DEFENCE Minister Edgar Lungu has been unanimously declared Patriotic Front (PF) president by yesterday’s extraordinary general conference at Mulungushi Rock of Authority in Kabwe.
Acting President Guy Scott, the eight other PF presidential hopefuls and some Central Committee members did not however attend the conference.
Returning officer Tutwa Ngulube of FB Nanguzgambo and Associates declared Mr Lungu duly elected.
This was after he called the nine nominees to present to the general conference 200 voters as per PF constitution but when their names were called, only Mr. Lungu was present and met the qualification.
Mr. Lungu was finally declared president, beating Commerce deputy minister Miles Sampa, former first lady Dr. Christine Kaseba, Given Lubinda, Phangula Banda, Commerce minister Bob Sichinga and his Agriculture counterpart Wylbur Simusa.
Others were Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili and former Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba.
Mr Lungu’s election comes after a protracted mode of choosing the PF presidential candidate for the 20th January presidential by-election following the death of President Michael Sata.
Some members of the Central Committee had proposed earlier that Mr. Lungu be nominated by the Central Committee but Dr. Scott refused the proposal and set the conference for Kabwe for 29th November.
On Saturday, the conference failed to take off because Dr. Scott and eight other presidential candidates were absent from the conference centre forcing PF national chairperson Inonge Wina to postpone the meeting to yesterday in spite of criticism from delegates who kept on complaining about the delays and the poor sanitary conditions at the centre.
Mrs. Wina however assured delegates that the conference would proceed.
Earlier yesterday, PF chairperson for elections Sylvia Masebo arrived at the conference centre and announced that the elections subcommittee had noted some irregularities and that fresh accreditation of delegates would take place at a separate place in town but the delegates at Mulungushi objected and insisted that the verification be done at Mulungushi.
Ms. Masebo’s decision was also overturned by Mr Ngulube who announced that elections would proceed at the Mulungushi Rock of Authority.
Mr. Ngulube said he had read the PF constitution and had been in a meeting with Dr Scott and the candidates to chart the modalities for the convention and was on firm ground to allow elections to take place.
Shortly after Mr. Ngulube’s announcement, Ms. Masebo appeared amid tight police guard and announced that the elections would be null and void as they had fallen short of the right ingredients.
But delegates protested and almost beat her up and was only saved by police who whisked her out of the centre.
Meanwhile Dr. Musonda Makasa, the team leader of the Lusaka Province mobile health services said over 180 people mostly with diarrhoearal related cases were attended to during the two-day conference.
Dr. Makasa attributed the infections to the poor sanitary conditions at Mulungushi Rock of Authority which led to the closure of the Mulungushi University.