KAPALA CHISUNKA & CHRISTINE CHISHA, Lusaka
ACTING President Guy Scott has suspended 16 members of the Patriotic Front central committee and members of Parliament from the party for allegedly causing public anxiety and apprehension.
But six other members of the central committee and MPs have declared the suspension illegal and, therefore, null and void.
Dr Scott said at a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday the decision to suspend the 16 officials from the party was in accordance with the powers vested in him under article 61 of the PF constitution.
â€œOn Friday, we thought we had made a way forward with the delegation from the â€˜Kangarooâ€™ MCC over the central committee meeting to be held tomorrow [Sunday] at State House. But this morning I heard that they went ahead and held another meeting without trying to connect with us.
â€œSo following the recent events in our party which have caused great anxiety and apprehension to the public, I have today decided to suspend the 16 according to powers vested in me,â€ Dr Scott said.
Those suspended are PF national chairperson Inonge Wina, government spokesperson Joseph Katema, Jean Kapata, Willie Nsanda, Stephen Kampyongo, Freedom Sikazwe, Obvious Chisala, Malozo Sichone and Benson Chali.
Others are Fabian Chiposo, Sylvester Mtonga, John Chisanga, Lazarus Bwalya Chungu and James Kapyanga.
The rest are Mwenya Musenge and Rasford Mwale Chipolo.
Dr Scott said Ms Wina has been defying his instructions for a long time not to convene meetings.
â€œYou need to try and understand that we need to get to a point as the constitution requires, which is to hold a national convention which in our case is called a general convention so that we can allow people from the party from all over the country to come and select a presidential candidate they want against other presidential candidates on January 20. So I donâ€™t know where this hysteria is coming from,â€ he said.
Dr Scott was flanked by acting PF secretary general Bridget Attanga and her deputy Anthony Kasolo, Kasama member of Parliament Geoffrey Mwamba, Matero MP Miles Sampa and party cadres.
Later, Dr Scott, in his address to the cadres, pledged to uphold President Sataâ€™s legacy.
â€œI will look after all of you as Sataâ€™s children. We cannot let him leave us behind to watch everything that he left us get destroyed and forget Sata..no, we wonâ€™t forget him,â€ he said.
But the six members of the central committee and MPs, who are not part of those who have been suspended, said in a statement they issued last evening on behalf of the central committee that they were shocked by the suspension of their colleagues, CHARLES CHISALA writes.
They said they were surprised that Dr Scott had suspended the 16 members of the central committee and MPs shortly after the policy-making organ had resolved to extend an olive branch to him and agreed to allow the general conference to elect the partyâ€™s president and candidate in the January 2015 presidential election.
â€œWe wish to categorically state that the said suspensions are illegal and, therefore, null and void. The 16 who are purported to be suspended remain valid and are bona fide holders of their positions and remain full members of the party,â€ the statement reads in part.
They said as a party they had resolved that the wrangles that have plagued the party in the last few months are put behind to ensure that a presidential candidate is quickly adopted and begins campaigning countrywide.
â€œWe wish to advise Dr Scott to take the opportunity of the meeting at State House to raise any concerns he may hold,â€ the statement reads.
Those who signed the statement are Davies Mwila, Yamfwa Mukanga, Esther Banda, Samuel Mukupa, Alfredah Mwamba and Emmanuel Mpankata.
Earlier, the central committee had resolved to attend the general conference and to immediately bury all differences.
Speaking at a press briefing shortly after a closed-door meeting at Blue Nile Lodge, Central Province PF chairperson Benson Chali said the central committee had met and resolved that as stipulated by the partyâ€™s constitution, it will continue to follow all the provisions regarding the process of electing the party president, DOREEN NAWA reports.
â€œIn order to prepare for the general conference, the central committee has set aside all its differences for now. The decision is in the interest of the party and the nation,â€ Mr Chali said.
He said the central committee had resolved that preparations for the general conference must meet the basic criteria and principle of transparency.
â€œIn regard to tomorrowâ€™s meeting [central committee meeting scheduled for today], we have resolved to attend that meeting and the central committee therefore calls upon all the members to remain calm and peaceful as we deliberate on the issues regarding the general conference,â€ he said.
He said the central committee has never been against the general conference, but the way it was being prepared.
Mr Chali said the central committee was completely excluded and a few people who are not in the central committee started making decisions.
â€œWe have grabbed back our power and the powers of this central committee are going to be with the majority of the central committee, that is our stand and that should be the stand of our people in the provinces. We request that you prepare for the general conference,â€ Mr Chali said.
Members of the central committee in attendance included Inonge Wina, Joseph Katema, Gerry Chanda, Jean Kapata, John Phiri, Yamfwa Mukanga and Willie Nsanda.
On Friday, the central committee suspended Dr Scott for allegedly not following the provisions of the PF constitution.
Today the central committee is scheduled to hold a meeting at State House to be chaired by Dr Scott.
KAPALA CHISUNKA & CHRISTINE CHISHA, Lusaka