PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda is considering replacing Vice-President George Kunda with United Liberal Party (ULP) president Sakwiba Sikota with a view to regain support in Western Province, where there is a fall-out within the ruling party’s ranks.
According to the POST Newspaper, well-placed government sources yesterday disclosed that President Banda wants Sikota to replace Vice-President Kunda in order to recapture support in Western Province.
“The President intends to appoint Mr Sikota as a way of buying peace with the Western Province. We all know what’s happening in Western Province where the ruling MMD is concerned. So the President thinks having Mr Sikota as his Vice-President will assist him for the 2011 general elections,” the sources disclosed.
However, the sources could not disclose what would happen to Vice-President Kunda in the event that the President appointed Sikota.
The sources could not reveal whether Vice-President Kunda would be kept as Minister of Justice or would simply be relegated to the backbench.
When contacted, Sikota, who first laughed upon being asked about President Banda’s intentions, responded: “…Oh I didn’t know that, that comes as a surprise. That’s not something that I had even… have thought about. It’s such a surprise, it caught me totally unawares. It’s not even something that I have put thought to. You have caught me totally unawares by that.”
When pressed further whether or not he would consider the appointment if it came his way, Sikota answered: ” Well there would be lots of things to look at it. Like I said it’s not something that I have even sat down to analyse. So it’s not something that one would be able to make a response to just like that. It’s something that has just come so suddenly.”
But sources from Western Province said President Banda was just wasting his time because his plans would not yield any positive results for the party and himself in particular.
“We know that… but what the President should know is that even if did that [appoint Sikota], the people of Western Province know that he will be doing that in bad faith because of the stance he has taken against the people of Western Province. So we will not be swayed by his manoeuvres to bring in Sakwiba,” the source said. “The President promised that the vice-presidency would go to Western Province but what happened? We have since realised that the man [President Banda] is not honest and truthful because there are so many other people he promised.
“Therefore, he cannot hoodwink us. Even if he went ahead and appointed Sakwiba we know that it will not be in good faith, he is just wasting his time because his manoeuvres won’t take him anywhere in so far as Western Province is concerned.”
Recently when reacting to the decision by MMD secretariat to appoint an interim provincial executive committee in place of the dissolved one, chairman for the dissolved Western Province MMD executive committee Simasiku Namakando said President Banda was becoming unpopular because of the decisions that he was allowing MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba and his friends to make.
“Because President Banda was UNIP he must know that in the MMD we follow the constitution. We do not follow shortcuts,” Namakando said. “President Banda is an acting president of the MMD; please put this in capital letters. He is not yet endorsed. When you act, you can either make it or fail.”
Namakando said from the way President Banda was running the MMD, it was clear that he was failing to manage the party.
Namakando said only four MMD provincial leaders had been ‘reshuffled’ from the dissolved executive committee.
He said there was no way that an executive committee, which was elected by a provincial conference, could be reshuffled.
Namakando maintained that he was still the provincial MMD chairman.
He accused President Banda of being ungrateful to the people of Western Province who voted for him in the 2008 election.
“I liken President Banda to an Indian emperor Shahjahan…who when his wife, Mumtaz, died after the birth of his 14th child became sick and died, emperor Shahjahan called the most experienced architectures to build what is now known in India as the Taj Mahal; one of the Seven Wonders of the World,” Namakando said, adding that after the builders completed the Taj Mahal, the emperor decided to cut-off their hands so that they could never build such a structure anywhere again.
“This is what President Banda is doing. I made him win as provincial chairman for the MMD in Western Province. Mr Banda is now in State House and after winning his reaction was that, ‘I did not solicit for the vote of the people of Western Province’. He wrote a letter to me, who campaigned for him. I was the campaign manager for Western Province. I do not know whether Mr Banda is being ungrateful to the people of Western Province or not.”
Namakando further compared President Banda to one of two men that went to the bush in search of honey and when they found it, one man climbed the tree and started eating the honey alone, saying where he came from they did not eat honey while looking down.
Namakando said it was not until the man on the ground set the tree on fire that his friend atop the tree started crying for help.
“This is what is happening. They are enjoying. If they are forgetting Western Province, we will say thank you and we will put a lot of heat and fire to the tree,” said Namakando.