DEPUTY PF national chairperson Davies Chama says the ruling party is a democratic grouping which unlike UPND, will not intimidate anyone who seeks to challenge President Edgar Lungu at the convention.
And Chama says the failure by UPND members to challenge party leader Hakainde Hichilema is an indication that there was massive intimidation and that there is a desire to preserve the opposition party’s position that “only a Tonga person can lead” UPND.
Commenting on UPND’s announcement that Hichilema was going unopposed, Chama said the PF would not stop anyone from challenging President Lungu.
He, however, stressed that PF was desirous to allow President Lungu “finish his term”, since he is the incumbent.
“Our President and our party is a very democratic party. You will remember when we lost president Michael Chilufya Sata, may his soul rest in peace, we had a number of people who challenged the President to the presidency. I can name them, we have our Ambassador in South Korea Wylbur Simuusa, we had honourable Given Lubinda, we had Chishimba Kambwili. We had a number of them who challenged the President at the party convention. We believe in tenets of democracy as espoused in our constitution. So, those who feel that they want to challenge the President, they are most welcome but as far as the party is concerned we have said we have a President who is incumbent like any other practicing democracies, usually you give chance to the incumbent,” Chama said.
“In the United States, they recently had an election, they usually give the incumbent to finish his term and in PF, we also practice like other democracies do practice. When you have an incumbent as a candidate and he has put up his name that he wants to continue, as a party we want to continue with the incumbent until he finishes his term. We are not stopping anybody. Members of the party who are in good standing with the party are most welcome to express their democratic rights to stand as the PF president at our national convention. So we are not stopping anybody and we are not intimidating anybody as a party, our members are free to challenge the President.”
In an interview Chama said
And Chama said UPND was trying to entrench what was pronounced when Anderson Mazoka died that only a Tonga can be president of the party.
“After so many years without having a convention, having democratic elections like it is supposed be, because Zambia is a democratic republic. Parties must be able to demonstrate that they are democratic internally before they can espouse the national democracy or even aspire to lead the Zambian people. UPND members are better positioned to state whether their elections were democratic or not and why they could not challenge their president maybe because of intimidation because you know UPND has been a very violent political party, even internally. I remember when the late Masoka died and when succession wrangles emerged in UPND, there were people who were beaten, I remember Vernon Mwaanga was beaten badly when he went to attend even the funeral for the late Anderson Mazoka, may his soul rest in peace,” Chama said.
“Even the ascendancy to the presidency of Mr Hakainde Hichilema where they said only a Tonga can take over from the late. So, maybe they are trying to entrench what was first pronounced when the late Anderson Mazoka died, so that no one can challenge that seat, no any other person can challenge that seat. So that what they pronounced when the late Anderson Mazoka died can continue to show that legacy that only a Tonga can continue to be a leader of UPND, not any other person for that matter.”
Meanwhile, Chama said the party was being cautious on how it would proceed to hold its convention given the pandemic.
“We have this pandemic. Unfortunately, the second variant of the COVID-19 has really destabilised our plans. We could have had our convention last year as we planned it but it has even disturbed even our provincial conferences. Now because of the health protocols that are being followed by everyone in the country and world over, people’s lives are more important than any other thing, because once you lose life, you can’t pick it up. So we put a premium on our members and on the lives of the Zambian people. So we are being very cautious on the way that we go about this thing so that we are not seen to be irresponsible leaders in as far as observing the health protocols are concerned. But we are on course, some provincial conferences have been rescheduled,” said Chama.