Yesterday, we saw what the Patriotic Front constitution provides for the elective General Conference. Today, we wish to look at how the ruling party is disregarding its own constitution.

1. We have heard that the Central Committee of the Patriotic Front has endorsed a certain presidential candidate. But according to the PF constitution, this is wrong because the majority of the PF Central Committee members were appointed by the President and as such, the incumbent is being endorsed by his own appointees.

The PF constitution, as we saw yesterday, says the president only has the power to appoint three members of the Central Committee and 25 of them have to be elected at the conference. What this means is that the PF Central Committee is illegitimate and therefore their decisions cannot be legal.

2. The PF constitution says the Central Committee has no role in choosing candidates. They have to receive applications from any interested member who wants to stand for any elective position, including that of president. Their job is to simply consider that and pass it on to the national council. The national council will then look at the criteria of whether or not a particular applicant is a legitimate member and whether or not that applicant is eligible to contest any position at the General Conference.

After that, the national council (which includes members of parliament, members of the central committee and other officials from the structures) will make their recommendations and pass them on to the General Conference which now has the power to elect you or not. So where is the sole candidate declaration coming from? So, as can be seen here, the PF Central Committee wants to be the Alpha and Omega in deciding candidates who can vie for the party presidency at the General Conference, which is illegal.

3. We have heard the PF Secretary General saying “we are going to bring about 200 delegates from each province to attend the General Conference”, and he thinks this is a very democratic move. But that, too, is illegal. The PF constitution says the party must sponsor 500 delegates from each province. So it will be illegal for the PF to convene less than half the required number of delegates to endorse their preferred “sole candidate”.

4. The election at that General Conference is supposed to be by way of secret ballot; not by show of hands, legs or pangas as it happened in Kabwe in 2015. According to the PF Constitution, the manner in which the incumbent PF President was elected is illegal.

5. The electoral body presiding over the General Conference election must be independent. It cannot include party members who are in positions or members who are aspiring for positions. So, none of the Central Committee members qualify to be part of the electoral committee.

Once again, we commend the Patriotic Front for taking a leading role in ensuring that a democratic process is employed when selecting candidates for the 2021 general elections. But holding a General Conference where those in power dictate the outcome is worse than not having a General Conference at all. There is nothing wrong with the central committee identifying a candidate, but they have to receive all the applications from all interested parties. We don’t understand how someone who chairs the Central Committee would be excited to be endorsed by the people he appointed. Obviously, the members of such a central committee are thinking with their stomachs.

It’s like you have created a nation of Wadiya and you are Admiral-General Aladeen – the dictator. You pretend like people are free to oppose you yet you only accept slave loyalty from your subjects. You pretend to smile at those who don’t agree with you, but behind their backs, you order their termination. This is what we are seeing in the loyalty being exhibited by the PF central committee.

Unless the PF sole candidate tells us that he leaves the room when members are discussing his candidacy, because it’s him who chairs the Central Committee. Our expectation is that even the incumbent must submit his application to stand and must come up with his manifesto. If he wins genuinely at the party convention, then he will have the right to file in his presidential nominations so that he can properly be taken to court because he does not qualify to stand for a third term!