CHARLES Kakoma says he remains friends with his former leader Hakainde Hichilema but has decided to support President Edgar Lungu who he believes is going to win in August.
Announcing his defection from the UPND to the ruling PF, Kakoma said his followers felt sidelined in the UPND and asked him to leave the party.
Part of the PF leadership led by national chairperson Samuel Mukupa and Lusaka Province chairman Kennedy Kamba received Kakoma at a media briefing held at Lusaka’s Pamodzi Hotel yesterday.
Also in attendance was home affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo.
“I must say that perhaps I’m a privileged person in Zambia because two of the party presidents in Zambia, powerful party presidents in Zambia, appear to be my friends. President Hakainde Hichilema is my childhood friend. We were together at university and from there we have been friends for a long time; and I think we’re still friends even up to now,” he told journalists. “President Edgar Lungu, His Excellency, is also my childhood friend. That’s why I’m saying that I’m privileged to have two powerful people as my friends. And in the past, of course I opted to support president Hakainde Hichilema, even from the first convention when he stood as party president. I was his chief campaign manager, he won. In 2015 when he went for office, Republican presidential race, I campaigned for him and, of course, according to him he won. And 2016 again I campaigned for him, and according to him again he won. So, I’ve been his faithful campaign manager.”
Kakoma said he had decided to shift allegiance this time, affirming that President Lungu would win the August 12 election.
“But this time around, I think I’ve campaigned for him enough. Of the two friends, now I’ve decided that I’ll campaign for the other friend who is His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu. And I think that he’s going to win,” Kakoma added. “We all recall that in 2015 it was a tight race between HH and ECL. 2016 again it was a tight race between the two. It could also be a tight race in 2021. But I think that on the balance of probabilities, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu will carry the day. And with my support I’ll do everything within my power to bring the votes that I can bring to him – to bring the numbers that he needs in order for him to win.”
He said the UPND “think I’m a political liability to them, an electoral liability [but] the PF think that I’m an asset to them”.
“So basically, my decision today is that I have resigned from the United Party for National Development. And from today onwards I’ve joined the Patriotic Front. And from today onwards I’ll campaign for President Edgar Chagwa Lungu,” he said.
Kakoma highlighted events that led him to ditch the opposition party.
He explained how he won at the UPND convention last month, which he described as resoundingly.
“And therefore, in terms of the general membership of the UPND, I was very popular with the members of the party. They had trust and confidence in my leadership. I must say that after that strange things happened, that even if I won at the general assembly, the party leadership, the top leadership decided to demote me from the position of party spokesperson as well as drop me from what you may call the inner cabinet – the national executive committee or NEC,” he explained. “And I was relegated to some other organ called the National Management Committee. Well, as a person, I’m there to serve in any capacity, in any position. I did not think it was a big deal. But I have a following; I’ve supporters who did not take it kindly, who were disappointed and who felt shortchanged in this process.”
Kakoma also explained that his tribesmen were left out of the top UPND management.
“Of course, one of the issues that I campaigned for and which members of the UPND also campaigned for and sought to bring on the table was that there must be fair and equitable regional representation in the national management committee, in the NEC of the UPND. You may wish to know, and I can disclose if you don’t know, that I am a Luvale speaking person from Zambezi district in the North Western Province,” he said. “And the Luvale speaking group is a big group, stretching from Chavuma, Zambezi, Kabompo, Manyinga district, Mufumbwe, Solwezi; and I can fairly say that we are widespread also into Western Province. You can talk of Lukulu, Kaoma, Mangango, Kalabo, Luampa, Nkeyema; we’re a big group in Zambia. As we speak now, in the UPND, out of the 70 that were elected, just two of us managed to win to go to the national management committee. That is myself and Hon Ambrose Lufuma who is MP for Kabompo.”
He said despite the party empowering its president to nominate 30 more members in the top leadership, no Luvale was included.
“The president of the party in UPND is also empowered to appoint 30 more people to the national management committee to balance up issues if they are inadequacies. The Luvale speaking people are among the seven major languages in Zambia… and my followers did not take it kindly that out of the 70 that were elected, the 30 that were appointed by the party president, none of them appointed by the party president was a Luvale to balance up issues,” said Kakoma.
“The president appointed, to balance up issues, people from the North; the Bemba speaking people, from the East, the easterners; from the South he appointed Tongas, from the West he appointed some Lozis, and from even North Western Province he appointed or nominated some Lundas and Kaondes, but no Luvale. That appeared to upset the Luvale speaking people.”
And welcoming Kakoma, Mukupa said the PF was a regionally balanced party where no single individual made decisions.
“For us as a party we find that you are going to add a lot of value to our party. President Edgar Lungu was under pressure in 2015 and 2016. They wanted him to tell the Zambians his vision for the party and his vision for Zambia to which his answer was very categorical that he has no personal vision,” said Mukupa. “… this party is never run like a personal kantemba (makeshift stall). This is where leadership participates; consensus is reached at every point in order for Zambia to move forward…This is not a party that entertain phrases like Bally will fix it, no. Here it’s not Bally, here it’s the Zambian people, here it’s the Patriotic Front that will fix it.”
And PF national mobilisation vice-chairperson Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba assured Kakoma of many benefits in the ruling party.
He also challenged Chishimba Kambwili to quickly join the PF while there is space.
“…Ala PF nailowa. Boyi Kakoma kuno waisa kuno boyi, boyi ntensheko ulufumo, boyi? Walaina no kwina boyi (Surely PF has become sweet. My dear Kakoma, here where who have come, my dear, should I shake my belly? You will gain weight),” said Mwamba as PF members acknowledged with resounding laughter and clapping.
“But my brother, the President of this country, understands what it means to be a true leader. He knows that leadership is about every Zambian. The other day, what did our President do? Our President has forgiven our dear brother Kambwili. Kambwili already you are wasting time. Look at Kakoma uyu aisa; endesha boyi. Bus izulazula iwe unkala? Bus ileisula; bus yakwa Edgar Chagwa Lungu. (Look at Kakoma who has come; hurry up. The bus is getting full and you are just seated? The bus is getting full, Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s bus).”