National Democratic Congress (NDC) secretary general Mwenya Musenge says Chishimba Kambwili still needs to apply for membership to the party despite having single-handedly helped it emerge victorious in last Thursday's Roan parliamentary by-election.
Musenge has, however, saluted Kambwili and his campaign team for making it possible for the newly-formed opposition party to have its first parliamentary representation in its less than two years of existence.
In an interview, Musenge, who played no part in NDC's victory, said he would not change his feelings towards Kambwili because it was his duty as the party's chief executive officer to ensure that the party constitution was adhered to.
"I am extremely excited as secretary general of the party that we finally have representation in Parliament! This is the desire of each and every opposition party. So, this is really a huge milestone that we've achieved as a party because we've only been in existence for a year and some months. What is critical is for us to see how we can build up on this thing that we have achieved, so I want to take this opportunity to thank all our colleagues and more especially ba Chishimba Kambwili who led the strong team and the campaign managers who were on the ground," Musenge said.
He admitted that the NDC's victory in Roan was important, but insisted that he could not ignore his differences with the party's 'consultant'
"What is important is that even with such achievements, the party has to be administered and managed in a prudent manner. The constitution of the party has to be respected in everything that we do and we need to make ourselves relevant. The chances are very high for us; we stand out as the next option or the only option to form government in 2021. But even as we are being appreciated, we need to make sure that we keep our house in order; we need also to be cautious of whatever language we are using at all times. We need to present ourselves with the dignity and integrity and humility that go with leadership. This is very critical and it cannot be looked over simply because we have won an election then we can forget about it. We have to take ourselves to the next level where the Zambian people can build more confidence in us," Musenge said.
"The position is very clear that the party has a constitution that needs to be adhered to. I don't think I have been asking for too much as secretary general of the party when I say that our colleague should push in an application so that our committee can sit and look at it and knowing very well that he will be at the end of the day leader of our party, I feel that, as a party, we did a lot of things that were not right. From the onset, when the party started, the idea was for us to work together and form a political party and for him to leave the party! But of course, he decided to pursue that matter in court, which later made him come out as a consultant of the party. It created a lot of misunderstandings and people could not clearly understand what was happening and that affected the growth of the party where the party now became moribund. It was my duty as secretary general to quickly take a post-mortem and look at what was wrong. It's like a car, which is cruising at 140(Km/h) and suddenly that vehicle reduces the speed and it can't move any further, the mechanic has to look into it, and if it has to overhauled then it has to be overhauled so that it regains the speed that it was moving at. So, as secretary general, it's my duty to make sure that this party continues to thrive and that's the reason why I had to take certain actions and decisions, knowing very well that they were very hard decisions to be taken, but they had to me taken."
He charged that Kambwili, the former PF Roan member of parliament, had not been adhering to the NDC's constitution, even in the way he selected the candidate for last Thursday's polls.
"I still stand by those decisions and I feel that we need to do the right thing now to build confidence in whoever is supporting us. Also for the nation to see that we are serious people and we mean well. But my dear brother [Kambwili] should apply to the party and the party sits, looks at his application and then we resolve and call him and sit him down to look at matters and then prepare him as we usher him (in) as president of the party and make sure that he succumbs to the guidelines of the party because in whichever way, we cannot pretend: the process of identifying a candidate in Roan was wrong, it was literally wrong! But we said: 'okay, this thing has happened, let us remain mute and unite and let our colleagues campaign' and I issued a statement to that effect. But now that we have won the elections, we have to resolve these issues, resolve them amicably and prepare ourselves for 2021 because with the way things are, we can still achieve a lot of wonders in 2021," said Musenge.Musenge celebrates Roan victory, but insists Kabwili must apply for NDC membership