UPND national chairperson Stephen Katuka says opposition party leader Hakainde Hichilema is feeling bad about the party’s former spokesperson Charles Kakoma’s defection to PF because it is like betrayal.

And Katuka has lamented that Kakoma took everyone by surprise as he did not consult anyone about his intentions to leave UPND.

On Tuesday, Kakoma defected to the ruling party, vowing that he would now do everything in power to ensure that President Edgar Lungu won the August 12 election.

Commenting on the development, Katuka said Hichilema felt betrayed by Kakoma’s defection because the latter was a close friend of the UPND leader.

“It is unfortunate to lose a member like Charles who was very good to all of us. I know how president Hakainde feels because they are former classmates and treated him as a personal friend. He feels really bad. I know you saw his message? He really feels bad. I would feel the same. Here is a person you grew up with, sat next to in a classroom and taken to be a close friend. He must feel betrayed by his friend, but that is life. Even Jesus was betrayed by his own disciples. So, when such a thing happens, you say, ‘maybe it was meant to happen’ but it is not fair to treat one another like that. We must fight battles together. In fact, the worst thing is where he has gone, the misery that the PF has inflicted on the Zambian people, including himself, is too much. But now, he has shown that he just wants to eat,” Katuka bemoaned.

And Katuka lamented that Kakoma took everyone by surprise.

“If you remember, we were the only two MPs in Parliament from North-Western Province and that time, the temptation was very high, the MMD wanted to buy us and they failed. That is what made me think that my friend was as strong as I was. Little did I know that he has weakened over time that he can easily be taken. He never had the courtesy to consult his friends. You know, in politics, even as you are an individual and you have your individual rights, you are a team. There is always a need to confide in your friends or confide in a few. Maybe he consulted the wife, but he never talked to me or anyone I know about the decision made, he just took us by surprise! So, it is difficult. However, it is his right to choose where he belongs,” he said.

“Even Charles Kakoma’s going, he is thinking he is going to find it very easy and to be comfortable on that side, but he may realise that he may not be as comfortable as he thinks. When you look at things from afar, they are green, get near them, you will see that they are not as green. He will only realise later on that there is nothing, really. We have all been enticed at one point or another, offered lucrative things, but depending on the character of a person, I do not think I can enjoy what is not mine, what I have not worked for. We wish him well in his new endeavours and we hope he will get what he has fought for.”

And commenting on Kakoma’s complaint that he was demoted, Katuka disputed the assertion, insisting that the former lawmaker was looking for an excuse to ditch the UPND.

“Even here in Africa, there is no natural death. You climb a tree and fall down, you will say, ‘you have been bewitched.’ He needed to find an excuse. He was a chairperson of a committee so where is the demotion?” asked Katuka, who added that Kakoma’s departure from the UPND was not a blow to the party.