Friday, August 29, 2008

Tempers fly over Levy's succession in Solwezi

Tempers fly over Levy's succession in Solwezi
By Mulimbi Mulaliki, Mwila Chansa, Kelvin Tembo and Maluba Jere
Friday August 29, 2008 [04:00]

THERE was a near punch-up in Solwezi on Wednesday as MMD senior members and ministers from North-Western Province openly differed over endorsing Vice-President Rupiah Banda and finance minister Ng'andu Magande as candidates for the presidential by-election.

During a meeting called for the party in the province to come up with a candidate they would recommend to the national executive committee (NEC) to consider as a preferred candidate, senior party officials from Mwinilunga and Kasempa rejected the endorsement of Vice-President Banda, arguing that he was not capable of succeeding President Mwanawasa.

The members from Mwinilunga, led by provincial chairperson, Harrison Kamuna, walked out of the hall and started to harass provincial executive committee officials for not allowing the party to debate and evaluate candidates who had filed in their nominations.
Senior party officials had endorsed the candidature of Vice-President Banda, who is also acting President, for the presidential by-election but the members from Mwinilunga and Kasempa floated Magande's name arguing that he had managerial skills as exhibited in the way he had managed the economy.

"You can't call us here to come and rubber-stamp your decision, we are not going to accept to support Vice-President Banda. What we need is a manager who can continue with the programmes of development," said Kamuna. "You are being undemocratic, you cannot force us to support a candidate who we know would be difficult to market to the electorate just because you want to safeguard your jobs.
Another official from Mwinilunga said Magande has worked with three different vice-presidents and understands the economy of our country very well.

"We in our constituencies will campaign for Magande," the official said.
And MMD NEC members, who also attended the meeting, endorsed the candidature of Vice-President Banda saying he was mature and had the experience required for maintaining unity and harmony in the party for the forthcoming presidential by-election.

The ministers, deputies, members of parliament, provincial executive committee members and district chairpersons from Solwezi, Kabompo, Mufumbwe, Zambezi and Chavuma resolved that Vice-President Banda be given chance to lead the nation for the next three years.

Among the ministers that signed the resolution paper were Kenneth Konga (energy) Sarah Sayifwanda (agriculture), Ronald Mukuma (labour), and deputy ministers Benny Tetamashimba (local government), Daniel Kalenga (agriculture), Grace Njapau and Misheck Bonshe (home affairs), Richard Taima (sport, youth and child development), Kenneth Chipungu (provincial minister) and Humphrey Mwanza deputy chief whip and provincial chairman James Katoka.
Meanwhile, chief Nsamba of Samfya in Luapula Province advised the MMD not to spark division in their quest to find a successor for late President Mwanawasa.

Chief Nsamba said chiefs in the district had endorsed acting President Rupiah Banda as the right candidate to succeed President Mwanawasa.

Alliance for Zambia Informal Economy Associations (AZIEA) general secretary Lameck Kashiwa stated that the MMD should have a broader picture of succession and not only limit it to maintaining power at all costs.

He stated that there was need for the ruling party to tone down on what he termed antagonistic language about succession as this was destroying the current mourning mood in the country.

Meanwhile, Northern Province minister Lameck Chibombamilimo said Vice-President Banda was in for a rude shock if he was expecting votes from his province.

Chibombamilimo said the same people claiming to support the Vice-President were also supporting Willa Mung'omba.

"People in my province shocked Lupando Mwape, so if the Veep is counting on votes from there, he is in for a rude shock," he said.
Chibombamilimo said Vice-President Banda should not expect hundred per cent votes from Northern Province.

But Mbala member of parliament Gaston Sichilima said he and the people of Northern Province, would support Vice-President Banda's candidature.

Sichilima, who is also MMD Northern Province vice-chairperson, advised other presidential aspirants to withdraw from the race and instead rally behind Acting President Banda, saying it was the only way of ensuring continuity in the programmes embarked on by late President Mwanawasa.

Sichilima said the aspirants needed to be sincere and genuine, adding that the matter of succession should not be trivialised.
"Some of these people who are applying today left the MMD and went and stood as independents, so now they think it is sangwapo. I think these will only disturb government's programmes so I would like to urge the other aspirants to just rally behind Rupiah Banda so he can carry President Mwanawasa's vision forward," said Sichilima.

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