27 August 2008

Zambia: Four File for Presidency

VICE-President, Rupiah Banda is among four prominent MMD members who have applied to stand on the party ticket to be floated for the Republican presidency for the forthcoming by-election.

Others are former vice-president, Enoch Kavindele, former Works and Supply minister, Ludwig Sondashi and Finance Minister, Ng'andu Magande.

MMD spokesperson, Bennie Tetamashimba said in a telephone interview that Mr Banda handed in his application yesterday but could not give further details.

"I can confirm that Mr Banda has filed his application. I am happy that Dr Katele Kalumba and Mr Michael Mabenga have not filed because this will enhance unity in the party," Mr Tetamashimba said.

And veteran politician and former Information and Broadcasting Services minister Vernon Mwaanga has thrown his weight behind Vice-President Rupiah Banda whom he says is the best candidate to represent the MMD during the forth-coming presidential by elections.

Mr Mwaanga who was found at the MMD secretariat in Lusaka yesterday said the MMD should support Mr Banda so that the country could move forward in a stable manner.

Mr Mwaanga said the late Dr Mwanawasa's vision should be carried forward and the only suitable person to do so at the moment was Mr Banda.

"I am giving my full support to the vice president. He is the right candidate and choice of the people," he said in an interview.

He advised the national executive committee (NEC) of MMD to endorse the candidature of Mr Banda who was appointed by the late President Mwanawasa.

"He has the experience and maturity and he has the acceptability of the people," he said.

Mr Kavindele who personally handed in his application at the party's secretariat in Lusaka said he was the best candidate because he had no problems with people at the grassroots, who also knew his capabilities.

"I do have considerable political experience dating back to the time I served as member of the central committee in the UNIP Government whilst also participating in several committees.

"The political positions I have held have exposed me to the breadth and width of the country. Other than that, I am able to communicate with the grassroots in vernacular quite easily in any part of the country as I speak 29 Zambian languages," he said.

The MMD in Eastern Province has also called for the adoption of acting President, Rupiah Banda as the party presidential candidate.

Eastern Province MMD NEC members, the provincial executive committee (PEC), district and constituency committees as well as members of Parliament (MPs) said this is a statement issued in Chipata yesterday.

The statement was signed by all the 15 MMD MPs, five NEC members and 12 PEC members as well as district and constituency officials from the province.

In a related development MMD founder member, Mbita Chitala said Mr Banda was the best person to take over from the late Dr Mwanawasa for the remaining three years.

Mr Chitala said during a live Muvi Television programme, 'The matter at hand', on Monday evening that Mr Banda was the only one who would ensure smooth transition from the current situation to 2011 because there would be continuity.

Mr Chitala said most of his colleagues in the party's NEC shared his views on who should be president for the next three years.

Prominent Kitwe lawyer William Nyirenda and chief Mwanachingwala of Southern Province have also supported Mr Banda's candidature.

Mr Kavindele said upon the retirement of party president Frederick Chiluba, whom he served as vice president, he refused to assume the position of president to give way to the late Dr Mwanawasa to harmonise the party and the Republican presidency.

Mr Kavindele said, in trying to uphold the late President's vision for economic emancipation of the people and his crusade against corruption, he would establish a commission of inquiry into the disposal of major assets.

He said he was also aware of the precarious financial position of the party and when elected to represent the MMD as its presidential candidate, he intends to contribute to the funding of the election campaign.

Dr Sondashi said he submitted his application yesterday for the NEC to consider his adoption as a party candidate in the forthcoming presidential by-election.

In his application letter, Dr Sondashi said as one of the founding MMD members, he had been continuously in the party for more than three years.

Dr Sondashi hoped that the election of the candidate to stand on the ruling party ticket would be held through a secret ballot to ensure fair play.

"My interpretation is that whether the NEC decides to fill a casual vacancy of the president of the Republic only or president of the party, secret voting should be the preferred mode of voting," he said.

Meanwhile, Southern Province Minister, Daniel Munkombwe has advised the MMD to choose its presidential candidate at a one-day convention, instead of doing so at a NEC meeting, to give people an opportunity to decide.

Speaking in an interview in Livingstone, Mr Munkombwe said picking a presidential candidate at a convention would make the person more acceptable to the people than at a NEC meeting, because the latter would be closed and attended by fewer members.

Mr Munkombwe observed that the MMD almost lost the December 2001 tripartite elections to the United Party for National Development (UPND) because its candidate, President Mwanawasa, was picked at a NEC meeting.

"In 2001, Mazoka almost trounced us because the MMD candidate was more like handpicked, so let them hold even a one-day convention to elect the presidential candidate and allow the people decide," he said.

The veteran politician said he had no preferred candidate, but would support whoever the party would pick to run for the presidency on behalf of the party.

But Mr Tetamashimba said the party would not divert from the selection of the presidential candidate through the NEC because the organ had power to make decisions for the convention.

"This has happened in the past when the NEC elected Dr Mwanawasa as presidential candidate because the party president, Dr Chiluba was not eligible," Mr Tetamashimba said.

MMD national chairman, Michael Mabenga called on all party members to support whichever candidate would be chosen by the party.

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