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The National Democratic Focus (NDF) will not take part in the forthcoming presidential election and will instead support the MMD candidate Rupiah Banda.

Speaking at a Press briefing in Lusaka yesterday, NDF president Ben Mwila said that during the 2006 elections, the party supported the candidature of late president Levy Mwanawasa and by supporting Mr Banda, the opposition party was being consistent with its previous decision.

He said that the NDF was also concerned about the huge cost implications that would come about as a result of the election.

“Our party shares more or less the same beliefs about the kind of Zambia we want. In our view our primary focus following the untimely death of Dr Mwanawasa should be the provision of competent and ethical leadership which is capable of uniting the Zambian people, one which continues to correct the country’s ills, one which can redeem the country’s image and reputation,” Mr Mwila said.

He said that most of the opposition party leaders were previous members of the MMD and Mr Mwila was saddened by the refusal by some of them to accept the proposal to fore-go the presidential elections.

Mr Mwila said that if the presidential elections were foregone, financial resources saved would have been channeled to other needy areas.

“The savings would have helped reduce inflation, which would be fuelled to double digits. This saving could also be used to subsidise agricultural inputs, providing drugs in hospitals, pay teachers, doctors’ allowances,” Mr Mwila said

Now that the NDF would support the candidature of Mr Banda, he said that they expect the MMD to provide a leadership with abundant patriotism and nationalism.

He further said that they expected the MMD to move the people of Zambia out of the shackles of poverty by implementing the ideals on which the third Republic was founded.

“Mr Banda is the right choice for the presidency of the country at this stage. We believe he can, with the support of the Zambian people get things done. We urge our supporters to once again make sacrifices. Let us support the MMD,” Mr Mwila said.

Mr Mwila said that the NDF would also not take part in the by-elections in Ndola Central, Mwansabombwe and Kanchibiya constituencies. The party would support the MMD in all three by-elections.

The Forum for Leadership Search (FLS) has said it will support Mr Banda in next month’s Presidential election.

Forum executive director Edwin Lifwekelo said in a statement yesterday that his organisation would support Mr Banda for the purpose of stability and continuity.

Mr Lifwekelo said FLS would not support opportunists as they could drive the Zambian economy backwards.

He said politicians who shifted and changed goal posts at will were dangerous and should not be entrusted with the welfare of the nation.

Meanwhile, MMD youth activists have strongly condemned Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata and some members of UNIP for their campaign tactics.

In a joint statement signed by Lackson Mukuka, Jacob Phiri and Andrew Ndhlovu, the trio said it was unfair that Mr Banda was being called all sorts of bad names when he was actually a true MMD member.

© 2008 The Times of Zambia. All rights reserved.