PF cadre Maxwell Chongu says the ruling party has continued losing members while the opposition UPND’s numbers have been increasing since 2011.
However, Chongu says newspapers and other media houses should be seeking permission before publishing his statements which he claims are meant only for PF blogs after News Diggers! published a story on his assertion about the party’s stagnation.
But News Diggers! editor Joseph Mwenda says Chongu is a strange politician because he personally sends statements to the publication.
In his statement, Chongu stated that facts on the ground showed that “things are not good for PF on the Copperbelt” and that those downplaying the situation were misleading President Edgar Lungu.
The cadre, who once featured in a reality TV series Big Brother Africa, has criticised party leaders who spend time throwing statements on Facebook to appease President Lungu instead of mobilising the ruling party.
He called for true reconciliation among PF members in order to stop the on-going membership exodus.
According to a computation he provided, Chongu indicated that PF’s Michael Sata obtained 1,170, 966 votes in the 2011 general elections against 506,763 votes of UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema.
However, by 2016, UPND votes ballooned threefold to 1,760,347 relative to PF’s 1,860,877 votes.
My main interest is to educate people on why our numbers keep reducing and why we need political remedies to avoid a defeat com[ing] our way,
Now you ought to understand that to go through the 50+1 per cent threshold, we only made it by minus/plus 13,000 votes. When you politically analyse the results, you will agree with me that there is urgent need to start mobilising our party from the grassroots because that’s where we seem to be having a big challenge.
He stated that those tasked to gauge the political atmosphere were misleading the PF leadership.
We understand that our hardworking Patriotic Front secretary general Mr Davies Mwila, above all our distinguished humble leader President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, are sometimes fed with doctored information in terms of what is happening on the ground. This has made most PF members feel neglected, causing a silent resentment towards the PF and President Lungu,
I can confirm that on the Copperbbelt, we visited several areas in terms of grassroots and I must admit that in most cases our leaders are never given the true picture of what’s on the ground. This is strongly destroying our party. Recently, again, we were on a fact-finding mission in Northern Province. I must admit that our findings are mind baffling; surely I can confirm that the picture being portrayed to our leaders showing that things are okay on the Copperbbelt is fake, for what we have gathered is shocking.
He stated that it was vital for party mobilisers to relay accurate information to decision makers.
“Taking lies to our leaders will not help our party or President Lungu to make well informed decisions. It will certainly destroy the party. We are ignoring the truth for temporally happiness,” Chongu observed.
He also proposed that the PF conducts intra party elections this year in order to leave room for managing the obvious fallout from the losing candidates.
“Party elections should have been strategically made to happen this year to give room for the party to properly reorganise itself. I know some will disagree with me on this subject since the election date was already set for next year, 2018. However, with what has been happening politically in our party and the pretence, we anticipate betrayers, mostly those that will lose their positions, to try by all means to defect with a reasonable number of their supporters,” Chongu stated.
He said the PF grassroots were angry with the ruling party.
“Lately, despite President Lungu relentlessly preaching to party leaders to empower our grassroots, most of these leaders only talk the walk and never walk the talk, something that has really angered the grassroots countrywide and this is a political ticking time bomb,” warned Chongu who also stated that some PF leaders were governing via Facebook.
Following criticism by PF members over his statement, Chongu warned media houses and journalists against using his statements without his permission.
He stated that his statements were meant for Patriotic Front blogs.
However, I have noticed a growing trend where several print media platforms have chosen to get my articles from our blogs without my permission, doctor them to suit their personal agendas and use them in the newspapers without my consent,
“It’s illegal and unethical to do such a thing and if this continues, I will seek legal advice and use one print media house as an example by suing it. I am also aware of some PF members that are fond of leaking or selling information to opposition sympathisers hoping to dent vocal and vibrant PF youths before the Patriotic Front party leadership. Let me warn you that should I see something like what I saw yesterday in one newspaper, which I don’t even know its background, called DIGGERS, I will not hesitate to take legal action.”
But Mwenda told Chongu that he was a strange politician.
You have been sending me articles directly to my phone via WhatsApp. You have been asking me to publish them. At one point I even guided you on what kind of human interest statements you can write to get media attention (since you asked me and News Diggers to be covering you),
Mwenda told Chongu.
We have published 5 articles from you so far, quoting your words and you have never complained. Just recently, I even listed the articles we had published from your statements sent to me in the same manner you sent the latest article (which you are now unhappy with).
How can you today turn around and say we don’t consult you? Did you indicate on any of your statements that they were not for publication?
He told Chongu that his newspaper did not need to cover him if he did want to be associated with News Diggers!
“We respect your conditions, but don’t make it appear as though we are stealing your articles. No one at Diggers! has access to the PF blogs you post those articles to, we use them because you send the statements to me as editor of News Diggers!,” Mwenda stated.
He also told Chongu that Diggers! did not have any political agenda but merely reported news and nothing else.
“That’s why yesterday I told you that ‘we cover you a lot because Diggers! is interested in promoting future presidents, ministers and MPs’. You were even guiding me on how we can sell this newspaper. How can all that slip your mind?” asked Mwenda. “We do not regret publishing your articles because we did so in good faith, but we will stop covering you forthwith since you have now told us to. We also encourage you to seek legal recourse on this matter if you so wish. We have no agenda against you or PF.”