HONE SIAME, Lusaka
CAMPAIGNS for the Patriotic Front (PF) Lusaka Province elections have hit top gear with four political heavyweights vying for the position of chairperson.
The top seat is being contested by immediate past provincial youth chairman Kennedy Kamba, former State House Permanent Secretary Emmanuel Chilubanama, Chongwe Mayor Geoffrey Chumbwe and former PF secretary general Charles Chimumbwa.
With only two years left before the 2021 general elections, delegates to the provincial conference have an opportunity to re-write the pages of history by electing visionary leaders to steer the governing party to greater heights.
All the four politically-tested candidates have pledged to provide the required leadership, if elected, to consolidate PF’s dominance in Lusaka and sustain its stay in office beyond 2021.
Mr Kamba, who has been at the helm of the provincial youth executive committee since the establishment of the PF in 2001, has stepped into the race for the provincial chairmanship.
Born on August 1, 1973, Mr Kamba is a household name in Zambian politics and believes he is the best man for the job.
“I am the best man for the job. I am coming from the grassroots. When they vote for me, they will be voting for themselves and loyalty,” he said.
Mr Kamba, who is regarded as one of the great party mobilisers by those who have followed his political career, speaks of a legacy of hard work and believes time has come for him to lead the party at provincial level.
He served as provincial youth chairman since the establishment of the PF by late President Michael Sata.
Mr Kamba says Lusaka requires intellectual mentorship that resonates with rationality and a business-oriented leader who will effectively empower party structures financially through various fundraising ventures.
“When ushered into office, I will go flat-out to mobilise the party in readiness for the 2021 general elections. We need to form more branches in Mandevu, Munali and Matero constituencies as well as rural parts of Lusaka.”
To attain his vision of delivering victory for the ruling party, Mr Kamba plans to facilitate fundraising ventures to mobilise resources for party structures to enable it to recruit more members to grow the party.
He also wants to use his position to identify areas that need attention and engage relevant authorities to help actualise his vision for the benefit of citizens in the province.
Mr Kamba is not happy that most of the development projects being implemented in various sectors of the country’s economy by Government have not received enough publicity.
“We will not allow the opposition to demean President Edgar Lungu, who is working hard to improve the lives of Zambians. We will continue to defend the President and the party leadership and highlighting development programmes,” he said.
Mr Kamba has also promised to engage Government and the Lusaka City Council (LCC) to consider lifting the ban on street vending, if elected.
“PF is a pro-poor Government. Those who sell on the street should not be harassed. Those are the people who ushered PF into office. I believe some policies can be changed for the benefit of such people,” he said.
He says sidelining the poor through the ban on street vending and failure to enforce the law on minimum wage by some employers is unfair.
On the other hand, Mr Chilubanama, a Copperbelt University-trained mine surveyor and entrepreneur, equally has vast experience in both politics and administration.
He is a well-known figure within the PF ranks and his popularity should give all his opponents sleepless nights.
“I want to make a great contribution to the growth of the party in Lusaka Province by empowering party structures economically so that they can be self-reliant. Women and youth empowerment is very important,” he said.
Mr Chilubanama is confident of outclassing his opponents in the forthcoming elections despite some people questioning his decision to run for such a critical position under President Lungu’s leadership.
On assertions that he has miscalculated his move to stand for the position of Lusaka Province chairman, following his recent dismissal by President Lungu as State House Permanent Secretary, Mr Chilubanama said he consulted widely.
“I am not contesting without the knowledge of the party president. I consulted widely before declaring my candidature for the position of provincial chairman,” he said.
Mr Chilubanama, whose campaign messages are anchored on unity, sustained peace as well as youth and women empowerment, wants clean and incident-free campaigns from all candidates to avoid divisions in the party.
“Let the best man carry the day as democratic tenets dictate. I will rally behind whoever is going to win and the party leadership to deliver victory for President Lungu in 2021,” he said.
Like the rest of his opponents, Mr Chilubanama equally worked with PF’s founding leader and late President Michael Sata from the party’s inception.
He even contested the Lunte parliamentary election in Northern Province in 2011 but lost to Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) faction president Felix Mutati.
Mr Chilubanama, who is currently on a marathon tour of all party structures, says the onus is on delegates to do the right thing by giving him the nod to lead the party in the province for sustained growth.
Mr Chumbwe, the Chongwe Mayor, is another contender for the hot seat.
He was recently caught-up in tribal campaigns orchestrated by PF cadre Maxwell Chongu, who urged Solis to vote for him by virtue of belonging to the same tribe.
Mr Chongu’s sentiments did not go well with President Edgar Lungu and the entire party leadership.
Mr Chumbwe has since apologised to the party for Mr Chongu’s remarks and has vehemently distanced himself from such divisive sentiments.
His apology follows President Lungu’s directive to PF secretary general Davies Mwila to demand an apology from Mr Chumbwe over divisive remarks.
Mr Chongu, in a video that went viral, urged the Solis to vote for Mr Chumbwe because he is their tribesman.
“The campaigns are progressing well and I would like to apologise to the party leadership for the recent tribal remarks,” Mr Chumbwe said.
Mr Chimumbwa, another candidate vying for the top seat, has pledged to meet the aspirations of the electorate if elected.
Having served as party secretary general and Nchanga Member of Parliament before, Mr Chimumbwa says he has all the credentials for the job.
Meanwhile, PF media director Sunday Chanda has urged candidates participating in the provincial elections to engage in issue-based campaigns.
“We expect all the candidates to engage in issue-based campaigns and realise that there will only be one winner. The intra-party elections will produce a more united and re-energised leadership at provincial level,” Mr Chanda said.
The national leadership also expects delegates to vote for credible people at all levels capable of delivering and defending the party and its leadership.
“The primary goal is to safeguard the unity of the party even after the intra-party elections. The party expects [a] leadership that will hold the party together after our intra-party election,” Mr Chanda said.
Mr Chanda cautioned all aspiring candidates against character assassination as it can portray the party in bad light and warned that disciplinary action will be taken against any erring members.
All candidates have so far promised to support whoever will emerge victorious.
HONE SIAME, Lusaka