Patriotic Front media director Sunday Chanda says only President Edgar Lungu can fire ruling party secretary general Davies Mwila.
And Chanda has saluted UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema for practicing politics of maturity, saying he doesn’t insult like others.
Meanwhile, Chanda says PF member Kelvin Bwalya Fube and other members of the party are free to challenge President Edgar Lungu at the party convention but insists that the Head of State is the party’s preferred candidate.
There was been calls for Mwila’s removal, led by PF cadre Julius Komaki who feels the party CEO has failed in his duties.
But speaking when featured on Hot FM’s Hot Seat programme, Thursday, Chanda said calls for Mwila’s resignation were engineered by those who felt he was blocking them from achieving their aspirations.
“Like the literal boat, when you are on the sea, it’s not always going to be smooth sailing. Even when you’re on a plane, sometimes you are going to have turbulence. So the Patriotic Front being a living organism, it will from to time to time experience turbulence. But when we do, it doesn’t mean we are not intact, it just means that we are a living organism… 2020 the party goes to the convention, 2021 we have general elections. You expect that there’s going to be interests and people would want to position themselves and there are those who may look at the secretary general as a hindrance to their aspirations and they are going to fight him, it’s normal. But what is also true is that those that have stood and defended the leadership of the party are in fact more than those that have tried to call for his removal. But this is the democracy that we always talk about, that people will air their views and sometimes they do so away from discipline and laid down procedures,” Chanda explained.
“There are those who would look at the sectary general as a stumbling block to their ambitions and others would be displeased with what they see as not happening in the party. But the if you say Mr Davies Mwila is the weakest link in the party, you are also going to talk about the successes the party has registered with him being at the helm of the party as Chief Executive Officer. We have won seats that were previously under the opposition. We took Chilanga, we took Kafue, we’ve taken seats in Western and North Western Provinces. So we ought to be very fair, we have to be very fair and say he’s managed to bring about these results… and yes, he’s human, he’s got to have his own weaknesses.”
Chanda said Mwila would remain PF secretary general until the President decided otherwise.
“If people think the secretary general has not performed, we have the general conference that is coming in 2020. If he’s going to contest as member of the central committee, they have the right not to elect him. But the appointment of the secretary general, going by the party constitution is the prerogative of the President. The President appoints the secretary general from the members of the central committee. So it is not democracy for one to attempt to arm twist the appointing authority. Because I am Sunday Chanda, then I can get a few guys to start calling on the President to appoint me as the Provincial Minister for Lusaka, it doesn’t work like that,” Chanda said.
“The President has heard, he has listened and has understood. It is the President who called for an introspection after the Roan by-elections and it would be unwise for anyone to believe that the party president and the central committee are unaware of the status of the party and we are getting from the grassroots and where we have these shortfalls. The message we want to send to the membership of the party is that let us stand together.”
Meanwhile, Chanda saluted Hichilema for practicing politics of maturity.
“With all his weaknesses, for some of us who don’t approve his leadership, one of the things I would give credit to my brother who leads the UPND for is that he will never come on a programme like this and insult anyone. He can put across his views and you will look at them and say ‘this is flawed’ but he’s not going to insult. Does that take anything away from him? No it doesn’t. But others feel when they insult the President then they are champions at insulation. We are calling for mature politics, politics that take away demeaning statements,” Chanda said.
Meanwhile, commenting on KBF’s presidential ambitions, Chanda said no one had been barred from challenging President Lungu but the Head of State was still the party’s preferred candidate.
“He’s a member of the party, he says that he’s one of those who drafted the party constitution and he understands the constitution to the letter. And as the President said, no one has been barred from challenging the President. President Lungu is the preferred candidate for 2021 but no one has been barred from challenging him at the convention. The party constitution gives a rights to everyone who wants to contest the Presidency,” Chanda said.
Asked why GBM was not accorded a thunderous welcome when he rejoined PF, Chanda said the former UPND vice-president’s defection was instantaneous and the party could not arrange a big welcome.
“The decision by honourable Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba to rejoin the Patriotic Front was a decision that he made instantaneously and there was no prior arrangement for us to prepare this welcome…But he’s very much welcome in the party. The secretary general of the party has pronounced himself on this particular matter and he has also made it very clear that he will be meeting Mr Mwamba once he’s back from Northern Province and he’s done with other commitments that he’s got. But we are glad that Mr Mwamba is back in the party and his telling people the good news about President Lungu and encouraging them to come back to the fold,” said Chanda.
And commenting on the incident at Power FM where PF cadres attacked NDC leader Chishimba Kamwbili, Chanda said it was normal for cadres to react when their leader was being insulted.
“PF is very big party with a very wide membership base and some of our members are so passionate, such that they get affected whenever they hear the leader of the party being insulted and maliciously accused. But this does not mean that they are sent by the leadership of the party because violence is alien to the DNA of the party and PF is not allergic to criticism. But you must understand that a member of any political party would not sit back and rejoice when their leader is being maliciously attacked, it’s only normal…So our colleagues in the opposition should also go beyond arm chair criticism and tell the people of Zambia what alternatives they are going to offer. But we don’t have viable opposition in this country,” said Chanda.