(By Christopher Miti and Masuzyo Chakwe)
EASTERN Province PF chairmanship aspirant Elias Daka has withdrawn from the race and petitioned the party secretary general Davies Mwila over alleged unfair manner in which the intraparty elections in the province are being conducted.
Meanwhile, PF secretary general Davies Mwila has with immediate effect cancelled the provincial elections in Eastern Province.
Mwila said by the same token, the recently held intra-party elections in the province have also been nullified forthwith.
But Eastern Province PF chairman Andrew Lubusha dismissed Daka’s allegations that the elections are marred with irregularities. Confirming his withdrawal on Friday, Daka alias ELIBOMA said he does not want people to shed blood because of intraparty elections. “My team has withdrawn from the race because there is no fairness and transparency in the elections that are being done. I have received reports that our people are being intimidated and elections (for constituency and districts) are being held at night,” he said. “You heard what happened at Radio Maria, our colleagues sent thugs to beat up my people just for these intraparty elections. Now being a leader, I said we can’t continue with this because we can cause bloodshed and we can divide the party more. So I have decided with my team to withdrawal and put up a petition to the relevant authority so that they can look at the process of elections. In democracy there should be rules governing elections. There was no way we can just hear that they have started elections in Kasenengwa when there is no circular that has been provided to the stakeholders.
You know our people are farmers, they need to be given time so that they prepare. I can cite an example in Katete, our people were threatened, others had their application torn by people from the other team. So the democracy that we are supposed to show is not there because you cannot have elections at night. In Chipata, the district committee was formed around 02:00 hours!” Daka said he had withdrawn until good measures were put in place. “A conducive atmosphere should be provided for free and fair elections, not where others are being beaten, intimidated and are banned from checking what is happening,” he said.
“We can’t allow such things to happen. This is not fair. There is no way in this era we can conduct elections at night. What type of democracy is that? So we don’t want to be part of the people that are trying to cheat the President [Edgar Lungu] that they are conducting free and fair elections and are exercising democracy because there is no democracy.
” Some people who were in Daka’s team such as Nsingo ward councilor Chisoni Miti and Maxson Nkhoma also indicated that the elections were not free and fair. But Lubusha told Breeze FM that Daka’s allegations that intraparty elections were not free and fair were false.
“The issues of saying elections are not free and fair are not true. I would like to sincerely commend Hon Yamfwa Mukanga [PF elections chairman] and his national elections committee for the free and fair elections that they are conducting in Eastern Province,” he said.
“There is nothing unfair about it. We told each and every Patriotic Front member publicly even Radio Breeze and other media institutions, when we were interviewed we told them, that elections are going to be conducted in April and May. So everyone was ready. When we did the ward elections, we knew that what was coming up were the constituency elections and we announced the elections well in advance.” Lubusha said all the districts were informed about the elections in advance and had prepared.
“It is a very lame excuse to say the elections are not free and fair. The elections are very free and fair even ELIBOMA’s team in Katete clearly confessed that these elections have been very free and fair - saying the people of Katete had chosen the people they wanted,” he said. Lubusha also indicated that ELIBOMA does not qualify to contest the chairmanship according to the party constitution.
“Our electoral constitution clearly states that for one to contest as a provincial chairman or provincial leader must have served as a provincial leader for a minimum of two years and I will clearly tell you that Mr ELIBOMA served the provincial committee for three months and in that provincial committee I was the provincial youth chairman and president [Michael] Sata and secretary general Wynter Kabimba by then told us that that committee was not legitimate and we were dissolved after three months,” said Lubusha.
“The province at that particular time only had the provincial chairman who was Hon Mangani Mangani, so Mr ELIBOMA doesn’t qualify but even if he doesn’t qualify, us, we are willing to meet him so that the people of Eastern Province can decide the leader that they
want. I have no problem to see him contesting and even now I urge him to still man up and be brave despite having lost the three districts where we had so far conducted elections and in seven constituencies.”
Meanwhile, Mwila said new dates for elections will be announced in due course.
He said the measures have been taken in the understanding that intraparty elections are not only designed to reflect the will of the members but most importantly to unite the party and not to divide it.
“The party will therefore use the intervening period to put new measures in place with a view to bringing members of the party to a point of unity. As the undisputed role models of intraparty democracy in Zambia, Patriotic Front raised the bar and set high standards when we held credible and transparent elections in North West, Central and Copperbelt Provinces,” he said.
“Consequently, our track record speaks for itself and we pride ourselves as being Zambia’s leading democracy among all political parties. We are as a matter of fact not just the leading Democratic Party in Zambia; but the only Democratic Party in our nation. Patriotic Front is the only party which at an intra-party level has always gone back to the people to renew its mandate across all structures from the Section, Branches, Wards, Constituencies, Districts, Provinces and Central Committee.”
Mwila said as a responsible and exemplary party entrusted by the people of Zambia with the responsibility of governing the country, the PF owed it to the general membership of the party and the public at large to ensure that its intraparty democratic credentials keep shinning.
“We intend to maintain these impeccably high standards, and we thank the membership of the party in Eastern Province for their patience and understanding in this regard.
New dates and guidelines will accordingly be given at a later stage,” said Mwila.