UPND chairman for elections Gary Nkombo says the party has not entered into any electoral pact with any political party.
And Nkombo says there is no conflict in the opposition alliance, what is there “are just anxieties which are arising from general beliefs that maybe one party has an advantage over the other in certain areas”.
On Tuesday, NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili told News Diggers1 that he was very disappointed that the UPND had decided to field a candidate in Lubwa Ward despite meeting UNPD leader Hakainde Hichilema and his national chairperson Mutale Nalumango to discuss ways in which they can avoid competing against each other as alliance partners.
But in an interview, Wednesday, Nkombo, who is also Mazabuka UPND member of parliament, said the alliance was never anchored on electoral issues, but on issues to do with national governance.
“The point is simple, that our alliance with all the partners encompasses national governance issues such as the Public Order Act, the respect of the rule of law and general affairs of what affects all of us as a people. We have not had, and it should be very clear, we have not had any electoral pact with any political party,” Nkombo said.
“That should be known. The fact that we backed off to let honourable Kambwili of NDC to participate in Roan with our support was anchored squarely on the fact that first of all, he was the holder of that seat in Roan, I would not say there is any electoral pact and this is the reason why I am saying there is no anxiety that should be exuded, for now we need to sit down together, nothing has crumbled.”
He said there was no conflict in the opposition alliance.
“We have participated in elections before. We have a very close working relationship with the NDC and I can confirm to you that I spoke to one of the NDC (officials) personally from the election office yesterday (Tuesday) who asked me about the position that Charles Kakoma had given the day before. And my answer to him is that we need to sit down and discuss and part of the discussion is to remind each other on how our alliance is tailored,” Nkombo said.
“The truth here is that there is no conflict; there are just anxieties which are arising from general beliefs that maybe one party has an advantage over the other in certain areas. If for instance I give you an example, there was a by-election in Choma, or in Ndola or in Serenje, the general rule is that all alliance partners, we have encouraged ourselves to continue to participate because we have not concluded certain things that require conclusion such as the long run, the long run being 2021. Are we also going to say ‘you don’t stand here in 2021’ and ‘I will stand there’ so how do we then galvanise the votes? What we require to do at this stage, I did hear in brief that Mr Kambwili had said that he had agreed with the president and the chair on certain things. I cannot comment much on that because that is my superior but I can comment on the matter that affects my office.”
He insisted that certain things had not yet been agreed upon by the alliance.
“So if we say we are going to run together and we are going to run as a team, we have not reached that point yet and so there should be no anxieties, maybe after we meet which is my desire because I have asked for a meeting with the NDC. After we meet, we consult with our superiors and if it is agreed that we back off, so be it,” he said.
Nkombo recalled that UPND had in the past produced a councillor in Kitwe.
“But I think it is important for you to know that in that same constituency, Kitwe, at the time when UPND was perceived to be weak before NDC was born, we had a by-election and we produced a councillor, are you aware of that? So that gives you the answer that it’s not automatic that because it is this region we should behave in this manner,” he said.
He said this disagreement by alliance partners did not spell doom on their pact.
“We need to sit; we should engage each other, discuss, agree and disagree. The act of disagreeing alone does not spell doom. It’s a question of how you want to navigate and negotiate your way to give and take. So for now, this matter I wish I didn’t have this interview but it’s already in the public domain but my advice to my colleagues in the NDC is that lets come to the table because not all is lost and discuss earnestly and only run to the press when it is absolutely necessary,” said Nkombo.