THE Patriotic Front (PF) should not gloss over the differences the ruling party is grappling with in Eastern Province but should keenly listen to the concerns of the grassroots because it is true that the party is not united as a result of some selfish people aspiring to secure adoption at all costs, Evans Kazonga Ngoma has said.
But Eastern Province PF chairman Andrew Lubisha claimed the ruling party in the region was united and had registered exponential growth, capturing more than 10,000 defectors in the last few months he had been leading the party.
Reacting to complaints by former Eastern Province PF chairman Attan Mwamba that the ruling party had been divided and that President Edgar Lungu was not being told the truth about the political environment in the region, Mr Ngoma said unless the differences in the party were quickly resolved, the performance of the party in the August general elections would not be impressive.
Mr Ngoma accused General Education Minister John Phiri of causing divisions in Lundazi by allegedly orchestrating the dissolution of legitimately elected constituency and district executive committees in his ambition to secure an adoption in the constituency.
But Mr Lubisha defended Dr Phiri, stating that the minister was the most popular of the aspiring parliamentary candidates in Lundazi and could not therefore be the cause of the division in the constituency.
Mr Ngoma said in 2011, Dr Phiri refused to be associated with Lundazi constituency because he claimed at the time the PF was not known and unpopular in the area.
Mr Ngoma accused Dr Phiri of conspiring with the provincial leadership and had been peddling lies that the PF had become stronger under the leadership of Mr Lubisha when the truth was that there had been a lot of discontent among the members.
“Let the truth be told and be known that we are not as united as the national leadership has been made to believe. Speaking for Lundazi, the party has not known unity and stability for a long time because some members of the central committee aspiring to be adopted have been using unorthodox methods of trying to secure adoptions.
‘‘We risk handing over the seat to the opposition if the adoption process is going to be manipulated. Dr Phiri, who is one of the aspiring candidates, ordered the dissolution of the Lundazi district executive committee soon after it was elected and accused me of having stage-managed the elections,” Mr Ngoma said.
He said he did not have the capacity to stage-manage any election or even cause the manipulation of the results and it was therefore unfair for Dr Phiri to accuse him of such acts.
Mr Ngoma said President Lungu was a popular leader and that there was no doubt Zambians were eager to give him a new mandate but the Head of State needed to have a cadre of parliamentary candidates who would easily win their seats.
But Mr Lubisha said claims by Mr Ngoma were unfounded because the PF in Eastern Province, and Lundazi in particular, was enjoying massive support from the people.
Mr Lubisha said the PF had received more than 10,000 defectors in the last few months and that the feat was only possible if there was unity in the party.
He claimed that all the candidates that were aspiring in Lundazi and Eastern Province as a whole were popular and his executive had already recommended three candidates in each constituency to be considered for adoption by the central committee.
Mr Lubisha said Dr Phiri was a popular parliamentary candidate who had been accepted by the grassroots but appealed to aspiring candidates to be patient and allow the central committee to finish the adoption process.
“We are not going to lose any seat in Eastern Province because we have managed to mobilise the party. I am a leader who does not work in isolation and we have made the best decisions in the best interest of the PF. We are more united than ever and I do not know the criteria others are using to claim the party is divided,” Mr Lubisha said.