UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema yesterday spoke strongly against Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general Davis Chama, branding him a lunatic over stories published in the public media in which it was alleged that he blasted Chieftainess Choongo of Monze for interacting with Mr Chama in Bemba.
Mr Hichilema accused the ruling PF of embarking on a propaganda campaign to demonise and stigmatise him in a bid to make Zambians rise against him before the 2016 general elections.
But PF deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri has lashed out at Mr Hichilema for using vulgar language against other political leaders such as Mr Chama and advised the UPND leader to be civil in his political debate if he was to attract the electorate.
Mr Hichilema said at no time did he ever call Chieftainess Choongo or Chief Hamusonde to lambast them for allowing Mr Chama to be in Southern Province and that he was surprised that he had been accused of being tribal by the ruling party when he had always preached unity in the country.
Mr Hichilema, who was contributing to UNZA Radio’s Lusaka Star programme yesterday, said some media houses were being used by Government to demonise him to ruin his chances of winning the presidency in the general elections next year.
Mr Hichilema said he had not spoken to chiefs Choongo and Hamusonde for the last three months and challenged the media house that accused him of having been furious with the two chiefs to publish the recording which was being referred to.
“I am innocent and can never stop any citizen from visiting any part or region of the country. But this is a deliberate propaganda scheme meant to demonise me so that I can be politically damaged.
‘‘I am wondering why the Times of Zambia and the Daily Mail did not bother to verify their stories with me before causing their publication. I have not spoken to Chief Choongo or Chief Hamusonde in the last four months,” Mr Hichillema said.
Mr Hichilema said the media in Zambia was under threat from ‘‘political hooliganism’’ and that journalists had become victims of both police and cadre brutality.
He said it was important for both Government and the opposition political parties to work together and protect journalists from harassment so that they could work in a conducive atmosphere if they were to remain professional and objective.
But Ms Phiri said it was shocking that Mr Hichilema could resort to insults and vulgar language against other political leaders in his debate.
Mrs Phiri, who also contributed to the UNZA radio programme, said it was shameful for Mr Hichilema to have called Mr Chama names on a public radio programme.
She said Mr Hichilema should be condemned by all well-meaning Zambians for his unpalatable language and that as a political leader, it was the expectation of Zambians that the opposition leader should have been civil and sober in his political discourse.
Mrs Phiri said media houses should be seen to be objective and that if any media house failed to adhere to ethics, it should be condemned.
“I am shocked with the kind of language Mr Hichilema has used against the PF secretary general Davis Chama. How can a man of Mr Hichilema’s political standing call Mr Chama a lunatic. Mr Chama is a father, a husband and a grandfather and we expect Mr Hichilema to be civil and sober in his language even if he has been offended,” Mrs Phiri said.