ASPIRING Kaumbwe constituency PF member of parliament Moses Mutale says the ruling party should identify an alternative presidential candidate in case the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) rejects President Edgar Lungu’s nomination papers on account of eligibility.

In a press statement, Mutale cautioned that it would be dangerous for the ruling party to start scrambling for a presidential candidate at the eleventh hour as it will be costly and difficult for the PF to sell such a candidate at short notice.

“I am seeing the PF party being caught unaware looking at things. We should have an alternative in mind to say, ‘if this fails, what are we going to do?’ People are watching and waiting how the ECZ will welcome the nomination papers for our candidate Edgar Lungu because they’ll say, ‘if he will be attempts to forward his papers, we’ll take him to court!’ Now if the court will ban him from contesting, what are we going to do?” wondered Mutale.

He said it was obvious what some groups or individuals planned to do regarding the candidature of the 2021 presidential PF candidate, judging by views on social media, and that it should be a big enough sign for the ruling party to wake up to avoid being shocked.

“We don’t need to sleep as a party. We need to find an alternative candidate. Among those who want to aspire, as a party, we have not come up with anyone who we can sell as a party. Let’s be careful because, according to the Constitution, it’s clear, and ignoring their points will endanger ourselves as a party,” he cautioned.

Mutale also observed that the Judiciary currently could not show that they were against the ruling party’s candidature, but warned that when nomination time comes, it would rule out President Lungu’s eligibility.

“This time, the Judiciary cannot show their colours, they can’t come out open that they are not with us. Suppose things happen the way it happened in Malawi where the Electoral Commission rejects the papers of our candidate and going to court we lose the case, what are we going to do? Who will be our next candidate?” Mutale asked.

He insisted that it was not a crime to have an alternative presidential candidate to avoid putting the ruling party’s name into disrepute.

“Why can say ‘Edgar Lungu prepare a person who can be shown to the Zambian people?’ It’s not a crime to say, ‘let’s bring somebody on board.’ Truly, I am seeing our boat is sinking in 2021 if we don’t prepare for the alternative candidate as a party. Let’s put our house in order, suppose our President is banned, who will take over? Let’s look for a person with a clean record, not these painted with corruption, but a clean person who can be moving around with the President,” urged Mutale.

Last November, President Lungu confirmed during a press conference at State House that he was available to run and be re-elected at the 2021 general elections.

But some stakeholders have vowed to petition President Lungu’s nomination papers, such as constitutional lawyer John Sangwa, State Counsel, who last month revealed that he had already drafted a petition to challenge the nomination of the Head of State in the Constitutional Court if he attempts to stand for a third successive time at next year’s general election.

The petition would be pursuant to Article 52 of the 2016 Amended Constitution, which allows any interested party to challenge the nomination of a presidential candidate in the ConCourt.

President Lungu has twice been sworn into office after being elected in January, 2015, and again in August, 2016.