PF national chairman Davies Chama says he was unaware that the ruling PF then through Clement Andeleki tried to deregister the then biggest opposition MMD, saying if he knew he would have opposed such a move.
But the ruling UPND has told PF to simply comply with the demands of the Registrar of Societies Thandiwe Mhende who has threatened them with deregistration over pronounced demands.
The situation the PF has found itself in where a sitting Registrar of Societies is trying to deregister them as the biggest opposition party is similar to when the PF then as a ruling party tried to deregister the biggest opposition and former ruling MMD through now Katombola member of parliament Andeleki who served as Registrar of Societies at the time.
Asked if he regrets that the PF acted in such a manner against the MMD as those in the UPND administration are doing against PF, Chama expressed ignorance that such a thing ever happened.
“Me personally I’m not even aware of what you are talking about. Even when it was happening (attempts to deregister MMD), if at all it happened I was not aware and personally I wouldn’t have supported that kind of move. I was not aware that at any time, maybe I was disconnected, maybe that was a time when I was on suspension from the party,” Chama claimed.
Chama said in the same manner, he was also shocked when the PF removed the presidential immunity of former late president Rupiah Banda, saying he was very shocked and embarrassed that his own party could do such a thing.
“Those are some of the things I don’t support. And even at the time if I was active in terms of knowing what was going on (attempts to deregister MMD) I was not going to support that,” Chama said. “If at all it happened and I was around, I would have objected to that kind of move. I personally know Andeleki, now he’s Honourable, I would have approached him to say what you are doing is wrong. Stop it.”
Chama said it was possible that those in the UPND administration could follow through and deregister the PF, but was comforted that PF has always been compliant.
He said it was also possible that because of desperation someone could have removed some PF documents in the registrar’s office without the registrar’s knowledge.
He said it should puzzle people that a prominent political party was being targeted with deregistration when there were many silent organisations that have been existing without even submitting annual returns.
“So you can see that you are dealing with scared little young men,” Chama said.
But the UPND has argued that the PF must just respond to the demands rather than dragging the name of the President in the mud, to which Chama responded that that response alone shows the extent of UPND involvement in the matter.
But asked on the fact that some of the office bearers provided to the registrar have since resigned such as former president Edgar Lungu, Chama agreed that there were certain administrative issues that are done along the way, the more reason why the law provides for submissions of annual returns in the event one has died or even resigned.
He said PF would hold a general conference to elect a new leader after former president Edgar Lungu announced intentions to step down, and that people must distinguish membership and participation in an organisation.
“So if they are confusing themselves (asking) why is he holding the office? He will vacate when we update our records to the Registrar after one year when we do our returns,” said Chama, arguing that the country’s biggest opposition party could not be deregistered on the basis of administrative issues which keep occurring during the life of that organisation.
Meanwhile, the Patriotic Front-PF-Acting president Given Lubinda has declared that his party will not allow any attempts by the UPND government to deregister the party. This follows a statement released by the Registrar of Societies threatening to deregister the PF for not providing a complete list of the party’s office bearers.
Mr Lubinda has assured all PF members that the party has complied with the provisions of the Registrar of Societies Act and is working on every detail to avoid any questions from the Registrar of Societies. He called on all members to remain calm, united and continue to offer checks and balances to the current government.
However, political analyst Professor Bizeck Phiri has criticized the PF for not complying with the Registrar of Societies Act and failing to resolve the issue of holding a convention to replace former president Edgar Lungu who retired from active politics.
Mr Lubinda has maintained that the matter at hand is an administrative one and should not lead to the Registrar of Societies issuing threats to the party. The PF is determined to fight any attempts to deregister the party and will do everything possible to ensure that the party continues to exist.
This issue has attracted public attention as it comes at a time when the UPND government is determined to bring about political reforms aimed at promoting good governance and ensuring that all political parties comply with the law. It remains to be seen how the matter will be resolved, but the PF has made it clear that it will not back down on this issue.