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Zambia Opposition Denies Split in PF/UPND Alliance

  • Peter Clottey

Zambian President Rupiah Banda, left, toasts with Chinese President Hu Jintao after a signing ceremony for a wide range of mining, trade and cultural agreements, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Feb. 25, 2010 (file photo)

Zambian President Rupiah Banda, left, toasts with Chinese President Hu Jintao after a signing ceremony for a wide range of mining, trade and cultural agreements, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Feb. 25, 2010 (file photo)

A leading member of Zambia’s main opposition Patriotic Front (PF) party dismisses media reports that his group has severed an alliance with the United Party for National Development (UPND) ahead of this year’s general elections.

Wynter Kabimba, general secretary of the PF party says his group wants a strong alliance, but expresses concern that recent insults and pronouncements by some junior members of the UPND questioning the credibility and integrity of his party’s leader are undermining the opposition coalition.

Micheal Sata, leader of Zambia's main opposition Patriotic Front

Micheal Sata, leader of Zambia's main opposition Patriotic Front

“There have been no attempts at all on the part of the Patriotic Front to sabotage the UPND. Mr. [Michael] Sata [PF leader] wrote a letter to Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the UPND, informing him of his personal decision [and] expressing his displeasure and disappointment, and he put a condition to the effect that he will not participate in any discussion with the UPND unless, and until, Joe Kalusa personally apologizes to [him],” said Kabimba.

“I’m disappointed that the UPND have decided to either misconstrue the content of that letter or decided to withhold the content of that letter and presented to outsiders to the effect that that letter by Mr. Sata is a decision by the Patriotic Front to disengage from the pact,” he said.

Cornelius Mweetwa, deputy spokesman for the UPND, says that his party was capable of existing on its own despite its involvement in an alliance with the PF. He also dismisses accusations that the UPND was secretly working with the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), a move which sharply contradicts stipulations of the alliance with the PF party.

Mweetwa also says people have taken advantage of the squabbles that have rocked the PF-UPND pact to malign the UPND.

But, Kabimba says his PF party can “singlehandedly” defeat the ruling MMD party in this year’s vote if the coalition collapses.

“We would like, and we have always wanted, the pact to survive, but it will not survive for as long as the UPND does not come out in the open [and say] that their agenda is to assume the presidency of the alliance. They have been very deceptive about this agenda. We do not believe that they mean well. We do not believe that they came into this alliance in good faith,” said Kabimba. “I can tell you that, with or without this alliance, PF will win this election, I can guarantee you that.”

Analysts say growing tensions between the two parties could thwart their chances of defeating incumbent President Rupiah Banda and his ruling MMD party in this year’s elections.

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