By GIBBY MUKELABAI
A REBELLION against the UPND leadership has erupted in Western Province with the provincial chairman rejecting decision to dissolve his committee by the party secretariat.
Deposed Provincial Chairman, Njamba Musangu has rejected the dissolution of the Western Province United Party for National Development (UPND) Committee following the tidal wave of defections by councilors and loss of subsequent by-elections to the ruling Patriotic Front, terming the action illegal and irregular.
Last week, UPND Sesheke Member of Parliament Romeo Kang’ombe accused the leadership of fanning confusion in the province .
Mr Kang’ombe said he was aware that some people within the UPND) were bringing confusion, but that they would not succeed to frustrate him.
This followed the UPND crisis in Western Province which culminated in the dissolution of the provincial executive committee.
Some leaders in the province accused Mr Kang’ombe of conniving with the ruling Patriotic Front to coerce opposition councillors to leave the UPND.
But Mr Kang’ombe said it was unfortunate that such accusations were being peddled by propagandists who had no sense of shame.
“The sad part is this is coming from the enemy within our party. I am not into politics for party positions, I am content with what I have so please sober up,” Mr Kang’ombe said.
And Mr Musangu has accused UPND’s top hierarchy in Lusaka of panicking over the defections and using illegal means to sideline committed party officials in the region.
The UPND strongman vowed that he will not step down and will not dissolve his committee because the action to remove his group was not taken by the full UPND national management committee “but a handful of people, some of whom do not hold any positions in the party”.
He named those who “illegally” attended the meeting to sack his committee as Mongu Central Member of Parliament Mwilola Imakando and aspiring 2021 Lukulu parliamentary candidate Akapelwa Simomo.
Members of the opposition party in the province are reported to be staggered by the string of defections among ward councillors to join the ruling PF and the loss of by-elections that followed.
UPND has lost Nangula and Kaande high-profile by-elections in succession in the past three months after opposition party councillors joined PF.
Highly placed UPND sources also allege that four more councillors, including the one for Imusho ward in Shangombo district, have indicated their intention to ditch their party and defect to PF over the next few months.
Some disgruntled UPND officials in Western Province have accused the party leadership of failing to strengthen the party at grassroots level.
“We are sitting ducks at the mercy of the ruling party. UPND has allowed PF to behave like a bull in a China shop in this province. They do what they want, they buy whom they please,” one official said.
Meanwhile, Mr Musangu said his committee was not to blame for the defections and loss of by-elections. He said he had communicated his response to UPND chairman for elections Gary Nkombo. “I was sick during the Nangula by-election campaign and I cannot be blamed for the loss,” he said.
“Up to now we have not received the letter dissolving our provincial committee. We have only heard on television that we have been removed and replaced by an interim committee. Until I receive the letter from the national management committee I am still the provincial chairman and my committee is in place,” he said.
Mr Musangu said the committee had earlier received guidelines from the party in Lusaka that there would be elections involving all party structures as a run-up to the UPND convention in June.
“While we were studying these guidelines and preparing for lower party elections we received the news that our committee has been dissolved. If we are going for elections why dissolve our committee? It means we have been fired,” he said.
Mr Musangu said he did not recognize the caretaker committee headed by UPND Member of Parliament for Nkeyema Mr Kapelwa Mbangweta
Mr Musangu refuted allegations that, in retaliation, he was about to defect to PF with 15 other members but that the ruling party had told him that the number of proposed defectors was too little.
“I cannot join PF. Before I joined UPND I had two hands and a car. Now both my hands are broken and my car is damaged because of UPND. Currently I am in court because of UPND. How can I defect from UPND?
“My constituency is UPND and my office is Hakainde,” Mr Musangu added.
By GIBBY MUKELABAI