DECLARING President Edgar Lungu as the PF’s 2021 sole candidate without going to a convention is undemocratic and goes against the ruling party’s constitution, Emmanuel Chilubanama has said.
The former State House permanent secretary said the Patriotic Front’s constitution demands that a candidate is adopted by a national convention.
He said should the party decide that President Lungu is the sole candidate, such a decision must be made at the convention.
Last week, a caucus of members of parliament from the Copperbelt requested, through the office of the secretary general, not to go to a convention in 2020.
The group argued that there was no need to go to a convention to choose a presidential candidate because there was already consensus on President Lungu.
But adding his voice on the matter, Chilubanama said he did not agree with party members that were opposed to having the national convention to select a candidate.
“The Patriotic Front has rules and the constitution on which it should be governed. I do not agree with the sects of the party calling for the sole candidature or President Edgar Lungu,” Chilubanama said in an interview.
He said even President Lungu himself would not agree with being picked as the PF’s 2021 presidential candidate from outside the convention.
“If it is said and laid down that there is time for convention to go to…we went and elected him as our candidate for 2016. We are going to do that and I can assure you that he (President Lungu) will also want to go the same route,” Chilubanama said.
He stressed that he was merely expressing his views on the matter.
“Those views have been expressed by individuals just like the way I am expressing my personal views. That is not the stand of the party. By going to the convention, we are following the route of the constitution of the party,” Chilubanama said.
He noted that the law now states that, “every organisation is mandated to go to a convention and choose its candidate’.”
“If President Lungu is the sole candidate, we are going to confirm that at the convention,” Chilubanama added.
He however advised PF members who had intentions to challenge current office bearers to do so in line with party guidelines.
Chilubanama expressed concern that if left unchecked, jostling for positions before the right time would distract the party from delivering on its campaign promises.
He said every politician had ambitions but they needed to manage them.
“There is nothing wrong with aspiring for higher office. I also aspire for higher office but I have to manage my ambitions well,” Chilubanama stressed.
He said people should wait for the right time to challenge the current office holders in the party.
Chilubanama also urged the PF to be open and listen to divergent views of its members and those who wished to express their ambitions to challenge office-bearers.
“I think the window is open for such, so wait until such a time. Left loose there is going to be so much confusion such that we will lose focus on the mandate to deliver on the promises that we made to the Zambians,” he said.
Chilubanama also observed that there was much factionalism and division in the party which was affecting its ability to deliver on its promises.
“There is a lot of bickering amongst ourselves. I don’t know if it could be because of people’s frustrations or they have not seen what they expected. There is a lot of rumour-mongering. There is a lot of hatred,” he noted.
Chilubanama said the PF would still do well if it got united.
“Like I said in the other interview, all is not yet lost. We as a united front are still able to work together and rise above some of these challenges that we are facing in the party and the nation and government at large,” said Chilubanama.
“We are really striving to do that but we can do better. We promised people lower taxes [but] do we have lower taxes? In my humble view, the opposite is happening.”