Opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has urged his MMD president Nevers Mumba to desist from dragging the name of the UPND in efforts to revive his party.
Meanwhile, Copperbelt UPND chairperson Elisha Matambo said MMD leaders should accept the harsh reality that the former ruling party was finished.
Speaking in an interview, Mr. Hichilema said attacks from Dr. Mumba that the UPND is a regional party for failing to attend the Umutomboko traditional ceremony is baseless.
Dr. Mumba was quoted in the Post Newspaper stating that failure by the UPND to attend last weekend’s Umutomboka ceremony in Mwansabombwe is a sign that the UPND is a regional party and does not bother about other regions and their culture.
He said Dr. Mumba should concentrate on sorting out the mess that it is currently going on in his party.
“Our message is clear, we are busy selling our message to the people and we will not engage in cat fights with the MMD. What we know is that Dr. Mumba wants to use the UPND to help project the MMD in a more positive light but we will not help him with his crusade. The MMD has flagging fortunes and we can understand his desperation,” Mr. Hichilema said.
Mr. Hichilema explained that he personally failed to attend the Umutomboka because he had an engagement in South Africa but senior UPND officials attended the ceremony.
“I had to be in South Africa over the weekend but we sent representation to the ceremony. I respect all traditional ceremonies. I have been to Mwansabombwe three times in the recent past and our officials have attended a number of these ceremonies, including last weekend’s ceremony at Chieftainess Malembeka’s in Mpongwe. You cannot use absence at the ceremony to talk about tribe,” he said.
The UPND leader added that just this year alone, he has personally been to some many traditional ceremonies in the country or the party has been represented at very high level.
“In any case, we don’t politicize our attendance at these events as they are traditional ceremonies and not political rallies. Of course once in a while the organisers or the media normally notice and recognize our presence but for us these are not political events that we want to make political capital like our friends,” he said.
The UPND leader also says his party has not categorized any of these events as being more important than others, as being proposed by the MMD president Dr. Mumba.
“We have a different view ourselves as opposed to the MMD that categorizes these cultural events according to their importance. We believe every traditional ceremony for any cultural grouping is very important and we always endevour to send people and some gifts at every ceremony. UPND is a very big political party with representation everywhere and sometimes it may not necessarily be Hakainde himself who attends but other senior party officials and we believe this is part of delegation even while in government,” he said.
And Copperbelt UPND chairperson Elisha Matambo said MMD leaders should accept the harsh reality that the former ruling party was finished.
Mr. Matambo was reacting on MMD leader Nevers Mumba’s attacks on the UPND that it is a region party because of alleged failure by the top leadership to attend the Mutomboko and other ceremonies in Luapula province.
But Mr. Matambo described that statement by Dr. Mumba as being based on hurt because of continued defection of MMD members to the UPND.
“Dr. Mumba is issuing such statements because he is very hurt that 90 per cent of their members have crossed over to the UPND,” Mr Matambo said.
He said contrary to Dr. Mumba’s claim that UPND was a regional party, they membership including members of parliament (MPs) and councillors nearly in all provinces namely Central, Western, North-Western, Copperbelt.
“So no one can buy that story by Dr Mumba that UPND is a regional party. We have MPs and councillors in all parts across the country and so those claim by Dr Mumba is sour grapes,” he said.
Mr Matambo advised Dr Mumba to work extra hard in growing the MMD by attracting members as opposed to launching baseless attacks on the UPND.
“He is talking that UPND didn’t attend the Mutomboko Ceremony last weekend when in actual fact we had representation from there and we even presented our gift to the Mwata,” Mr Matambo said.