Zambia’s ruling party squabbles send jitters

Lusaka – Zambia’s President Michael Sata has chided members of his party, the Patriotic Front (PF), who are bickering over his endorsement as sole candidate for 2016 polls. He has also called for any presidential hopeful to challenge him as a show of democracy. Barely two years after assuming office ‑ following election victory over former President Rupiah Banda ‑ President Sata’s ruling party has been engulfed by infighting and he has warned that such acts could serve as recipe for opposition to criticise.

In recent months, two camps have emerged within the rank and file of the ruling party with some endorsing President Sata as the sole candidate to re-contest the presidency while another group argues it is too early to dwell on such issues at the expense of service delivery. President Sata, however, has asked the party members to stop squabbling and has given thumbs up for those seeking to challenge him to come out in the open, as it is their human and democratic right.

Addressing a meeting with members of his Cabinet and the PF’s administrative wing, the Central Committee, in Lusaka recently, President Sata said he was saddened by the political squabbles in the party over his candidature for the 2016 general elections. He urged those who aspire for the party presidency to feel free since no one has endorsed him to warrant a secondment or endorsement. Unless the members desist from such divisive actions against one another, President Sata warned he might consider dissolving Parliament to facilitate fresh mandate from the people, if his Cabinet failed to perform.

President Sata dispelled the ongoing “endorsement” of his candidature by some members of the party, stating that he was not the sole candidate for the PF in the 2016 elections.

The President said he can only be endorsed if his name has been proposed, “If you understand English, you can only do so (endorse) when someone has proposed me but nobody has proposed me, so how do you endorse me.”

“My name had not been proposed and, therefore, I cannot be floated as the sole candidate for the 2016 general elections”. He stated that once the sole candidate calls become synonymous with the party that will breed dictatorship, which, he said, he did not seek to engage in. President Sata dispelled accusations by some opposition political parties that the PF government was bloated and tribally inclined as cheap propaganda. He noted that a number of ministers come from different ethnic backgrounds. He challenged his Cabinet ministers to work with the media and articulate government’s developmental programmes.

“The Press wants information, you should respond to them, don’t starve them, you are starving them by being quiet,” said President Sata.

Meanwhile, calls by some party cadres to have PF secretary-general Winter Kabimba hounded out of the party for allegedly undermining authority, continue. The cadres insist that Kabimba has “ulterior motives” ‑ defeating the purpose of the party in power.

The internal rift has raised concern among many economic commentators The Southern Times talked to in Lusaka, Zambia. They fear the infighting might degenerate into full blown confusion and affect economic growth as many investors are sceptical about the ongoing confusion.

September 2013
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