Friday, September 12, 2008

Rupiah Banda is still our member - UNIP

Rupiah Banda is still our member - UNIP
By Patson Chilemba in Lusaka, Mutuna Chanda and Zumani Katasefa
Friday September 12, 2008 [04:00]

OPPOSITION UNIP deputy secretary general Reverend Alfred Banda yesterday said Vice-President Rupiah Banda has not officially resigned from the former ruling party. And Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata has said Vice-President Banda does not have the vision to move the nation forward because he has surrounded himself with people who were either rejected or fired by late president Levy Mwanawasa.

But Vice-President Banda hoped that Sata would go to sleep in the campaigns for the presidency to enable him to have a field day. In an interview, Rev Banda said he was not aware that Vice-President Banda had resigned from UNIP.

"According to my knowledge, there has been no official communication that he has resigned from UNIP. I will be talking to Mr Anamela and Mr Tilyenji Kaunda just to get the details. What we just saw during the 2006 general elections was him on the campaign platforms with MMD but there is no official communication that he has resigned from UNIP," said Rev Banda.

However, Rev Banda could not explain why Vice-President Banda campaigned for MMD, saying at that time, UNIP was involved with the United Democratic Alliance.

And a long serving member of UNIP in Siavonga district has claimed that Vice-President Banda was still an active member of UNIP because he had not yet handed his resignation letter to the party.

Siavonga district UNIP chairman Charles Sikwama said in an interview that despite being adopted as MMD candidate in the October 30 presidential by-election, UNIP still considered Vice-President Banda one of its full time members.

Sikwama, who has been a UNIP member since 1959, said at no time did his party receive a resignation letter from Vice-President Banda from the time he was handpicked by president Mwanawasa to serve as Zambia's Vice-President. Sikwama, who wondered what criteria that the MMD's National Executive Committee (NEC) used to adopt a candidate who is not their member, has challenged Vice-President Banda to prove to the nation when he resigned from UNIP to join the ruling MMD.

Sikwama cautioned MMD members not to be excited with the adoption of Vice-President Banda in the forthcoming by-election and convince themselves that they would easily win the elections. He said it was too early for MMD to predict its triumph because opposition parties also have strongholds where they would receive massive support from their members.

Sikwama said it was sad that the NEC adopted Vice-President Banda, leaving out other candidates with good leadership qualities as well as proven track records.

But information minister Mike Mulongoti said Vice-President Banda was not under obligation to officially announce his resignation from UNIP.

"What official communication do they want? If you see your member active in another party, is it not an indication that that member has left?" Mulongoti asked. "I told you that we were all UNIP before multi-party. How many of us wrote letters that we have resigned?"

And featuring on Yatsani Radio yesterday in Lusaka, Sata said it was a lie for Vice-President Banda to pledge that he would continue with late president Mwanawasa's programmes. He said Vice-President Banda had already shown strong indications that he had no intention of building on president Mwanawasa's legacy by engaging people the late president fired such as Vernon Mwaanga, Mbita Chitala and George Chulumanda.

Sata wondered what vice-President Banda would achieve at national level which he had failed to fulfill in various government positions he had served in the past.

"Rupiah Banda has never resigned from UNIP. Levy Mwanawasa was MMD and moved according to MMD manifesto. How can Rupiah advance president Mwanawasa's vision when he is UNIP?" Sata asked. "So when you talk of vision, what vision are you talking about? Levy was not greedy. He opposed hefty salary and allowance increments for government officials."

Sata said unlike president Mwanawasa who promoted local and foreign investment, some individuals in Vice-President Banda's camp wanted to suppress Zambian Airways.

"Magande finance minister has exempted Albidon from paying taxes fuel taxes," Sata said. "Why don't you extend the same concession to Zambian Airways because Zambian Airways has provided dignity to Zambia?"

Sata further charged that Vice-President Banda deliberately directed a reduction in fuel prices to win people's support in view of the forthcoming presidential election.

"And Rupiah Banda has already instructed defence and security chiefs to upgrade all salaries for the soldiers, policemen, office of the President, ZNS and Air Force. That is corruption," said Sata.

On the electoral pact between PF and UPND, Sata said there should be honesty.

"If we are going to have a pact and my friend has put posters, what will be in the pact? So what is he expecting in the pact?" Sata asked. "Comrade Hichilema is not picking up the phone to call me. The proposal for a pact came from me."

And commenting on campaigns for late president Mwanawasa's successor, Vice-President Banda said he wished Sata good luck in his bid for the presidency.

"I hope that he (Sata) will sleep so that I can have a field day," Vice-President Banda said. "He has said all sorts of things that 'I will be easy to defeat and that he'll whack me'; I wish him all the best."

And Vice-President Banda dismissed Sata's allegation that he was a tribalist.

"I am sure that he was just joking," he said. "He knows that I am not tribal."

Initially, when approached for comment over Sata's remarks, Vice-President Banda said: "Please, keep quiet so that we can hear the questions from The Post. The Post wants to ask Judas Iscariot some questions."

The people present just laughed. This was after Vice-President Banda officiated at a function where Konkola Copper Mines and Football Association of Zambia signed a memorandum of understanding guaranteeing payment of salaries to national soccer team expatriate coaches Herve Rernard and Patrice Beaumelle.

And speaking when he addressed MMD cadres at Kasompe Airstrip shortly before departure for Lusaka, Vice-President Banda accused those who were attacking him of looking for agenda items.

"I know the reason they are attacking me is to provoke me so that when I react then they make that an issue," he said.
However, Vice-President Banda said Zambians wanted to hear matters that affected their welfare.

"Everywhere you go to in our country, you can point to programmes that we have embarked on...people want to hear issues to do with their roads, jobs and their wellbeing," Vice-President Banda said. "Let others concentrate on quarrels.

Zambians are beyond divisive issues. They want to carry on with unity and building of the nation like the Chinese and Indians work hard like ants to build the country."
Vice-President Banda said he offered mature and humane leadership which was not bent on finding faults.

"We are human and if we look for faults, we will find them. If you look for good, you will also find it," Vice-President Banda said.
He said Zambians were one irrespective of where they hailed from and that people should concentrate on what united them. He said the MMD was fighting to retain what had already been granted to them by Zambians.

"We have to fight relentlessly," said Vice-President Banda, who left Chingola at Kasompe Airstrip aboard a Zambia Air Force (ZAF) plane at 09:58 hours.

On Wednesday night, Vice-President Banda addressed Copperbelt MMD members and urged them to be united and ensure he won the October 30 presidential by-election. He commended them for overwhelmingly supporting his adoption as MMD presidential candidate.

And in a separate interview, MMD deputy national secretary Jeff Kaande said come November 1, Vice-President Banda would be sworn-in as Zambia's fourth President.

"The campaigns will officially start after the filing of the nominations," said Kaande. "All that is happening now is sampling. From the feedback we are getting, I have no doubt that Rupiah Bwezani Banda will be sworn in as the fourth President of Zambia."
Kande said this time around, the opposition PF would not have it easy on the Copperbelt.

"PF is no longer an issue here. This time round, we are going to get more votes on the Copperbelt than PF," said Kaande.

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