IN LINE with provisions of the Patriotic Front constitution, the Central Committee sat on July 22, 2017 from 09:30 hours to 19:40 hours. In line with Article 61 (c) and (d), the meeting was chaired by the party president Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu.
During the Central Committee meeting, various representations were made regarding party unity, internal democracy, channels of communication and the need for party discipline.
I wish to report to the Patriotic Front structures and membership across the country that several resolutions were arrived at in providing for continued party growth and preserving the much-cherished unity of purpose.
The Central Committee meeting received reports from the chairman, secretary general and party sub-committees as well as deliberated the minutes from the previous Central Committee meeting held on February 4, 2017.
As announced last week, Prof Nkandu Luo was appointed chairperson for Education, Science and Technology; Hon Jean Kapata was appointed chairperson for the Women’s League and Child Development, and Hon Yamfwa Mukanga was appointed chairperson for elections.
Besides these changes within the Central Committee, the following members of the party were appointed to serve as members of the Central Committee:
Christopher Yaluma MCC and chairperson, Mines and Mineral Development, Vincent Mwale M C C and chairperson Local Government and Housing, Kebby Mbewe MCC, Lawrence Evans provincial chairperson, Southern Province.
Central Committee also adopted the motion to move the date for commencement of elections for party structures in North-Western Province starting from October 1, 2017.
It also directed the secretary general to streamline communication between the party and Government and ensure party policies are implemented in line with the 2016-2021 election manifesto.
One of the major issues that emerged was the question of party wrangles in Luanshya, particularly between Mayor Nathan Chanda and Chishimba Kambwili. The Central Committee heard the report by Her Honour the Vice- President Inonge Mutukwa Wina who had been tasked to reconcile the two on February 4, 2017. It was clear that despite these efforts, reconciliation had not yielded the desired fruits.
The meeting also heard the report on the Central Committee’s resolution to drop from the structures those members who had supported independent candidates to maintain discipline in the party. It was heard that added to his decision to support an independent candidate for the position of mayor in Luanshya district, Dr Kambwili had refused to recognise party structures in Luanshya.
Extensive debate took place where all members, including Dr Kambwili and Mr Mwenya Musenge, were allowed enough time to put across their views on this matter and others which came to light.
During the Central Committee meeting, inimical activities involving Dr Kambwili and Mr Musenge came to light where they were reported to be carrying out destabilisation activities against the party, particularly in Central and Luapula provinces, including Luanshya on the copperbelt.
Following these revelations, the Central Committee resolved to reconfigure itself into a disciplinary body to hear cases against the duo in line with Article 37 of the party Constitution which states as follows:
(a) The Central Committee shall be responsible for discipline of the party members. It shall hear appeals from the appointments and disciplinary committee of the Central Committee;
(b) The Central Committee shall have power to review decisions of the appointments and Disciplinary Committee and shall have original jurisdiction”.
In other words, the party’s disciplinary committee draws its authority from Central Committee and as such the original powers to discipline lies with the Central Committee.
The Central Committee further addressed itself to the powers of the party president to discipline any member, subject to Central Committee approval.
The charges laid against the duo were supported by Article 29 (c), (d), (h), (i), (n) and (p) as follows:
Article 29. Offenses against the party shall include: –
(c). acting in the manner that is likely to bring the name of the party into ridicule or contempt or disrepute;
(d). disobeying any rule, direction, order or instruction of any organ of the party;
(h). spreading false information or rumours which tend to injure the reputation of the party or any of its officials;
(i). acting disrespectfully to the party or any of its officials at any meeting of the party;
(n). publishing or causing to be published, orally, or in writing any matter which is the opinion of the Central Committee or the National Council, is an attack on the party, or on a member or official of the party in relation to the discharge of his functions as a member or official of the party.
(p). committing any act, which in the opinion of the Central Committee is not in the interest of the party.
In addition to these party destabilisation reports, Dr Kambwili was in receipt of two letters of reprimand over his indiscipline in the party. The first letter was written to him by former secretary general Davies Chama, now Minister of Defence and the second one was authored by myself following his activities in Luanshya.
During the hearing, evidence was put to both Hon Kambwili and Hon Musenge and both failed to defend themselves. When he was given an opportunity to further exculpate himself, Hon Kambwili admitted that a former minister who was an MP from Muchinga Province proposed to him to form a splinter party to undermine PF. He claimed he declined the idea but this was only after he was challenged to deny whether a meeting took place at his home comprising himself, Hon Musenge and three other former MPs. His response was: “I was sick and they came to see me and one of them proposed that idea but I refused.”
Another report raised by Hon Nickson Chilangwa, Luapula Province Minister, showed that Kambwili went to three places and distributed money and criticised the party as failing. Further the meeting heard that Hon Musenge went into Luapula Province allegedly carrying K110, 000 given to him by Hon Kambwili to destabilise the party and had just returned from the province less than 24 hours before the Central Committee meeting. He could not deny the charges either. He accepted visiting chiefs but denied the money issue.
Dr Kambwili made matters worse for himself when he stormed out of the MCC meeting shortly after it resolved to reconstitute itself into a disciplinary committee to consider the charges against the duo.
Let me inform the public that in line with PF’s internal democracy, the duo was provided with an opportunity to exculpate themselves during the meeting and could not deny the allegations laid against them.
While the meeting was sitting, Hon Kambwili stormed out of the meeting, walking out on the President and the entire Central Committee in a clear effort to save his ego – a fact he confirmed in his interview to News Diggers.
This was ultimate contempt by the party president and the entire Central Committee!
At this point, the Central Committee once again deliberated extensively and, regrettably, a decisive action to expel Hon Kambwili from the party was taken to send a strong message of discipline in the Party. The extent of misconduct and other destabilisation activities sponsored by Hon Kambwili had reached intolerable levels and posed a danger to internal party cohesion.
Dr Musenge was also facing other sanctions following his appearance before the party’s disciplinary committee chaired by Dr. Ngosa Simbyakula on May 18, 2017 which had recommended as follows:
“…That Hon Musenge must be disciplined in accordance with Article 19(d) and 19 (f) of the party constitution.
Article 19 (d) provides for “suspension from office or function in the party”. The Committee recommends indefinite suspension.
Article 19 (f) provides for the “suspension from membership of the party”. The Committee recommends indefinite suspension.
In addition, the Central Committee may impose any other sanction it may deem fit”.
This was before being jointly charged with Hon Kambwili under Article 29 (c), (d), (h), (i), (n) and (p). After extensive debate, a Central Committee decision was reached to expel Hon Musenge from the party.
Lastly, let me warn the membership that the party will not take to any forms of indiscipline. On this score, I am directing all party structures and members to watch out for those sowing seeds of discord in the party and ensure they are exposed. To those whose allegiance lies with the expelled duo, I am reminded of a portion of scripture in the Bible.
1 Kings 18:21 – Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
I wish to pose the same question to you. How long will you waver between two opinions? If the expelled duo be your leaders, follow them. If indeed you are PF, stay committed and defend the party interests.
The PF will not tolerate any form of indiscipline and no one is untouchable when it comes to protecting the interests of the party.
Let me also announce to the nation that the Central Committee adopted the motion to have President Lungu as the party’s preferred candidate subject to approval by the 2020 general conference.
The Central Committee believes this measure was important in consolidating the party’s unity of purpose.
The author is Patriotic Front secretary general.