By Patson Chilemba

Chiefs and Traditional Affairs minister Lawrence Sichalwe says the infighting in PF over the presidency is weakening the party.

And Sichalwe said calls by Lusaka Province PF chairperson Paul Moonga that President Lungu must consider someone from Northern, Luapula and Muchinga Province as running mate for 2021, may frustrate Vice-President Inonge Wina that her input was not being appreciated.

Speaking with Daily Revelation, Sichalwe said there was infighting in PF, being driven by various groupings pushing for the party presidency against President Edgar Lungu. He said the issue of who was more green and less green was also causing infighting.

“Well it is certainly weakening the party. It is weakening the party in that for example some of us will not want to be labeled as working with this particular group, because the other group again will feel you are the one frustrating the works of the others who are more green than others. This issue of more green that has come in is also bringing in a lot of problems,” Sichalwe said.

Sichalwe said it seems matters had been brewing under ground for some time and were now coming to the surface.

“Well am not part of it so it becomes difficult to answer on their behalf because these are things that have been working under ground, they have been positioning themselves. So we are just hearing of it ourselves just now,” Sichalwe said. “And some of us would not want to be caught in the cross fire, we have already gone through some of these cross fires where we were very innocent and were perceived to be working with a particular group when you are only being loyal to the structures.”

Sichalwe said he was not in any grouping.

“Like for me am one person who has taken the bosses’ advice from the inception when I was elected. I asked the Principal (President) to say you have not told me the dos and the dons. He just cautioned me to be careful with who I associate myself with, so I have carried that with me and I am not in any of these groupings…so it would be difficult for me to talk on their behalf,” he said.

Asked what was motivating some ministers and other party members to attempt to remove President Lungu from the stage and assume the presidency, Sichalwe said those were questions he and others were asking too.

“That is the question we are all asking where we don’t have the answers, and we have just been hearing that some groupings will not be allowed at the convention because they are supporting a particular group. So we don’t really know what is really happening,” he said.

He said he had stayed away from any grouping because the last time members of parliament of parliament in Lusaka did a come-together at Justice minister Given Lubinda’s residence, they were labeled as rebels. He said the only agenda for that meeting was for the parliamentarians to meet up on how they could advance development in the Province, where they even agreed to come up with some form of village banking, where they would be contributing K10,000 per month to invest in a particular constituency at a given time.

Sichalwe said the plan would have allowed for the particular member of parliament investing K100,000 per month into their constituency when it was their turn to get the money.

“What came out of that meeting was that Lusaka MPs are rebels and we were petitioned, and that petition was received by the secretariat and subsequently we don’t know whether it was taken to the boss, and we pushed for a meeting with the Principal, all Lusaka MPs and the SG and the Vice-President we went to the Principal’s office to have that meeting,” Sichalwe said. “At that meeting the president wondered to say other MPs are meeting, Copperbelt MPs are meeting for example, that is not a problem isn’t it? So the secretariat agreed that yes it was not a problem they have been meeting. The President asked, so what is wrong with Lusaka MPs to be meeting over a drinkup? There was no response, and unfortunately that meeting was adjourned unfortunately indefinitely. Up to now we haven’t had that meeting. So for some of us it put us off, that you are doing things in good faith for the party and we are perceived to be rebels.”

Asked if the ministers were positioning themselves on account of arguments that President Lungu was not eligible to stand for the 2021 Republican presidency, since the Republican Constitution barred him from doing so, Sichalwe responded: “Well again as I have said it is difficult to understand their line of thought because according to me it’s an issue non-debatable especially that even the courts settled it. They should not even think of positioning themselves because it’s not here nor there. So it’s rather difficult to talk on behalf of colleagues.”

Asked how the President was handling all that, since he was in touch with him as his minister, Sichalwe responded: “Those are the questions that should be answered by him, it’s him running the show. Ask him how are you handling this? How are you running the show? I am his minister but I am not in the office of the presidency so I cannot speak for him.”

And Sichalwe said ministerial appointments were the preserve of the appointing authority, saying it was therefore difficult to comment on appointments from above. He said this over the remarks from Moonga that President Lungu should appoint someone from Northern, Luapula and Muchinga provinces for running mate in the 2021 elections, as a way of showing appreciation to those people for being the bedroom of PF.
“Well I guess it would frustrate her (Vice-President Wina) in that it may work out like we are not appreciating of her input into the party. For me I would have loved we leave all this to the appointing authority because as you may have heard there is a lot of infighting in the party, people positioning themselves,” said Sichalwe. “Now you find people are positioning themselves even where they don’t have the capacity to appoint themselves. Knowing my boss very well you can not go to him and tell him appoint Paul Moonga or we recommend that Paul Moonga be appointed as a running mate. He will ask you, why am I here? What am I here for?” – Daily Revelation


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