PF secretary general Davies Mwila says any party member who wants to challenge President Edgar Lungu can come forward to challenge the incumbent ahead of the general conference.
And Mwila says the general conference is expected to be held in April.
Speaking during a press briefing in Lusaka, Monday, Mwila said that only members of the party could challenge President Lungu.
When asked when the conference was scheduled for, Mwila announced that it was slated for April.
“We expect the general conference to be held in April, this year. So, we want all those who have been saying, ‘we want to challenge President Lungu…’ They can come forward if they are members of the party,” Mwila said.
He said that the party resolved to come up with new COVID-19 standing orders to facilitate the holding of both the national council and general conference virtually, with the prescribed number of delegates.
“Therefore, in preparing for the forthcoming elections and being very mindful of the advent of the COVID-19, the central committee of the ruling Patriotic Front has resolved to come up with new COVID-19 standing orders to facilitate the holding of both the national council and general conference virtually, with the prescribed number of delegates in line with our party constitution, in particular, Article 68 party regulations: ‘Party Regulations and Standing Orders may be made by the central committee in respect of any subject to facilitate the implementation of the provisions of the Constitution.’ Article 69 Standing Orders: ‘Regulations and Standing Orders of the party made by the central committee may be enforced, meanwhile, subject to ratification by the national council.’ Article 70 National Council and Standing Orders: ‘Regulations and Standing Orders approved by the National Council shall be read as part of this constitution and may be amended, rescinded or altered as provided for in this Constitution,” he said.
“As the PF manifesto 2016-2021 states: ‘The vision of the Patriotic Front for the next five years is to make Zambia more industrious, prosperous, peaceful, stable, united, democratic and inclusive society under the motto of: One Zambia, One Nation.” It is to these ideals that we remain resolutely true – no matter the circumstances. Not even COVID-19 can weaken our commitment to be the champions of democratic tenets. However, it is also a reality that we should conduct all our activities as individuals and political parties by embracing the new normal. This means that all intra-party activities are to be conducted under very strict adherence to public health regulations, guidelines and certification concerning COVID-19. As we all are aware, our country is headed for the general election this August, 2021.”
When asked if the incumbent members of parliament were not disturbed by the aspiring members of parliament, Mwila said the seats did not belong to anyone.
“First and foremost, those seats belong to the party not individuals and that has helped us as a party to mobilise the party. Because if you have 10 aspiring candidates, it means they will be going in the branches to form more branches. And you have seen that our party has become more attractive. It is becoming sweet, sweeter every day!” he replied.
And when pressed if the party would lift the suspension of some members ahead of the intra-party polls, Mwila said only those with “lighter cases” would be considered.
“It was not discussed. The discussion that was in the central committee is for us to instil discipline in our people. But we are going to sit at an appropriate time and look at the lighter cases. There, we can lift. But those who went with guns at the police…,” he replied.
But when queried further about suspended Eastern Province PF youth chairman Emmanuel J. Banda, Mwila said the ruling party would inform the nation in two weeks’ time on a decision.
“The disciplinary committee is sitting today (Monday) to deal with the matter and in two weeks’ time, we will inform the nation on the outcome,” he responded.
He, however, vowed that the central committee would fight criminality in all forms whether perpetrated by party members or not.
“The central committee of the ruling Patriotic Front has resolved to ensure that discipline and exemplary behaviour are adhered to by all, and the central committee will fight criminality in its forms whether perpetrated by party members or not. The central committee observed that discipline is of paramount importance to the party. In this regard, the central committee of the ruling Patriotic Front has called for high levels of maximum discipline and exemplary behaviour, both in the party and government at all times. This was critical to promoting the attractiveness of the party as the party of choice. But equally important, discipline is essential if the party and government are to achieve the transformative agenda that is being implemented in all sectors. Therefore, the central committee has called on all party members and those in government to lead by example,” he said.
Mwila emphasised that only popular candidates would be adopted by the central committee.
“During its meetings, the central committee committed to a process of adoption full of integrity. An adoption process anchored on respecting the will of the grassroots and key stakeholders in these constituencies. Therefore, the party will only go with popular candidates and will not impose candidates on the grassroots. The central committee resolved to continue living by its founding characteristic: A revolutionary party of the people, for the people, and by the people. The voices of the people will rule! Therefore, the central committee resolved to go into the 2021 elections only with popular candidates at the grassroots; starting with His Excellency, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, who is the grassroots-preferred presidential candidate,” he insisted.
Meanwhile, Mwila called on all party structures and members to strictly adhere to the laid-down COVID-19 preventative guidelines by the Ministry of Health.
“The central committee was deeply concerned by the emergence of a novel and more virulent variant of COVID-19 that has increasingly claimed more precious lives than the first COVID-19 variant. During the meeting, the central committee resolved that in order for the country to succeed in the fight against COVID-19, the fight against COVID-19 cannot be left to our gallant and courageous health personnel alone, who continue to be in the battle-front to keep our society safe and healthy,” said Mwila.
“In light of this, the central committee is reiterating its call on all party structures and members to strictly adhere to the laid-down COVID-19 preventative guidelines by the Ministry of Health, and to be active advocates in our fight against COVID-19, in our homes, workplaces and various media platforms. The ruling Patriotic Front party is anchored on observing, and further deepening, the tenets of democratic governance and unity.”