The Opposition Alliance is settling for UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema as the alliance’s candidate in the 2021 general elections, while discussions are still ongoing for a proposed running mate, impeccable sources have told News Diggers.

But Alliance chairperson Charles Milupi says members have not yet agreed on the proposal.

And Milupi says the Zambian judiciary can only emulate Malawi if it redeems itself from political influence.

Sources have told News Diggers! that the Opposition Alliance has agreed to field Hichilema as its presidential candidate in 2021, and that the pending decision was on the would be running mate.

“There was a meeting in January where all of them agreed that HH should be the candidate and now the only issue is on who will be the running mate. There was a suggestion that it should be [Chishimba] Kambwili but that hasn’t been agreed upon yet,” said the source.

“Obviously some members have varying opinions on the matter and the Alliance is trying to be cautious because usually this is where alliances fail – on choosing leaders.”

But when asked if it was true that the alliance resolved to field Hichilema as its presidential candidate in next year’s elections, Milupi said whoever was leaking information was not factual because the pact had not concluded its discussions on who the candidate would be.

“I don’t know where you got that [because] there was no press at the last sitting. So, if you have someone who is leaking information from the last sitting, first of all, they must be accurate on how they leak information. Secondly, they must also understand that attending these meetings is a privilege and discussions are ongoing. No conclusion on any subject was reached. So, how someone can now tell you of what we have done is beyond me,” Milupi said.

He said leaking of discussions would make him suspicious of attendants.

“As at now, there has been no conclusion on the candidate. After all these discussions, the alliance will pick someone to represent the alliance and it will be one of the presidents from the alliance’s political parties and so on and in each constituency, there will be a candidate representing the alliance up to the councillors,” Milupi said in an interview with News Diggers.

He said the alliance had further agreed to have a joint secretariat to enhance its relationship with member parties.

“The decision to have a [joint] secretariat was made but as to where it will be, that will be determined by the availability of premises and depending on how soon we can have space. You know, this alliance is a serious alliance. We want to actualise it now when the economy is affected, production has been affected, high load shedding, high prices of mealie-meal, high cost of living and all these matters which need to be addressed. And the very fact that Zambia is a very indebted country now, we need to be able to deal with these matters. You have seen the debate on Bill 10. That’s not how you do things. Like what one said that what is on the floor of the House is not the report of the committee but it is Bill 10 in its entirety,” Milupi said.

And speaking when he addressed journalists at his residence in Lusaka, Wednesday, Milupi said the alliance was currently in very serious discussions to come up with an electoral pact whereby they would stop competing against each other even during by-elections.

“We are currently in a very serious discussion as an Opposition Alliance to come up with an element of what we may call an electoral pact which will bring us together. And we are very advanced in our discussions. I can say those discussions, even though they are advanced; we have not concluded so because there is no agreement between us on how we participate in elections. Our aim when we conclude these discussions, we are hoping we can finish these discussions in a very short period and once we are done, we shall come up with, for example, one presidential candidate to represent all the parties that are in the alliance. We are also going to come up with one running mate. We shall also come up with a mechanism to ensure that within ourselves, we don’t compete against each other. We will decide the one to stand in an election, who will stand for MPs, Mayors, as well as chairmen and chairwomen of other district councils and all wards in the country,” Milupi said.

“So members of the press, you will appreciate that, to put all these things together requires a lot of work and therefore, it has taken a bit of time. Political parties get formed to participate in an election therefore, when you are coming up with such, you have to be very very careful. So that is where we are and we think within the month or maybe next month, we shall conclude all these matters and a press conference will be held to announce what the pact will be about.”

And Milupi said he was sure that what happened in Kenya and Malawi where the Courts nullified the elections of sitting presidents could also happen in Zambia if the Judiciary was redeemed from political influence.

“As an Opposition Alliance, we do not want to see what happened in 2016 repeat itself in 2021 elections because we have put up measures to ensure that votes are protected all the time. And let me say that and I am sure that what happened in Kenya and Malawi where the Courts nullified the elections of the sitting presidents can also happen in Zambia if the judiciary is redeemed from political influence. Look, the printing of ballot papers is already suspicious. The ability of ECZ to conduct elections is constantly being questioned. Some of the ideas of what need to be in the Constitution is the balance of power among the three arms of government. The alliance observed that at the moment, the president has absolute power and dictates everything. When the alliance forms government, it will make the three arms of government independent and will have its own budget,” he said.

Milupi further said ECZ was not providing a platform for free and fair elections.

“The alliance is not happy with the way ECZ is handling the elections in the country. The ECZ is not playing free and fair administration of elections. In Chilubi, for example, the government has hijacked the administration of elections. The opposition political parties are not accessing the ferry to move people from one point to another. We have seen the distribution of relief foods, ambulances and other government facilities being taken to places where there are by-elections. This is not acceptable because Zambians must not be taken for stupid. This is corruption and this is done by government ministers. We strongly
feel ECZ is not doing its role properly of being a neutral referee to ensure that we have a level playing field,” said Milupi.

“How can ECZ be allowing these very blatant tribal statements from the ruling party? We have seen officials in the ruling PF targeting certain tribes. How is this possible in our country with so many years after independence? 56 years after Independence, someone can stand and say this party will never be in government or why have you brought someone here as we saw in Chilubi and that if you go to their place, they will kill you. We have seen that and so those statements are the ones that lead to genocide. It has happened elsewhere and it can happen here. We have to be very careful.”