THE crisis in the PF-UPND pact has deepened after a working group representing the two parties yesterday failed to stop local government candidates standing against each other in Kaoma and Chadiza.
A PF-UPND pact working group failed to resolve the impasse and has since referred the matter to the Joint National Council (JNC) to be chaired by the presidents of the two parties.
The latest development is a confirmation of serious cracks in the pact whose grassroots members have insisted that the ‘marriage of convenience’ is a cosmetic feature sanctioned by the two party leaders and without the blessing of the general membership.
Speaking at a joint press briefing at the UPND secretariat in Lusaka yesterday, PF spokesperson Given Lubinda said the working group, comprising members from the two parties, met to try to resolve the crisis and reached a consensus that the parties do not withdraw the candidates participating in the by-elections.
Mr Lubinda, who is Kabwata PF MP, said although the working group reached a consensus of not withdrawing the candidates, the JNC will still meet to decide on the matter.
He said the working group decided to allow the two candidates to participate in the by-elections because withdrawing them could have created problems in the pact.
Mr Lubinda said fielding of two candidates in the Kaoma Central and Chadiza was as a result of an administrative problem which came about as a result of the failure by the pact to create guidelines on which ticket to field a candidate at ward and constituency level.
He denied that there are cracks in the PF-UPND pact, adding that it is still strong and intact.
“We have decided to hold this joint press briefing to inform the nation that the working group of the pact has been meeting since the incidences in Kaoma and Chadiza happened. Our meetings have been cordial and enabled us to investigate what happened.
“We have established that things happened by mistake and the working group regrets that mistake which arose because the working group did not meet to allocate the wards in Kaoma and Chadiza,” Mr Lubinda said.
Mr Lubinda said following the Kaoma and Chadiza impasse, the working group has resolved to meet regularly to decide on which party ticket to field a candidate at ward and constituency level.
He said what happened in the Kaoma and Chadiza elections has taught the pact a lesson and that it is not a political interference from either the PF or UPND but a mere administrative mistake.
Meanwhile, former UPND vice-president Bob Sichinga has observed that the foundation of the PF-UPND pact is weak.
Mr Sichinga said there is need for pact officials to work towards taking their partnership to the people at the grass root.
He said in an interview yesterday in Kitwe that Zambians must not just ask for change of government but that they must demand progress in terms of developing the country.
“The foundation of the pact is weak. What the pact needs is to have more than expectation of unseating the MMD government. Some people at the grassroots don’t know the operations of the pact,” he said.
Mr Sichinga, who is former UPND Kafue member of Parliament, said he is hopeful that the leaders of the pact will resolve the problems surrounding their partnership.
He said other political parties may take advantage of the cracks in the pact to advance their aspirations.
Mr Sichinga, however, said that the pact must work in the interest of the country.
And speaking during his presentation at a Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) workshop in Kitwe yesterday, Mr Sichinga said it is unfortunate that some people are cheating Zambians that they will give them money without explaining where they will get it from.
He implored the electorate to ask Presidential hopefuls what they will do differently that the MMD government has failed to do.
Mr Sichinga said it is important to tell Zambians the truth and work towards improving their living standards.
And Economics Association of Zambia national secretary Isaac Ngoma called on the media and civil society groups to work together in fighting poverty, especially in rural areas.
Mr Ngoma said the media and the civil society organisations must form a pact with a view to monitoring the budget process and stemming poverty levels.
Meanwhile, UPND Namwala member of Parliament Robbie Chizyuka has described the MMD as a natural ally of the UPND and that it would be wise for his party members to vote for President Banda in next year’s elections.
Major Chizyuka has further described his party president Hakainde Hichilema as a power-hungry, visionless and politically incompetent man who should be hounded out of the UPND.
He said it will be wise for the UPND to abandon the pact, adding that the PF wants to ride on the back of the UPND to gain mileage.
Major Chizyuka accused PF leader Michael Sata of having used the UPND to gain support and create structures where his party is not popular.
Major Chizyuka said his call for his party to support the MMD is not new, as the ruling party started requesting to work with the UPND as far back as 2001.