UPND National Chairperson Stephen Katuka has told ruling party members to embrace new comers because UPND cannot win the 2026 elections without numbers.

And Katuka says UPND members who had defected to PF while it was still in office are free to return to the party but they cannot demand their old positions.

Speaking when he received two Socialist Party losing parliamentary candidates for Lubanseshi and Shiwang’andu Michela Bwalya and Kapasa Makasa Kalungu, respectively, and former NDC spokesperson Franklin Membe, Tuesday, Katuka said every Zambian was free to join the UPND.

“I also wish to appeal to some of our members, there are some of our members who are not accommodating new members. I think that behaviour must come to an end. We have said we have an open door policy and our members must appreciate and accept those who are coming. We will not win 2026 without numbers hence we need to mobilise and win 2026 without opposition. We cannot win if we are chasing away those that want to join us. So those that want to join, you are welcome and those already in the party, please embrace and accommodate those who are coming,” Katuka said.

And Katuka said old UPND members were free to re-join the party as long as they did not demand their previously held positions.

“May I take advantage of the presser to appeal, through you the press, to all our members who left the party for whatever reason that the doors of this party are open. They are free to come and re-join the party. The only condition I am giving you is don’t come back and demand your position. You can join, even the Bible teaches us about the prodigal son. When he came back, he said father accept me to be as your servant not as your son. So we are welcoming everybody to the party because we believe that politics is a game of numbers. And people must not come because they want a job from government we are not looking at those that are looking for jobs. I want those who will be like me, who will come and join and continue running this party,” Katuka said.

He said some UPND members left the party to join PF when it was still in office because they wanted to seek asylum.

“The 10 years of PF was so rough that people went into PF not because they believed in them. They just went to join them out of pressure, seeking asylum in the PF. But now that PF is gone and it will never come back, ati kumbo takuya babwela (no dead person comes back from the grave), even coming from the PF, if they are coming with genuine reasons, please they are free to join us. We have a country that is bigger than all of us. It is not about me or you, it is about the 17 million Zambians who are wallowing in poverty, going without a meal, they go without knowing where the next meal will come from. We have a duty they have given us that mandate as a party we are in government and have to solve the problem of the Zambian people, that is our responsibility,” said Katuka.

Meanwhile, losing Lubanseshi candidate Michael Bwalya said he and his team decided to join the UPND after analysing its programmes.

“After the general election, I have been a key player in the by-election that had followed in Luapula province, Sokontwe and Lufuku. Chairman, I and my team we have chosen to join the progressive party, the progressive family, the UPND today, not for many reasons but after realising, analysing that the government, through the UPND has unleashed programmes to the Zambian people. We have realised that you can remain in opposition for more than 50 years, hence there is no need to remain in opposition when something progressive is happening,” said Bwalya.

“The following are the few reasons that have moved us from the Socialist Party and NDC to come and join this bigger family. It has never been seen before that just six months in government we have managed to see as Zambians the government moving CDF from 1.6 to 25.7 million. I am also a teacher by profession and for the first time in my life, we have seen the free education coming to reality and this one has really confused the education fraternity, the head teacher for the first time receiving the grant of 65,000 when they used to receive K250.”