UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka says it is ironic that the ruling Patriotic Front wants UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema to start campaigning when opposition leaders are detained for merely holding intra-party elections.

On Monday, PF deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri said Hichilema was enjoying the comfort of his house while the ruling party was campaigning so he shouldn’t complain when he loses election.

But in a statement, Tuesday, Mucheleka said the party would not put members of the public at risk of contracting COVID-19.

“We have seen mixed messages from the PF leadership regarding regulation of public gatherings amidst the Coronavirus pandemic which is killing lots of people globally. Among the measures approved by the PF cabinet yesterday was a deployment of police officers in public places to control public gatherings. Yet on the other hand, senior PF officials like deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri among others, are saying there is nothing wrong holding public gatherings. This is the typical chipantepante (no direction) leadership that has been characteristic of the PF rule resulting in damaging the country beyond repair. We currently have many UPND members being harassed and detained by police for merely conducting constitutionally mandated intra party elections. This is despite them observing health guidelines on social distancing and masking up. Not long ago, our youths had to hold their protests in the bush because of the PF repression using the evil Public Order Act and now combined with the Coronavirus pandemic as a tool of oppression,” stated Mucheleka.

“It appears like there is something the PF is scheming against our party president, Hakainde Hichilema. How do they want HH to be all over campaigning, yet they don’t want to allow other UPND officials and other citizens to meet people under strict health guidelines. This is ironic and doesn’t make sense. We know that the PF regime has behaved very irresponsibly in handling the Coronavirus and now they want us to share the blame for the increasing number of deaths in the country. As a responsible party, we shall continue meeting people while observing the World Health Organization (WHO) safety guidelines. The PF will not dictate the programme for us and no amount of carrot and stick cajoling will cause us to risk our citizens to Covid-19. “