The Patriotic Front (PF) should stop accusing the United Party for National Development (UPND) of spreading rumours about the ill-health of President Michael Sata when that is as a result of succession wrangles within the ruling party, UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has said.
Mr Hichilema has said his party is not God to determine President Michael Sata’s ill health.
He said in an interview with the Daily Nation yesterday that the UPND could not wish anyone ill and wanted President Sata to come back in good health so that he could address the many challenges the nation was facing.
Mr Hichilema said among challenges Zambians were experiencing were high prices of mealie meal, unemployment, poor governance and the lack of political will to deliver a constitution as promised by the PF during the 2011 election campaigns.
He said his party was not part of a clique spreading rumours about President Sata’s ill-health, adding that his party cherished Christian values.
“We are not sadists like a well known clique to wish Mr. Sata ill-health. We are not bad people or extremists,” he said.
Mr. Hichilema said it was wrong for some section of society to suggest that UPND and its leadership were happy that President Sata had been reported unwell and was now receiving treatment abroad.
“Zambians should know that at no time has UPND as a party and myself talked ill about President Sata’s health. What is shocking and at the same time creating all these innuendos and speculation is the way the PF leaders are fighting over the party presidency.
“It is PF leaders who are speculating and spreading rumours that President Sata is sick and for us in the UPND we have behaved very well because we have not issued any statement suggesting that President Sata is unwell. If he is then we are wishing him a quick recovery and we leave his health and life in God’s hands because we are not God to determine the health of Mr. Sata and any other person,” he said. The opposition leader said it was unfortunate that some people were bent on creating troubles for others, adding that Zambians were able to see who was spreading rumours about the health of the President.
Mr. Hichilema also wondered why some traditional leaders were used to attack the UPND and its leadership over Mr. Sata’s health when the UPND was innocent in the rumour mongering.
He said it was wrong for any human being to wish anyone ill and celebrate the way the PF were doing. And UPND vice president Richard Kapita denounced Dr. Scott describing him as childish and irresponsible in the manner he had failed to manage the speculation of President Sata’s reported ill-health.
“Just this week, Dr Scott’s interview with the BBC basically insulted and demeaned the entire people of Southern province when he claimed that they were just a minority tribal grouping that was campaigning to take over power,” said Mr. Kapita.
He said it was not the UPND issuing contradictory statement on the whereabouts of the President but ministers within the PF, and wondered what they expected the people of Zambia to think and say.
“They have subjected everybody to contradictory statements about the Israel trip. Since when did the Israel media, Reuters, Voice of America, Associated Press, BBC, and others writing stories on President Sata’s trip to Israel become UPND members?
“In fact, some private citizens who are not UPND members have even requested for a medical board to ascertain the health status of President Sata,” Mr Kapita said.
He said for Dr. Scott to reduce such a debate and accuse the UPND of peddling rumours about President’s Sata’s health was just a failed attempt to win public sympathy over his careless handling of national issues. “As UPND, we have always had information that government using some media houses will want to rub their irresponsible acts pertaining to Mr. Sata’s trip on the UPND because they believe it is their main competitor.
“In fact, contrary to Dr Scott’s childish and careless statements, at no time has UPND leadership ever wished Mr. Sata ill-health. A few weeks ago, our party president Hakainde Hichilema is on record saying he always prays for Mr. Sata’s good health so that he can sort out the many challenges this country faces and that is our position,” Mr Kapita said