PATRIOTIC Front (PF) media director Sunday Chanda says the ruling party has nothing to do with the debate around privatization as it is an issue between UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and his FDD counterpart Edith Nawakwi.

And Chanda says PF identifies with the suffering of the masses, given the escalating cost of living and doing business.

Meanwhile, Chanda has appealed to his party members in Lukashya and Mwansabomwe to exercise maximum restraint when provoked by competitors.

Speaking when he featured on 5FM’s The Burning Issue, Tuesday, Chanda said it was not true that the PF was trying to use the privatization debate in order to shift people’s attention from the current problems the country was facing.

“For starters, the privatization debate is not a PF baby. It is a matter between comrade Hakainde Hichilema and comrade Edith Nawakwi and comrade Sean Tembo and others. It’s a debate among the stakeholders and the citizens. We have nothing to do with it. The allegation that we are diverting [people’s attention from national issues that government is supposed to focus on] is no true. There is no diversion whatsoever. And the allegation that we want to kill anyone is not true. Let me officially divorce the Patriotic Front from this privatization debate. It’s not our baby,” Chanda said.

And Chanda said PF was concerned about the high cost of doing business as well as the high cost of living among the people.

“The Patriotic Front is concerned about the high cost of living. It is concerned about the high cost of doing business, it is concerned about the young farmers because food security is key if we were to attain our aspirations as pronounced in the 2016 to 2021 election manifesto. We feel their pain and we identify their pain. So, there is no pretense whatsoever, we feel the pain of Zambian people. And in feeling this pain, we are not just seated and folding arms. We are not trying to run away from the fact that the depreciation of the Zambian kwacha is having a negative bearing on the livelihoods of our people. We have not sat back and pretend COVID-19 is not real and is not affecting our people negatively. And even as we are dealing with the harsh realities of this pandemic, government has been very proactive,” Chanda said.

Meanwhile, Chanda urged his party members to refrain from violence at all times even when they are provoked.

“As we talk to the people, we tell them about the things that we will do for them. As a party that is in power, we have a duty to ensure that we exercise maximum restraint and ensure that at all times, we make the work of the police easier. And that at all times, you must refrain from violence. The president has condemned any sort of violence, the party does not tolerate any form of violence. And I wish the repeat the secretary general’s statement about two to three weeks ago that the party will not shield anyone who conducts violence in the name of the party. The Patriotic Front is not one that will stand and justify violence like some of our colleagues do. We are not going to call violence as self defence. Violence will not be condoned in the Patriotic Front,” said Chanda.

“And our message is very clear to our members of the party that even under extreme provocation, restrain yourselves from engaging in violence acts. We want to win these by-elections legitimately and we want our people to express their free will as they go to cast their votes because that has always been the way that we have won elections.The people of Lukashya and Mwansabombwe are looking for development and nothing else. If there is any conversation that they would want to hear is the conversation around development. They want schools, they want hospitals, electricity, farming inputs delivered on time, they want improved telecommunication, and improved feeder roads.”