SOME PF MPs have explained why they shunned a party meeting which was chaired by acting president Given Lubinda on Sunday, with Kantanshi member of parliament Anthony Mumba lamenting that those who are currently at the helm of the opposition party contributed to the humiliating 2021 loss.

And former Lusaka province minister Bowman Lusambo says he was not aware of the meeting because of poor communication.

Meanwhile, Chitambo PF member of parliament Remember Mutale says it is difficult to gather members of parliament for a meeting when the National Assembly is not in session.

The interim top PF leadership on Sunday received a rude shock when only 15 out of 60 members of Parliament showed up for a meeting to which they had been invited.

But in an interview, Mumba said there were too many things which some members of parliament were unhappy about.

“I just had a domestic challenge of water and I did not have water for two days. So it was just a domestic challenge I had. However, there could be various reasons that could have led others not to attend. Others are in their constituencies and may have family engagements. The bottom line is there are some issues the members of parliament are concerned about. They are concerned about the appointments into the central committee. How did the central committee arrive at the point of putting Tutwa Ngulube who had lost elections in Kabwe Central, even defected to UPND? When UPND rejected him, he got back into PF. That is clearly on his Facebook page. Today he is the chairperson for the disciplinary committee,” he said.

“Secondly, you have a postmortem report which has been kept by the central committee and only members of the central committee are the ones that are privy to that report. You are four months into going into the general conference to select a president, that should be able to assemble a team to ensure that PF is fully rebranded and provides checks and balances in a mature and transparent manner. There is no whatsoever preparatory programme going on for such a very important event and the date is unknown. Probably it is only known by members of the central committee. Us as 60 members of parliament are the ones that contribute money on a monthly basis to support the secretariat.”

Mumba said the people at the face of PF represented the humiliating election loss of 2021.

“There was a talk that members of parliament are the life blood of the survival of the party because they provide a better platform of being on the floor of the House. There was a discussion that they will become members of the central committee to try and support the decision making. For me, I find it very strange that you have Elizabeth Phiri who lost in one of the largest constituencies in Zambia, Kanyama and you immediately appoint her as chairperson for women. Where will she get the moral authority to be respected when she lost elections? So you will discover that the decision making in the central committee is somewhat based on comradeship and not quality to contribute to the growth of the party,” Mumba said.

“So I am speaking on my behalf that they are providing so much discomfort that it is even becoming impossible for me to see how I am genuinely contributing to the well being of the party. If you look at the people at the face of PF, they represent the humiliating election loss of 2021. They have gathered courage because of the meetings they have and how they encourage themselves that they are the ones to carry the baton against UPND in 2026. I think that is a joke.”

Mumba said the PF needed to rebrand with individuals who were not being accused of corruption or any other wrongdoing.

“Even if you say we have to pick the pieces, you cannot go into that war again with the generals that were in the forefront [of] that lost election or people that are being arrested for corruption and various wrongdoings. That is what made the party unattractive. The same people have recoiled themselves and given themselves courage. It is a well known fact even to those in the forefront today. Members of parliament know what is happening. You cannot tell me honourable Given Lubinda does not know those discomforts, and I have discussed it with him. We need to speak to each other and deal with the sad truth that there are individuals that might not be useful now. If they took the back seat and made use of their experience to organise the party, that would be okay. There are people who were even calling for the party’s name to be changed, that is how much people hated these gangsters,” said Mumba.

“That was basically a strategic meeting. There were political parties that want to form alliances with the PF and members of parliament. Now that is when they have realised that MPs are an integral part. There are over 50 members of the central committee, why can’t they go and campaign? Why do they want MPs to be there? It is because they are an integral part. They do not want MPs to be part of a decision making process and yet they are contributing resources. There are issues that need to be addressed. We are dealing with millennials who are a complex of voters. So when they see something like this, can they find it attractive? They say ‘no we started PF with Michael Sata’, but how many millennials even remember Michael Sata?”

And Lusambo said he was not aware of the said meeting because the communication was not adequate.

“First and foremost, we belong to the political party. And in belonging to the grouping, we are supposed to abide by the rules of that group. So the sentiments which came from the acting president were in order. He was in order because as members of parliament, we are part of the PF’s bigger family. So if there is a meeting which the acting president called, definitely we would have responded to that meeting. Some of us were not aware that the meeting was called because maybe the channel of communication or invitation was [not] adequate. So we just want to sympathise with the acting president that his feelings were in order. Next time we should attend those meetings because that is where we belong,” said Lusambo.

“We are advancing the party’s agenda in parliament and in this country. Whatever we are doing, we are doing it within the party’s manifesto. So the acting president was in order to call for that meeting. It was unfortunate that most of us were not there but it is not [that] we shunned the meeting. Some of us, the invitation did not reach us. We do support the money because we contribute. Whatever resources we are getting from parliament, part of it goes to the secretariat to enable the party to function. So supporting the party is a priority because that is where we belong. We are just representatives and agents of the Patriotic Front.”

Meanwhile, Mutale said it was difficult to gather members of parliament for a meeting when the National Assembly was not in session.

“I was not part of the meeting because I was not feeling well that particular day but I was aware of the meeting. The other problem was that the meeting was called only a day before the actual day of the meeting. You must be aware that most MPs are in their respective constituencies. So when parliament is not sitting it is very difficult to call members at once. So it is not that the members did not want to come to the meeting, it is about the distance,” he said.

“I think the meeting was communicated to but most MPs are in their constituencies and will only be coming next week. We shall have another when Parliament opens. Members of parliament have always taken party matters seriously and they have always attended meetings. When Parliament is in recession it is difficult for members to come at once especially if the meeting is called only a day in between, it is not possible to have all of them at once.”

And Mandevu PF MP Christoper Shakafuswa said he could not attend the meeting because he had a bereavement.

“I think it is in public domain that I had a funeral and I was putting my niece to rest on Sunday. So I sent an apology and I think they understood. One female MP also came for the burial. I could not attend a party matter when I had a family to attend to in terms of the demise. It is in the public domain. I have always attended party meetings whenever called upon,” said Shakafuswa.