A succession battle has deepened within the Patriotic Front (PF) party over who will succeed President Michael Sata when he steps down.
But PF deputy Secretary General Bridget Attanga has refused to comment on the matter saying she was not aware about such activities because those meetings were being held in the night and privately.
“I don’t patrol our members in the night, I don’t check on them and what they do. I don’t know what they do in the night and I don’t know about that meeting. I am surprised that our own youths are doing that. I will investigate the matter. Right now I am on leave because my son is getting married this weekend,” she said.
However, some PF central committee members have confirmed with the Daily Nation that there were such moves by a group of PF officials pushing for a named Minister to replace President Sata as party president.
“The campaigns for the presidency are not a secret anymore in the PF now some senior officials have started dark corner meetings and paying youths to start calling for an extra ordinary convention where the election of the new president of the party would be elected. The PF leadership is well aware about it,” said the source.
A group made up of PF youths and councillors from Kabwata, Mandevu and Matero constituencies is reported to have already started campaigning and has come up with a budget of K400 000 for the campaign exercise.
The group claims that PF needed strong, vibrant and fearless individuals to lead it now and beyond 2016 because so far some named minister had exhibited what they described as ‘high leadership qualities’ by protecting the party from both inside and outside hostility.
The group was found last night holding an in-door meeting at about 21.00 hours at one of the lodges in Olympia on Chainama Road where they also proposed a budget of about K400 000 for the campaign as soon as their sponsors gave the go-ahead.
The group said that although they had not been sanctioned to start the campaigns now, they were eager to begin selling their preferred candidate because he had shown qualities like those of President Sata who they believed would not re-contest the 2016 elections as a result of age.
“We are here because of the love we have for the PF and our leaders. We are aware that Bamudala tabakateke beyond 2016 and it is our responsibility to identify who is our next messiah to get us through 2016,
“It is not an easy task and some of us will be suspended or even expelled for coming out to support our man as the only suitable candidate for the PF presidency in 2016,” said group leader.
He informed others at the meeting that although other names had been floated to him, they were not strong candidates and did not have a national appeal or character.
“Bane look here bonse natwishiba ukuti abesu nabalwisha sana ukucingilila icipani cesu bonse. We need him if we are to keep the presidency. He doesn’t fear these opposition political party leaders and even you if I ask that do you think these old guys can win us an election? Guys we need someone who is vocal,” he said.
The group also said that it was important that the presidential campaigns or debates in the PF were not restricted if the PF was seriously considering retaining power in 2016 because it was now iminent that there was need for a new and young leader to drive the ruling party beyond 2016.
PF National Chairperson Inonge Wina could not be reached for a comment.