THE environment is not friendly, the government is using state institutions to frustrate opposition party activities, says UNIP deputy secretary general Reverend Alfred Banda.
He says UNIP remains relevant and a true alternative to the current confused and directionless politics in the country.
“Our objective is to win many parliamentary seats and councillorship in 2021. The country is missing UNIP a lot. UNIP is an institutional memory of this country. The presence of UNIP in Parliament is very important, so that we can bring in experience,” he said. “But the environment is not friendly. The government is using State institutions to frustrate opposition party mobilisation and reorganisation activities. We have been affected especially during provincial tours. The president comrade Tilyenji Kaunda… we were stopped by police in Kasama. In fact, our indoor meeting was stopped. Our party president was told by one senior police officer to report himself to police every time he visits a province to announce his presence. We found this strange.”
Rev Banda also said contrary to an attack by Howard Banda, chairman of the Former Siblings of Freedom Fighters, that Tilyenji had made UNIP irrelevant, the party president, through the party’s 2016-2021 programme, had already visited eight provinces inspecting and updating structures in readiness for the National Council and party congress.
“UNIP has survived the last 27 years in opposition due to a solid and principled leadership unlike the Howards Bandas of this world whose preoccupation during this period has been the desire to eat with any government of the day,” he said. “UNIP today might have no member in Parliament nor councillor because of people like Howard Banda who are mere hired guns to tarnish the image of the party and its leadership, who have worked so hard to keep the party alive and save it from an uninformed vultures like his so-called grouping whose contribution to the party during the last 27 years is nil.”
Rev Banda said Tilyenji and his comrades, including vice-president Njekwa Anamela, had persevered to sustain the current mission, and purpose of UNIP as a founding party and the political institutional memory of the nation at large.
“This leadership of the party has always been open to new ideas from genuine people going forward, but certainly not from expired criticism from people like Howard who belongs to other parties and not UNIP,” he said. “UNIP is currently reviewing its manifesto and undertaking a reorganisation of its systems in preparation for conferences at all levels of the party, and holding a national congress is not an issue as it is a programme of the party which shall be held in line with new provisions of the Republican Constitution and the amended UNIP constitution. We wish to dismiss the claims and allegations of Howard Banda and his self-appointed grouping as mere political mischief. We remain confident that the party will rise to the occasion as it continues to recruit genuine new members and steadfastly move forward. UNIP remains relevant, and true alternative to the current confused and directionless politics in the country.”
Rev Banda said UNIP were social democrats and would never abandon their philosophy.
“Currently, we are reviewing our manifesto so that it’s appreciated by the young people. We want to make it in tandem with modern times,” he said. We’ve a deliberate programme to recruit young people. In our rank and file of the party structure, we are putting young people. And already in Lusaka, at provincial and district, the leadership is relatively young.”
Rev Banda said Tilyenji’s provincial and districts visitations were to ensure party structures were up-to-date with leaders and not ghosts.
“So far the programme is yielding fruits. This will culminate into the national council and then congress at an appropriate time,” said Rev Banda. “Our party structures are intact. UNIP has a national character. We are hopeful in 2021 will be very good. Our objective is to win many parliamentary seats and councillorship.”