Zambia’s information minister says the ruling Patriotic Front has a much better chance of winning next month's presidential by-election now that acting President Guy Scott has publicly reconciled with the party’s presidential candidate, Edgar Lungu.
Supporters of the PF expressed concern after 14 cabinet ministers called for Scott's removal from office last week. The ministers accused the acting president of failing to support Lungu and undermining the party's efforts to win the election.
Tension rose further when the acting president refused to step down.
But information minister Joseph Katema said that tension dissipated Saturday, after Scott and other party leaders accompanied Lungu to the electoral commission office and through the main streets of the capital, Lusaka, as a show of unity.
Lungu formally filed his nomination papers with the Electoral Commission of Zambia to officially represent the PF in January's vote.
Katema says the hatchet has been buried.
“It seems to be the case because the acting president has come into [the] fold of the Patriotic Front to give support to the president of the [PF] to be Edgar Lungu. Of course there were challenges here and there,” said Katema. “There are different perceptions, but by and large, everybody has welcomed it -- although with complaint that it was long overdue.”
Katema says senior members of the party, including members of parliament, are now launching an intensified nationwide campaign in an effort bid to keep the PF in power.
“We go full force into the campaign. All the Patriotic front MPs, we are going into our constituencies to beef up or to ignite the already existing campaigns. Don’t think that the party had gone to sleep. No. The party had not gone to sleep,” said Katema.
He says party members who challenged Lungu’s candidacy have also announced their support for the presidential nominee.
Next month’s election was made necessary by the death of Zambian President Michael Sata in October. Sata was also the leader of the PF party.