It would be “stupid” for any PF member to start thinking of replacing Sata in 2016 – GBM

Geofrey Mwamba

CALLS to back President Sata for the 2016 presidential elections reached a crescendo yesterday when Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba told party cadres in Mongu that Mr Sata would be the sole Patriotic Front (PF) presidential candidate in the 2016 race.
Mr Mwamba was speaking in Mongu when he addressed scores of PF cadres that welcomed him at the airport in the company of Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu during the tour of the province.
The Defence minister said it would be “stupid” for any PF member to start thinking that they would replace President Sata on the ballot paper in 2016 when he has a lot of time on his watch to run up to 2021.
This is the second time Mr Mwamba is calling for the need to back President Sata for the 2016 polls after a similar meeting in Northern Province where he made the same call, effectively ending speculation on whether the ruling party would consider fielding another candidate for re-election on their ticket.
Western Province PF members told Mr Mwamba and Mr Lungu that they would back President Sata’s candidature, a position similar to that made by their Northern Province counterparts.
Mr Mwamba said, “What I am happy about is that you [Western Province PF members]have also endorsed President Sata to be the presidential candidate in 2016. We are very happy and excited that you have equally endorsed what Kasama started, Eastern, and Southern provinces, including Lusaka have done. I think now we are speaking the same language.”
Mr Mwamba said President Sata deserves another term, which he is constitutionally entitled to, in order to complete implementing all his campaign promises of reducing poverty and creating jobs.
“How do you expect President Sata to execute and implement all his campaign promises in five years?” Mr Mwamba said. “It is impossible. We have to give him another term after five years in opposition.”
He added that there was no need for some PF members to start campaigning for President and advised all PF supporters in Mongu to rally behind President Sata, who is already taking development to Western Province by building a university and a stadium that will create thousands of jobs in the province previously neglected by preceding governments, according to Mr Mwamba.
Mr Mwamba said the succession subject must be handled with caution because President Sata has not officially started grooming anyone to take over from him when he finally decides to retire.
“At the moment we are not ready…he [President Sata]hasn’t yet started grooming who should take over from him because it is too early. Twenty-four months in office we want to start campaigning for President? That is being stupid.”
He said “all PF supporters, those who love PF, let’s rally behind President Sata so that he gives us development” instead of engaging in succession debates that have the potential of dividing the party.
Speaking at the same function, Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu, who is also the party’s chairperson for legal affairs, said PF supporters should not at any point start thinking that there are divisions in the party.
“Zambia is one, that is why we want to think like one nation. If the thoughts which permeate this nation are one, we will have no room for division and we will work towards the goals which we promised, which is development for Zambians,” Mr Lungu said.
Mr Lungu said President Sata is providing guidance and good leadership until 2021, when PF leadership will decide who should take over from him.
“There is no division in PF, we are one and we will be given guidance on the way forward by President Sata, whose deepest interest is the rank and file that voted for him in 2011,” said Mr Lungu.
Mr Mwamba and Mr Lungu’s calls for backing President Sata also come on the back of PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba, who on August 4 categorically stated for the record that he had no intentions of running for the top office.
In a special interview taped for Muvi TV, Mr Kabimba said, “I am not positioning myself for the presidency…we have Michael Sata as a sitting President and so I laugh at those comments.” He was responding to a question Muvi TV’s Coster Mwansa.
Mr Kabimba said he only seeks to focus on mobilising PF at the “grassroots” so that the party does not lose touch with them as party CEO.
In the same interview, he described President Sata as a political genius and “no-one can hold President Sata hostage politically,” Mr Kabimba said. “He is more skilled than the entire Cabinet and all of us put together. He is a seasoned politician.”
While in Mongu, on the other hand, Mr Mwamba and Mr Lungu, accompanied by Western Province Permanent Secretary Emmanuel Mwamba, paid a courtesy call on the Litunga of the Lozi people before proceeding to Senanga, Kalabo and Sioma out-back.
Mr Mwamba said President Sata wants to ensure that development is taken to Western Province at a faster rate than ever before since independence as the Litunga complained about lack of security in parts of the Western Province, which he said needs urgent address.
The Litunga pin-pointed the Limulunga and Lealui areas, which he said need a police post or station for that matter as he thanked President Sata for the many development initiatives he has started in Western Province saying more development was needed though.
Mr Mwamba in response said the construction of an ultra-modern stadium and a university would be but a start towards developing the province.
The influential Barotse Royal Establishment has already allocated more than 900 hectares of land to the government so that it can start constructing the university in a move unprecedented since independence.