[By Oliver Chisenga and Mwaka Ndawa]
THE National Democratic Congress general membership has resolved to part ways with their leader Chishimba Kambwili.
Following Kambwili’s refusal to be a part of the decision made by the alliance which is now referred to as UPND Alliance, the general membership headed by party vice-president Josephs Akafumba resolved that the party detaches itself from Kambwili.
But Kambwili says he is puzzled with the decision by the opposition alliance to form a single sided coalition called the UPND Alliance ahead of the August 12 elections.
Addressing the media at Cresta Golfview Hotel yesterday, Akafumba, who is the new NDC leader, has appointed former presidential spokesperson Edward Mumbi as his deputy, stating that the other positions remain as before.
Akafumba said the decision of the NDC leadership was in line with what the people want, stressing that if being part of the UPND alliance was wrong then he does not want to be right.
He wondered why Kambwili allowed the NDC to spend over three years as members of the alliance when he knew that he would not work with Hichilema.
“You have heard from our secretary general when she welcomed our president from the United Kingdom, he put it plainly. He made it very clear that he cannot work with Hakainde Hichilema and would rather go back to PF…we find that very sad. If that was his position, why did he make us waste all the three years in the alliance discussing zero?” Akafumba wondered. “It is very annoying to say the least. We went to see him yesterday as alluded to by the presidential spokesperson (now vice-president) and again he put it very clear that if the majority of the members want to go the alliance route, ‘count me out’…I looked at him as he said he will never work with the alliance. As pressmen, you can connect the dots. We have been made to waste all this time. It’s very painful, It’s extremely painful to be treated in this manner and fashion. My colleagues have made it very plain that what is driving us here is to save the Zambian people. What do the Zambians want? That was our question.”
Akafumba said upon reflection, through a caucus, they decided not to go by what Kambwili wants as an individual but what the masses want.
“We followed what the people wanted and if we were wrong, then we didn’t want to be right. That’s the path we took, to follow what Zambians want. We have been all over the country and the cry has been the same, ‘Alliance don’t let us down. Help us remove this PF government’. But to be told today that ‘I cannot work with Hakainde, I would rather go back to PF’; the people we called Pompwes [thieves], the people we called thieves! What detergent have we used to clean them? We have found it extremely difficult ourselves and we stand by the truth and have sided with the Zambian people,” said Akafumba.
Secretary general Bridget Atanga warned that any central committee meeting that would be called without her approval would be illegal.
She said the purported central committee meeting called by Kambwili for Saturday would be an illegal gathering.
Atanga said she was the only one mandated to call for such an assembly.
She said Kambwili’s attitude and behaviour in the past confirmed that he was not with the NDC leadership.
Atanga declared that Kambwili was now their former leader following the party resolution to expel him.
“I am here to confirm as secretary general and chief executive of the party that we are going into the UPND alliance. We want to work with this alliance because that’s the will of the people. I am confirming and announcing to the Zambian people that NDC is intact apart from our former president. Mr Chishimba Kambwili is not president anymore,” said Atanga. “I was very concerned because I saw that CK’s attitude and behaviour is not with us. I saw that a long time ago. I also want to state that there will be no central committee meeting. I am not aware of any meeting called. There is nobody right now who has the right to call for such a meeting without agreeing with me.”
The Lusaka Province leadership represented by Joseph Kasonde also endorsed the party position of being part of the UPND alliance.
On Wednesday, the alliance declared its commitment to form an electoral pact ahead of the August 12 Presidential and General Elections.
Alliance chairman Charles Milupi announced that the opposition alliance would contest the elections as a single entity, which would be referred to as the UPND Alliance.
The NDC was represented by Akafumba, secretary general Bridget Atanga, members of the central committee Franklin Membe, Professor Muyenga Atanga and party presidential spokesperson Edward Mumbi.
The NDC team was tasked to inform the alliance of Kambwili’s insistence that his candidates contest the August elections on the NDC ticket rather than what was proposed by most alliance members.
The matter was then put to a vote but the NDC team was outnumbered hence settling for the alliance to contest the elections as a single entity.
“We shall field one presidential candidate in the 2021 elections and that president Hakainde Hichilema is hereby declared as the alliance candidate,” Milupi said.
He said the presidential candidate shall nominate a running mate based on his presidential mandate.
Milupi said there shall be an all-encompassing and detailed electoral pact.
The resolution of the alliance was communicated to Kambwili who however said he would not be part of what was resolved.
Following Kambwili’s position on the matter, a meeting was convened to chart the way forward and it was from this meeting that it was decided that he be ‘dismissed’.
The membership led by Akafumba and the party’s Roan member of parliament Joseph Chishala then proceeded to sign the electoral pact at Cresta Golf View.
But Kambwili said it is impossible to form a single sided pact and claim to be in partnership with others.
He said he was yet to liaise with the NDC central committee on the way forward.
“I am a democrat and NDC is very democratic. We heard what was said at the alliance yesterday [Wednesday] and we are yet to meet the central committee and chart the way forward,” Kambwili said. “But the only surprising thing is how do I have an alliance with myself, Chishimba Kambwili alliance, and then you say you are with others?”
Kambwili refused to elaborate over the matter saying he will deliver a full statement tomorrow.