UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka has disclosed that preparations for the opposition party to hold its national convention, before 2021, are underway.
Hakainde Hichilema, who has been at the helm of the UPND since 2006, said during a meeting with professionals and business persons at the party secretariat in Lusaka last year that the party needed to hold a general congress to consolidate itself ahead of the 2021 general elections.
“Our party needs to hold a general congress before the 2021 general elections. It is a must! There is no way we are going to get to 2021 without holding a congress for our party; we have to follow our party constitution,” said Hichilema, then.
“We need to get our party organised and consolidated at the branch, ward, constituency, district and provincial levels before going to the general congress.”
In an interview on the matter, Katuka said “preparations are already underway.”
“A convention is not a one-day event where you just wake up and say we are calling people for a convention. It’s something you prepare for over a period of time. It is a national event; it involves all our structures from all the 10 provinces,” Katuka told The Mast in an interview.
“So, we have to prepare and I can confirm that the National Management Committee did agree and passed a resolution that we should undertake that activity. But I cannot give you a definite date because we are doing the planning now. We are looking at what is involved; how do we deal with this and things like that? But for sure, before 2021 we should have concluded that.”
And Katuka noted that holding a national convention was “a very expensive exercise” and that when people criticised the UPND in that regard, “they are talking from without.”
“Do you know that we had a mini-convention in 2009? Even in 2016, before the general elections, we held a mini-convention at Ku Park Lodge in Chilanga where the provinces had to endorse our presidential candidate, HH,” he explained.
Asked whether or not the impending UPND general congress would just be a formality or every party position would be elective, Katuka answered that: “Well, I would say we’ll cross the bridge when we get there.”
“But it is the normal convention like we have done before where we dissolve our committees and start afresh. There may be people who may go unopposed but all positions will be up for grabs,” explained Katuka.