KABANDA CHULU, Lusaka
SEVENTY Patriotic Front (PF) members of Parliament (MPs), who include some Cabinet ministers, insist that the ruling partyâ€™s central committee abides by its decision to adopt Mr Edgar Lungu as the partyâ€™s presidential candidate.
They accused acting President Guy Scott of making unilateral decisions on matters affecting the ruling party.Â But Dr Scott says the MPs demanding that the PF Central Committee adopts a presidential candidate cannot be taken seriously because there is no such provision in the PF constitution.
He has, however, said his doors are always open for discussion.
The MPs, who petitioned the Central Committee to adopt PF secretary-general Lungu as presidential candidate, insist that PF has no money to hold an extraordinary general conference.
The 70 MPs have threatened to boycott the 2015 national budget debates in the House and request the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly to suspend their respective K3,000 monthly contributions to the PF.
Speaking at a media briefing on behalf of the 70 MPs, Lupososhi MP Bwalya Chungu said they are dismayed that a fresh Central Committee meeting has been called today to discuss a matter that was resolved.
â€œWe appeal to the Central Committee to abide by its own decision when we petitioned them and they proceeded to adopt Mr Lungu as PF candidate,â€ he said.
Mr Chungu said the issuing of a notice for a general conference and the receiving of nominations is the function of the secretary-general.
He also said that â€œthe PF constitution states that the Central Committee has powers to summon regular or extraordinary meetings.â€
Mpulungu MP Freedom Sikazwe said the PF has no money to hold a general conference while his Kanyama counterpart Gerry Chanda said K3 billion is needed to hold the general conference.
Mfuwe MP Mwimba Malama said the MPs will boycott national budget debates if pushed against the wall.
Nominated MP Panji Kaunda advised people to stay calm while MPs handle the matter on their behalf.
â€œIf they wonâ€™t listen to our wishes, we shall ask the Clerk to suspend MPsâ€™ K3,000 monthly contribution until this confusion is over.Â Then we shall give money to the party,â€ he said.
But Dr Scott said the MPs should use right channels to air grievances.
â€œThey are saying, I am not consulting them, are they consulting me? Do they want me to kneel down before them? I am acting President with full powers only that I canâ€™t dismiss anybody. Are they finding difficulties in seeing me?
â€œMy door is open, have they made appointments which have not been fulfilled? When we had that issue of removing Edgar (PF secretary-general Edgar Lungu) as SG, I met some of them and we reached a compromise.Â So why canâ€™t they approach me if they want something to be done?â€ Dr Scott said.
He added: â€œActually, they canâ€™t be taken seriously because what they want is not provided for in the constitution and some are UPND and MMD MPs,â€ he said.
Dr Scott urged the MPs to indicate their substantive problem.
â€œWhether I receive nominations or not, it is just a technicality.Â The SG is an agent of the President. It will be very childish for them to suspend their contributions and boycott budget debates.Â Why do they want to destroy their party when elections are about to take place?
â€œWhy do they want to cripple their Government, if they have problems?Â Let them see me with umu chinshi (respect) saying `Mr President, we want to discuss this or that itemâ€™ and the meeting will take place,â€ he said.
Dr Scott explained that he was following article 61 of the PF constitution.
â€œThis article states that President shall be principal spokesperson, create offices, convene national council and preside over it, exercise discretion on items to be discussed, appoint SG of the party, among other things, so which powers am I using unilaterally since these are provided for,â€ Dr Scott said.
KABANDA CHULU, Lusaka