ONLY the Central Committee of the Patriotic Front (PF) has the authority to call for a general congress and not Acting President Guy Scott, Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba has charged.
Mr Kalaba said If anything, Dr Scott had become a threat to the peace and unity of the PF by insisting that the ruling party should go for a general congress to adopt its presidential candidate instead of the Central Committee.
Mr Kalaba has warned that the PF risked getting deeply divided if Dr Scott was going to be allowed to ignore the Central Committee and use general congress to elect a candidate for the January 20, 2014 presidential election.
Mr Kalaba said if Dr Scott did not consult the Central Committee over his decision to call for a general conference, the organ would have to be petitioned to annul the decree because only the Central Committee had the authority to convene such a meeting.
“Only the Central Committee has the authority to call for the general conference. If Dr Scott has not consulted the members of the Central Committee, I will take his announcement as nothing but speculation. And the Central Committee must find out where Dr Scott has sourced the K2.5 million from because there is a danger that we may end up mortgaging the party,” Mr Kalaba said.
Mr Kalaba explained that it was the responsibility of the Central Committee to interpret the PF constitution and that the organ had been doing so from the time the PF was formed.
Mr Kalaba said it was the duty of the Central Committee to call for a general conference and that Dr Scott’s announcement that the ruling party would go for a convention was misguided because the decision was not supported by members of the Central Committee.
He said since the Central Committee had not called for the general congress, it was not the responsibility of Dr Scott to unilaterally decide which mode the party would adopt to elected a presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, Acting President Guy Scott has decreed that the PF would be going for the general conference in the next eight days to elect a presidential candidate for the coming presidential election.
Dr Scott has also revealed that some of the aspiring presidential candidates who have applied for adoption do not qualify because they are barred by the parental clause in the Constitution.
But Mr Kalaba has questioned the motive of Dr Scott and a few members of the Central Committee for insisting on the general conference when President Michael Sata was adopted by the same organ for the three attempts he contested the presidency.
Mr Kalaba recalled that in 2001, the PF Central Committee adopted President Sata as a candidate and that the organ repeated its action when it elected the former head of state for the 2006 general elections.
Mr Kalaba said it was shocking that Dr Scott was demonizing the Central Committee when most of its members were a product of the same party organ adding that the general membership was not going to allow a clique of individuals to manipulate the adoption process.
Mr Kalaba told the Daily Nation that the PF would have no time to heal itself after the general conference and that there was a danger that the party would split and become weaker and fail to compete effectively in the coming presidential election.
He stated that the Central Committee had been adopting the presidential candidate until in 2011 when it held its first general conference where President Sata was elected party president and adopted as presidential candidate.
“The Central Committee has been the organ that has been adopting a presidential candidate since 2001. In 2006, it was the Central Committee that adopted President Sata as a candidate and during the 2008 presidential election; it was the same organ that adopted our former head of state. So what has suddenly changed because we have found ourselves in the same circumstance as it was in 2008?
“The danger of going for a general conference is that we will come back badly fractured as a party and there will be little time to heal the wounds,” Mr Kalaba said.
Mr Kalaba said this was not the first time Zambia had lost a sitting president and that the transition during the MMD was smooth and without acrimony.
Dr Scott said the ruling party was ready for the general congress that would gobble K2.5 million for the 5000 delegates that would be accredited.
Dr Scott told journalists yesterday at his office that he had not nominated himself for the presidential race because he was aware that he was disqualified by the Constitution. He said the constitutional amendment of 1996 which barred first republican president Kenneth Kaunda had hit him and other presidential aspirants who had filed their nominations to be adopted for the presidential election.