Patriotic Front (PF) Secretary General Davies Mwila says the party is confident that President Edgar Lungu has worked hard enough to retain the presidency in 2021.

And Mwila says the Central Committee at its sitting on Tuesday resolved that no party member should destabilize an area where there is an incumbent PF MP adding that any premature campaigns in those areas will attract sanctions.

Speaking at a press briefing held at the PF secretariat in Lusaka, Wednesday, Mwila boasted that the ruling party was eroding the opposition’s margins in all parts of the country.

“The Patriotic Front remains confident that with the foregoing people-centered solutions to the nation’s current challenges coupled with the visible results of the PF driven national transformational development agenda which is focussed on leaving no one behind, the Party under the astute leadership and candidature of President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, will retain the peoples’ popular mandate in 2021; as the party continues to entrench itself in PF strongholds, and carries on significantly eroding the margins in opposition strongholds,” Mwila said.

Mwila said only members of the Central Committee through his office could open a window for campaigns.

“Hard work and unity must be applied and prevail at all levels. PF MPs countrywide have been directed to go back to their constituencies, on the ground. No member should destabilise an area where there is an incumbent PF MP. Only Central Committee can open the window for campaigns through my office. Therefore, between now and then, premature campaigns in areas with PF MPs will attract sanctions by the party. Provincial Executive Committees must take charge of their Provinces and must ensure they harmonize working relations between MPs and the structures,” Mwila said.

And asked what PF’s position was on the call by UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema inviting President Edgar Lungu for a dialogue meeting, Mwila said the opposition leader should put it in writing.

“If I may ask Hakainde Hichilema, who is going to chair the meeting? And he has to put it in writing if he wants to dialogue. We have been pleading with him that let’s sit and discuss the issues affecting our people. So they don’t want us to sit with them. And moreover, you are aware that UPND has a tendency in all the provinces that they have given instructions to members of parliament, council chairmen and councilors that they should not work with the government of the day. So, it’s up to him now to write to us, then we will respond,” Mwila responded.

Asked if the party had already made a decision on its 2021 candidate, Mwila reiterated that the Central Committee had already settled for President Lungu but that the general conference would have a final say.

“The Central Committee will make a decision [as to] when to proceed with the elections. You are aware that the general conference is supposed to be held every after five years [and] so we expect to hold a general conference next year. So, based on that we will see how we shall squeeze in the issue of elections in the lower structures. We are happy with that response because the Central Committee made a decision that we are going to go with President Edgar Lungu as our candidate in 2021 and the president responded very clearly that it’s up to the Central Committee at the general conference to decide. So, one organ (Central Committee) has decided. So, we are remaining with the general conference,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mwila said all those collecting monies in bus stations and markets were not genuine PF members.

On the Milenge council chairperson by-elections, Mwila said the party had adopted Benny Mibenge while the campaign manager will be Dr Chitalu Chilufya and deputized by Bangweulu and Nchelenge MPs Anthony Kasandwe and Anthony Malama respectively.

He said the party expected to win all the five local government by-elections because they were all in PF strongholds.

“The Patriotic Front is also geared to retain Chipundu ward of Chitambo Town Council; Serenje Ward of Serenje Town Council; Ilambo ward of Lupososhi Town Council, Mumila ward of Mpulungu Town Council and Katwe ward of Mpulungu Town Council. In short, all these council by-elections are being held in our stronghold and we don’t expect to lose any of them,” said Mwila.