The likely failure by the Pact to agree on one candidate has propped up a new entrant.
Newly-handpicked National Chairperson of the opposition Patriotic Front (PF) Inonge Mutukwa nee Wina is believed to be eyeing the Presidency of the PF/UPND pact due to the likely event of the two co-leaders, Michael Chilufya Sata and Hakainde Hichilema failing to agree on one candidate.
The plot to propel Inonge as a compromise candidate of the Pact is well backed and prepared within and outside the Pact ahead of the 2011 presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.
Several women leaders in the Non-Governmental Organisations are being lobbied to rally behind Inonge in the likely event that Sata and Hakainde fail to reach a compromise.
Quietly, meetings are taking place within Lusaka where the strategy is being hatched out with a number of interest groups rallying behind the call with much caution.
The plotters anticipate an acrimonious deadlock between Sata and Hichilema, which will then attract outsiders, namely – the Church, NGO’s and Students Movement – to intervene in the hope of saving the Pact.
Women will certainly demand for a woman compromise candidate while generally the NGOs will back one of theirs – Inonge once served as chairperson of the Non Governmental Coordinating Council (NGOCC).
Planners of the plot are many but active in the group of rallying support for Inonge includes Inonge Kaingu, a famous woman miner and chairperson of the Women in Mining Association of Zambia who has been courting her fellows.
The maiden meeting at Mumana Hotel in Lusaka did not attract impressive women personalities despite invitations have been sent to many. “I was also invited but didn’t go there, I don’t understand the agenda,” one of the invitees revealed to this writer.
The last minute change of the venue did not help either – initially it was planned for Barn Motel in the outskirts of Lusaka East. The Barn as it is known is owned by Inonge’s late husband, Arthur Wina and it is believed to have been bequeathed to the family upon his passing away.
Inonge’s handpicked appointment by Sata to the top echelon of the party attracted a screaming headline in The Post Newspaper portraying her as a bigwig who had been captured by the PF although she’ badly tumbled’ in the 2006 parliamentary elections in her home ground – Nalolo Constituency.
Inonge in PF replaces the late chairperson Henry Mtonga who was initially from UPND, later, ULP and later joined PF. The other PF chairperson also passed on – former defence minister Chitalu ‘Stalin’ Sampa.
Inonge’s political record is not that long apart from being the widow of the veteran politician Arthur Wina who was among the brave to have challenged the strong hand of independence President Kenneth David Kaunda.
She served as NGOCC chairperson before drifting into politics under the then newly founded United Party for National Development (UPND) of late Anderson Kambela Mazoka.
She contested and won the Nalolo seat in the elections of 2001. However, upon the death of Mazoka, she was among the westerners who quit UPND in total protest of Hichilema’s alleged tribal inclination and joined the newly formed United Liberal Party (ULP) of Sakwiba Sikota, a former vice president to Anderson Mazoka.
It is worth noting that ULP and Sikota partnered with Sata in the 2006 polls in an effort to oust late Levy Patrick Mwanawasa although they were trounced.
The plotters for Inonge contend that she will be the likely compromise candidate because she is both UPND and PF by affiliation due to her past record. “She is likely to be the easiest to sell,” one insider bet.
Inonge is also very, very, very close to Francis Simenda, a newly crowned vice president of UPND who had also quit the party earlier in protest against tribalism and co-founded ULP.
So – it is expected that Simenda will help in bridging the gap in UPND for Inonge. Simenda is formerly a member of parliament for Mongu Central who was earmarked for a diplomatic post in the Government of President Rupiah Bwezani Banda but only turned it down when he realized it was not higher than his expectation.