7 January 2013

Zambia: Sikwela Denies Owing UPND, Leaders

FORMER United Party for National Development (UPND) Livingstone Member of Parliament (MP) Howard Sikwela says he does not owe the opposition or its leaders any money.

Reverend Sikwela said he was shocked that some UPND MPs were demanding refunds for money contributed towards his campaign ahead of the Livingstone by-election in July last year.

Meanwhile, Forum for Democratic Process (FODEP) has charged that it was not mandatory for Reverend Sikwela who had resigned from the UPND to payback money contributed towards his campaign.

UPND deputy spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa on Saturday demanded that Rev. Sekwila should refund him money he contributed towards the campaign in July last year.

Mr Mweetwa who is UPND Choma MP claimed that Rev Sikwela's campaign cost KR500, 000 (K500 million) and that he had contributed some money.

But Rev Sikwela said in an interview yesterday that the demand was misplaced and that he had also contributed money towards the running of UPND.

"Actually, I am very shocked to hear that I am being told to pay back money spent during my by-election campaign. I am surprised people want me to payback when I also made several forms of assistance including finances towards UPND.

"This is my first time to hear of such demands and I think, this is not the best way to handle issues," Rev Sikwela said.

Rev Sikwela resigned on Friday last week citing tribalism and hostility in the opposition UPND.

He said he had decided to leave UPND because of the hostility he received from the party when he announced that he wanted to work with the Government in developing his constituency.

FODEP executive director MacDonald Chipenzi has described demands for a pay back as merely political statement.

Mr Chipenzi said in a separate interview yesterday that it was not mandatory for Rev Sikwela to payback the money.

"It's a well known fact that the money being claimed was given out of free will and was meant to sell UPND in Livingstone. I think, it's not right to claim such money," Mr Chipenzi said.

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