PF vice-president Given Lubinda says UPND’s strategy to petition over 440 council election results was aimed at financially crippling the PF so that “all the little money” they have goes to legal fees.

And Lubinda has questioned the legality of government’s decision to obtain a loan from the World Bank to build schools in the absence of an Attorney General.

Addressing the media, Thursday, Lubinda claimed that UPND was not represented by lawyers in many council petitions.

He also described the claims that PF owed K37 million in legal fees as a gross overstatement.

“We entered into agreements with all lawyers and they had terms. Those terms are supposed to be finally executed upon obtaining judgements. The matters are still going on now. Today as we speak, there is not a single case which is being postponed for lack of presence of legal counsel. So we cannot be said to be owing because the time for owing has not arisen yet. It will only arise when we fail to meet our obligations in accordance with our agreements. And also to say K37 million is a gross overstatement. Even after the conclusions of all the petitions, there is no way that we will have attracted legal costs to the tune of K37 million,” Lubinda said.

“President Hakainde said he does not like by-elections and yet the UPND have petitioned. In many of the council petitions, the petitioners are going without lawyers. Why is it that the UPND in many petitions were going without lawyers? It is because for them this was just based on frivolity. Whereas UPND is not going to cover any legal costs, we are suffering. If I suggested to you that this was a strategy by UPND to cripple us financially, will you say it is far from the truth? They brought out more than 440 council petitions and we won all of them except two. My suggestion is that they knew that we would get lawyers who will cost us money so that we can be crippled financially and all the little money we have must go to pay our lawyers.”

And Lubinda questioned the legality of government’s decision to obtain a loan from the World Bank to build schools in the absence of an Attorney General.

He said it was hypocritical for UPND to obtain a loan within the few days of being in government when they had “ferociously” attacked the PF for borrowing $12 billion in a space of 10 years.

“The Zambian people were entertained to very ferocious attacks on the PF for borrowing. We found the debt at $2 billion in 2011 and we borrowed $12 billion in a space of 10 years to bring the total to about $15 billion in 2021. They criticized us and they were short of climbing on the moon to criticize us. Yet for them, only 45 days they have already attracted 1.5 billion debt. First, there cannot be worse hypocrisy than this. One just wonders what was the reason for all that criticism? Maybe they have realised that what the PF was doing was inevitable. If the second is the case, are they human beings enough to apologise for all the unnecessary ridicule?” Lubinda wondered.

“The law requires that the Attorney General is the chief legal advisor to the government and shall give advice on any agreement treaty or agreement to which the government intends to become a party. The Finance Minister said the loan might actually have been signed and this is against the provisions of the constitution. President Hichilema and his Minister of Finance have caused for a financial agreement to be signed without the advice of the Attorney general. Can they tell us what authority they have because the law is very clear?”

Lubinda said law enforcement agencies would not be independent because they had been brought under President Hakainde Hichilema’s control.

“All anti-corruption entities whenever they are formed shall be autonomous of the Executive, Judiciary and they shall run independently. Financial institutions like the FIC are meant to operate independently. May I remind President Hichilema of what he accused us of doing that we were instructing these investigative wings of government? If indeed he suspects that we were interfering when they were away from the Presidency, what should we deduce from Statutory Instrument (SI) 1123? Is it to make these entities autonomous or to bring them totally under his control?” he asked.

“According to the law, any statutory instrument to take effect must be signed by the Solicitor General in the absence of the Attorney General. As we speak today, Zambia does not have an Attorney General. The last Attorney General Likando Kalaluka came to the end of his tenure of office on the day that President Hichilema took office. The one that is there is yet to be ratified by parliament. Now which Attorney General advised SI 1123 in accordance with the law? As a party, we are asking our members of parliament to raise this very important matter in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.”

Lubinda challenged UPND Alliance members in parliament to indicate whether they had formally defected to UPND.

“The party that was voted for by the 2.8 million is the UPND. And therefore the ones that are governing are the UPND government. This reference to the nonexistent UPND Alliance is illegal in itself. There is no entity of that sort and people did not elect the UPND Alliance on the ballot paper. I would like to advise those in the Alliance especially those in parliament to tell us whether they have actually resigned from their political parties. [In] the parliamentary handbook, those three who were nominated from other parties are referred to as UPND. We cannot be hovering around with informalities,” he said.

“President Hichilema can be informally referring to the UPND Alliance but not in parliament and when addressing on matters of national importance. He must stick to the party that is in government, that is UPND. Let him not mislead the people. For Felix Mutati and others, I am only asking them to clarify, are they still members of their party or they have defected to the UPND? At parliament, Mutati is registered as UPND so they need to clarify that.”

Meanwhile, Lubinda said President Hichilema should stop encouraging Zambians to ignore the provisions of the Justice system.

“We would like to remind President Hakainde Hichilema that he was elected by Zambians and he is now Republican President. He is President of all Zambians including criminals. He is not only the President of the holy ones and he swore to defend the constitution. President Hichilema must not encourage Zambians to ignore the provisions of the Justice system. He must be reminded that if people committed any forms of atrocities against one another there are laid down grievance procedures. And ‘an eye for an eye’ is not amongst them,” said Lubinda.

“On behalf of all Zambians, I would like to appeal to President Hakainde Hichilema to quickly retract that statement because if he does not, then every act of abuse occasioned on one by another shall be squarely and properly on his laps. He shall take responsibility. I am alive to the fact that that response of his was off cuff and came as a result of a question, it would only be honourable for him to accept the fact that he may have been driven by reasons to say that and may he retract it. Our people are living away from their homes and what we expect on the President is a clarion call on his members to refrain from abusing their recently acquired power.”