Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) Executive Director McDonald Chipenzi allegedly intends to contest the Siavonga Constituency Parliamentary seat under the United Party for National Development (UPND), according to a source close to the party.
This surprising development was confirmed by a source within the party’s National Management Committee (NMC) in an exclusive interview with Zambia Reports.
The source said that Mr. Chipenzi, who is also Spokesperson for the Grand Coalition on the enactment of the new constitution, has already briefed the party leadership of his intention to contest in 2016 when the country goes to general elections that incorporates Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections.
The Siavonga constituency seat is currently held by Kennedy Hamudulu of UPND. The source said even Beatrice Grillo, the former NGOCC board chairperson, has expressed willingness to contest a parliamentary seat under UPND in 2016.
If Chipenzi ends up formally standing on the UPND ticket, there is like crisis with regard to FODEP, which has in the past been accused of showing partisan bias in favour of UPND, although the organization claims to be non-partisan. Recently, there was some controversy as other members of the Grand Coalition decided to leave the grouping because of Chipenze’s perceived links toward UPND.
Certain recent statements by FODEP have raised questions about the organization’s intentions, including an aggressively worded statement dated April 6, 2015 which attacked the judges chairing the anti-corruption tribunal formed to investigate the suspended Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito, even though the tribunal had yet to sit at the time.
According to the FODEP constitution published on their website, members aren’t allowed to openly campaign for parties.
The membership rules of the FODEP constitution states: “All members of FODEP shall endeavor, in their words and deeds to uphold the integrity of FODEP as a non-partisan, non-geneterian and non-profit making, Non-governmental Organization. Members of FODEP, therefore, though free to have political sympathies, and also free to vote in an election, are not allowed to express these sympathies in anyway, publicly.”
Chipenze’s potential candidacy for the UPND would post a challenge to the organization.