Zambia’s former president Rupiah Banda has promised Zambians a new constitution if elected into office as his official campaign begins for the presidential by-election following the death of President Michael Sata.
Zambian analysts say Banda’s decision to participate in the presidential by-election is a surprise, since he retired from politics after he was defeated in the last general election by Sata, who died on October 28 in London.
In an interview with VOA, Banda said he also plans to implement measures to unite the country, as well as improve the living conditions for all Zambians.
“We’ve been battling with the issue of the constitution for a long time and I pray that the people of Zambia will get a constitution of their own making that will stand the test of time during the time that I will be here,” he said.
“The people who have asked me to come back have indicated that they will like me to use my experience and my method of running the country, which they have experienced already, in order to re-unite the Zambian people,” said Banda.
The Electoral Commission of Zambia plans to hold the presidential by-election to replace Sata on January 20 next year to meet a constitutional requirement that stipulates a vote should be held within 90 days following the death of a sitting president.
Banda said he just received the certificate that officially enables him to represent the opposition, Movement for Multi-Party Democracy [MMD] in the vote.
Banda said he seeks to only serve for what would have been the remaining years of Sata’s term, after which he will peacefully hand over power.
“I will be there for only two years to the end of this tenure, and during that time, I should be able to relinquish leadership and hopefully the Zambian people can then choose leaders of their choice, who will be able to continue with this program, both economically as well as otherwise,” said Banda.
He faces stiff challenges, however, from opposition leaders including Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), catholic priest, father Frank Bwalya, leader of the Alliance for a Better Zambia, as well as the yet to be chosen presidential candidate for the governing Patriotic Front (PF).
Some analysts say the power of incumbency could prove difficult for opposition parties, including the former president, to defeat the yet-to-be named presidential candidate of the PF, despite reports of internal wrangling among rank and file members of the governing party.
Banda said officials of the MMD are holding negotiations with other opposition parties to form an alliance ahead of the vote.
“We are talking to various opposition parties,” said Banda. “Unfortunately when other people are talking about an alliance, they are thinking only of themselves. But we are talking to a number of other groups within the country because we realize that it is necessary to begin this process of unifying the country by talking to all the various groups.”