UPND spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says it is not like anybody who was in PF is a “bad egg”.
Recently, former Kalulushi Mayor Rashida Mulenga defected to UPND.
In an interview, Mweetwa said those defecting to the ruling party were not taking up any high positions.
“The UPND has its own management structures from the grassroots to the national management. The people who are joining are not coming to take up any high position in the party because we do not have any elections in the immediate term. So the party leadership will continue with party leaders that were elected at the general assembly last year. Secondly, the UPND is governed by its constitution and also the Republican constitution,” he said.
“The Republican constitution is supreme to the UPND constitution. The Republican constitution provides for freedom of association. You can therefore not say because madam Rashida Mulenga was Mayor under the PF, then this person should be turned away. That is unconstitutional because she has a freedom of association and what matters are the people who are joining. What role are they going to play? They are going to play a complementary role.”
Mweetwa said UPND would not turn away individuals without bad elements.
“It is not like anybody who was in PF is a bad egg, no. Those who committed certain offences against the law are being visited by the law. We cannot throw the child with the bath water. We cannot say all those who were in PF are bad people. Is that what the implication will be when the UPND leaves the government? In an event that may be one or two individuals involved in certain travesties against the law then all should be thrown away and cast into hell as outcasts?” he asked.
“That is not the way it should be. There are those who were in MMD, they served under the Patriotic Front and there are those who were in MMD and joined UPND and serving under UPND government. It is really about who a particular individual is and those who were bad elements. The people know them and some of them will be exposed by the law.”
Mweetwa, however, said the party would not ignore its long time members.
“However, we are not paying a deaf ear to some of the concerns of our membership. It also has to be appreciated that this is a party that was in the opposition for the longest history in the political history on the continent. You do appreciate that this political party suffered heavily at the hands of the Patriotic Front. Our members suffered heavily especially those who were in PF strongholds previously such as Copperbelt. You will find that people who came out to show that PF needed to exit office, many of them were a subject of victimisation of one form or the other, the least of them being violence,” said Mweetwa.
“So when they now see that the former tormentors are now coming to take a front seat, they get concerned. We cannot give a blind eye to that as a party. We will have to ensure that those who stood with the party when it was not fashionable and called a minority party and said whether you call UPND bad names we will stand with the UPND. So we cannot say those people become bad people when they speak, we cannot do that. So it is a delicate balancing act which respects the constitution that all Zambians are free to associate with a political party of choice and takes into account that not everything that glitters is gold. So those that have questionable issues with the law they will answer to the law.”