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I opposed Lungu’s heavy handed approach – Amos

AMOS Chanda says there is no rebranding taking place in the PF.

Chanda is a former press aide to former president Edgar Lungu.

He featured on Prime TV’s Oxygen of Democracy programme on Monday night.

He was asked if he is a member of the PF now.

“Yes, I’m a member who is on sabbatical. [But] I have fundamental problems with power transition,” Chanda said. “I come from an orientation where on election night, if you have lost elections, as you concede you should probably be saying bye to the party leadership.”

He said PF supporters are yearning for a quick change of leadership in the former ruling party.

“I must respect the decision of the central committee. If you are a member, you must be able to respect collective decisions made by the party leadership. But I do not agree…” he said. “The sentiments I’m getting from the people; I was calling people in Chinsali, Chingola – these are areas where I have an interest – I have not gotten anywhere where the grassroots are endorsing the decision of the central committee to wait for power transfer from president Lungu to another up to June [next year]. People are yearning for a quick power transfer so that the party begins to fashion itself around a new leader.”

Chanda emphasised that under the current circumstances of the PF, “I’m sabbatical.”

“I’m very clear about what I think. The party does know that the current leader (Lungu) is outgoing. The energy they are putting in is also conditional to the outgoing status of president Lungu,” Chanda said. “But I’m conscious of the fact that a decision was made by the central committee. So, I will respect that. But that does not mean that on the grassroots that’s what…”

He added that the members of the central committee must listen more.

“The decision-making process going on within the echelons of power of the PF is the same method leading up to August 12. So, if that method failed, they must be a change of course. I’m not seeing a change of course!” he noted.

Asked to comment on the so-called PF rebranding and what advice he had for the PF leadership, Chanda said: “I would tell them to democratise.”

“I would tell them to depart from a central committee that is appointed by one person. I know that the UPND has gone that way where you elect a pool and the president assigns [responsibilities]. Yea, that’s what the Labour Party in England does, that’s what the Conservatives do,” Chanda explained. “But the ANC model where the top six are elected at the conference is what I would be telling the central committee of the PF…”

Chanda stressed that rebranding is not just about making statements.

“There has to be a fundamental departure from things that don’t work. The central committee must change, the constitution of the PF must change,” Chanda said. “Rebranding is not just talk. There is no rebranding taking place in the PF. It’s the same PF that lost elections on August 12 and could lose again in the current state it is.”

Chanda also said Lungu is gone, “whether people love him or not.”

“It’s just a matter of time [before he leaves the PF presidency]. In the current state that the PF is, it does not have a leadership that can start to plan for 2026,” he said. “So, to be part of a process like that is a waste of time.”

Asked what advice he offered to the presidency and how Lungu reacted, Chanda replied: “many things!”

“Four and half years is a long time. I can’t remember everything. But I can tell you that I opposed the liquidation of KCM and supported a business rescue management or receivership,” he said. “I opposed heavy-handed approach to dealing with opposition politicians. This was in front of three, four, five other [presidential] advisors.”

He added that he was very opposed to the militarisation of politics – “the senseless polarisation where difference of opinion was criminalised.”

“You saw the escalation and the transfer of illegitimate power from institutions of the State to the so-called cadres. I think with the wisdom of hindsight, the president, once he had lost power, said he advised the new President to take note of that. I think you heard president Lungu say that,” Chanda noted. “So, I was opposed to placing power in these thugs in bus stops, markets. I did not think that the differences of opinion must be criminalised. There was a general view, among many, that difference of opinion meant black and white.”

Chanda continued, saying: “[but] I did not believe in black and white. I knew that there were sheds of grey within the political spectrum.”

“That politics was not a competition for ultimate victory! That opposition politics was just for the sake of it! I believed even in what they say a loyal opposition,” Chanda claimed. “But a loyal opposition will only exist when sufficient space is given. I did not believe that power should be pursued for the sake of it.”

He added that he believed in a small government but a big society, with liberal minds and a free market.

Chanda, however, noted that he began to see a departure from some of the things he was brought into politics for.

He said he began to see president Michael Sata’s legacy completely trashed.

Meanwhile, Chanda indicated that he does not believe in the creation of a national airline because: “I have a premonition it will fail.”

“The new government has announced [that] it will come on board on December 1. If it succeeds, I’ll be happy. [But] I’m doubtful it will,” said Chanda.

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