WRANGLES between vice president for administration Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba and vice president for politics Dr Canisius Banda is a genuine succession battle because everyone knows that the current United Party for National Development (UPND) party constitution does not allow Mr Hakainde Hichilema to contest the general elections in 2021, unless it is amended, former party deputy spokesperson Edwin Lifwekelo has said.
And Mr Lifwekelo has warned that wrangles between Mr Mwamba and Dr Canisius, if left unchecked by Mr Hichilema, the National Management Committee (NMC) and National Executive Committee (NEC) would split the UPND because both vice presidents enjoy support from the general membership.
Mr Lifwekelo, who was until last month UPND deputy spokesperson, said the infighting in the UPND was real because old loyal members were sidelined in the just ended general elections in preference for recycled politicians.
“The issue of infighting in the UPND is genuine and the issue of the wrangles between Dr Canisius Banda and Mr Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba emanate from the fact that UPND genuine members are fatigued, it is a fact we saw it in the last election.
“Most of the UPND alliance partners that come on board to support Mr Hichilema with the hope that if he won the general elections they would be given jobs in his government made him (Mr Hichilema) sideline Dr Canisius Banda for the appointment of a running mate,” Mr Lifwekelo said.
Mr Lifwekelo said new UPND alliance partners who joined in the last minute such as Dr Guy Scott, Miles Sampa, Keith Mukata, Obvious Mwaliteta, Mulenga Sata came with their own agenda and were convinced that Mr Hichilema would win the general elections.
Mr Lifwekelo said old, loyal and genuine senior members of the UPND such as vice president for politics Dr Canisius Banda and National Secretary Ms Mutale Nalumango were sidelined in preference to new alliance partners.
He said while some of the new alliance partners may have added some votes for Mr Hichilema, most of them actually subtracted the votes from him because they were recycled politicians who had failed in the PF.
Mr Lifwekelo said the people that surrounded Mr Hichilema during the August 11, 2016 general elections thought that it was their only opportunity to have positions in the UPND government.
He said the same people held the UPND hostage by ensuring that they surrounded Mr Hichilema and not old, loyal and genuine members.
“So the infighting in the UPND is real and I think as it is now the issue of succession with the view that Mr Hichilema might not stand in 2021.
“The little that I know in the UPND Constitution is that HH cannot go beyond 2020. Beyond that, the party’s National Management Committee (NMC) and National Executive Committee (NEC) need to sit down to revise that clause if Mr Hichilema would have to legally contest the 2021 general elections,” Mr Lifwekelo said.
He said as per UPND constitution Mr Hichilema could not go beyond 2020.
Mr Lifwekelo said he was aware that the only possible way for Mr Hichilema to contest the 2021 general elections was through amending their constitution.
Mr Lifwekelo, however, said if the UPND needed to remain relevant, it needed to carry out a self-introspection of what was going on and be able to look at the challenges of where they went wrong and try to put things in perspective.
He said even the people that voted from a regional perspective would be fatigued and there would be a mass exodus from the UPND.