President Michael Sata yesterday dumped his most vocal supporter Robert Chikwelete who for weeks on end has been mobilising youths to crush the parallel structures meant to unseat the head of state. This is despite the head of state twice recognising Chikwelete as district chairman at public events.
The President’s decision, however, does not end the squabbles in the ruling party as the two factions are set for a potentially explosive district election that will pit the pro-Kabimba faction against the pro-Sata camp.
Meanwhile, state police yesterday searched the Rhodes Park home of deposed pro-Kabimba PF Lusaka Province chairperson for arms after he boasted of having an armoury in his home and running a militia.
Police found guns which Chumbwe said were properly licensed but the search was extended to his Chongwe farm.
Chumbwe is on the police wanted list over a robbery at the now-defunct Meridian BIAO Bank in 1994. Earlier this year, police denied clearing Chumbwe of the 1994 incident, and his subsequent flight from the Zambian justice system to seek sanctuary in South Africa.
In the Chikwelete issue, the President denied ever appointing Robert Chikwelete Patriotic Front Lusaka district chairman, and called on the provincial committee to call for a district conference where a new Lusaka district chairman would be elected.
He further challenged Chikwelete to “show” his letter of appointment.
“Let him also tell us which party organ elected him, when and where the election took place,” he said.
And Chikwelete claimed he had “welcomed” the President’s snub saying it was going to stop wrangles.
He told the Daily Nation that President Sata, in disowning him had also conceded that Goodson Banda, the provincial chairman Chikwelete deposed, was not equally elected no wonder his call for elections and not a mere return of the Banda-led executive .
“This is what we have been crying for when we said Goodson Banda was a fraud because there was no party structure that elected him.
We said we wanted a leader that will be elected by the people and not someone who is handpicked.
The call by the head of state is healthy. He has also realised that there has been a vacancy at the district level and that Banda was there illegally,” he said.
Chikwelete modest acceptance of elections surprised many especially that on September 20th with the Daily Nation present rubbished calls for him to be subjected to an election saying:
“There is no need to go for elections because as from yesterday, President Sata appointed me as chairperson for the district and I can also confirm the President has also appointed Ackson Nkhoma former information and publicity secretary as youth provincial chairperson.”
When asked on the above statement he earlier made, Chikwelete denied ever saying that there was no need for elections.
Chikwelete insisted that he will file his nominations to contest as Lusaka district chairperson.
He said that should party members decide not to elect him, he would still remain loyal to the party and its leadership.
“My loyalty still goes to President Sata for he has trusted me with so many positions in the party since my time as a councillor and as a deputy mayor. I will support whoever will be elected and I will never rest until the leaders that are put in office ensure that the policies of the party are being implemented,” Chikwelete said.