…We don’t want by-elections in UPND…


By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone

CRACKS in the ruling party in Livingstone have deepened with ward chairpersons attacking some members of the district executive for fighting mayor Constance Muleabai.

On Friday, the district executive held a press briefing distancing itself from Muleabai over an alleged bribe involving K180,000 linked to council land rates.

However, on Saturday a group of UPND ward leaders led by Akapelwa ward chairlady Dorothy Kakwisa held a press briefing in solidarity with the mayor.

Kakwisa in reference to calls for Muleabai to resign as demanded by some UPND members said “we don’t want a by-election”.

“These people who held a press briefing yesterday (Friday) are group of people who were not there when we formed the UPND. They are now the ones benefiting even from CDF (Constituency Development Fund). They are the ones who have also peddled the propaganda against the mayor,” Kakwisa said.

She added that the wards have been writing to senior party officials warning that the party is disintegrating.

Kakwisa said the UPND members against the Muleabai are interested in 2026 elections and want the mayor out of the way.

“This person they are fighting is the one who has made the party to be known,” said Kakwisa.

And Steward Kazoka, who is Namatama ward youth chairperson, said the youths in Livingstone are against using the party to fight the mayor saying her mandate is up to 2026.

“Let the law enforcement agencies investigate the mayor. She is facing personal issues and we should not join in these. We are, as UPND, demanding that these people should resign,” said Kazoka.

Mosi-oa-Tunya ward chairlady Grain Siakapongo accused some UPND members of working against Muleabai.

She said the eight UPND members she did not name are the ones benefiting from CDF.

“Mayor muntuwesu (the mayor is ours). We voted for her and she is not going anywhere,” said Siakapongo.

On Friday, Livingstone UPND secretary Renny Shindelele said Muleabai is on her own over alleged corruption involving K180,000 which was meant for land rates.

Addressing the press at the party office at Victoria Hall Livingstone, district vice chairperson Sikobela Sikobela strongly insisted that there should be no questions after Shindelele read out a press release and refused to answer a question from ZNBC’s Mercy Ngoma over party divisions.

“There shall be no questions. This is the end of this press briefing,” said Sikobela.

A farmer has reported Muleabai to Drug Enforcement Commission over a transaction involving K180,000 meant for property rates payment.

Muleabai however, denies ever being given the money by Mark Gabrites, the director of Zam Nuka Farm.

On June 4, Gabrites wrote to ACC saying he met Muleabai over property rates allegedly to which she suggested he pays her K180,000 so as to set up a team to have a (full) council meeting where they would grant him remission for part of or full rates that were owed.”

“We paid the K180,000 in cash to the Mayor and did not receive a receipt,” Gabrites said.

He added that later he received a letter from the Town Clerk (Timothy Mambalakata) stating that full remission was declined and that the council would offer remission for 2023 full year of K90,000.

“As of October 2023 our outstanding rates were at K338,753.20, we then paid K180,000 cash and our 2023 rates were reduced by K90,000 due to the remission for 2023,” he noted.

Gabrites said he then left Zambia and returned in December and then met Muleabai in January 2024 to ask why there was no reduction to the rates owed since “we had paid K189,000”.

Gabrites said he wants to pay what he owes the council but won’t until justice is served.

A letter from Mambalakata dated October 30, 2023, indicated that Gabrites’ request for remission on property rates was denied but added that at its sitting of October 19, 2023 the council decided to grant him remission 100 per cent on the amount payable 2023, “but for the arrears you are required to pay the debt in full.”

When contacted for a comment, Muleabai told The Mast that “let them prove who they paid the K180,000.”

She explained that a lot of people and business institutions approach the council to ask for remissions which are sometimes given.

“We have assisted Protea and others before to have part of their rates waived and the rest entered into a payment plan. With regards to the issue in question is that they did (Gabrites and his partner Monde Sumbwa) came here to ask for assistance and I called the TC (Town Clerk) who asked that they pay half of the bill and the other we can enter into a payment plan,” she said. “K180,000 is a lot of money. If it was brought to me I was going to ask them to sign for it. He asked for assistance and he is dealing with Monde who is a friend of mine. However, I know where this is all coming from because I have a lot of political enemies.”

Muleabai said despite having political enemies she also has friends and supporters. “Some are asking me to seek for second term as mayor in 2026 and others are saying I go for member of parliament,” she said.

Muleabai said she has been asking Gabrites to bring Monde who works at Livingstone University Hospital to her office to explain the movements of the K180,000 which he has not done.

She also took an exception over Gabrites recording of her conversations at her office which has gone viral on social media.

But Shindelele said the ruling party in the district has continued receiving complaints from the public regarding Muleabai’s alleged bribe.

“This briefing this morning borders on the alleged corruption against her worship the Mayor of Livingstone. Recently, the republican President and the Vice-President have strongly spoken against corruption because of its adverse effects on national development.Further, His Excellency President Hakainde Hichilema is committed to fighting corruption of the past, present and the future,” he said. “It is therefore the party’s position in Livingstone district that the party does not support corruption and we distance the party from the alleged corruption against the mayor. Any member who is corrupt, they are on their own. So the mayor is on her own over this alleged corruption.”

Shindelele urged the law enforcement agencies to keep the public informed over Muleabai’s alleged bribe through the press.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *