The battle for the Kalomo Central seat for 2016 under the United Party for National Development (UPND) has hit top gear with five more candidates positioning themselves for adoption to replace the incumbent Request Muntanga.
But when contacted for a comment, Mr Muntanga said he does not have any problem with the five other UPND members who have made their intentions of being adopted known.
Sources within the Kalomo district party structure have told the Daily Nation that the atmosphere currently was that of division as some members have lost faith in Mr Muntanga, whom they have accused of bulldozing the party in the district.
They have said some people felt it was time for Mr Muntanga to be replaced since he allegedly did not have any regard for anyone at grassroot level.
The sources have revealed that due to discontentment by some members, a meeting was called recently to query the MP over whether he would stand in 2016 and that the meeting did not end on a good note after he indicated that he would contest the 2016 elections.
“Some people wanted him to indicate that he would not stand because they have other candidates in mind. The UPND seems to be divided especially over the presence of the MP whom they have accused of disrespecting the district structure. There are more than two camps currently, with each camp demanding to adopt its candidate,” the sources disclosed.
But Mr Muntanga said he saw no problem with UPND members wishing to stand in Kalomo.
He said he had no point to prove to anyone as a member of Parliament because his experience was there to speak for him going by the huge support he was commanding, not only among members of the executive, but also the people of Kalomo in general.
“Some of those people you have mentioned had stood against me in previous elections and since they believe it is time to gauge their popularity again, there is nothing wrong with that. I can tell you that so far, none of them has indicated yet to the party that they would want to be adopted. I have no right to block anyone from exercising their democratic right, and they are free to do so.
“For now, I am Kalomo Central MP up to next year and am happy that the support am receiving from the structures is overwhelming and that is the most important thing,” he said.
And Southern Province deputy information and publicity chairperson Kandindi Phiri said there were no divisions in the UPND, adding that the party was a democratic one, which allowed divergent views.
Mr. Phiri said the desire for so many people to aspire to stand for the parliamentary seat was testimony that the party was founded on democratic principles where no one was intimidated from exercising their democratic right.
“Yes, we have five more candidates who are considering to be adopted for the parliamentary seat in 2016 and there is nothing wrong with that. The current MP has indicated his desire to stand as well and that brings the total number to six. This shows that we are very democratic as no one is prevented from seizing any opportunity they think they can manage to take.
“Those who are pushing for adoption are talking with the grassroots to convince them of what they can offer and see if the party can adopt them and there is nothing wrong with that.
We are not preventing anyone and there would be no confusion when one will be adopted when the time comes because they all understand the procedure,” he said.
Among the candidates who are said to be interested in the Kalomo seat under the UPND’s ticket are Edgar Siakachoma, Harry Kamboni (District chairperson) and Dave Hang’ombe. Others are Smart Muwele and Joe Sikaduli, a businessman.