UPND chairperson for elections Gary Nkombo has announced that the party has postponed its general convention from January 22, 2021 to February 14, 2021.

At a press briefing, Thursday, Nkombo said all positions in the national management committee, including the presidency will be open for contestation.

He said the general conference had been broken down into 11 segments which would all be conducted via Zoom owing to the pandemic.

“We are now formally inviting all those who wish to participate as candidates in the general assembly to contact the secretary of my committee in order to purchase an application form. And the big announcement is to say that all positions of the national management committee as existing now, including the presidency are open for contest. It goes without saying that the regulations will have the details of who qualifies. It’s not a blank cheque, this is a matter that is limited to bonafide members of the UPND,” he said.

“On the 14th of February is the date that we have targeted now as a result of the act of God, circumstance beyond our control that we will have to break our convention into 11 segments all to be collected via Zoom and the business of the day will culminate into the dissolution of existing national management structures as well as the election of new office bearers. At this juncture, let me indicate to our party members that the guidelines for the processes leading to the convention vis a vis the qualifications of who should participate in terms of candidature among other things will be rolled our through our provincial administration.”

He said given the requirement by law to announce the date of the convention 30 days prior, a notice was given for January 22 but could not proceed due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“And because we had a made a notice by the demands again by the law that we give a 30 day notice in the public newspapers about our general assembly commonly known as convention, we had indicated that our convention will be this coming weekend of the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of January 2021 after which we were going to be ready to get our candidate Mr Hichilema on the ballot paper for the 12th August, 2021 elections,” said Nkombo.

“We regret to announce that as a result of the second wave of COVID-19 it has become necessary because initially, our intention was to assemble at one location and the entire national electoral college is 1,600 people…now that we have a situation that is unforeseen and as a responsible party, we have decided to use different and innovative means of getting our general assembly going and I am pleased to announce that in order to allow us to have the general assembly virtually, where our people are going to assemble, of course again subject to the provisions and restrictions of the statutory order number 21 for coronavirus that limits how many people should be there, we are going to have our general assembly in the provincial capitals. What that means is that we are going to be averaging assembly of about plus or minus 120 people per assembly which will be connected to the 11th assembly in Lusaka where the president, via Zoom, will address all the delegates on this material day. Agenda of our general conference will be rolled out to our delegates and it will include other things that may not be for the consumption of the public right now.”