SPECIAL Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe says the difference between the PF supporters and those of the opposition that gathered outside Mulungushi International Conference Centre is that the opposition addressed them.
On Wednesday, President Lungu said it was irresponsibility of the highest order for the UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema to have invited multitudes to Mulungushi International Conference Centre when there was a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.
And commenting on the huge crowd of PF supporters that went to witness the launch of the ruling party campaigns on Wednesday, Chipampe said the opposition invited their supporters and addressed them, whereas the President didn’t.
“It was outside Mulungushi, did the President address those people? He did not. The difference is that the other camp was addressing them, they mobilized them, that is different. If you address them in that fashion it means you are the one who has brought them isn’t it? Wasn’t the road blocked? There was a rally in short. But yesterday (Wednesday) did you see any rally? People just lined up along the road. They were outside Mulungushi, you would have asked if these people were allowed inside but they were stopped from entering the premises. Last week’s incident, the leaders of the opposition were addressing the people at a rally on the road. Yesterday’s incident the President did not stop to address them,” Chipampe said.
“He has said he does not want these rallies and he even quoted the bible. What the President is saying is that we are going to die if we don’t follow procedure. I have heard people from the opposition speak on radio saying ‘they will go ahead because PF is doing the same’ this is about life, it is not about PF, it is not about UPND. What we forget in this country is that there are people who don’t belong to these two parties, these are innocent people. But when we have a crisis, does the virus choose who is UPND, PF, Socialist, or NDC? It doesn’t!”
Chipampe said President Lungu was concerned with the people that lined up outside the Centre.
“The regulations that were put in place when COVID started are still there. What the Head of State was doing was just emphasising the fact that they need to be enforced. It is nothing new, the only new thing is that we have the Indian variant which is even more deadly as we have heard and the numbers are rising. It is dangerous for everyone. He can only control what he can control. If they were lining up and not wearing masks that is another different issue. He should be concerned if they are lining up and they are not observing the health guidelines. It is a concern. That is why they were not allowed inside so that they should not be part of the event where they have not been invited. Those people who were inside were invited and the rules were followed inside the hall. We are not supporting anything. There is nothing partisan, that is why he said ‘without fear of favour’ so whether they are PF doing wrong things, it is not right and it has to be stopped,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chipampe refuted claims by the opposition that the Head of State was using the pandemic to stop the opposition from campaigning.
“No one has been stopped from campaigning. We should never think that rallies and campaigns are synonymous. In this country we think campaigning is holding a rally, these are modern days. You can use many methods of campaigning. People should just be innovative, find other ways of campaigning and avoid contracting the disease. The President did not say anything related to stopping people from campaigning. He was talking about rallies,” said Chipampe.