NEWLY appointed PF national chairperson for women and gender Elizabeth Phiri says because former president Edgar Lungu is almost going into retirement, her party needs to work hard to identify a competent successor.

And Phiri says it will be unfair for UPND to appoint PF members who are resigning from the former ruling party rather than rewarding their own loyalists.

In an interview, Phiri, who is also the immediate past gender minister, said PF needed to work hard to bounce back in 2026.

“We have to work as a party for us to bounce back come 2026. I have a lot to learn from every one in Zambia and from all the women. I will be hitting the ground very soon; we have no time. The spirit of Mr Sata was that when we lose, we don’t give space, we have to hit the ground. So, within this shortest time, I think you will be seeing me in the constituencies trying to encourage people, trying to work with them. We will not sleep, because we have no time to drink tea, we need to put the party on its wheel so that we keep on moving,” she said.

“As you are aware, my President, he is almost going into retirement, so even for us to identify a better candidate, we have to work hard and see who is who for the future of this party. We will not know the good candidate unless we move around and know who is really a good candidate. It is not just about meeting the few of us, we have to go to the people and say ‘give us a candidate’. The name that will be coming up will be our candidate.”

She said although the PF had messed up and made some mistakes, the party had performed well.

“Elizabeth Phiri is one of the founding members of PF that started the party when nobody believed in this party. I want to thank the President for this appointment. At the same time, I want to appreciate my predecessor who had worked very hard, honourable Jean Kapata. I will work in consultation with her for us to move this party forward. The President is one of the people that knows our strengths and weaknesses. I wouldn’t say the people who have been in these positions have failed the party, no! The people who were there had really done something,” Phiri said.

“My appeal to the PF members is that this is the time we have to unite, this is the time we have to pick up the broken pieces and put them together and start mending them. We have tried our best, PF has performed. Politically speaking, we could have messed up here and there but it is time to reflect on all the mistakes that have been made and the achievements that were achieved. The truth is that everyone who has brought this party this far, they have done their best. My appointment does not take away those who have contributed heavily to bring the party to where it is.”

And Phiri said it would be unfair for UPND to give jobs to those who were leaving PF rather than rewarding those who had been loyal to their party.

“We are very confident. You know, we came from nowhere. I was one of the few who believed in Mr Sata and we lost in 2001. After five years, we lost, we never lost hope. Losing is just a setback which we have to look at what went wrong. Losing is a way of winning new ideas and applying them. Bouncing back yes, it will not be like others that have gone and they have gone for good. President Edgar Lungu knows us better. Very soon I will be there making noise on behalf of the party,” said Phiri.

“So, my appeal to PF members, don’t go away, come we build because there where you are going, people laboured for what you are seeing. It will be very unfair for people that have laboured not to be in these positions which our people who are leaving the party are rushing for. So, let us give room for the people that laboured for UPND. My appeal is that let us be united and see to it that we perform.”