By Hyde Haguta
There are conflicting statements in the PF regarding the decision whether to just have a central committee meeting, or to go for a General Conference to elect the party’s, and presidential candidate for the 2015 January presidential bye-election, following the death and burial of President Michael sata.
PF Secretary General Edgar Lungu had earlier indicated that the Central Committee of the party would convene today Thursday to either elect a presidential candidate, or decide modalities of electing the candidate at the General Conference.
But Acting President Guy Scott yesterday-Wednesday, said there would be no short cuts in picking President Michael Sata’s successor.
Dr Scott said the central committee would only meet today-Thursday to decide the date for the general conference which would eventually pick a presidential candidate.
But later in the evening Dr Scott annulled and deferred the proposed Central Committee meeting to 29th November 2015, and appointed a committee to prepare for holding of the General Conference.
The Committee comprises: Emmanuel Chenda as treasurer, Chishimba Kambwili as member of the Central Committee, and Anthony Kasolo, who is also a member of the Central Committee, Party’s Deputy Secretary General Bridget Atanga, and Dr Ngosa Simbyakula as member of the Central Committee and Chairperson for Constitutional Affairs.
Dr Scott says the PF is bound by its own Constitution and will not do anything to the contrary which risks splitting the party, citing an example of the former ruling party, MMD.
He has warned people who maybe involved in confusion that they will face the wrath of the law.
Dr Scott also says President Sata has left a positive landscape of change in the minds of many Zambians.
But later in same evening on Wednesday, Mr Lungu also wrote back to Dr Scott that the Central Committee would go ahead today Thursday as earlier communicated, and that Dr Scott’s decisions was null and void.
Mr Lungu also accused Dr Scot of acting outside the constitutional provisions of the PF by annulling actions of the Party’s Secretary General duly mandated to carry out his functions.
“It should be noted that, the Secretary General is the Chief Administrative Officer of the party and is the one mandated by the Constitution to convene meetings. The Secretary General is also the secretary to the Central Committee, National Council and General Conference as enshrined in Article 56 of the party constitution. It is imperative that the Central Committee is convened immediately to resolve all outstanding issues”. Mr Lungu says in his letter to Dr Scot.
“You should note that, your unilateral directives to cancel the legally constituted meeting are null and void as those directives are outside the Constitution. As a member of the Patriotic front, you are expected to operate within the provisions of the Constitution”, Mr Lungu adds.
He says, “Any decisions made ought to be subjected to advise, counsel and ratification of the Central Committee. I therefore urge you to desist from operating outside the provisions of the Constitution, as the PF and Zambia have long established democratic credential and practices.”
Mr Lungu has argued that “under the current circumstances, the PF has neither the luxury of time nor the resources to engage in wasteful discourse…, To this effect, the Central Committee Meeting shall proceed as scheduled and as announced. The venue and time will be communicated later.” Mr Lungu says in a letter to Dr Scott.
Meanwhile, some members of the party are also taking positions and issuing various statements either in support of Acting President Dr Scott, or Party Secretary General Edgar Lungu.
Others have already gone ahead and have started endorsing Mr Lungu, and Commerce Deputy Minister Miles Sampa for President of the party and for candidate for the by-election in January next year.
They have taken a position even before the Party agrees on the modalities of electing the new leader of the PF, and possible presidential candidate.
Seven of the Patriotic Front provincial committees want the Central committee to nominate the presidential candidate as opposed to a General Conference.
The Committees are backing Mr Lungu that the party has no resources and time to go for a party convention to choose a presidential candidate.
On the Copperbelt, provincial Chairlady, Hildah Kawesha also insists that the central committee should nominate a leader that late President Michael Sata preferred to be president – Mr Lungu.
The eight provinces that have endorsed PF Secretary General, Edgar Lungu as the preferred presidential candidate for the forthcoming coming presidential elections are Eastern, Northern, North western, Copperbelt, and Central provinces.
And PF Muchinga Province Chairperson, Mwansa Kapeya says the province will support the decision that will be arrived at by the central committee, and that the next president should continue with late president Michael Sata’s vision to develop the nation.
In Kafue, Patriotic Front youths on Wednesday carried placards declaring support for Secretary General Edgar Lungu as the party’s Presidential candidate.
Youth Chairperson Cathbert Mulenga said Youths from Kafue will not cordon the cartel because it will destroy the party.
But in Luapula province, the PF is calling for a convection to be held to nominate a Presidential candidate for the Presidential by elections
PF Luapula vice chairperson Bernard Chisanga says the members are following what is stipulated in the constitution of the party. This is a position acting President Dr Scott want followed, including PF National Youth Chairperson Chishimba Kambwili.
Mr. Chisanga who led a group of PF members from Luapula in a walk in interview with ZNBC NEWS says he will not allow any other members to force them to capitulate.
He says the late President Michael Sata who was buried on Tuesday in Lusaka should be respected by following the constitution of the party.
However, some PF members in Lusaka say they still insist that the Central committee should be held to nominate a presidential candidate, and are backing secretary general Edgar Lungu as a presidential candidate.
Mr. Kapili Kapinga says Mr. Lungu should be given support by other members in the party.
And Patriotic Front Lusaka District Youth Spokesperson Julius Komaki says the Central Committee should consider nominating a Presidential candidate rather than going for convention.
Mr. Komaki says the party does not have the luxury of time or money to go for a general conference or a convention, and can do well to just have the General Conference in 2016.
Mr. Komaki who was accompanied by dozens of placard-carrying youths also announced that the youths in Lusaka want Mr Lungu to the PF Presidential candidate.
But PF National Youth Chairperson Chishimba Kambwili has backed acting President Dr Scott’s decision to call for a general conference to choose the party’s presidential candidate, in line with the party constitution.
Mr. Kambwili who is also Roan Member of Parliament, says schemes meant to abrogate the PF constitution should be stopped.
He says concerns that holding a convention would eat up time are unfounded because a convention will only take one day as there is only one item on the agenda which is election of a Presidential candidate.
Mr. Kambwili says Mr Lungu’s suggestions that the central committee should nominate a presidential candidate for the party must be ignored.
Mr. Kambwili says the statement attributed to Mr. Lungu is misplaced and should not be tolerated by peace loving PF members.
He argues that choosing a candidate in such a manner is tantamount to abrogating the party constitution.
Mr. Kambwili says the Central Committee only has 42 members who would be easily bribed as compared to a convention which is attended by 6-thousand delegates.
Western Province on Sampa
Meanwhile, Western Province has also issued conflicting statements on the endorsement of Commerce Deputy Minister Miles Sampa as a presidential candidate for the PF, but has not yet come out clear whether a Central Committee or the General Conference should come up with a Presidential candidate.
This follows two different statements from the PF provincial leadership.
PF Western Province Chairman and Member of the PF Central Committee Kenneth Namutulo says the patriotic front in Western Province has settled for a youthful and hardworking leader in the name of Miles Sampa.
But in another statement, Vice Provincial chairperson Evans Chipman has dismissed the statement, and says it is not true that the province has endorsed Mr Sampa as President Sata’s successor.
And Mongu Central Member of Parliament Nathaniel Mubukwanu has also dismissed the statement that Mr Sampa has been endorsed by Western province.
He says the party is yet to meet and decide a preferred candidate for the presidential by-election.