KELVIN CHONGO & STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Sataâ€™s widow Christine Kaseba has joined the race for the Patriotic Front (PF) presidency and will come up against nine other candidates who have filed their nomination papers for adoption.
Others in the contest for the party presidency are Minister of Justice and Defence Edgar Lungu, who relinquished the position of party secretary general; Kabwata MP Given Lubinda; Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Robert Sichinga; Kasama MP Geoffrey Mwamba; Deputy minister of Commerce Miles Sampa; Lusaka mayor Mulenga Sata; Minister of Youth and Sport Chishimba Kambwili; Agriculture Minister Wylbur Simuusa and former High Commissioner to Nigeria Selemani Banda Phangula.
Dr Kaseba filed her nomination papers around 12:00 hours yesterday before Acting President Guy Scott to seek adoption as PF president for the forthcoming presidential elections slated for January 20 next year.
â€œSince the death of my husband, the late President Sata, I have watched with pain the unfolding events and divisions within the party,â€ she said.
Dr Kaseba said people are concerned with the acrimony and at times shameful violence that have characterised the partyâ€™s attempt to find a successor to the late president.
â€œI have been approached by women and men from all walks of life, from PF as well as citizens concerned for peace and development to offer myself to lead our party as president for the rest of the presidential five-year term of office to 2016,â€ she said.
Dr Kaseba said there is no one who knows better than her the sacrifices and struggles President Sata made to build PF and serve the country.
And Mr Lungu, who was accompanied by some members of parliament (MPs), some party Members of the Central Committee (MCCs) and scores of supporters, filed his papers in the morning.
Mr Lungu declared his readiness for the campaign and confidence of winning the partyâ€™s presidential election.
Later when he addressed supporters at NASDEC grounds, Mr Lungu pledged to uphold the partyâ€™s constitution and what late President Sata stood for.
â€œLate President Sata single-handedly won and planted PF in 2011 to help the poor. It is for this reason that I am pledging allegiance to the PF. I pledge to uphold the PF manifesto and what late President Sata stood for,â€ he said.
Mr Lungu assured his supporters that he will die a little to help Zambia and that if elected, he will embrace all Zambians regardless of their tribal, political or religious affiliations.
Mr Lubinda said he is positive of winning and that he rates his chances equal to other candidates.
Mr Sichinga has pledged K50,000 towards the holding of the partyâ€™s general conference.
â€œI have spent 13 years in Parliament and I have worked closely with President Sata, so I am best suited to complete his vision,â€ Mr Sichinga told cheering cadres at a press briefing at Lusakaâ€™s Fairview Hotel yesterday.
Mr Sichinga promised that if he is chosen to represent the PF and wins the election, he will ensure that the country gets a new constitution immediately.
Mr Kambwili, who is also Roan MP, announced his bid yesterday at a press briefing at Kitweâ€™s Cultural Centre, where several party officials gathered to give him support, reports NKOMBO KACHEMBA.
â€œI offer myself and declare my candidacy for president of Zambia under the Patriotic Front party. I filed my nomination papers yesterday [Tuesday],â€ he said.
Mr Kambwili said going for a general conference should not be an option but mandatory for the party to elect a leader through a democratic process.
He also urged party members to support Dr Scott to lead the party into finding a credible successor for late President Sata.
Meanwhile, prominent businessman Rajan Mahtani has denied supporting and funding a faction within the ruling PF or any politician in the country.
And Dr Mahtani has warned that Zambia risks losing its favourable investment destination status if the current political transition period is mishandled.
Dr Mahtani also denied funding the Zambian Watchdog online publication, which provides favourable coverage to him to counter alleged negative reports published by the Zambia Reports online publication.
He said this at a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday.
He called on all political players to ensure a smooth transition of power.
â€œWe have a lot at stake, so it is of utmost importance that elections are held and we revert to business as usual,â€ Dr Mahtani said.
KELVIN CHONGO & STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka