By JAMES KUNDA and KASONDE KASONDE –
THE Government has admonished the United Party for National Development (UPND) for demanding that its members of Parliament (MPs) shun State functions.
Meanwhile, the UPND has insisted that its MPs should shun State functions until all matters before the courts in which the opposition party is challenging the election of President Edgar Lungu are disposed of.
Chief Government spokesperson Kampamba Mulenga said the stance taken by UPND on matters of patriotism and national interest was retrogressive and should be condemned by all sections of society.
“The position of the UPND is very discouraging because every MP is elected to represent the people, so if one shuns State functions, how do they represent the masses?
“The PF is the party in Government but this does not mean that the UPND should infringe on the rights of the people by denying their representatives an opportunity to participate in State functions,” Ms Mulenga told journalists in Lusaka yesterday.
Ms Mulenga, who is Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, also took a swipe at some opposition political parties who were suggesting that President Lungu’s foreign trips were detrimental to the nation.
She said the benefits of Mr Lungu’s trips abroad were visible as the country was benefiting massively on the economic front.
Meanwhile, the UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka has insisted that MPs should respect the court processes of the country and wait until all the petitions in the courts are disposed of before recognising political leaders.
“I can confirm that we have advised our MPs to shun all State functions. There is need for the public to understand that there are a number of petitions before the courts, and until they are done, we shall not recognise the political leaders,” Mr Katuka said in an interview yesterday.
Mr Katuka said there was a misunderstanding in the country about the role of MPs, because they were wings of Government at all levels, and that the country could survive without the services of MPs.
This development comes in the wake of UPND Keembe MP Princess Kasune attending a function at which she was invited as area representative and was graced by President Lungu.
Ms Kasune said she had asked for permission from the UPND Chief whip who had given her consent.
However, a cross section of society has condemned the stance by UPND and accused the party of being bitter and an enemy of peace and reconciliation.
Green Party president Peter Sinkamba called on the UPND MPs to also abstain from Parliament so that the country could hold by-elections and elect new people who would represent the electorate.
Mr Sinkamba said the MPs not only represented the party, but also the people that elected them, and State functions were important in planning for the nation and also in promoting unity.
People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) leader Andyford Banda advised the UPND not to politicise everything as the time for politics was over and the country needed to move on as one.
Zambia Republican Party (ZRP) president Wright Musoma accused the UPND of being bitter and preaching disunity.