UPND spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says it’s possible for the ruling party to be removed from power, but not by PF.

And Mweetwa has disputed claims that the ruling party engineered United Progressive Party candidate Francis Libanda’s withdrawal from the Kabwata Parliamentary by-election.

Meanwhile, Mweetwa says UPND was upfront with citizens by asking them not to expect quick fixes due to the level of destruction which was done to the economy.

In an interview, Mweetwa said PF members should ask UNIP and MMD what happens to a ruling party once it loses an election in Zambia.

“PF should not be talking about forming government. Their chance is over. They should ask UNIP and MMD [about] what happens to a former ruling party in Zambia. Right now, a number of their members are trekking to join UPND because they are seeing a difference. No reasonable Zambian can go back to PF and reintroduce hunger in families phase two. There is no Zambian who would want Zambia to go back to violence and political terrorism which was sponsored by PF. They should be clear about that. We were saying this during the campaigns. Zambians do not like violence and anyone tempering with their peace,” he said.

Mweetwa said while UPND could be removed from power, but not by PF.

“So PF is simply conducting political drama just for them to quickly adapt to the fact that they lost the elections. It will take them a long time to admit that it has happened because that is what happens in Zambia. The way they used to brutalise citizens, they could not even understand what was happening in the country. People were scared of talking, so people only spoke through the ballot. In fact, even debating the whole idea of PF coming back to power is a waste of time. Let us first discuss the wrong things they did,” he said.

“They are still going to account before we can talk about them coming back to power. Before we talk about PF return, where are they going to return? To where? As UPND we can be removed from power each time an election presents itself but not to PF. Another political party, yes. Another political party which people can give the benefit of doubt but not these violent people, no. I think let them find something to do. You know this year we were thinking the rains would be poor but the rains are good. Let them go to the farms.”

Meanwhile, Mweetwa said his party was upfront by saying people shouldn’t expect quick fixes to the economy.

“The problem is that even during the campaigns they were not listening to our messages. We told the nation that when we form government, it shall not be a quick fix because the level of distraction to the economy and the rule of law by the Patriotic Front had gone beyond minimum levels. There will be need for patience for the people to be able to realise the fruits of change. Right now we have just been in power for three and half months. It is too early for anyone to begin to talk about change of government. It is too early. Let them learn to be patient because we do not want to call them the names they were calling us when we were trying to talk to them. They were saying ‘HH is power hungry and he is only talking about state house’, are they themselves power hungry that the only thing they are talking about is to come back to power? Of which I bet, it is not going to happen. What will have happened to Zambians for them to forget all the trauma they went through?” he wondered.

And Mweetwa said the UPND had nothing to do with the resignation of the UPP candidate.

He argued that there was no need to conduct fresh nominations after ballot papers had been printed.

“The UPND has no business to do with the resignation of [the] UPP candidate. Our view is that where someone has voluntarily resigned, way after ballot papers have been printed, there is no need to cause an expense to the taxpayers by causing a fresh nomination. The Constitution may have certain provisions for which some people want to lean on to say that the Constitution is very clear, it says ‘once a candidate withdraws, we must go for fresh nominations and [set] a new date of elections’. We saw it during the general elections and mainly the same election date was maintained despite fresh nominations,” Mweetwa said.

“The point which should be had in mind is that that particular piece of the law relating to resignation and call for fresh nomination appears to be at variance with the basic logic because why should the rest of the candidates suffer costs for which they did not cause? Because they are the ones being penalized by way of now having to mobilize for fresh nomination fees and also the whole idea of expenses associated with fresh nominations. Any law which has not yet been tested by the courts of the law is not law until the courts say so, that is the basic principle of what amounts to law.”

Mweetwa said the party whose candidate withdraws his or her candidature should shoulder the consequence of having no candidate in such an election, rather than calling for fresh nominations.

“So this would be fertile grounds for those who are alleging that it is unconstitutional to take out the legal process, so that the court can pronounce itself. Because there is no reasonableness associated with having fresh nominations unless where a candidate has died because then you are saying you want to offer an opportunity to a particular political party to field [another] candidate, not where someone volunteers to resign. The party of such a candidate should shoulder the consequence of having no candidate in such an election because they are the ones during the adoption process who did not do their due diligence in choosing a candidate who will be reliable to run with the particular party in those elections. It should therefore not create an inconvenience and a burden to other political parties and candidates who are already full throttle in the campaigns,” he said.

At a media briefing on Saturday, Socialist Party general secretary Dr Cosmas Musumali said he was in receipt of some allegations that the UPND engineered the withdrawal of Libanda from the race because it was having serious problems selling its candidate.