By REBECCA MUSHOTA -
THE National Congress Party has accused United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema of reneging on his commitment to the process of dialogue under the aegis of the Commonwealth by insisting that the courts hear his petition into the outcome of last year’s general elections.
Commenting on Mr Hichilema’s statements made at a press briefing he held at his home in Lusaka yesterday repeating claims that he was robbed of victory in the 2016 by Mr Edgar Lungu and the Patriotic Front, NCP leader Peter Chanda, said the UPND leader’s remarks gave lie to his reported commitment to dialogue in the interest of peace.
Mr Chanda said he was disappointed with Mr Hichilema’s statement which seemed to represent an obvious U-turn on the pledge he is reported to have given to two eminent persons in the names of Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland former Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo visited him during his period of incarceration at the Mukubeko Maximum facility in Kabwe.
Mr Chanda said contrary to the UPND motto of moving forward, Mr Hichilema was constantly looking back on the 2016 general election which he lost fairly.
He said he was not surprised that Mr Hichilema was on a path to disappoint the Commonwealth, because that was his nature and his word could not be trusted.
During his press briefing, Mr Hichilema said he was disappointed that the courts had failed to conclude the 2016 election petition filed by his party and that he was not ready to leave the matter behind.
“They stole our election because they are thieves. And then people say UPND should just forget about it. No! Sininga ibaleko chabe (I just can’t forget),” he said.
Mr Hichilema further accused the Judiciary of incompetence, alleging that it was working for President Lungu and the Patriotic Front.
He said it was important that the 2016 general election petition was heard by competent judges and not those that comprised the Constitutional Court.
Mr Hichilema said President Lungu also repeated his claims that Mr Lungu was not sworn in as President by the Chief Justice, something he said, was another anomaly.
In August, Ms Scotland said after extensive separate talks between President Lungu and Mr Hichilema, it was agreed that dialogue, to be brokered by her office, would be undertaken to forge peace in the interest of national unity.
She explained the dialogue expected to be completed and reviewed in 2019 would culminate in a roadmap for Constitutional reforms that would be implemented ahead of the 2021 general elections.
Ms Scotland said during the talks, Mr Hichilema recognised President Lungu as the Head of State.