ACTING PF president Given Lubinda says President Hakainde Hichilema instructed state security to eject him from the main arena during the Nc’wala traditional ceremony on Saturday because he had become the centre of attraction.
But presidential spokesperson Anthony Bwalya has denied the allegations, saying they are a fabrication aimed at maligning President Hichilema’s integrity.
Meanwhile, economist Noel Nkhoma says he witnessed State House security asking Lubinda to relocate from the VVIP section where he had gone to sit.
In an interview, Lubinda said he left because did not want to cause any drama.
“It was just before this man came. The centre of attraction is where I was and all journalists were around me. If you are ejected what do you do? There was no reason that was given to me. Assistant superintendent D. Mwanza, and I do not know what D stands for, he came and told me that I should leave. He was instructed that I should leave because they want to avoid confusion,” said Lubinda.
“I do not know what confusion my presence could have created. The only thing I believe myself is because I had all of the sudden become the centre of attraction. All the people, even the journalists, came to me, greeting me and taking selfies with me before he arrived. That is the only reason that I was ejected as far as I am concerned. Because I belong to an orderly party, I did not want to cause drama. They fellow told me if you do not leave, we will forcefully remove you.”
But Bwalya denied the allegations.
“The statement by the Acting Secretary General of the opposition Patriotic Front Mr. Nickson Chilangwa, purporting that the acting President of the PF Mr. Given Lubinda was ejected from the Ncwala traditional ceremony on presidential orders, is not only false, but also a total and malicious fabrication aimed at maligning the integrity of President Hakainde Hichilema. It must be noted, that all guests at the event were bound by the protocols of the event as had been determined and prescribed by the event’s organizing team, and therefore everyone was expected to oblige, and that at no point was Mr Lubinda, or indeed any member of the PF contingent, ordered to leave the ceremony,” said Bwalya.
“The inability of and by Mr Lubinda and his team to observe and keep to the basic protocol expectations designed to maintain order and ensure the dignity of the Ncwala traditional ceremony, as well as the failure to recognize the hierarchy of invitation desired by the organizing committee, amounts to a total disregard of the authority of the Paramount Chief Mpezeni, at whose innovation President Hichilema was in attendance. It is further regrettable that the PF leadership contingent would attempt to use the Ncwala traditional ceremony as a playground for political mind games and neglect to recognize the show of national unity and oneness inherent in the celebration of this rich cultural, and in many respects, a national event. The public is urged to disregard and dismiss Mr Chilangwa’s statement with the disdain it deserves.”
Meanwhile, in an interview, Nkhoma said President Hichilema was disappointed when he learnt about what his security detail had done.
“Lubinda sat in the front row, in the VVIP and that was done basically as a recognition that he is a leader of the opposition. The theme of the ceremony was peace, unity and reconciliation. And Paramount Chief Mpezeni invited all opposition leaders and the Head of State as guest of honor. Now, when the State House security came, they were uncomfortable with PF acting president and asked that he leaves the seat and goes elsewhere. So, at a later point when the President arrived, I brought that to the attention of the President that this is what happened. And the President was visibly disappointed that the security detail could do such a thing. That is when he said if honourable Lubinda is still around, he will still be happy to greet him but at that point he had already left,” said Nkhoma.