THE PF is contemplating to move its convention to next month as President Edgar Lungu plots to dribble independent and unpopular PF MPs who have been ‘persuaded’ with adoptions if they help pass Constitution (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019, sources have revealed.
And the sources are saying the ruling party is having a bruising battle as senior party members from the Bemba-speaking regions continue outwitting each other in the race for the running-mate position.
“…expect more bruises, because ba Chitotela wanted it but they eliminated him using those charges you remember? Then there was a genuine belief that Dr Chilufya was ba Mwila’s preferred candidate, they exposed him. Now there is another group backed by traditional leaders pushing Dr Bwalya Ng’andu and it’s quite strong. Another equally strong group backed by some chiefs pushing for the recall of Dr Christine Kaseba from France so that she becomes the running mate…” a PF central committee member said.
Last month, PF members of the central committee revealed to The Mast that independent and unpopular MPs were blackmailing President Lungu with voting for the controversial Bill 10 in exchange for adoptions on the ruling party ticket in next year’s presidential and general elections.
The MCCs said the revelation alerted ‘indigenous’ PF members who have felt side-lined for a long time and now feel it’s their opportunity to be adopted.
The sources said the expose sent scary signals to the party prompting the top leadership to change the tactics.
“The story you wrote last time sent shock waves because the young lads in the party started sending vows such as ‘no more sacrifices this time around’ tukafilila munsenga, some of us have been sacrificing since 2006, so ifyo mwatampa ifya ba Independent [MPs] na Bill 10 yenu tatwakafyumfwe. That’s what the guys started saying and that was coming from all areas where the party has been strong but is now losing popularity due to wrong choices,” the sources said.
They cited Copperbelt and Lusaka as some of those provinces where the ruling party is battling to maintain rebelling loyalists ahead of adoptions.
“So, the deal with independents and those guys who are not popular in the constituencies is still on the table and Bill 10 is still the bigger part of the plan but your story has changed everything and the plan has changed completely. You know the boss is desperate for Bill 10 to pass, so now he is pushing so hard that the bill is done away with in Parliament before the convention,” sources said. “Remember that we were supposed to have the convention this month before COVID [affected it]. And with all that has happened politically in between, they are trying to push the convention to July so that he goes to the convention without a debt to any MP because the job would have been done already and that’s if the convention happens. But whatever happens, let those independents know that the idea is to use and dump them. The other bigger challenge is the Copperbelt and Lusaka. If you have followed our politics, Copperbelt especially has been our undoubted loyalists but we messed up when we surrendered the seats to the RB boys. If we wanted Rupiah Banda to help us with Eastern Province, there was no need to sacrifice Copperbelt. Now look at this, agriculture minister Michael Katambo is MMD, Lusaka Province minister Bowman Lusambo is MMD, foreign affairs minister Joseph Malanji is MMD, Minister of National Palnning Alexander Chiteme is MMD, even energy minister Matthew Nkhuwa has never been PF. Sports minister Emmanuel Mulenga is MMD, then we have MPs like Evans Chibanda from Mufulira, MMD, Frank Ng’ambi from Chifubu, MMD. Copperbelt minister Japhen Mwakalombe, though he doesn’t come from the Copperbelt is MMD. So now our boys have told us to say ‘we are not going to sacrifice anything this time because we made the party popular ourselves these guys just chanced and you managed to convince us but not anymore.’ Then even the Independents, most of them chose to stand on their own because PF refused to adopt them. If they are loyalists, why didn’t they accept the decisions of the party? And you know with all the economic problems on the Copperbelt, Hakainde [Hichilema] and [Chishimba] Kambwili are very much in control and if we mess up by not listening to warnings from our boys, we are gone even before elections come. In Lusaka also, Given Lubinda, Jean Kapata, Nkandu Luo, Margaret Mwanakatwe have all been there for a long time and it will be a tall-order to expect victories with them again. So there is this urge from the next generation in the party and its very serious.”
One central committee member revealed that PF secretary general Davies Mwila had concrete information that Bill 10 would fail again due to lack of numbers but was failing to tell President Lungu.
“Ba boss ba Mwila balishiba ati we need six more votes to make Bill 10 pass but he has no courage to tell the President. But the President is very desperate about the bill that’s why you see the lobbying using some weaker chiefs,” said the source.
Another source warned that there would be more casualties in the race for running mate after Ronald Chitotela and now Dr Chitalu Chilufya all embroiled in corruption scandals and seemingly eliminated from the race.
“…expect more bruises, because ba Chitotela wanted it but they eliminated him using those charges you remember? Then there was a genuine belief that Dr Chilufya was ba Mwila’s preferred candidate, they exposed him. Now there is another group backed by traditional leaders pushing Dr Bwalya Ng’andu and it’s quite strong. Another equally strong group backed by some chiefs pushing for the recall of Dr Christine Kaseba from France so that she becomes the running mate. It’s complicated but it seems there is no leadership to harmonise these things amid a serious threat of losing elections right from the top,” the source said.
Efforts to get a comment from Mwila failed as his mobile phone went unanswered.