Monday, July 08, 2013

MMD just have to excuse me - Evelyn
By Allan Mulenga, Misheck Wangwe and Abigail Chaponda
Thu 04 July 2013, 14:01 CAT

MMD candidate for Kafulafuta constituency Evelyn Mwanawasa has withdrawn her participation in the by-election scheduled for July 25, saying the MMD forced her.

And family spokesperson Gladys Lundwe yesterday confirmed that Evelyn had been admitted to Ndola Central Hospital due to severe high blood pressure.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Mufunga, who was the MMD aspiring candidate for the forthcoming Solwezi East parliamentary by-election has defected from the party to join the PF.

In an interview from her hospital bed yesterday, Evelyn said she had asked the party leadership to be excused on account of ill-health.
"They the MMD have to excuse me. It is my health. I was not willing to participate in the by-election. They just forced me. I didn't even apply to contest. I never even lodged in an application. I feel very weak, I cannot comment on this further," said Evelyn.

And Lundwe, who is also former Masaiti member of parliament and lands minister, said the family had decided that Evelyn withdraws her nomination for the by-election.

"Evelyn Mwanawasa has been admitted to Ndola Central Hospital, early this morning yesterday actually due to severe high blood pressure. We have discussed here that she withdraws before she goes for those hectic campaigns," she said.

"The family has got history of high blood pressure which has claimed not only the late Levy Mwanawasa, but even the sister. This has brought fear among family members that she is the surviving one."

Lundwe explained that the family was concerned about Evelyn's health.

"Politics will always be there and life is more important. She is ready to withdraw in the by-election. She is the one looking after the uncle and the aunt who also have stroke. The aunt is actually bedridden imagine if she was also in the similar situation what would happen," said Lundwe.

And sources within the Mwanawasa family have revealed that they disapproved Evelyn's decision to contest the Kafulafuta by-election on the MMD's ticket.

Family members said the Mwanawasa family had a meeting where they all disapproved Evelyn's involvement with the MMD.

"In the family meeting we all agreed that we are going to support the PF government. We even pressured ba Eva and demanded to know why she decided to involve herself with the MMD when the whole family is now supporting the PF government because we are happy with their policies. We were disappointed and told her to withdraw. We told her if she did not withdraw, she was on her own without the Mwanawasa family's support," said the source.

The source said because of the pressure Evelyn received from her family, she developed high blood pressure and was rushed to the hospital to seek medical attention.

And Masaiti council returning officer Darwin Chila said once the nomination goes through, candidates could not be replaced.

"We had meetings with candidates and we explained to them that if they wanted to withdraw from the race, they should do it the same day of the nomination before 15:00 hours. If the candidate has withdrawn, nothing can be done but the name will still appeal on the ballot papers," he said.

And Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) director Priscilla Isaac said despite Evelyn's withdrawal, the by-election would go ahead as scheduled.

Isaac explained that the by-election can only be cancelled in the event of the death of participating candidates.

"The by-election will continue because it is not death. We only consider changing the dates in the case of death of any candidate.
Withdrawal should be done before the filing in of nomination papers which was done last week Thursday. It is too late for her to do that," she said.

Isaac said the MMD would not be allowed to replace the candidate who has withdrawn.

"There is no replacement. It should be done on the day of nomination. Anyway, I have not received official correspondence from the MMD," said Isaac.

But when contacted, MMD chairperson for elections Kenneth Chipungu declined to comment on the matter.

Four candidates successfully filed their nomination papers for the Kafulafuta by-election. These include; Evelyn, NAREP's Jimmy Kasabwa, UPND's Brian Chitafu and PF's James Chishiba.
Meanwhile, the MMD candidate for Solwezi East has resigned to join PF.
Confusion marred the MMD camp during the filling of nominations in Solwezi East last week with its aspiring candidate Mufunga threatening to ditch the part for the PF after he was told to withdraw from the race by MMD leader Nevers Mumba and other senior party officials.

In an interview yesterday after his decision to leave the MMD, Mufunga who was well-known for his translations at Rupiah Banda's rallies including the late president Levy Mwanawasa in North Western Province, said after deep reflection on what transpired on June 27 when he was directed to withdraw from the race at the 11th hour, he had decided to defect and join the PF.

He said he was extremely shocked that despite his adequate preparations for the filing of his nominations and the money he spent on campaigns and mobilisations, the MMD traded the seat with the UPND.

Mufunga said Mumba's leadership had literally leased the MMD to the UPND without considering the interests of the general membership of the former ruling party.

He said the MMD was heading for doom and there was no reason for him to stay in a party that had already been destroyed.

"I even announced this at a rally that was addressed by Gabriel Namulambe who is the campaign manager for the Solwezi East parliamentary by-election and I have in fact joined the campaign team for the PF candidate Peter Ilunga together with all my supporters. We can't have a party full of confusion in the name of the MMD and expect to win elections. That party has been destroyed and it has no value for Zambians," he said.

Mufunga said Zambians would not trust Mumba or UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema because there was a lot of crookedness in the manner the MMD and its ally the UPND were handling politics in the country.

He said his decision to join the PF was because of its undoubted commitment to uplifting the living standards of Zambians.

"Even if they have formed the so-called alliance, do you think Zambians will trust the MMD or the UPND? Never! The mistrust between the two parties can be seen from a very long distance even by the people in rural areas. Knowing Hichilema, he will never leave anything for anyone. His ultimate goal is to be in State House although it will not happen and Nevers Mumba is just being used. I decided to leave the MMD because they've destroyed the party. My family was hurt with the manner the party treated me by ordering me to withdraw form that the race," said Mufunga.

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