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Last Updated
Monday 14 June 2021, 19:13 pm.
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Will ex-vice president Kavindele challenge Banda?

NDOLA: Fired by late president Levy Mwanawasa for intransigency, former vice president Enoch Kavindele has emerged from political wilderness, saying he will stand as vice president of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD).
By HUMPHREY NKONDE
Correspondent
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Will ex-vice president Kavindele challenge Banda?








But political analysts believe this is a ruse as Kavindele is among MMD big wigs planning to challenge President Rupiah Banda who most party supporters, especially on the volatile Zambian Copperbelt, still regard as a 'UNIPist' - meaning he is former president Kenneth Kaunda's surrogate - who should not be allowed to hijack the MMD.

Dr Kaunda's United National Independence Party (UNIP) was the country's sole political party and ruled the country for nearly 32 years until the 1991 multiparty elections when "KK" was defeated by former Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and MMD president Frederick Chiluba.

Now the MMD needs to hold a national convention, as the country prepares to go for the 2011 general election. Like the debate going on in Botswana that the Republican President should be elected by the people, Kavindele is of the view that the vice president in Zambia should be elected by the people for the office bearer to have the necessary political legitimacy.  The Zambian president is elected through universal suffrage, but the vice president is "appointed and dis-appointed" by the head of state.  While people submitted to the Wila Mung'omba Constitution Commission that the president should have a running mate, like they do in the United States of America (US), this has not been included in the new draft constitution.  Although Kavindele has declared that he does not intend to challenge Banda for position of party president, it is an open secret that all positions including that of vice president will be hotly contested at the national convention.

For fear of party reprisals other MMD big wigs with presidential ambitions are currently lying low, preferring to do Banda's bidding in the run-up to the watershed conference.

Former finance minister Ng'andu Magande, who was Mwanawasa's preferred 'heir apparent' has been expelled from the party together with former defence minister in Mwanawasa's government, George Mpombo.   Magande was one of the presidential candidates after Mwanawasa died from a stroke in a Paris military hospital in France, but he lost to Banda, who at the time was vice president and acting president of the country.  Mpombo still argues that President Banda is "acting president of the MMD" and that he can only have the full party presidential mandate from the national convention.  The former cabinet minister, who has legally challenged his expulsion from the party, has asked Magande, who seems not to be interested in re-contesting his seat as Chilanga Member of Parliament (MP), not to form a new political party but wage the war within the MMD. The maverick Mpombo has challenged the MMD National Executive Committee (NEC) to show why it should expel him because "its mandate has expired".

Magande challenged for the MMD presidency in 2008 after Mrs Maureen Mwanawasa's disclosure that her deceased husband had intimated that he (Magande) was his preferred successor. But Banda's supporters left no stone unturned in ensuring the favourite son triumphed at the expense of the dark horse.  Given this scenario, it is apparent that if the Magande and Mpombo were left as loose canons within the party, they would challenge President Banda for the top most position of MMD at the national convention since they have nothing to lose as ordinary MPs, hence their expulsion.   Stiff competition for the

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second position in the party has characterised past conventions from the time second president Chiluba was at the helm.

In 2001, the MMD was divided after some members suggested that Chiluba should go for a third term.

As a result, during the convection big wigs settled for the position of vice president, which Kavindele grabbed from another giant politician, the late Paul Tembo. Chiluba decided to appoint Kavindele as republican vice president after the convention.  But after Zambians defended the republican Constitution against being altered to allow him to go for a third term, Chiluba handpicked Mwanawasa to stand for the presidency on the MMD ticket.

Mwanawasa decided to retain Kavindele, as republican vice president. But Mwanawasa was furious with Kavindele because some companies in which he was connected were involved in business with government.

Mwanawasa accused his Vice President of having interests in the Trans-Sahara Trading  (TST), which supplied crude to Indeni Oil Refinery, thereby clouding out the state-run Tazama Pipelines.  Mwanawasa exchanged bitter words with Kavindele in letters that were published in the Post newspaper. The late president eventually fired Kavindele as republican Vice President shortly before the 2006 general election. 

In reply, Kavindele staged a party "coup" by claiming that he was the president of the MMD since Mwanawasa was not elected as party leader at the national convention. In 2001, when the MMD was under Chiluba, the MMD constitution was amended so the presidential candidate was not necessarily the party president.

So Chiluba retained the party presidency and Mwanawasa was allowed to be the MMD presidential candidate for the country.  Since Mwanawasa had power as republican president, he called for a NEC meeting at State House, which Kavindele could not attend as he had been sacked as vice president.  Mwanawasa eventually got the position of acting MMD president.

Prior to the 2006 election, Mwanawasa had emerged as a strong leader with Lupando Mwape as his vice president. Because the MMD big guns decided not to challenge Mwanawasa, they went the party vice presidency.  Contestants included Elias Mpondela, now heading the National Housing Authority, businessman Bwalya Chiti and multi-millionaire Austin Chewe, a former Zambia Army captain.  There was no way Mwape, a tutor, could turn the tables against the well-heeled Lusaka businessmen. So Mwanawasa decided to freeze the elections for position of vice President, most likely to save the face of his vice rather than the claims that some contestants used underhand methods.  After the 2006 elections, Mwape failed to retain his seat as MP for Lukashya in Northern Province, a stronghold for the opposition Patriotic Front (PF) led by Michael Sata.

Mwanawasa decided to send Mwape to Beijing as Zambia's ambassador to China.  That is how he brought in Banda, formerly a staunch UNIP activist, as his vice by nominating him as MP and for years the position of vice president in the MMD has remained vacant.  When Mwanawasa died, Banda assumed the presidency and now he needs to be elected as party president at the national convention.

President Banda has also recalled Mwape from diplomatic service in Beijing.  If Mwape still intends to stand as vice president of the MMD - as he wished to do in 2006 - then Kavindele would not have it easy. 
(Sila Press Agency)

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