National Democratic Congress secretary general Mwenya Musenge says the party’s earlier selected candidate for next month’s Chilanga parliamentary by-election, Webster Katongo, deserted the party at the last minute because the ruling party bought him.

In an interview, Musenge says the party had information that their candidate was promised K500,000 and a Land Cruiser vehicle by the ruling PF for leaving the NDC.

Meanwhile, Musenge claimed that his party’s second selected candidate was sent away by Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) officials from the nomination centre because he was late.

Musenge narrated how Katongo disappointed the NDC at the last minute before sending the party into panic mode.

“Whatever happened [on Thursday in Chilanga] was unfortunate. You know, NDC as a party, has members within the party and there was an internal advert amongst ourselves for those who had interest and, of course, we came across Webster Katongo. And the party resolved that we fill (select) him. And up to the eve of filing in nominations, Webster Katongo was absent from the filing in of nominations on Thursday. And I was with him on Tuesday, I was with him on Wednesday as well. On Wednesday morning, we just saw something on one of his social media that he had withdrawn. He was communicated to and he refuted that. And later in the day we started getting worried especially that most of the documents had been prepared and the man was nowhere to be seen,” Musenge narrated, Friday.

He charged that Katongo refuted all the allegations against him that he had been bought by PF.

“From our reliable sources we got information that the man had been promised about K500,000 and a Land Cruiser by the PF. That information came through but you know we took it as speculative and he declined. But later this thing started sinking into us that this gentleman, Mr Katongo, the driver was saying that he was actually with him in the bank and that he was going to call us immediately he finished whatever he was doing in the bank. He was later spoken to and refuted that whatever was flashed on social media was not actually true, and gave an instruction that our media team should refute the statement that was issued,” Musenge added.

“Then, unfortunately on Thursday, on the day of filing in of nominations, the party sat and sent people to ECZ to inform them that we were not going to make it on the time that they had slotted for us, and that we were going to go back in the afternoon. So, they told us that as long as you are able to be here before 15:30, you will be allowed to file in. That was how we quickly sat and identified Mr Simfukwe and you know the procedure. We had to do the verification of his results at the Examination Council of Zambia then there were documents to be signed from there. So that process took us a bit long but we managed. We were at Chilanga and our people led by madam Saboi [Imboela] were at Chilanga at the school where the nominations were being conducted at. The place was crowded with PF cadres.”

And Musenge said after the bad experience with Katongo, the party saw it not fit to continue engaging with him.

“You and I will agree that it wasn’t easy for our people to just move straight to where those cadres were standing. So, what we did is we allowed Saboi to go in, to enter the nomination centre and to [say to] the ECZ officials that we are ready, we are outside. Then we were told ‘okay, you wait outside until PF is done then you can move in’. So, that is how Saboi came back and we asked our people to stand at a distance to avoid violence. We don’t find it necessary as a party to continue engaging with our first candidate because I think we have moved on,” said Musenge.