One of the contenders to the PF presidency Edgar Lungu has accused rivals especially Geoffrey Mwamba, Wynter Kabimba and Mulenga Sata of engaging in corruption.
And like revealed by the Watchdog, Lungu is fighting tooth and nail to avoid a convention where he fears to lose as he has no money and does not know the delegates.
Lungu’s accusations and move to avoid a convention comes after revelations that the leading contenders to the ruling party’s presidency are now GBM and Wynter Kabimba with Mulenga Sata following closely.
On Sunday evening, Lungu issued a statement attacking GBM, Mulenga and Kabimba but without really mentioning their names.
‘It is however regrettable that we have received reports that certain candidates intending to stand as President of the party are causing confusion with reported acts of corruption and bribery. It is important to warn that the leadership of the Patriotic Front will not take kindly to contenders that are engaged in acts that are alien to the principles of the party,’ he said
On the convention, Lungu wants the Central committee of the party to usurp the powers of the general conference to elect the party president. He revealed that the Central Committee will hold its first meeting on Thursday, 13TH November 2014 ‘to discuss matters relating to the selection or election of the party president and presidential candidate that will represent the party in the upcoming by-election.’
He said the Central Committee is empowered to set its own rules, or vary any clause in the constitution as provided for in Article 58 (l) and (m).
However a closer look at this article and clauses mentioned shows that no such power is given to the central committee. The power to elect the PF president is strictly restricted and exclusive to the general conference. The central committee has power to set its own rules (like when to meet) but has no power to change the party constitution or select president.
Lungu’s desperation seems to emanate from his realization and revelations that the leading contenders for the PF presidency are GBM and Wynter Kabimba followed by Mulenga Sata. When acting president Guy Scott last week temporarily sacked Lungu, some PF cadres protested and Lungu may have misunderstood this as endorsement for him to be president. But it could also be that PF cadres were only against Scott’s dictatorship. Besides, people like GBM, Alexander Chikwanda and others mobilized cadres to rise, as they feared that after Lungu, Scott could have moved against them as well. So the protests may not have been about Lungu per se but principle.
It remains to be seen if other presidential candidates will support Lungu’ maneuvers to avoid a convention.
Lungu seems to be losing to GBM due to a number of reasons. Some of the reasons are that he seems to be double – dealing (if not playing rivals against each other), he has no money to either campaign or sustain the party should PF lose the national poll and he is battling poor health. He has not denied revelations that he has advanced kidney problems. Lungu is also said to have a very bad record of employment. At the tender age of 19, he was discharged from the army for drunkenness. He later joined Barclays bank where he was fired for allegedly stealing client’s money. The same was the case with ZCCM. Just before the elections that ushered the PF in power, Lungu’s practicing license was revoked for stealing client’s money. Others people believe Lungu will be a highly compromised and weak president because he depends on others to fund his campaign and will be working to please his financiers by awarding them contracts if not cash from government coffers.
PF insiders say it is difficult to know who Lungu is working with ‘as he could just be working with the enemy and dump some people one he secures the powers.’
On the other hand, GBM is seen to be able to sustain the PF even if it was to lose the presidential by-election just like he funded it in the opposition.
Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) says there is enough time to prepare and conduct the presidential by-election.
Chomba Chella, deputy director for elections told Voice of America that “the 90 days from the time the sitting president died falls on the 26th of January. So we have to hold elections before that”.
to ensure that the election is well prepared [for],” said Chella.
He denied media reports that the electoral body might have time constraint challenges that could hinder effective preparation to organize the presidential poll.
Chella said the ECZ has experience in administering a presidential vote following the death of a sitting head of state.
“For us we have learnt our lessons from 2008 elections when the incumbent then Levi Mwanawasa died and I think from there we were able to draw our lesson from there and so far we are okay, and we are on course and very confident that we will do it properly,” said Chella.