UPND national spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says the opposition party has abolished the rule which only allowed those who had been members for two years to contest on the UPND ticket, saying even new comers are now eligible.
And Mweetwa says Chishimba Kambwili’s recent pronouncements have undermined the fight against corruption.
Meanwhile, Mweetwa says he will most likely not re-contest the Choma Central seat because he wants to dedicate his efforts to ensuring that UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema forms government.
Addressing the media, Sunday, Mweetwa said anyone who wanted to contest on the UPND ticket was welcome, even if they joined today.
“This year is different for the UPND and for Zambia. It’s fair to say for the first, UPND now has an average of four applicants per constituency across the nation. There’s an overwhelming response for people wanting to stand on the UPND ticket. This for us is not just encouraging, but a signal that UPND has become of age to take the reins of governance. We have since as UPND made amendments to some of the rules governing qualification to stand as member of parliament, mayor, chairperson or councilor. You will recall that we had put as one of our rules or regulations that for one to contest as a candidate, you needed to have been a member of the UPND for two years. The party has since abolished that rule. Anyone now who wants to contest on the UPND ticket even if you join today you qualify to be a candidate on the UPND ticket. This is in keeping with the Constitution of Zambia. We cannot afford to make rules that contradict the Constitution. The Constitution of Zambia spells out the qualifications for one to contest as an MP, mayor, chairperson or councilor. Therefore as a party we cannot begin to prescribe rules to eliminate people who would want to contest on the party ticket against the rules or the law set out in the Constitution,” Mweetwa said.
“So anybody, you can join UPND today, you will stand on the UPND ticket. The main qualification now is your relationship with the people. If you are with the people, you are on ground, the grassroots are supporting you, that is the number one qualification. So we would like to invite colleagues across including those who are from PF. The door is open, UPND is a party of choice. We welcome as UPND, anybody who wants to contest on the UPND ticket, be it that they are civil servants or they have just retired. Candidates are there. UPND is a listening party. We have a lot of people from PF who were saying ‘with this rule, how are we going to participate because we will not have been in the party for two years’.”
And Mweetwa said the turn of events relating to Kambwili had undermined the fight against corruption.
“The party position is that we are not going to comment on our brother honourable Kambwili’s decisions. Those are his Constitutional rights, to belong and associate to a party of his choice. We will not say anything, except to say that the time we spent with him was a good moment. We learnt a lot about PF through him. The only thing that need to be bemoaned, not by UPND per say but by Zambians, is that the turn of events relating to my elder brother honourable Kambwili has undermined the fight against corruption. Because he was well outspoken stating facts relating to and in respect to the fight against corruption, only for him to u-turn and begin to apologise to President Lungu and say he was misinformed. We think that, that kind of politics is not good for Zambia going forward. Politicians must be predictable, they must say things that they can stand with at any given time regardless the circumstances. That way people will learn and accept to trust politicians. If politicians can’t be trusted, yet they are the people who make decisions to govern a country, then we are risking the integrity of governance. Politicians must be trusted people. That’s why for us in the UPND we have remained resolute because we support the idea that Zambia can be better,” Mweetwa said.
He however, added that UPND was happy that it was working well with NDC and its membership.
Meanwhile, Mweetwa said he would most likely not re-contest his seat as he wanted to dedicate his efforts to ensuring that Hichilema and the party formed government.
“I want to state that I have not applied to stand. Most likely I will not re-contest Choma Central constituency. I want to dedicate my efforts to ensure that HH and UPND form the next government. I’m more concerned about UPND and HH forming government. I have been a member of parliament for 10 years. There’s no joy in being a member of parliament when the majority of the citizens are suffering. If there is a job that you only discover when you are there that it’s a bad job, it’s being a member of parliament, and you have a government like PF where they are enjoying themselves but the people are suffering. That has led me to where I am. I will be a very sad person to exit politics and leave a government like PF in office, it would have been a futile endeavour on my part to have been in politics. Those who are contesting in Choma, I wish them well,” he said.
Mweetwa said Hichilema had made a commitment to repeal the Cyber Security law once in government.
He, however, urged UPND members to be careful with what they posted on social media.
“The issue to do with Cyber Security Bill which President Lungu hurriedly assented to a few days ago, we want to tell the nation that HH has committed that one of the first acts he will do given the opportunity to be President of this country is to repeal the Cyber Security Bill. He has committed to that. The freedoms of the people of this country have been invaded. The only platform that remained for people to communicate truth was the social media space and they have now gone into that space to shrink it. That is unacceptable. People of Zambia have to endure the next three months. And we want to take this opportunity to advise especially our membership to be careful with what they send on social media because we know this Cyber Security Bill was crafted in order to pin down UPND, so our membership be careful now what you send. Because even if it’s a bad law, it is law. Again HH will not repeal this Cyber Security law if the people of Zambia don’t support him to become President. This August is the last chance we have to redeem this country. It’s the people to decide that to happen,” said Mweetwa.