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WELL-WISHERS DITCH PF…sometimes when you lose power even friends run away – Chama

PF deputy national chairman Davis Chama says well-wishers have run away from the party, making it difficult to hold a general conference to elect a new president.

And Chama says the PF has no preferred presidential candidate to succeed incumbent Edgar Lungu.

In an interview yesterday, Chama said most of the external support the party enjoyed while in power has disappeared after suffering defeat in the August 12, 2021 general elections.

Asked why the party could not engage partners that supported it while in power, Chama responded: “You know loyalty sometimes… ati ameno mafupa, ayi (teeth are just bones, right)? Some people will say I love you, I love you; it’s when you have the instruments of power. They will support you because you have something either to offer them in return, or they anticipate that you can support them back.”

He however, expressed hope that there could be other partners standing with the party.

“And sometimes in opposition other partners, yes, will stand with you, to support you, through and through. But also, we also have an internal support system of our members – the membership of the party. Remember we were once in opposition,” he said. “And in opposition during the reign of president Michael Sata, we organised a general conference – a successful one for that matter. When I was provincial chairman for Central Province we were in opposition in Central Province, we organised a provincial conference successfully. And when I came to Lusaka, we also successfully organised the provincial conference in Lusaka using internal resources from the members of our party.”

Chama said while well-wishers were welcome, the party depended mostly on its membership for logistical support.

He wished that resources could be available quickly so that the party could hold the general conference and choose a new president.

“So, I’m pretty sure we’ll not only depend on well-wishers. Well-wishers are obviously welcome. Former supporters are welcome, those who are still there because sometimes when you lose power even friends run away from you,” Chama added. “So, but we have a lot of other partners who are still standing with the party and our general membership can put forward resources to make sure that we successfully organise a general conference to the satisfaction of our party and following our party constitution.”

Chama explained that to organsiee a general conference, the party needs a lot of resources.

He wished that there could be a cheaper way to elect a party president as opposed to what is stipulated in the party constitution.

“We have a central committee meeting coming up this coming weekend. I hope that as soon as we put in place a number of other logistics… You know, for a convention or general conference there are a lot of things that you need to take into consideration. You need to transport delegates, it costs money – to make sure that you form a quorum and a lot of logistical arrangements that should be put in place,” he explained. “If we had a smart way or a cheaper way or an alternative route to choose a president, I would love to go through that route so that we choose a president as soon as possible. But just to organise a general conference I can tell you because we have organised one before, it takes a lot of organisation, logistics, resources to transport…because you want to bring people then people cannot even be transported properly or cannot be fed or they’ll be abandoned. You can bring people and abandon them because you don’t have the means to take them back. Then the people will rise against you again, so you would have created a problem.”

Chama called on party members to organise resources instead of just demanding a general conference so that it could be organised quickly.

“So those people who are saying, ‘no, convention, convention’, but they are not even bringing anything on the table that, ‘I’ll put forward such and such resources’. But they are just saying I want a convention, we want to go for a conference!” he said. “Demanding for the general conference is one thing, but organising for the general conference is another. Because if we put it across to those same people who are saying we want a general conference tomorrow and say okay, fine, we’ll just go for the general conference, organise it, they will be unable to organise a general conference. But if people can come forward to say we’ll put in place logistics, the financial resources, so that we can go for a general conference, it’s the desire of our party… So, it’s very easy to demand that we want a general conference, we want a general conference.”

Chama highlighted requirements in organising a general conference.

“Just to organise the districts and constituencies and the wards to come in one place to have a provincial conference it takes a lot of organisation and logistical arrangement. So, now where you’re bringing people from all over the country, and you know Zambia is a vast country and we don’t want to be seen that we left out a few people here and there,” Chama explained. “All conventions that we have organised have been properly organised and we want this convention also to be properly organised. So it will take a lot of resources to organise the convention. And many times people who ask…you know you have attended funerals before where somebody dies in Lusaka. Other members of the family will demand, no tiyeni tutwale icililo ku mushi, tufwile ukuyashika ku mushi (let’s take the body to the village, we have to bury in the village). But many people who demand that maybe he doesn’t even have one kwacha in the pocket. He doesn’t even have a vehicle. Then when you put them on the spot to say but how are we going to transport this body to go and bury in the village as per your demands then they keep quiet.”

Chama however, said the party leadership was aware of demands for a general conference and was working towards that.

“So, but you know, in society we deal with so many people. Sometimes people who have not been in leadership they have never organised anything of that magnitude, so you expect a lot of people to make such demands,” he said. “But they are right to make that demand and as a party we are cognisant of those demands of our members and we are doing everything possible to make sure that when everything is done, the general conference will be organised and the party president and the leadership of the party will be elected.”

And Chama said the party could not endorse anyone for the presidency now because that would mean dictatorship.

Asked if the central committee had endorsed Chishimba Kambwili whom many members were pitting for the presidency, Chama answered in the negative.

“The party has no preferred candidate. The party has not made a position because the party can only speak through the central committee. So, the central committee has not spoken,” he said. “Once the central committee speaks that they have received applications from people who are interested to stand, then that time you will hear the party position. For now, the party has not chosen any person at all. But individuals are expressing their freedom of expression because they are being lobbied.”

He said Kambwili was equally free to campaign because he had expressed interest.

Chama encouraged other members interested in the party presidency to also canvass for support.

“If as a party we choose one individual then we gag other people not to come forward to contest. Honourable Kambwili has just expressed interest and lobbying members to support him for the position of party president to succeed His Excellency Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu,” said Chama. “Just like when our late president Michael Sata left us, may his soul rest in peace, there were a number of people who wanted to succeed him. One amongst those was honourable Kambwili, honourable Given Lubinda, honourable [Wilbur] Simuusa, Miles Sampa, and a number of other people who were interested to stand. But finally, the party made a choice to support president Edgar Chagwa Lungu who took us to 2015 elections and again in 2016. So, the party has no position on a person that we want to succeed president Lungu. But individuals have made their own positions because people are lobbying, anyway and this is politics. So, the doors are open for those who want to be president of our party.”

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