UPND spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says the Meet and Greet the President Gala Dinner is aimed at raising clean money for the secretariat.

In an interview, Mweetwa said tickets for the fundraising dinner were being sold at K10,000 each because they were mainly targeting members of parliament, ministers and other well wishers.

“The issue of pretending is where you find that people begin to enter into shoddy deals and people start receiving dubiously generated money. We want clean business and those who will afford will come to such a function and be able to help the party. The people who are being targeted for this function are the Members of Parliament and that is why the tickets are even being sold at K10,000. You will have 100 members of parliament each buying a ticket at K10,000 and that is the whole idea. You will be able to generate some money for the secretariat to run on clean money. So we want to use these initiatives where there will be clean money. You can now disclose that the people who are being targeted are members of parliament, Ministers and other well wishers who might deem it fit. So the party is not trying to exclude anyone or whatsoever,” Mweetwa said.

“The party is not making it difficult for others to access but this is pure fundraising. The President will always interact with his people free of charge but the one is just a fundraiser and it must be understood as such and not politicised. I know that the party has to come up with initiatives that will be sustainable. The most important thing that the party is trying to do is it does not want to be moving around with a begging bowl like we have seen before. People were moving around and using the ruling party’s name and collecting money from business houses and pocketing it. We do not want that but we want those who want to assist to come out in the open. For instance, I can come out as party spokesperson and add a K5,000 that is what we want. We are enhancing transparency and accountability.”

Mweetwa said the party could not be expected to continue running on the same level of capacity as it did while in opposition.

“I am aware that there will be a party fundraiser to fundraise for the party functions because we do not want to deep long fingers in taxpayers’ money. First of all, this is a pure fundraiser and not a programme to go and interact with the President. Those who want to interact with the President at large, he is visiting various places. Like yesterday he was in Chinsali so the people of Muchinga interacted with him there for free because they are the ones who voted for him. So this is a pure fundraiser and it is not for the UPND members to go and interact with the President. It is a fundraiser where UPND members agree to run the party away from government through that initiative. We want to separate the party from government and that is the whole idea,” said Mweetwa.

“The party has managed to sustain itself in the opposition under very difficult circumstances. However, this party is now the ruling party and party functionaries have to work full time. The party must function so that it operates as an auxiliary to government in terms of check listing party policies and issues that government will be implementing. So the party cannot be expected to continue to run on the same level of capacity as it has done in the opposition. The things we were involved in as opposition are now less than the things we are getting involved in now. We have a Secretary General whose main job is purely to run the party. How do you make this party run efficiently if you do not have funds?”