By Ulande Nkomesha,
GIVEN Lubinda says although he has assumed the position of acting president of the Patriotic Front, former president Edgar Lungu still remains substantive president of the party in accordance with the Constitution.
And Lubinda says the PF is confident of scooping the Kabwata by election as he described the loss of the seat during the August General as a “fluke”.
Speaking to journalists, Monday, Lubinda said although Lungu had taken a rest from politics, the party constitution allowed him to be party president until a new leader of the party is elected.
“I have been acting president for the Patriotic Front ever since September 2021. President Edgar Lungu wrote a letter to the Secretary to Cabinet in September 2021, there is nothing new about this position. President Lungu in September 2021 wrote a letter to the Secretary to Cabinet saying that he was taking a back seat in the running of the party and he was doing that simply to fulfill the requirement of the party constitution.
He is supposed to hand over the office of president of the PF to a person we shall be electing at the next conference of the party. He made that clear already in September, I wonder why the announcement made yesterday by secretary general that the acting president was chairing the meeting has excited people,” he said.
“Why are people excited about this? This has been known ever since September, president Edgar Lungu stepped down from active politics in September 2021, long before people started talking about his position, he himself voluntarily stepped aside and he is just holding that position because the constitution does not allow him to abdicate.
He cannot just abandon the ship mid way and say navileka (I have stopped), no he has to hold the office until the next conference. In the meantime the party cannot remain headless, this is the reason why using the constitution article 54 the vice president acts in the position of president. I am substantially vice president of the party, but because president Edgar Lungu has taken a backseat, I am acting president.
I am not the president designate, no! I am acting president, there is a big distinction between me stepping in the shoes of president Edgar Lungu, I don’t have the mandate, no one has the mandate to step in the position of president before an election. The person who will step into the shoes of president of the party shall be elected at the next general conference.”
He said the fact that people were talking about the succession issued in PF was a sign that the party remained popular.
“Those who are giving themselves the opportunity to show us that they are very interested in the affairs of the Patriotic Front, we say to them well done because now you are just confirming what we have been saying all the time that even you surrogates of UPND, you know that the Patriotic Front is a strong party.
You are saying this is a dead party, how come today you are interested in who is acting president for a quote. They are even trying to interpret our constitution, what manner of cheekiness is that? They must leave the matter of the political party called PF to members of the Patriotic Front,” Lubinda said.
“They must not confuse themselves with provisions of article 53 which says in the event of the removal of the president, the secretary general acts, the president has not been removed. The applicable article here is article 54, president Edgar Chagwa Lungu is still president of the Patriotic Front albeit taking a back seat because the constitution does not allow him to abdicate. Because he has taken a back seat, article 54 triggers in and mandates the vice president to act as president, it does not mandate the acting secretary general not at all.”
And Lubinda said the party’s loss in Kabwata during the August elections was a fluke.
“We are very confident that the people of Kabwata shall hand back the authority to represent them to the Patriotic Front. We believe that our loss in Kabwata was just a fluke like the loss nationwide, because nobody in Kabwata ever saw UPND campaigning, there was not a single poster of the late Levy Mkandawire and not a single person was visited by UPND.
So the vote in Kabwata really was just a vote against the Patriotic Front and not in favour of the UPND. This time we are not living any stone unturned, we shall make sure that we run that campaign smoothly. We are only appealing to all members of the Patriotic Front to go into this campaign peacefully, we do not want any cases of violence, any cases of abuse, any cases of insults,” said Lubinda.
“The people of Kabwata Constituency whom I have been very humbled to represent for 20 years are people I know as being extremely sensitive to violence and people who do not condone any acts that are inimical to the interests of society.
So I would like to appeal to all of us in the Patriotic Front to go into Kabwata in a very organised manner. I have been made aware of threats that have already been issued against us, some people have told us that they know that we are organising, we are grouping ourselves, because of that they are going to effect citizen arrest. As far as we are concerned that is provocation of violence.
Members of the Patriotic Front, be weary of such threats, don’t be intimidated and when you hear people threaten you like that, it means that they have already lost. Let us ensure that we restore our honour and dignity for being what we were created to be, a people based, people driven political party.”