HH is free to contest presidential elections for as many times as he wishes because the party constitution allows him to do so, says general secretary Stephen Katuka.
Mr Katuka said the UPND constitution permitted Mr Hichilema to contest in general elections for an indefinite period.
Mr Katuka said in accordance with article 79 of the UPND constitution, Mr Hichilema was eligible to contest any election that could come at any time.
In a statement dated September 22, 2016, Mr Katuka argued that the UPND constitution did not put any limit on the term of office for the UPND presidency.
He said article 79 states that ” A person shall be eligible for election for an indefinite period subject to this constitution provided that a party President who is elected Republican president shall only serve two terms that shall run concurrently with the term of office as Republican President. Therefore, HH is eligible to contest any election that can come at any time. After all he managed to win the presidency in the August 11, 2016 elections which all normal Zambians know that it was stolen from him and the UPND,” he said.
Mr Katuka was responding to UPND former deputy spokesperson Edwin Lifwekelo who told the Daily Nation in an exclusive interview that Mr Hichilema was not eligible to contest the 2021 general elections.
The former deputy spokesperson told the Daily Nation that according to the UPND constitution, Mr Hichilema does NOT qualify to go beyond 2020 as president of the party.
Mr Lifwekelo said article 79 of the UPND constitutional was allegedly amended by a group of lawyers led by Monze Central Member of Parliament Jacob Mwiimbu with the sole purpose of allowing Mr Hichilema to remain at the helm of the party.He said article 79 which Mr Katuka quoted was a clear indication that Mr Hichilema was a dictator who did not want to allow Dr Canisius Banda and Mr Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba to challenge him through a convention.
Mr Lifwekelo also warned that if voted into government, the UPND would change the Republican Constitution and introduce a one party state because they had demonstrated the dictatorship at party level.
Last week on Monday, Mr Lifwekelo said he left the two UPND vice-presidents fighting for the presidency before leaving the UPND.“So the infighting in the UPND is real and I think, as it is now, the issue of succession with the view that Mr Hichilema will not stand in 2021.
“The little that I know in the UPND constitution is that HH cannot go beyond 2020. Beyond that, the party’s National Management Committee (NMC) and National Executive Committee (NEC) need to sit down to revise that clause if Mr Hichilema would have to legally contest the 2021 general elections,” Mr Lifwekelo said.
He said as per UPND constitution, Mr Hichilema could not go beyond 2020.Mr Lifwekelo said he was aware that the only possible way for Mr Hichilema to contest the 2021 general elections was through amending their party constitution.