UPND Alliance leader Hakainde Hichilema says the alliance disagrees with President Edgar Lungu’s decision to ban campaigns while he pulls crowds himself.
And UPND alliance co-chair Dr Ernest Mwansa says President Lungu does not have a right to tell the opposition how they should campaign.
Commenting on President Lungu’s directive that the police should deal with any politician who would be seen conducting campaign rallies as a measure to stop the spread of COVID-19 ahead of the August 12 elections, at a press briefing, Thursday, Hichilema said he disagreed with the President’s misleading statement.
“We launched our campaign on the 19th of May 2021 at Mulungushi. He referred to that issue but he brought multitudes at the exact location. What is good for the goose must be good for the gander. What is good for him must be good for the alliance partners. Nothing should stop us from forming government, to me personally, Mr Lungu is the easiest candidate because we have seen his manifesto. We have seen his failures. We have seen his destruction of the economy. He is the easiest candidate. What we will not allow him to do is to introduce, to perpetuate violence. Protect your votes. Anyone who takes your vote, aka imwena (they will see). Because that is your right. There is no way people bring violence to you, the police don’t protect you, what do you do? Self defence. Protect yourself, protect your vote,” he said.
“The message is very clear that we disagree with the misleading statement that Mr Lungu issued yesterday (Wednesday). Here is a competitor who wants to hide under cover of occupying that people’s house for which he is just a temporary tenant. Sometimes my colleague forgets that he is there at the behest of the people of Zambia. What he was doing yesterday was Mickey Mouse, that was an animal farm.”
And Dr Mwansa said the alliance would campaign the way it wants.
“What the President of the PF said is strange. Banning contenders and competitors from going out to the countryside to campaign while he is doing so himself is to me like a boxer who tells his opponents ‘don’t train but we will meet in the boxing ring on the 12th of August’. That doesn’t make sense! He must be ready to face well trained, well physically opponents and be able to fight toe to toe, head-to-head. And this Alliance wants to make a few comments clear to him. The campaign season has opened and he doesn’t have the right to tell us how we campaign. We campaign as an alliance the way we want to campaign,” he said.
“We know as this alliance that COVID is around, he is not the one to tell us how to campaign during the COVID period. He can’t stop us from campaigning. He doesn’t have a constitutional right to do so and we will not have it. We want to say to our people observe the COVID rules but go out and campaign because it is your right to do so. We do not accept as an alliance for our opponents to take themselves to all corners of this country using government money campaigning and then tell us not to campaign. We reject that idea. It is undemocratic. We do not accept that someone must tell us where to go and campaign all in the name of coming together.”
He added that the alliance would not be intimidated.
“The President of this country and the President of PF is the one who dissolved parliament to usher in a time of campaign. Yet he wants to tell us don’t campaign. Police arrest these people. What does he want us to do? Watch him go round the country, campaign for himself while we shut up and sit in fear? Far from it! We will not be intimidated. We should not allow anyone one stopping us from doing what the constitution allows us to do,” Dr Mwansa said.
Meanwhile, alliance co-chair Charles Milupi challenged the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ ) to speak out on President Lungu’s pronouncement.
“We want ECZ to take charge of this process. They are established by law, they are established in the constitution to ensure that the elections are held in a transparent, free and fair manner and to ensure that the playing field is even. Many actions taken by President Lungu and his minions, their pronouncement clearly infringes and yet ECZ who are the referees are quiet. What is your role in this? You know that yesterday’s pronouncement infringes the rights of all other opposition presidential candidates,” said Milupi.