THE Patriotic Front (PF) has disowned Bishop Edward Chomba who verbally abused United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema and has described the clergyman as a bogus man of God masquerading as a member of the ruling party.
The ruling party has since offered unreserved and unqualified apologies to Mr Hichilema and the UPND, warning that the PF would not tolerate vulgar language and malice against the opposition leader because abuse and slanderous campaigns would not help the party win the presidential election next month.
Acting President Guy Scott and PF secretary general Davis Chama have dissociated the PF from Bishop Chomba who they have accused of having fled from the United States for reasons they did not disclose.
And Dr Scott has dispelled assertions that he was blackmailed by the military to reconcile with PF president Edgar Lungu, describing the reports as nothing but speculation over which he was not ready to make comments.
Speaking at a media briefing shortly before they left for Itezhi-Tezhi at City Airport yesterday, Dr Scott and Mr Chama said it was unfortunate that Bishop Chomba used the PF rally in Kabwe without being invited to verbally abuse Mr Hichilema.
Dr Scott stated that it was the ruling party’s desire to conduct civil and decent campaigns devoid of unpalatable language against the UPND leadership and other presidential contenders.
He has called for an end to what he termed “nonsense” coming from people like Bishop Chomba, saying the verbal diatribe against Mr Hichilema was undeserved and unjustified.
Dr Scott said as interim President, he would not tolerate any kind of unguarded language from the ruling party, adding that it was disappointing that Bishop Chomba took advantage of the PF rally to cast aspersions on Mr Hichilema.
“I would like to wholeheartedly apologise to Mr Hichilema and the UPND over the verbal abuse he suffered from some bogus bishop at our rally in Kabwe. On behalf of the PF, I would like to offer unreserved and unqualified apologies to Mr Hichilema. This bogus bishop just jumped on the podium uninvited and started insulting HH (Hakainde Hichilema). That is not the position of the PF and all we know is that he (Chomba) left the United States and he is wanted there. I do not expect Mr Hichilema to say such things and I know he would not,” Dr Scott said.
And Mr Chama said it was unfortunate that Bishop Chomba could use the PF rally to utter uncivil language against Mr Hichilema and that the ruling party was sorry for such utterances.
Mr Chama said the PF was for clean, peaceful and civil campaigns, adding that the statement by Bishop Chomba was made in bad taste and should be condemned in strongest terms possible.
He advised PF members and leadership against issuing statements with the potential to annoy and destroy the opposition political parties.
“I want to take this opportunity to unreservedly apologise to His Excellency Mr Hakainde Hichilema on behalf of the PF over th verbal abuse he suffered at the hands of Bishop Chomba. When I invite people to talk at our rallies, I do not know what is on their mind and that statement from Bishop Chomba was unfortunate and in bad taste.
Let us use civil language in our campaigns and avoid statements that can destroy the opposition political parties,” Mr Chama said.
And Dr Scott said the reconciliation the party was going through was real but stated that it was not possible for the ruling party to reconcile at all levels simultaneously.
He said people had observed that the reconciliation has started at the top leadership of the party and that it was expected to get to the bottom.
Dr Scott said the suspensions that were going on in the ruling party against members who supported different candidates such as Matero Member of Parliament Miles Sampa should be stopped.
He said there was no doubt that the reconciliation was real and unforced as was being speculated.
Mr Chama has declared all the suspensions in the ruling party as null and void because the PF had embarked on the path of reconciliation and could not afford being vindictive.
Meanwhile, Mr Sampa said his biggest concern was that his supporters were being persecuted adding that he was aware that the victimisation did not have the blessings of the top leadership.