LOCAL Government and Housing Minister John Phiri has been accused by some members in the ruling party in Lundazi of dividing the Patriotic Front (PF) in Eastern Province by allegedly championing sectional and tribal politics in the region.
But Dr Phiri, when contacted refused ever making tribal sentiments and said the allegations were nothing but news as he had not met with the people accusing him of dividing the ruling party in the district.
Evans Kazonga Ngoma, PF enthusiast has charged that Dr Phiri, who is a nominated member of Parliament allegedly told the people of Lundazi Constituency against voting for councilors who did not hail from the district, a statement which has angered some of the current councilors.
Mr Ngoma who is a PF losing Parliamentary candidate in the 2011 general elections said Dr Phiri was working against the spirit of inclusiveness which President Lungu has been preaching of.
He alleged that Dr Phiri had been bragging that as a member of the central committee of the PF, he was going to intimidate and coerce the national executive committee members to adopt his favoured candidates next year.
Mr Ngoma said Dr Phiri attended a funeral in Lundazi upon which he addressed PF members at the district and constituency where he is alleged to have used tribal sentiments against some of the councillors at the Lundazi Council.
He said the Local Government Minister was against some Lundazi municipality councilors who were not from within the district and that the people of Lundazi were not happy that Dr Phiri had departed from the motto One Zambia One Nation which President Lungu had revived.
Mr Ngoma claimed that he had been organising the PF in Lundazi since 2009 when Dr Phiri was still a lecturing at the University of Zambia (UNZA).
“I wish to inform you that there is a problem in Lundazi which has been caused by Local Government Minister John Phiri. As you know, Dr Phiri is a nominated MP and when he came to Lundazi for a funeral, he took advantage and addressed party officials at district and constituency levels. During the meeting, the Minister told the people of Lundazi to stop voting for people who were not from within the district as councilors. Some of our councilors are from outside Lundazi and this statement has angered party members. His sentiments border on tribalism which President Lungu has been preaching against,” Mr Ngoma said.
But Dr Phiri denied the allegations that he was dividing the PF in Lundazi and promised that he would soon be travelling to the district to listen to the people on the ground.
Dr Phiri said he had no individual influence over the decision of the central committee and that Mr Ngoma should continue working hard if he wanted the party to rember him for adoption next year.
Dr Phiri said Mr Ngoma was entitled to his own opinion over what was happening in Lundazi and that he did not want to make comments on a matter her was not aware of.
He said if Mr Ngoma had issues against him (Dr Phiri) he was free to approach him and discuss the matter rather than speaking through the media.
“I have not met Mr Ngoma and what you are telling me is news. He is entitled to his own opinion and it is the central committee that adopts candidates and I have no individual influence to coerce the central committee not to adopt its preferred candidate. Let Mr Ngoma continue working hard and the party will remember him,” Dr Phiri said.