… President Hichilema and Jack Mwiimbu have single handedly committed the worst dictatorial travesty the party has ever witnessed. There is nothing democratic or free and fair, HH alone with Jack Mwiimbu are dictating how and who will take up a slot on the 75 NMC positions and thereafter HH will announce who he wants to be in charge of which portfolio, HH alone and not party members. LUSAKA, FEBRUARY 6th 2021 By Chambwa Moonga EIGHT days before the UPND general assembly, there is an emergence of voices of discontent by some key leaders, on how the party constitution is being disregarded and breached by Hakainde Hichilema and Jack Mwiimbu. Party secretary general Stephen Katuka when quizzed has said that his hands are tied as the are now being micro managed by Hichilema and Mwiimbu alone. Meanwhile prominent Lusaka lawyer and UPND aspiring candidate for Lusaka Central, Mulambo Haimbe, lamented that the holding of the general assembly was being mishandled, because: “we are going against the tenets of our constitution and committing the worst dictatorial travesty the party and Zambia has ever seen” “[Our] constitution [in] Articles 102, 103 and 104 is very clear on what happens at the general assembly. [It outlines] who is supposed to amend the constitution, how NMC (National Management Committee) members are supposed to be elected and any other things,” Haimbe said. “All along people have been going for positions. Chambwa Moonga wants to stand for the position of secretary general, we elect him as secretary general. [And] if there is anyone challenging him, those who are challenging him come through. That other one wants to stand as chairman – agriculture…That’s what our constitution says; people should go for specific positions of leadership.” They are shocked that this time around, there is a group of people who are saying: “‘no, the provinces should nominate 10 names.’” “Then those 10 names on Sunday, on the 7th of February, the provincial chairpersons will sit to look at those names. People will be elected as NMC members and not as a position holder!” Haimbe continues. “So, you will be elected as Chambwa Moonga, part of the NMC and not as Chambwa Moonga chairman for agriculture. After that, the provincial chairpersons will get seven people per province under guided democracy which the party president will have to agree to say these are the seven for this province.” “then when we go for the 14th February general assembly, the people there will be voting for those seven people per province.” stated Haimbe “When they finish voting for those seven people per province, that’s when the party president will sit and say ‘Chambwa, you should be the chairman for agriculture, this one will be my vice-president, that other one will be the secretary general,’” he explained. “But what we are saying is that it is wrong! If we go in that route, those people who would have been voted as NMC members but left in the positions, who would have left them out? Is it the people or the president, because not everybody will become a committee chairperson?” Haimbe has said he is against transferring all the powers to the party president when he is ewwually a candidate, “to appoint and disappoint when he too is a candidate is unconstitutional and extremely dictatorial. It negates the whole point of having an elective assembly” “We are saying no to that!” he asserted. “If you check inside our party, the young Turks are up in arms against that arrangement. There is an undercurrent which is brewing, where people want to embark on a campaign…” He further said what a certain grouping within the UPND wants is that: “when we go to the general assembly, they amend the constitution in this regard.” Haimbe, however, wondered how implementation of intended constitutional amendments could start now before the constitution is amended. “Look around, no one is allowed to vie for the four vacant Vice President positions, no one is allowed to vie for party chairperson or Secretary General, no one is allowed to view for chairperson of mobilization or legal or youth, it is actually an injustice” Asked who the people pushing for such a voting arrangement at the general assembly were, Haimbe responded that: “ofcourse you already know; it’s the chairman– legal (Jack Mwiimbu) and P1 (Hakainde Hichilema), Jack believes that P1 will appoint him Vice President but he doesn’t realize that Elias Munshya is already announced running mate, Jack will be disappointed a second time just like in 2016 when he was given a fake adoption certificate for running mate” “He is the one pushing all these things, because he knows that if somebody else stands for Vice President or Chairman Legal, he (Mwiimbu) is gone,” Haimbe revealed. “So, people are now trying to create fences around their positions.” Efforts to get a comment from Mwiimbu failed as his phone went unanswered. Haimbe also spoke about the filing in of nomination papers by incumbent UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema last Friday. “The provincial chairpersons went back [after Hichilema filed in his nomination papers] and they will come back tomorrow (on Wednesday) because they are having a meeting on the 4th of February (Thursday),” he said. “They (provincial chairpersons) are the only ones elected now and they are the big guns! 4, 5 and 6 of February and then the nomination time will be closed.” He highlighted that when the nomination window is closed today, “on the 7th of February (tomorrow) Hakainde will be declared as the party president kaili (because) there would have been no one to oppose him.” The sources said there was no way somebody could emerge to challenge Hichilema because the procedure was such that one must be endorsed by a provincial chairman and that endorsement supported by four other provincial executives. “But all the 10 provinces have been threatened into endorsing Hakainde. Who is going to endorse a challenger?” He asked. “So, Hakainde has already won and on Sunday he is going to be declared as the party president.” Asked how key positions like that of national chairman, secretary general would be filled, the sources answered; “those will be appointed by Hichilema during the sham general assembly.” “Anybody below the president will be handpicked!” he said. “So, some of us will silently start a movement of defiance and we have to defy this arrangement. The constitution has to be respected to the letter.” We fear that if we do not stand to defend the party constitution, especially around how our leaders are chosen, “it means it will not be the people that would have chosen the secretary general.” “The secretary general will be answerable to the appointing authority, and not the general membership of the party,” Haimbe lamented. “So, even if the secretary general misbehaves, there is nothing that the general membership can say because they are not the ones that elected him. We are saying no to that!” Haimbe resolutely spoke against any UPND member attempting to: “create a monster within the party presidency.” “We said we cannot run with Bill 10 because it was trying to create a monster in the presidency – it was giving too much power to the presidency. But now we are going in the same route that we were refusing,” he said. “So, where is the power to the people? He (Hichilema) has always told us that we need to stand with the people, like the way Mainza Chona stood with the people. We want him to stand with the people!” Asked about how other incumbent UPND leaders, aside the singled out Mwiimbu, felt about the ‘adopted electoral route’ at the general assembly, he said: “they are ring-fencing themselves!” “It is the only way they are sure of bouncing back [in their positions]. Don’t tell me that if today Katuka stands as SG (secretary general) and somebody comes to challenge him and he can win. He can’t! Can Charles Kakoma win if he stood as chairman for information?” Haimbe said. “So, the only way to make sure that they bounce back into those positions is by accepting that nonsense. The formula favours them! It is easy for a provincial chairman to endorse Patrick Mucheleka, for instance, than to endorse me. Meaning that it is the same cartel that will bounce back and that is our fear. That is not democracy but dictatorship now.” He further pointed out that they could not be negligent about the irregular intraparty electoral route the party was intending to take. “If we say let’s just go that same way because there is already some euphoria out there – people want change of government – one day we are going to have a dissident as party president and eventually Republican President. He would want to follow those party rules to the latter…” explained Haimbe. “We are gambling with the Republican Constitution, amendment No. 2 of 2016 because they tailored it to be a now document. But a constitution should never be tailored to be a now document. We are slowly falling into the PF trap!” When reached for a reaction, Katuka started by talking about the: “overwhelming response” the party received, insofar as nomination forms. He said the UPND has only about 100 plus positions of leadership at the national level. “But those that have applied must be more than 300 now, who are vying for positions. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen anyone with the spine to come and challenge Hakainde and we only have two days to go before Saturday [today],” Katuka said. “So, those who are saying we are not democratic should come and challenge him. But no one is coming and when he goes unopposed they say he is a dictator. Did he stop anybody from standing? No! People are free and we announced publicly that nominations are being received and the closing day was given. So, when we declare that he is unopposed, let nobody raise his finger and say anything.” Asked if the current party leadership was mutilating the party’s constitution by not allowing people to contest their preferred positions at national level, Katuka answered: “that was the choice of the NMC.” “The NMC made a decision and that is the body that makes decisions on behalf of the party. They made a decision that we all go in a pool and we all adopted that,” he explained. “So, they cannot complain. Those who are complaining may be ordinary party members who are not part of the management. But those who are in the management are aware of what we have agreed to do.” On whether or not the UPND was not giving so much power to its president, Katuka said such happened even in other countries. “Why not here? Even in the PF, they do not go to elect everybody. All those positions are not elective at the general assembly (conference). The president has those powers,” he said. “Similarly, the ANC in South Africa does the same thing; the president has powers to appoint. But you are elected!” He added that in most cases, “people want to take advantage of an election and feel ‘I was elected and nobody has powers to move me.’” “But if there is that element of appointment, it gives powers to the president to move you if you are not functioning. If he posts me as SG and he finds that I’m not functioning, he has powers to move me and take me to be chairman – agriculture,” Katuka explained. “So, it is not [giving him] too much power but some power to be able to make the party function. We must clean up! In our old constitution, he had no power to move anybody as party president.” He further argued that there could never be an organisation where the topmost had no power to remove erring subordinates. “So, that is the reason why the NMC decided that we must change – we all go in a pool and based on your expertise…Now we may have a chairman for agriculture, for example, who knows nothing about agriculture. You have a chairman for labour who knows nothing about labour issues. This is why we feel we need to place people in their right position, based on their qualification,” Katuka explained. “People blame me for everything, because I don’t have chairmen who are helping me in their portfolio committees. There is an issue on agriculture and there is no comment and you say ‘no, SG is not talking.’ [But] I can’t be an overall, all-rounder; talk about agriculture, mining, electricity, water. It’s not possible!” He continued: “that’s why we need chairmen of portfolio committees who understand the issues in their portfolio committees, so that if there is an issue on agriculture they comment.” “If there is an issue on energy, my chairman of energy must be challenging the Minister of Energy on what is being supposed to be done right. We are an opposition party which should be providing checks and balances,” he said. On the issue of all provinces having endorsed Hichilema, who could endorse his possible challenger, Katuka made a clarification. “Hakainde was endorsed by Muchinga Province and supported by other provinces. So, if anybody came up and goes to say Lusaka Province and he is endorsed, then he goes to other five provinces to support him, then that person will be eligible,” explained Katuka. “Even us standing as NMC members, we go to one province to nominate you and you get another two provinces to support that nomination. But the same one who supported me can still support another applicant. It doesn’t mean if you have supported this one then you can’t support another one. No! The same provinces that supported Hakainde can still be supporting another candidate. There is no problem!”