FORMER UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma today defected to the ruling party, vowing that he will now do everything in his power to ensure that President Edgar Lungu wins the August 12 general election.
And Kakoma has bitterly complained that he ditched UPND because they thought that he was a political liability.
Speaking during a press briefing in Lusaka, Tuesday, Kakoma said he would work to ensure that President Lungu wins the August 12 polls.
“I must say that perhaps I am a lucky person, a privileged person in Zambia because two of the party presidents in Zambia, powerful party presidents, appear to be my friends. President Hakainde Hichilema is my childhood friend and I think we are still friends even up to now. President Edgar Lungu is also my childhood friend. In the past, I opted to support HH even from the first convention he stood as party president, I was his chief campaign manager, he won. In 2015, when we ran for office, Republican presidential race, I campaigned for him. And, of course, according to him, he won. In 2016, I campaigned for him and according to him, he won. So, I have been his faithful campaign manager. But this time around, I think I have campaigned for him enough and of the two friends, I have decided to campaign for the other friend, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and I think that he is going to win. We all recall that in 2016 it was a tight race between the two; it could also be a tight race in 2021, but I think that on the balance of probabilities, President Lungu will carry the day. And I will do everything in my power to bring the numbers that he needs,” Kakoma said.
He said that his followers were disappointed that he was demoted following the UPND’s inaugural Virtual Convention.
“Recently, we held our party convention, the UPND general assembly and I think the media were following those events and during the party convention, I participated in those elections. I must say that whereas a lot of people campaigned very hard throughout the country I took it easy. But even with minimum effort, I won resoundingly at the party convention. At one time I was leading, I was number three on the list out of 209 people that took part in the elections to qualify to the UPND NMC and when the final results were announced, I was number seven in the whole country. And, therefore, in terms of general membership of the UPND, I was very popular among the members of the party; they had trust and confidence in my leadership. I must say after that, strange things happened that even if I won at the general assembly, the top leadership decided to demote me from the position of party spokesperson as well as drop me from what we would call ‘the inner-cabinet’…I was relegated to another organ called the ‘election management committee.’ Well, as a person, I am there to serve in any position, I did not think it was a big deal, but I have a following, I have supporters who did not take it kindly, who were disappointed and felt short-changed in this process,” he said.
“I have been a senior member of the UPND first of all under president Anderson Mazoka, I was a member of the National Management Committee as a chairman for rural development thereafter as a chairman for commerce. I have been one of the longest serving party spokespersons in this country. At my count, I have served for more than 14 years as a party spokesperson it is rare that for political parties in Zambia you can stay that long.”
And Kakoma bitterly complained that he ditched the UPND because they thought that he was a political liability.
He also lashed out at the opposition party for snubbing all “Luvale-speaking UPND members” by denying them the privilege of serving in the NMC.
“Of course, one of the issues I campaigned for and which members of the UPND also campaigned for were that there must be fair and equitable representation in the NMC of the UPND. You may wish to know I am a Luvale-speaking person. Out of the 70 that were elected, just two of us managed to win. My followers did not take it kindly that out of the 70 that were elected, the 30 that were appointed by the party president, none of them was a Luvale-speaking person. In Zambezi, as we speak now, a lot of people that were in the constituency and wards have already left to join the PF! I think someone has said that we need to unite this country and it is important that we unite this country. It is important that we bring ‘One Zambia, One nation’ to the table and the ruling party should lead by that example, but perhaps President Edgar Lungu may have had difficulties in finding people to work with in some of the regions like North-Western Province; we are now saying, ‘North-Western Province is ready to work with PF’,” argued Kakoma.
“The UPND think I am a political liability to them, an electoral liability; the PF think that I am an asset! My decision is that I have resigned from UPND, from today onwards I have joined PF.”
Kakoma was received by senior government and PF party officials, including, Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo, Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Malanji, PF national chairman Samuel Mukupa, Lusaka PF provincial chairman Kennedy Kamba and PF national mobilisation vice chairman Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, among others.
The veteran opposition politician now joins a political party he repeatedly denounced for having “low calibre ministers,” while once famously saying that: “Zambians will be joyous when President Lungu leaves office due to the misery and abject poverty he subjected citizens to”.