Splits are looming in the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) after it emerged that some of the opposition party’s members of parliament are intending to challenge Hakainde Hichilema’s bid to contest the presidency for the fourth time in 2016, the year when he will have served two five-year terms beyond which the UPND constitution bars him from re-contesting.
Insiders say some senior UPND members including members of the National Management Council (NMC) and National Executive Committee (NEC) as well as members of parliament feel Hichilema is being greedy by putting himself forth as a candidate by skirting around a constitutional and moral issue of the two five-year term limit.
A source told Tumfweko, “HH wants to delay the party elections in 2016 until after the general elections to ensure he’s the party’s candidate in the 2016 elections. He wants to give himself a third term using underhand tactics but MPs like Hyvie Hamududu (Bweengwa) and Garry Nkombo (Mazabuka), among several others, have vowed to stop him. What is happening in UPND right now is that people are discussing whether HH is the right man to win the party an election.”
The source said that it would be unfair if Hichilema decided to go ahead giving whatever excuse he might think of because he has been loud about democracy and morality when it suited him.
An MP from Southern Province who asked not to be named said that the feeling in the party was that HH has fueled perceptions that UPND was a Tonga party and hence it was time to replace him with a more neutral person who could secure the party election victory in 2016. He added that even the provincial UPND leadership in Southern Province has gone lukewarm, while some of them even left the party but returned after a lot of persuading from Hichilema.
“John Chidyaka, the provincial vice chairperson, along with Mayaba Hanseluka and Gideon Syakalima had actually resigned from the party. HH sweated to persuade them until they finally gave in and returned. People are fatigued with HH!” the source said.
The source insisted that Hichilema had to go if UPND’s declining fortunes are to be stopped; adding that it would be selfish of Hichilema to stay when he’s performance has been going down at every election.
Hichilema became UPND president against the backdrop of calls by some staunch members from Southern Province that only a person who was Tonga by tribe would be allowed to head the troubled opposition party following the death of its founding leader Anderson Mazoka. Hichilema’s ascension to the helm of the UPND left the party in tatters after a faction of mainly members from the Western Province left to form the United Liberal Party (ULP) under Sakwiba Sikota, who had unceremoniously been defeated by Hichilema during the success wrangles to replace Mazoka.