UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka says the party refused to have leader Hakainde Hichilema on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview programme because the national broadcaster wanted him to feature as chairperson for the privatization committee and not UPND president.

Katuka had written to ZNBC on September 10, 2020, requesting that the party be given an opportunity to respond, via the Sunday Interview, to FDD leader Edith Nawakwi’s allegations against Hichilema.

However, it was reported that the UPND had turned down an invitation from ZNBC in response to their request for an interview.

In an interview, Katuka disclosed that the decision to turn down the interview was because ZNBC, in its response to the UPND’s letter, requested that Hichilema be given the platform in his capacity as chairperson of the privatization committee and not UPND president.

“We wrote to them as a party, now they were saying let Hichilema come in his capacity as chairman of that privatization thing. We wrote to them as a party and they should have responded to us as a party if they agreed to feature him. Now, they are saying he can’t come there as the president of the party but that he should come as chairman of that privitization. We are not involved as a party in the privatization and we will not discuss issues of privatization. So, if they offered us a platform for the interview, that platform could have been used by anyone from the party because it was the party that was requesting for that interview,” Katuka said.

“Hichilema is a president of a political party which is an organisation and we have a fully-fledged structure in the party. So, if we feel that it is not him, specifically, to deal with the issue, we can delegate anybody to go and do that. Their response was like challenging him to say ‘bwela manje tizakuona’ (come here, you will see).”

He added that the response given by ZNBC was not in good faith, adding that the party had information that there was a plan to disparage Hichilema on the program.

“The spirit in which their response came was clear that they had something negative and we had information about their behavior. The man who was supposed to interview him was already invited to Cabinet Office. They went to grill the reporter at Cabinet Office, what has that got to do with Cabinet? We are aware they called him there to give him some fake documents that have been manufactured. They also linked that letter to the PF, I don’t know why. You know that we took ZNBC to court in the last election, a matter that we won and they have not been featuring us on their programmes. If they feature us, it is in the negative,” said Katuka.

”So we wrote to them and the response, I told the DG that the response to me was not in good faith. That is how my team went to meet them to explain the way that letter was written, the spirit in which it was written, I think it was not done in good faith. That is why we said that we can’t operate like this. That is the issue, those who are saying the president chickened out, they are the chickens themselves.”