Shortly after being sworn in after the August 11, 2016 elections, President Edgar Lungu declared that he was going to stand in 2021 because the Constitution allowed him to do so.
This was met with mixed feelings and some minor opposition leaders; Dan Pule, Wright Musoma, Peter Chanda and Robert Mwanza of Christian Democratic Party, Zambia Republican Party, New Congress Party and Citizen Democratic Party respectively, took the matter to the Constitutional Court, asking it to declare that President Lungu was elidgible to re-contest.
Recently, the secretary general of the PF Davies Mwila revived the debates by asking all those with presidential ambitions to shelve them until 2026 because President Lungu was the ruling party’s sole candidate for 2021.
This received a sharp reaction from former information minister Chishimba Kambwili who said there were no short cuts and it was mandatory to contest all positions, including the presidency at a general conference in 2020 according to the party constitution.
But Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo did not take this kindly, warning those with an “insatiable appetite for power to take a chill pill”.
But in an interview with News Diggers! yesterday, Tutwa said he felt duty bound to offer his professional advice as a lawyer that the debate was unnecessary.
He said the party needed to focus on delivering development to the people.
“The PF will not deliver the much needed development if we begin talking about who is the right candidate for 2021. We have a president, there is no vacuum, we have a PF president, so as for now there is no vacuum. We can only start to discuss who is illegible or who continues in 2021 if that vacancy is created by the PF constitution itself or the president himself indicates that he doesn’t want to continue,” Tutwa said.
“So that is my professional understanding of this matter that if we continue with the rate we are moving, senior party officials differing in the media, we will spread our errors and they will not be able to do what they are supposed to do. That is my position I don’t care what people think or whatever they label me, I know the truth will set me free.”
Asked if he had discussed these matters with other senior officials so that they could speak with one voice, Tutwa replied in the affirmative adding; “This public statement I have made is meant for everybody, of course behind the scene we have spoken but I think it is important that we make a public statement to the fact that people must know that right now, it is a bad timing. We will not actually start campaigning when we have three years ahead. The party has a lot of responsibilities given to them by the voters. So if we start now fighting over who should be the president, the right candidate, the party will not deliver.”
Tutwa insisted that the debate would distract the Head of State.
“Basically mine is a professional position. The danger I am foreseeing as a lawyer and as somebody who has been at the helm of the presidential elections in the PF, I have actually understood that it’s important that we provide guidance. I think we must provide proper guidance to everyone, must as the senior members are free to comment on such an issue, I personally did not think this is the best time. There are dangers that could actually happen, the president is being destructed, the president should be allowed to deliver development freely, whether people want him or do not want him, that for now I think I not actually be discussed. You are aware that if this discussion goes on, tomorrow it will be MPs, the other day it will be councilors,” said Tutwa.
Take a listen:
In the morning yesterday, Tutwa issued a statement asking the party to discipline all those who insisted on debating the 2021 elections.