The ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) Secretary-General Batuke Imenda has retracted the statement attributed to him that newly Elected President Hakainde Hichilema was not going to move into Statehouse, but only work from there and continue to live in at his private residence.
Yesterday the Zambia Daily Mail quoted Mr Imenda saying that president Hichilema will not shift from Community House in New Kasama to State House because he is comfortable staying in his private residence.
Mr Imenda said in an interview that President Hichilema will continue living at his private residence but that he will be working from State House.
“Just like he said before he was sworn in, our President will continue living at his house in New Kasama. He is more comfortable at Community House. When you compare the two places, his house is better,” Mr. Imenda said.
He said President Hichilema’s residence is bigger than Nkwazi House at State House.
However, Mr. Imenda has instead said that the statement attributed to him that Mr. HH has the right to stay in the place he believes is safe is a party position and not a statehouse position.
There has been a backlash on the statement that the president will not move into the State House. Lusaka Lawyer and former State House Press Secretary Dickson Jere expressed alarm that newly elected President Mr. Hakainde Hichilema wished to live in his own private residence.
Mr. Jere said both State House residences at Nkwazi and State Lodge were the only facilities in the country designed to secure the Head of State from known and unknown threats. He has advised people around Mr. Hichilema not to mislead him but help persuade him to begin to trust state infrastructure and State institutions.
“The President should move to State House. That is a security installation for the Head of State and it has things that his private house does not have. Zambian President has two places – Nkwazi and State Lodge – heavily equipped for the Head of State. My humble view is that he should move.”
Below is Mr Imenda’s full statement
As UPND, we wish to guide that there is a difference between President Hakainde Hichilema as President of the Republic of Zambia, and Mr . Hichilema as President of the Party.
Under the circumstances, no party official has the right to speak on behalf of His Excellency Mr . Hakainde Hichilema as President of the Republic of Zambia.
This said, the statement attributed to me that Mr. HH has the right to stay in the place he believes is safe is a party position and not a statehouse position.
Our view is that, in the absence of any appointed State House spokesperson or indeed any appointed legal person for state house, only the Secretary to the Cabinet has the right to comment on statehouse-related matters and the President.
All-Party members are guided accordingly.
Further, I wish to put it on record that my statement regarding Mr. HH’s residence was picked out of context, as such I wish to clarify the following :
- President Hakainde Hichilema is free to choose his own ADCs as a general practice ;
- Former Presidents equally did the same, and our view is that statehouse reserves the right to ascertain whether President Hakainde Hichilema should occupy Nkwazi House at state house or not; this is not a UPND mandate;
- Mr. Hichilema is now President of the Republic of Zambia, as such, any statement from my office represents the position of the party and not statehouse;
- No party official or party-appointed person has the right to represent state house in any capacity;
- As regards to all UPND related matters, the party has a spokesperson who is Hon. Cornelius Mweetwa, including other party constitutional office bearers mandated to speak on behalf of the party; and
- We advise media houses to realize that our party officials are a wrong source to comment on statehouse unless they want to get the party view…as such my view represents the party view and not the President of the Republic of Zambia’s office.
Lastly, my office has an open door policy to all media houses for all clarification.
Hon Batuke Imenda
UPND SECRETARY GENERAL