THE opposition Alliance has resolved to rally behind Hakainde Hichilema as the sole presidential candidate ahead of the August elections, a decision which NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili has disagreed with.
And sources within the Alliance have told News Diggers that Kambwili who had been poised to be Hichilema’s running mate differed with the rest of the Alliance partners on fielding NDC members of parliament on the UPND ticket.
“These discussions started about a year ago. We agreed that we were going to pick an Alliance president from among themselves and a running mate from among themselves also. Kambwili actually agreed that he was okay with standing on the UPND ticket as a running mate to HH, but his position was that MPs should be allowed to stand on the individual party’s ticket. Meaning that where NDC fields a candidate, UPND or any other Alliance partner has to withdraw. So that became a problem for UPND because the party felt that it would work against the opposition,” the source said.
“Since January when we revisited this issue, the negotiations did not finish because Kambwili said he needed to consult his Central Committee. But since January, he never got back to the Alliance partners to give a position. That’s how the rest of the partners, said ‘we are running out of time, we have to make a decision’. So they resolved to field HH as the presidential candidate and gave him the liberty to choose any person, even from outside the alliance to be his running mate. When Kambwili was invited to the press briefing today (yesterday), he said he was unwell and sent his team led his vice-president to come and represent him. They told the alliance that Kambwili still holds the position that he cannot let his MPs to stand on the UPND flagship (ticket).”
Speaking during a press briefing, Wednesday, Alliance chairperson Charles Milupi said the opposition pact would now be called UPND Alliance.
“From today onwards, this Alliance which was called the opposition Alliance will now be called the UPND Alliance, that is our decision. Even as if we were trying to resolve this particular issue, the Alliance had already agreed that the presidential candidate that we are going to have is Mr Hakainde Hichilema. If you are an electoral pact, you can’t compete, you have one presidential candidate representing all the parties that are within the Alliance, you have one running mate and when you go down to parliamentary level, constituencies, we will have a mechanism developed amongst all the participating parties in the Alliance that we will pick one candidate for each constituencies. From this moment, our language will be the same, it will be to promote the interest of this UPND Alliance. Our aim really is to ensure that this Alliance triumphs in the August 12 elections because we have seen the cries of this nation. We have seen what is going on, mismanagement of resources and people are hurting. It is time for change,” Milupi said.
“We began working on developing the Alliance further from being purely an organisation of political parties that address national issues but also to come even closer together in an electoral pact. So that coming to the election, we work together as a team. This started towards the end of 2019 we have been working on the parameters to bring us together. We went through knocking different issues and by January, I think we had more less agreed, there was only one item remaining and that item was on what vehicle we use in the next election as a single entity, as an electoral pact. The position before us at that stage was that we use a single entity and the single entity recognised that UPND among the Alliance partners was much bigger than any of the members. Further, there was also need to understand that when going into an election, utilisation of resources such as campaign materials and so on, if each party goes with their own thing, it might cause some confusion.”
He said Kambwili was not for the idea of fielding single candidates.
“However, there was another aspect that was on the table that parties contest on their ticket even when they are in an Alliance. This was much more so from NDC partners through the president Chishimba Kambwili who wanted that his members who participate in parliamentary elections must participate on the NDC ticket. So from January we have been trying really to resolve these issues. In the Alliance we want to resolve issues unanimously using unanimity in reaching conclusions. But try as we could, we were not able to reach that unanimity. So we have tried to hold several meetings, some were postponed on account of illness and some were postponed to deal with our family and so on,” he said.
“But time is not with us, the election is getting closer and closer. So it was felt that we have a final meeting pertaining which way to go. And that is why we called for an earlier meeting at this residence, the main issue was to resolve the electoral pact mainly dealing with what vehicle we use going forward. We were waiting for feedback that we had been promised from Chishimba Kambwili from January 2020. Because when we had a meeting here at this home, he had requested that he goes back to consult his Central Committee, we have been waiting for the results of that. So today we called a meeting as of yesterday he was supposed to be here but this morning he was taken ill. But fortunately he mandated his full team led by the vice-president to come and articulate his position at this meeting. The team was very specific that Mr Kambwili has stated that he stands firm on his position that he fields candidates on his team as opposed to what was proposed that we go on a single ticket for various reasons,”
Milupi said the majority agreed to field one candidate.
“On account of this, when an organisation fails to reach unanimity and the time is ticking, you revert to majoritarian decisions. The parties that are represented in this Alliance, RPP they were very specific they wanted a single vehicle and they gave their reason for that, UPND also said they wanted a single vehicle they gave a reason for that, the ADD wanted a single candidate, NDC through their vice-president presented their views of their president Mr Kambwili who said ‘no, they want to maintain the position that they have’ that is to field on their party ticket. So on account of that, clearly you can see that the majority are for the view that we need to go ahead in the next election that we field a single candidate. And the position on the table is that we use the name UPND Alliance,” said Milupi.
“We want to add a government that respects governance institutions and this Alliance is committed to doing that. And above that, this candidate that we have opted for, we have looked into his soul, in his eyes and we have seen a person who has stood up wanting to serve this country for many years. For us he has suffered, he continues to suffer that he is bold that is one of the reason we chose him as an Alliance and should God almighty favor us with a victory in August we know that this man of integrity will not let the people of this nation down and that is why we are happy that we have picked him.”
And Hichilema thanked his Alliance partners for giving him the honour to serve them.
“My duty is to express my appreciation for the honour that my colleagues in the Alliance have extended to us in the UPND through myself to represent them on a single flagship ticket for the August election. In appreciating that honour I wish to retain the, favour honour, the duty, the weight of obligation extended to us by way of accepting that honour that you my colleagues have bestowed on us. Thank you very much. Secondly is to indicate as I have been saying to my colleagues in the UPND. I encourage them not to celebrate because there was nothing to celebrate. Instead I encourage them to feel indebted to the members and the people of Zambia for giving them an obligation to reunite this country which has been divided, to bring our country together as one people. And to rebuild this country,” said Hichilema.
Meanwhile, in a brief interview, Kambwili said he was not aware of the disagreement on adoption process for MPs.
When asked why he did not accept the decision to field one candidate he said he was not aware of anything.
“I am not aware of all those things you are talking about. And I have never said those things. But anyway to cut the story short, there are people who went to attend that meeting I didn’t go there and they have not come to brief me,” he said
When further asked if he was still a member of the Alliance, Kambwili said he needed to be briefed before he could comment.
“How do you ask me that? I have not been briefed. How do you rush to ask me if I am part of the Alliance when I have not been briefed. That is poor leadership. People go to attend a meeting and before they brief you, you start making comments, you don’t do that. Let the people who went for the meeting brief me, then I can make an informed decision,” said Kambwili.