Infighting, defections rock Zambia’s main opposition


Given Lubinda

from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
Zambia Bureau
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – ZAMBIA’S main opposition is wary of campaigns for the presidency of the party undermining the organisation, dividing members and destabilising the country.

The Patriotic Front (PF), the ruling party until 2021 when it suffered electoral defeat, has forthwith suspended campaigns for the top position.

Its Central Committee resolved that the adoption of the rules of engagement and campaigns for the elections shall be reserved until after the committee’s February meeting.

“As such it was further resolved that campaigns for the party presidency must be stopped forthwith,” said Acting PF president, Given Lubinda.

“All provincial chairpersons and members of all our party committees across the country are advised to take heed and to report any campaign activities that may take place within their areas of jurisdiction,” Lubinda said.

Lubinda argued the opposition party was not stifling internal democracy.

“This is not to say people are not allowed to speak,” he explained.

“They are just stopped from campaigning for themselves while being allowed to speak on behalf of the party,” Lubinda said.

“We have all witnessed in the recent past, some of those of our colleagues who have offered themselves to lead the party have been engaging in styles of campaigns that have raised numerous questions and disquiet amongst themselves, among general members as well as the public,” he said.

Eight candidates are in the running to succeed Edgar Lungu, who led the party from 2015 to 2021.

The contenders are Chitalu Chilufya, Mutotwe Kafwaya, Chishimba Kambwili, Emmanuel Mwamba, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, Greyford Monde, Brian Mundubile and Miles Sampa.

PF this week suspended Sampa from the Central Committee of the party for a period of six weeks.

This follows his press briefing last Friday, which did not go well with the party, which felt the Matero Member of Parliament attacked the party and its members.

“Some of the statements that were made by Hon. Sampa were in extreme bad taste and must be condemned in the strongest terms possible,” Lubinda said.

“Allowing members to cast aspersions against other members is recipe for anarchy and disintegration of the party,” Lubinda said.

He conceded to the infighting within PF, saying, “…there are many out there who are issuing unwarranted attacks against fellow members of the party.”

However, Sampa is “a senior member (52-year-old) who knows better how not to misconduct oneself.”

“He is one who has in past stood to lead this party and is among those who have formalised their desire to be nominated as candidates for the party presidency at the coming extra ordinary conference,” Lubinda said.

Former Lusaka Mayor, Sampa, will not be allowed to take part in any party activities or make statements on behalf of the party.

Coincidentally, Sampa’s ascension to the presidency of PF has previously divided the party. Courts deemed his election in 2014 as illegal and declared Lungu the rightful president.

A controversial figure, he resigned from cabinet and quit the PF in 2016. He attempted to form a party, named Democratic Front, but the name already belonged to another party.

Sampa eventually founded the United Democratic Front (UDF) but later threw his weight behind then-opposition leader, Haikande Hichilema, in that year’s election. He rejoined PF after Hichilema lost to Lungu.

Michael Sata (now late) founded the social democratic PF in 2001. It was a breakaway from the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), which ten years earlier (under Frederick Chiluba (deceased)) had ousted founding president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda (late), who led from independence in 1964.

PF came to power in 2011.

The ruling United Party for National Development (UPND) of President Hichilema is benefitting from the ructions at PF.

In the Copperbelt this week, UPND reported it received scores of PF supporters who ditched the PF.

“The defectors stated that PF has lost its political value and have since lost the patriotism in them,” UPND stated.

“The defectors added that anyone who is against the over-performing UPND government under the visionary leadership of Mr Hichilema was a true enemy of Zambia.”

Among those who defected are district PF chairpersons, Kafiembwa Lufwanyama, Mutesa Miniva and Emmanuel Silwimba.

Fungulwe Lenard, Givas Maambo, Martha Machai and Bruce Mweemba, who had earlier quit UPND, have also rejoined from PF.

– CAJ News



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