THE United Party for National Development (UPND) says its president Hakainde Hichilema’s preconditions for attending the national day of prayer and fasting next Sunday are not final as the party is yet to agree whether to participate in the event or not.
On Wednesday, Mr. Hichilema said before the county could go for prayers and fasting, there was need for Government to reflect and address alleged police brutality and abuse of the Public Order Act (POA) in which he and other opposition political parties and civil society organisations had found it difficult to freely operate under the current Government.
Mr. Hichilema also said Government needed to address what he termed as abuse of public media which he said had been turned into PF media houses yet they were funded by taxpayers’ money.
But when contacted for a comment yesterday, UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma said the UPND had not made an official position on whether to participate or shun the national event on October 18, 2015.
Mr. Kakoma said his party was surprised by some statements by some politicians and civil society organisations that the party had boycotted the national day of prayers and fasting when it had never issued any statement to that effect.
He said he was surprised that some people had taken turns to condemn his party over the event when it had not refused to attend.
Mr Kakoma said the fact that the party had questioned the motive behind holding prayers when political players had not yet reconciled did not mean that the party had made a position that it would not attend. “We are even surprised that some people have been taking turns to condemn UPND over the prayers when we have not even taken a position as to whether we will attend or not. What we have done is to question the motive to call for prayers even before we reconcile as politicians over our previous differences because our prayers will be irrelevant without reconciliation.
“There has been a lot of bickering among us politicians and we thought the first thing we needed to do was to reconcile so that as we go for prayers, we are in one accord. Otherwise, we are not opposed to prayers and we have not yet made any position over the same. This is why we find attacks on this matter unfortunate,” Mr. Kakoma said.
He explained that the party may come up with a position over the national day of prayers and fasting today when the National Executive Committee would be meeting to discuss other matters.
“The NEC will be meeting tomorrow (today) to discuss some issues and am sure one of the issues that will be resolved is the day of national prayers but as things stand, UPND has never made any statement to that effect and we are wondering why people are busy making statements accusing us of shunning the event,” he said.
President Lungu has declared Sunday, October 18, 2015 as a day of repentance, prayer and fasting throughout the country.