Factionalism worsens in Zambian opposition

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Patriotic Front (PF) chairman, Davies Chama

from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
Zambia Bureau
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THE suspension of senior members facing disciplinary charges deepens the infighting afflicting Zambia’s main opposition party.

The suspensions follow the meeting of the Central Committee of the Patriotic Front (PF) this past weekend to address a number of issues that have bedeviled it since it lost power in 2021.

The party suspended Davies Chama, its National Chairperson, and the divisive Miles Sampa, who is among several candidates running for the presidency of the party.

Emmanuel Mwamba, chairperson for Information and Publicity at PF, said Sampa is facing fresh disciplinary charges after he stormed the Party Secretariat and his “thugs” stoned the property in September.

Sampa has also been removed from the position of Chairperson of Local Government.

Other suspended members are parliamentarians Robert Chawinga and Davison Mung’andu.

PF stated its Central Committee gave a month to the Disciplinary Committee to hear these matters and bring its recommendations to the former for final determination.

The Central Committee has also officially postponed the holding of the delayed Constitutional Conference and Extra-Ordinary Conference.

The highlight of the conference is to elect a new president of the party, a position held by Given Lubinda on an interim basis.

The position has been vacant after Edgar Lungu lost the presidential election to Haikande Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND).

There is speculation he is interested in running for the PF top post, as well challenging Hichilema in the next general election.

The eagerly-anticipated PF inhouse presidential polls were initially scheduled for July 29 and were set for this coming Saturday, before the recent announcement.

Mwamba said the Central Committee has called for a special meeting within a period of a month to resolve the proposed dates for the two pending conferences, mentioned above.

Sampa scoffed at the resolutions of the Central Committee meeting, which he said was an additional contempt of court by “illegal office holders.”

He said the resolutions were “null” and “void”.

There are multiple court cases challenging the legality of the party’s senior leadership, including Lubinda.

In his opening remarks, Lubinda expressed concern at the “ugly development of indiscipline” in the party.

Analyst, David Zulu, reiterated observations of PF on a self-destructive path, especially that some of those suspended are senior officials who played pivotal roles in its founding in 2001.

Micheal Sata (deceased) formed the party as a breakaway of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy  (MMD) after a fallout with then president of party and country, Frederick Chiluba (deceased).

“These suspensions will test the party’s unity and will further raise more legal questions on the legitimacy of its top leadership,” Zulu said of the problems in PF.

PF gained power in 2011. The next general elections in the Southern African nation are scheduled for 2026.

– CAJ News