By Obvious Mwaliteta
The ruling Patriotic Front(PF) is interested in the internal happenings of the opposition because the United Party for National Development (UPND) is the biggest and most popular political party. They would otherwise not go to great lengths trying to taint the successes it was.
We hoped the PF would pick a few pointers from our just ended General Assembly considering that our Party and incoming President of the Republic of Zambia Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, was not voted for by a show of hands as it happened in their case in 2014.
Our Party President was endorsed by all ten (10) Provinces and therefore, went unopposed and duly elected as president in accordance with our Party Constitution.
Further to the above, it is worth mentioning that as opposed to the 2014 PF convention, there was no violence and neither did we have to wake up any of our Learned Judges in the middle of the night to sign injunctions. We did not require any dubious consent orders declaring Mr. Hichilema as party leader while fully aware that there were members who disputed his election.
We also expected the PF to appreciate our ability to conduct elections virtually without risking the lives of our members during this COVID pandemic, adhering to health regulations.
Last but not least, we expected them to acknowledge that have we demonstrated as a party, that each of the ten (10) Provinces of Zambia has competent citizens of this country as evidenced by our NMC composition, unlike shown in their appointments an terminations in “national interest”.
Prior to the UPND convention, Mr. Hichilema is on record as having invited competition at all levels in order to increase the pool of competent members of the party to choose from. On the other hand, we have all seen the fate of the PF members who have sought the position of party president.
As a party, we felt it was in our interest and that of the nation to continue with the leadership of Mr. Hichilema. the unanimous endorsement of Mr. Hichilema was influenced by his leadership which has seen his popularity grow from strength to strength ever since he took over as President of the party.
For avoidance of doubt, we give two examples, Mr Hichilema went to a meagre 17,000 votes in 2011, to 189,000 in 2016 on the Copperbelt and 45,000 to 242,000 votes in Lusaka, as opposed a 4,000 votes growth on the Copperbelt and XXX votes growth in Lusaka for the PF. With this type of trajectory, its plain to see that the UPND have taken over these provinces this time around.
As level headed Zambians may be aware, opposition politics in Zambia have not been easy especially under the Patriotic Front regime and to have a leader who has held the party together despite his numerous trials and tribulations is indeed rare and a blessing to the country. Mr. Hichilema could have chosen to give up and continue with his life outside politics. His resilience and passion to serve the country is something worth admiring.
Coming back to the issue of the PF Presidency and its Central Committee, we believe that PF members have not paid much attention and thought to what Mr. Kelvin Bwalya Fube has been saying about the legitimacy of Mr. Chagwa Lungu as party president. KBF has been a lone voice but his position is the same as that taken by Honourable Tutwa Ngulube in his capacity as Legal Counsel for the PF in 2015.
According to KBF during his December 2020 interview with Diamond Tv, he said, “We have a vacancy in the party president position. This is why some of us have come out in the open to take up the leadership of the party.” He followed on to say that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s mandate as PF President expired in 2019 when he served his five-year term.
Honourable Tutwa Ngulube, inter alia, gave this guidance to his party and the full text can be accessed from his Facebook page as well as online platforms such as Lusaka Times surrounding the events of the 30th of November 2014, at the Mulungushi University.
The life span of the PF General Conference is 5 years. We urge the PF as ruling party to explain to its members and the public at large why it did not have intra party elections in 2019 as guided by its legal counsel and its constitution. Why the abrogated their own constitution if it was not an effort to avoid President Lungu’s eligibility issue.
Instead of grasping at straws to dent the successful UPND General Assembly, perhaps the PF might want to turn the microscope on their own party that lacks credible and democratically elected leaders who move to suspend and expel those aspiring to lead it.