PATRIOTIC Front Secretary General Davies Mwila says he hopes the formation of a civic organization called OCIDA, led by Simon Zukas, is not a glorified political chaperone for one opposition party and its leader.

In a statement, Thursday, Mwila said it would be tragic if the members were to involve themselves into partisan politics and destroy their legacies.

“Given the history of partisan interests, political bias and intimacy that most of the founder members and committee members of OCIDA have shared with one particular opposition party, and its leader, it remains to be seen how neutral or non-partisan they really are. It remains up to OCIDA to prove that they are neutral and not merely a glorified political chaperone for a particular opposition leader. It also remains to be seen how balanced and objective they will be, and if at all they will be as vocal and ‘forceful’ on matters of transparency accountability with the opposition as they will be the ruling party and government,” Mwila stated.

“They are thus worthy of respect and double honour. It would be tragic if luminaries of such pedigree as the “founders” of OCIDA, were to throw themselves into the political ring and involve themselves in the rough and often messy rigors of partisan politics. The very thought makes one shudder. It would be a taboo to see senior citizens putting themselves in such an awkward situation in the name of “civic duties”. We sincerely hope it does not come to a sorry situation where legacies built over a life time are destroyed in the evening of their lives.”

Mwila appealed to OCIDA members to question why UPND party leader Hakainde Hichilema gave himself an unlimited tenure as party president.

“It cannot be ignored that “Third Force” as OCIDA is calling itself has political undertones.For instance, when it comes to matters of intra-party constitutionalism and good governance, will OCIDA publicly and forcefully question why a certain opposition party leader amended Article 70 of his party’s constitution to give himself an unlimited tenure as party president? We honour our elders and senior citizens; their precious legacies built over entire lifetimes need not be injured in “injury time” by partisan agendas .We note that many of the founders of OCIDA are senior citizens that have contributed immensely to our very nationhood,” he stated.

Mwila cautioned against movements created for purposes of championing a smear campaign.

He challenged OCIDA to come out clean and state if it was a political party.

“Force” has questionable connotations. It can also be interpreted as “Power exerted against will or consent; compulsory power; violence; coercion”. It only remains to be seen if OCIDA has come in peace. We challenge OCIDA to come out in the open if at all they are a political party waiting to be registered as one. Once they single out PF in their agenda, their mission is targeted at one political party and it goes without saying that they are either a political party or an appendage of an existing political formation – let them come out clean,” Mwila stated.

“It is against this background that we wish to caution against movements created for purposes of championing a smear campaign. If they sow impartiality, good order and national interest, then they shall reap a positive harvest. But if by the same token, OCIDA is part of a larger plan to sow seeds of discontent and to ferment discord by placing a particular opposition personality’s interests above order and national interests, then they will equally reap the negative that they sow. As for OCIDA we hope they are not destroyers and scatters. We give them the benefit of the doubt- but only time will tell. The ball is firmly in their court. How will they play it?”

Mwila said the formation of their organization was a clear testimony of increasing political tolerance under the ruling party.

“Formation of OCIDA a clear testimony of expanding civic space and increasing political tolerance under PF. We hope they will demonstrate political impartiality. We have received news of the formation of OCIDA a civic organization calling itself “The Third Force” with a mixture of gratification and cautiousness. Gratification; because the very formation and public launch of OCIDA is a resounding testimony of our country’s laudable democratic credentials. It clearly shows that Zambia under the Patriotic Front Government of His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, is a free country where citizens routinely exercise their right to associate and express themselves,” he stated.

And Mwila said the party was in the process of holding country wide town hall meetings for women and youths to listen to their concerns.

In the meantime, PF is in the process of holding countrywide town hall meetings for women and youth respectively, to listen to and act on their concerns. The youth comprise the bulk of our membership and our mothers are the foundation of our support base. Being a pro-poor party led by a listening and conscientious leader in His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the PF is in the process of holding countrywide town hall meetings in various communities once COVID-19 regulations permit, to listen to and act upon the concerns and aspirations of women and youth respectively. On our part we are gatherers. We build lives just as we build infrastructure and we have a track record in this regard,” stated Mwila.