allegations that the PF was plotting to stop UPND from contesting next year’s general election.

“It’s laughable, how? You would wonder how a person in their right mind would accuse us of that because I am aware that there was a court process in Livingstone where people wanted the court to rule that all the political parties which have never had intraparty elections should be de-registered. And in Bill 10, it’s there that they are encouraging intra-party elections. How can Charles Kakoma blame the PF for that? And in all these years, when did the UPND go for a general conference to elect new leaders and why should that be blamed on us? UPND have been doing is getting back to them, and now they want to blame others. They planted a seed, which is now germinating. We have never stopped them from the last time when they went to a convention when Mr Hakainde Hichilema became president. So, they should not blame us!” said Phiri charged.

“Honourable Kakoma is a very educated man and he knows that according to the scientific guidelines, which has been gathered, the number of people that has been allowed to meet during this period is 50 people. The people present at those district elections were more than 50, so the police stopped them on the basis of the ‘new normal’ which is scientific-proven. And where were they all this time?”

She also advised Chinese nationals living in Zambia to stop keeping money in their houses in order to avoid attacks.

“My advice to our Chinese brothers and sisters is that they should make sure that they bank their monies in banks. Where I live, we were neighbours with one Chinese couple; I think they experienced about two or three robberies and even put us, their neighbours, at risk because everybody knows that they keep their money in their houses. So, the chairperson for the Chinese, who are living in Zambia, please, talk to our brothers and sisters to start banking money in the banks so that these criminal activities can be minimized,” appealed Phiri.