By CHILA NAMAIKO-
THE opposition UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) in Chilanga has continued to suffer from the after-shocks of its decision field Charmaine Musonda in the upcoming parliamentary with more high-ranking local officials ditching the party for the Patriotic Front.
The party’s Chilanga district chairperson Gertrude Shachele announced her departure from the UPND yesterday, taking with her vice-chairperson Benjamin Mvula, Maureen Kalusa the information and publicity secretary, Joseph Kwalombota constituency vice-youth chairperson and a bonifade party member Joas Chiwanga.
Mr Kwalombota was one of the trusted members of the campaign team that won the seat for the UPND and Keith Mukata, who was recently sentenced to death for murder, prompting the upcoming by-election.
The development comes hot on the heels of two councillors quitting the party last week in protest at its decision to field Ms Musonda, a girlfriend of Mukata’s.
Speaking in Chilanga yesterday when she announced her defection, Ms Shachele claimed that the defected members were not impressed with their party’s choice of Ms Musonda as the candidate for the Chilanga seat.
She said many women in Chilanga were not convinced UPND did the right thing by adopting Ms Musonda, the acquitted co-accused in Mukata’s murder case in which he was convincted of slaying a security guard working at his law firm in Lusaka.
She said members were shocked that, despite an uproar from party members not to adopt her, the party executive went ahead with the decision.
“Many more defectors are coming to join PF because many of our party members are not impressed with the adoption of Ms Musonda. For us, we have made a positive decision to support and campaign for PF aspiring candidate (Maria Langa),” she said.
Mr Kwalombota said he was an influential youth leader and he would go flat out to campaign for Ms Langa to scoop the seat to deliver tangible development to the people of Chilanga which he said was lagging behind in development.
Ms Langa’s campaign manager Jean Kapata, and PF member of the central committee Geoffrey Chumbwe, in receiving the defectors, said the ruling party would continue to embrace new members.
Meanwhile, Ms Langa told journalists at the PF Interactive Forum yesterday that, once elected as Member of Parliament, she would complete developmental projects started by Mr Mukata.
She pledged to bring positive change to residents by implementing unprecedented development, creating job opportunities for local youths in the area of tourism, agriculture and health in line with President Edgar Lungu’s agenda of not leaving anybody behind.
“I will also fight for construction of a university, a district general hospital, building of more classroom blocks in all 10 wards and paving Chilanga especially that I did a course with National Council for Construction and I have expertise on paving works,” she said.
Ms Kapata called for issued-based campaign devoid of violence and character assassination, saying the people of Chilanga were peaceful and just wanted development.
She said Chilanga was recording total transformation under President Lungu’s leadership and it would be easier for Ms Langa to carry on the PF vision of responding to people’s needs.
Mr Chumbwe said those propagating politics of hate speech should be rejected.