Ailing dictator Michael Sata today personally phoned management for Inter-Continental Hotel to cancel the UPND press briefing that was booked, paid for and scheduled for tomorrow at 09:00 hours to be addressed by party leader Hakainde Hichilema.
The Press briefing has since been shifted to the party Secretariat and the same time.
According to UPND Deputy Secretary General Kuchunga Simusamba, he went to Inter-Continental Hotel this morning and booked for the press conference venue in Makumbi Room, signed a contract and paid for it in full.
Mr. Simusamba says he later informed media houses and other stakeholders about the press conference and the venue.
“Later in the afternoon, I got a call that we could not use the venue because a water pipe had burst on the same floor. I went to the hotel. But before seeing management, I visited the venue and found workers who were actually preparing the venue for us and everything was fine and there was no pipe burst or water leakage,” Simusamba said.
He said later he went to meet management who told him there was a problem with the venue as a pipe had burst, but did not realize he had already been there.
“I challenged them to take me to the venue but they were relunctant. Later I told them I had been to the venue and everything was just fine. It was at that stage that someone disclosed there was too much political pressure not to allow Mr. Hichilema to hold his press conference at the hotel,” Simusamba said.
He said the venue had since been shifted to the party secretariat at the same time but the party will consider taking legal action against the Hotel because there was a legally binding contract that had been signed but now breached by the hotel.
Simusamba also said the party has incurred losses in advertising the venue, and other logistics that should be changed at short notice, but sympathized with hotel management for the term of events where they cannot allow clients based on political pressure.
And sources from State House and Hotel have confirmed to the Zambianwatchdog that Mr. Sata himself phoned the Managing Director and ordered him to cancel Mr. Hichilema’s press conference or he would be deported from Zambia.
“He was told he would go like his counterpart from Pamodzi Hotel who was deported at short notice without any reason. The reason for intimidating even private institutions is to make sure Mr. Hichilema has no space to meet and address people. Most likely, even radio stations that will be hosting Mr. Hichilema may now be threatened with revocation of their licences,” sources said.
On Saturday, Mr. Hichilema survived a deadly assassination attempt on the Copperbelt from Sudanase trained PF militias that are now targeting various individuals.