UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka says the party has no plans of replacing president Hakainde Hichilema, despite its past defeat to the Patriotic Front and the poor performance in recently held by-elections.

In an interview Katuka said the party was shocked to hear about social media reports suggesting that that he and party chairperson Mutale Nalumango had devised a scheme to replace Hichilema as party president.

Katuka said the rumours were false and malicious, adding that it was delusional for anyone to allege that Hichilema had lost grip in UPND strongholds, just because of a few political setbacks.

“As UPND we are disturbed by a story making rounds on one of the online platforms alleging that I and party national chairperson have devised a well hatched scheme in which we plan to oust our party leader Mr Hakainde Hichilema from his position. We don’t know where this is coming from. They feel that we have hatched a scheme to remove Hakainde and replace him, I don’t know with who. We want to dispel such statements,” Katuka said.

“It is a fallacy for the flamers of the defamatory and malicious statement to allege that president Hichilema has lost grip on the country, particularly Western Province, North Western Province and Southern Province due to the few political setbacks that the part has suffered in the recent past, especially in the wake of endless stage managed by-elections. There is no plan of any sort by the party. They first misquoted Ms Nalumango that she said ‘he must be replaced’, which was not true she has never said and will never say that. Now they have included me, that I am also supporting the scheme, which is not true. I have never said anything.”

Katuka said the party believed in Hichilema’s leadership and that Hichilema was still the most happening man in the country.

“We still believe in his leadership. He has so far made this party intact up to now. If in 2006 we voted for Sakwiba Sikota there would be no UPND today. The man has kept the party together up to this time. So we must appreciate such a person. We wish to put it on record that Mr Hichilema is currently the most happening man in the country, whose popularity, which is evident for all to see, cannot be overlooked. Thus no rightful thinking individual would envision a new leader taking over from Mr Hichilema,” Katuka said.

“I want to reaffirm, that I, Ms Nalumango and the entire UPND supports the able leadership of president Hichilema and wish to state in no uncertain terms that Mr Hichilema is our sole presidential candidate in the forthcoming 2021 tripartite elections, and even in 2026 and above. They can do whatever they are trying to do to destbalise, we know where the schemes are coming from.”

He said as far as the UPND was concerned, Hichilema had been scoring and cannot be replaced.

“We cannot replace a scoring number nine, that man is a striker who is scoring and then you replace him, you can’t do that. So we support the candidature of president Hakainde in the 2021 elections. Even when we go for the convection we are going to elect him. We are going to the general assembly sometime soon, we can assure you that we are going to elect him again because we see nothing wrong,” sad Kautuka.

“Therefore, we wish to warn media houses that are in a habit of fabricating and churning out unbalanced and fake news to desist from doing so, but instead verify each story before it is published, aired or televised. Those who are being malicious are enemies of the party. All those who are writing these things must be foolish!”