CRACKS are beginning to emerge in the Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND) Pact agreement. According to a joint statement signed by both PF and UPND on June 4, 2009, the parties agreed not to compete against each other in successive elections.
“…we will provide an effective, formidable and unbeatable electoral challenge to the corrupt MMD in all elections and we demand early presidential and parliamentary elections,” states the joint statement, which was issued the day the Pact agreement was formally consummated.
However, the opposite has occurred in the Kaoma Central and Chadiza local government by-elections where both PF and UPND have fielded separate candidates.
UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone was off although Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Garry Nkombo, who said he was with him in Luena, explained that Hichilema was in a meeting. Nkombo, who offered to give a comment on the matter in the absence of Hichilema, described the situation as unfortunate.
“It’s very unfortunate that Chadiza and Kaoma Central had come that way. But it would appear that during the long weekend and the Electoral Commission of Zambia’s (ECZ) delay to announce the actual dates, our lower organs took it upon themselves to go ahead and field,” Nkombo said.
“It’s a matter which shouldn’t send anybody into panic. I am hopeful that tonight or tomorrow the working group will be summoned. I am very hopeful that it is not beyond what my eyes can see. The working group didn’t sit to negotiate because this is about negotiations.”
Asked whether the decision by both parties was not against the PF and UPND Pact agreement, Nkombo responded: “If we waited for the working group to disseminate information we would have found a situation that we don’t field at all.”
Nkombo insisted that it was just a mere breakdown in communication.
“For now I stand on the premise that it was a very unfortunate event that it happened. In a big grouping you will always find a situation like this,” Nkombo said. “But it’s a question of how the partners who are inclusive to UPND and PF will deal with the matter. Everybody is interested in seeing that things are resolved.”
And PF vice-president and Lusaka Central member of parliament Dr Guy Scott admitted that both parties had fielded candidates in the Kaoma Central and Chadiza local government by-elections.
“What happened was that there were two seats in Kaoma, one in Luampa and another in Kaoma Central. We thought that we can get the Kaoma Central and they get the Luampa on the principle of incumbency. I was in Kaoma yesterday Thursday to ensure that there was no mistake. We found UPND was already in the middle of the nomination so I told my candidate to go ahead and file as well,” Dr Scott said.
“Initially, there were six wards or so, one in Kabwe and one in… I think Monze and UPND agreed to field. And we also agreed that we field in Chadiza and others; there was no problem. The only problem was on Kaoma Central. We fielded in Kaoma Central on the principle of sharing Western Province.”
The PF and UPND Pact has of late been facing some internal challenges concerning the adoption of candidates during parliamentary and local government by-elections.
PF and UPND sources have disclosed that the problems seriously emerged over the Luena parliamentary by-election where both parties wanted to field.
The sources revealed that PF felt that they had a stronger candidate to contest in Luena while UPND also strongly felt that Western Province was their area on account of ethnicity.
The sources said PF initially dismissed the UPND argument, claiming that they have made in-roads in Western Province and that UPND could not claim to be the most popular party because the province was currently under the MMD as evidenced by their number of parliamentary seats.
The sources said PF finally allowed their partners – UPND – to field a candidate in the Luena parliamentary by-election.