THE European Union (EU) Election Observer Mission (EOM) has confirmed having met with UPND president Hakainde Hichilema, his vice-president for administration Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba and Post Newspaper proprietor Fred M’membe.
The EOM has, however, denied assertions that the meetings it had with the trio were politically covert nor clandestine as it had been meeting all political parties before, during and after the general elections.
Last week, a source within the EU observer mission disclosed to the Daily Nation that one of the top bosses was alleged to have secret meetings at Kilimanjaro Lodge in New Kasama with Mr Hichilema, Mr Mwamba and Mr M’membe.
A source further disclosed that some of their meetings were held at Latitude 15 hotel in Kabulonga and Mr Hichilema’s house in New Kasama South before, during and after the August 11, 2016 general elections. But the EUEOM said it was not correct that the meetings it had with political stakeholders in the last general elections were meant to support the opposition UPND.
When the Daily Nation tried to find out why the said EU official had held clandestine meeting with the opposition political party, the Mission acknowledged meeting Mr Hichilema, Mr Mwamba and Mr M’membe to understand their concerns and views of the electoral process.
The mission acknowledged that during its time in Zambia, it had met representatives of all the contesting political parties, including President Edgar Lungu and Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general Davies Chama. The mission said it had also met with Mr Hichilema and Mr Mwamba of the UPND. “It is entirely normal and appropriate for the EU EOM to meet with the political parties, to understand their concerns and views of the electoral process. No meetings were held with any political parties, at the Kilimanjaro Lodge or Latitude 15, nor was there any meeting with political parties on September 3,” the mission said.
The mission also explained that it met Mr M’membe on July 7, to discuss the situation related to the closure of The Post Newspaper, but that it had not met him since.