FORMER North-Western Province Minister Dawson Kafwaya has called on opposition councillors wishing to join the ruling PF to wait for the dissolution of councils and Parliament, saying unnecessary by-elections were costly.

And Kafwaya has disagreed with Deputy Parliamentary Chief Whip Tutwa Ngulube, who recently suggested that UPND councillors had continued resigning because the opposition party opposed the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019.

In an interview, Kafwaya, who is also the former Solwezi Central UPND member of parliament, condemned the ongoing resignations of opposition councillors in North-Western and Western Provinces, saying it was unreasonable for them to continue doing that because they had an obligation towards the people that elected them.

“I am not in support of those resignations because one; time has gone, we are just remaining with less than a year to call for general elections. Secondly, when you look at the challenges we are going through as a nation, economically. So, those councillors, who have resigned in Kasempa, my advice is to ask them to rescind that decision because we are costing government a lot of money. Look at how people are suffering; when you talk of economically, because of this COVID-19, which has come, it has really affected a lot of people economically. So, why should we be causing unnecessary by-elections when we know, for sure, that government doesn’t have money? So, I condemn and I am requesting councillors, if possible, to rescind their decisions,” Kafwaya said.

“Then also, our colleagues, who are influencing those councillors, they should also have a heart for the people. When someone is elected as a representative for a certain community, it should not just be a tendency where you just wake up and resign from your position because government has been spending so much on those by-elections. We look at the printing of ballot papers, we look at the people participating in managing the elections, those resources should be going towards buying medication in hospitals, schools and so forth, not unnecessary by-elections.”

Kafwaya urged opposition councillors, who desperately wished to join the PF, to wait for the dissolution of Parliament and councils.

“Myself, when I was appointed as Provincial Minister in 2015 by the President, I didn’t resign. Of course, the party didn’t accept my appointment because I was UPND. But I stayed as a member of parliament for Solwezi Central up to the time when Parliament was dissolved because I knew, for sure, that it would be costly for me to start resigning. So, for me, I think it’s not right what the councillors are doing. We have seen a lot of resignations going on in North-Western Province and in Western Province, some of them are not even making sense! So, for our colleagues, I think it’s time that they should remember that the by-elections they are causing are very costly and they are wasting government resources. For me, I think our councillors are being unfair to the people who voted for them. They should not be resigning at this time when everyone is going through difficulties in terms of the economy. I think it’s not right because instead of government having enough resources for fighting things like the COVID-19, such resources will be channelled to the elections. So, for others, there could be one or two, who may be thinking of resigning, it is not right. I think let them just wait, time has gone and we are just remaining with less than a year before the elections,” Kafwaya said.

“So, if they don’t want to continue as councillors, let them resign at the end of their terms. After all, Parliament may dissolve somewhere around May, next year, which is just less than a year. So, what are they rushing for by resigning now? I think people should also have integrity when it comes to us, as leaders, even when you want to join another political party, try to do so at an appropriate time. So, why can’t they wait? When they dissolve councils, Parliament, they can always resign and join political parties, which they feel they can belong to. But for now, the people of Zambia think we are wasting a lot of money in terms of by-elections. Look, how many by-elections have we had in North-Western Province? A lot of them, and they are just small by-elections, so I really think it’s not right for the councillors to continue resigning the way they are doing.”

Meanwhile, Kafwaya said the resignation of councillors should not be blamed on any political party because resigning remained an individual’s decision, which had been ongoing since the 2016 general election.

“These resignations cannot be blamed on any political party, it’s a personal decision. So, I don’t think it would be right to blame PF or UPND for the resignation of councillors. But of course, there are those who may influence certain colleagues that they should just be resigning. But for me, I don’t think it’s right to just be resigning like that because it’s costly. You can imagine just one by-election for a councillor, it costs more than K500,000! So, when you look at that kind of money, it is even equivalent to CDF (Constituency Development Fund). But I don’t think Bill 10 can be something, which people can talk about to be reason why people are resigning. In fact, people have been resigning since the 2016 elections and that is way before Bill 10 was introduced in Parliament,” said Kafwaya.