POLITICAL analysts say the endorsement of President Edgar Lungu as Patriotic Front candidate in next year’s elections has enhanced the ruling party’s chances to remain in power beyond 2016.
Thomas Mabwe and Alex Ng’oma said the decision would also unite the ruling party after a turbulent period during the election and adoption of Mr Lungu to contest the 2015 presidential elections.
The PF Central Committee announced on Saturday that it has settled for Mr Lungu to contest the 2016 tripartite elections.
The announcement came against confusion that rocked the party last year. The PF went under difficult times after the death of its founder Michael Sata last year when two factions emerged in a struggle for leadership.
Mr Mabwe a lecturer in political science at Zambian Open University said the Central Committee’s decision had put to rest uncertainties which arose after the death of President Sata on the future of PF.
“This is the logical thing that they (the Central Committee) have done. Mr Lungu is already there and he is gaining experience, so if they give him another five years, then they have a chance to win because the incumbent always has an advantage.
“I have no doubt that this will also end those problems where everyone wanted to succeed Michael Sata last year to become the president,” he said.
Dr Ng’oma , a lecturer at the University of Zambia (UNZA) in the department of Political and Administrative studies said Mr Lungu would be easy to sell to the electorate because he was already in the right position with resources and privileges than any other member in the PF.
He said there was need for every member of the ruling party to support the candidature of Mr Lungu in the interest of the party.
“This is good for the party because it will be easy for them to sell the candidate, so in the interest of the party. Those that are positioning to take over should now wait but support the person who is there,” he said.
Dr Ng’oma noted that it was a normal practice world over that a President was given an opportunity to do at least two terms unless he or she was not willing to do so.
Meanwhile, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Given Lubinda has called on every member in ruling party to go flat out to campaign and work for the party to further enhance chances of winning.
Mr Lubinda was one of about 10 people that had expressed interest to succeed Mr Sata before the Kabwata MP backed Mr Lungu for the 2015 presidential election.
However, he said the decision of the party’s supreme organ did not surprise him because Mr Lungu had proved to be the right man not only for the ruling party but also for the nation.
“I support the idea by the central committee entirely and I call upon all the members of the PF to rally behind president Lungu. However, it is one thing to sing for him and another working for him,” he said.
And PF provincial executive committees have welcomed the decision by the central committee to adopt President Lungu as presidential candidate for the 2016 general elections.
The officials have also appealed to the party’s presidential hopefuls to defer their aspirations until the 2021 presidential elections.
“The endorsement of President Lungu as our party presidential candidate is a welcome decision, which has been made by the people,” said Central Province chairperson Benson Chali in an interview yesterday.
Mr Chali said the central committee decision is in line with the PF constitution which says that a person elected as president at a convention, should serve five years, and automatically becomes a candidate for presidential elections.
He said all provincial chairpersons apar t from Northern and Lusaka, who were on official assignment on Saturday when the central committee met, have reaffirmed the endorsement of President Lungu as candidate for the 2016 general elections.
Eastern Province chairperson Mimise Chiwele said the region is happy that President Lungu has been adopted as presidential candidate for the 2016 general elections.
“During this year’s January 20 elections which ushered in President Lungu as Head of State, the party went through a number of challenges that pointed to a leadership problem. Now that we have a candidate well in advance, there will be unity,”
“You saw what happened before elections on January 20. Now confusion will be a thing of the past and campaigns for President Lungu will be much easier,” he said.
“As a party, we are excited with the development because we wanted to have a candidate who is already formidable,” said Southern province chairperson Charles Hamududu.