FORMER President Rupiah Banda is being touted as a possible candidate for the MMD-UPND alliance in the 2016 presidential elections, some members of Parliament in the two opposition parties have revealed.
According to the MPs, a meeting was held outside Zambia where senior MMD and UPND leaders agreed that Mr Banda is a strong candidate for the two parties.
The MPs say the two parties have also exploited the possibility of Mr Banda being barred by the republican Constitution from re-contesting the presidency and are satisfied that he in fact qualifies because he did not even complete a term when he was President.
The republican Constitution bars Presidents from governing for more than two terms but in Mr Banda’s case, he became President in 2008 after the demise of President Levy Mwanawasa the same year and ruled until 2011 when he lost to the current President Michael Sata.
An MP told the Mail: “At the meeting, some leaders of the parties were cagey about Mr Banda’s candidature believing the constitution could not allow him but they hired legal brains who advised that the issue does not arise because RB only did a term and he did not even finish it.”
The MPs said the option of Mr Banda as a candidate has been necessitated by plans by the ruling Patriotic Front government to lift the immunity of the former President.
“This whole idea is meant to put more pressure on the PF who are planning to remove his immunity,” another MP said.
The MPs said there is consensus among MMD and UPND leaders but that ordinary members are not likely to support the idea because of the impending corruption charges Mr Banda may face after being invited by the Anti-Corruption Commission to their offices recently.
“But RB’s financiers are also willing to finance his comeback,” one of the MPs said.
But when contacted, UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma scoffed at the issue of Mr Banda’s reported candidature for the two parties.
“That’s a laughable matter, there is no such alliance for floatation. First of all, Mr Banda didn’t attend any meeting we held in South Africa,” Mr Kakoma said.
He said people “peddling such lies” were just misdirected, adding that the meeting in South Africa was to submit a dossier on human rights violations in Zambia.
The existing alliance between UPND and the MMD was to confer on common matters of interest, he said, and not far-fetched allegations.