FORMER Eastern province minister Makebi Zulu says UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka’s statement that Easterners are politically slow starters is an insult to the people in that province.

In an interview, Tuesday, Zulu said UPND won the general elections based on the votes they got from Eastern Province and the rest of the country.

He advised Mucheleka to be more diplomatic.

“To suggest that easterners are slow starters is an insult to the easterners. Because for UPND to win, they got votes from Eastern Province, they got votes from throughout the country. Now to take easterners based on exercising their democratic right to go for the candidate they want, and because they did not choose a candidate that belonged to the UPND and suggest that they are slow learners, that is very unfortunate of a leader. I blame the individual more than the party. If it was a personal statement, it is still unfortunate of him. We wish he could rise above that and be much more diplomatic in his approach to issues,” said Zulu.

“I wish they could rise above such petty politics and hope they can do better next time. We will explain our policies better to the people, and we will put across a campaign message for the people. You know those campaigns were marred with violence, mostly coming from the UPND side. Any party that is violent and goes to Eastern Province does not do very well. So I hope they can do a better analysis as to why they lost, work on that and they might do better next time.”

Commenting on the election results for the Kaumbwe Parliamentary seat, Mucheleka said people of Eastern Province always took time to come to terms with changes in the political environment.

“Let me tell you, if you understand the political environment on the way Eastern province behaves, it’s not anything new. They take a little bit of time to come to terms. The fact is that things have changed and changed for the better. For them, they are slow starters and they will be changing slowly. If you remember, even in 1991 when everyone was going MMD, they remained UNIP. In 2011 when the majority of the country had gone PF, they remained MMD. They are late comers, they are always late comers,” said Mucheleka.

“In 2011, there was a by-election that was held in Mkaika constituency (Eastern province). There was an election battle between MMD and PF. PF had just defeated MMD in the 2011 general elections and Rupiah Banda then was still MMD president when that by-election was held in Mkaika. Do you know what happened? David Phiri who in 2011 had won on MMD, following his resignation from MMD, [he] switched to PF and stood on PF. MMD then fielded Peter Phiri and he is still there under PF.”