The United Party for National Development (UPND) says its leader, Hakainde Hichilema has emerged stronger and the party will not be deterred by attacks by The Post and its editorials against him.
Reacting to incessant attacks from The Post, and in an exclusive interview with the The Zambian Inquirer, Deputy Spokesperson of the party and newly elected Member of Parliament for Choma constituency, Cornelius Mweetwa, said the attacks are not strange and are expected.
“They attacked Anderson Mazoka. They do so even in his death. The paper likes to attack those perceived politically strong and holds a divergent views from theirs. They attacked Mr. Sata in the same manner. When they agreed on a political agenda, he became an angel.” He said.
He said his party will not engage in a debate with the paper. “We cannot engage into a vigorous debate with a tabloid paper whose duty it to attack strong opponents. They are surprised that HH has emerged stronger after this election”. He said.
‘’We wish to remind The Post that no amount of attacks or levels of derogatory statements against UPND will stop us from working with the MMD, in order to foster a united opposition which is the cornerstone to the promotion of democracy, checks and balances”. He said.
“We will collaborate with anyone in the opposition to strengthen the National Assembly to promote a united voice to check the excesses of the PF government. This has become more important than before especially institutions that previously helped play an oversight, have suddenly lost their feet and their voices, when governments changed.”
He said it becomes even more paramount for the UPND to work together with the MMD as the country has lost the voice of civil society groupings that offered checks and balances.
“Many breaches of the law or legal affronts have been committed by Mr. Sata. Individuals and groupings that should speak have remained quiet”.
Mweetwa said the UPND support any activities that their leader is doing that strengthen the opposition in the National Assembly and outside it.
‘’There is nothing wrong with HH meeting his colleagues in the opposition. When Mr. Sata was in opposition, he met HH several times and even formed an electoral alliance”. He said. “We should recognise that the MMD is in the opposition like ourselves, and our interest is mutual as our primary goal is to offer checks and balances to the PF government”. He said.
The UPND would not stand in the way of prosecution of any individual if it is done in the due process of the law. However, the party has stated that it will not support private agendas by persons using state institutions to harass individuals and persecute political opponents.
“We have seen a pattern that we saw during the prosecution of former president Frederick Chiluba. Individuals are being paraded in The Post; they are indicted and convicted in the paper before a single criminal charge is laid. We should not allow a private newspaper to molest the conscious of our people”. Mweetwa said.
He said UPND, will stand steadfast and will not be swayed away from the mandate the people have given it in the House and the country.
“We will carry our contributions in the House. We not buckle under the pressure from a newspaper. No amount of nasty editorials, sensationalised reporting will divert out attention from the mandate the people of Zambia have given us. We will carry out that mandate religiously”. He said.
On allegations that his party his tribal, Mweetwa said the attacks are unfair as the regional support given to the UPND is not different from that received by other parties including the Patriotic Front (PF).
“A careful analysis of election results has revealed that the major political parties have attracted a home vote associated with a leader of the at party, further since 2001, UPND has received least votes in Northern in Northern Luapula, while Sata has received support from the regions associated with his tribe”. He said.