The ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) should adopt acting President Rupiah Banda as its candidate for the forthcoming presidential by-election, MMD chairperson for information and publicity Benny Tetamashimba has said, Times of Zambia reported Monday.
But Northern Province Minister Lameck Chibombamilimo has proposed First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa as the ideal candidate.
Tetamshimba said the ruling party would make a "big mistake" if it did not pick Banda to stand on its ticket.
He said it would only be fair for the MMD to allow Banda to uphold Mwanawasa's vision for Zambia because "he has exhibited high leadership qualities".
He said in an interview in Lusaka Sunday said it would be important for the MMD national executive committee members to agree on floating Banda if they have the interest of the nation and the party at heart.
Tetamashimba, who is Local Government Deputy Minister, said people vying for the presidency should re-consider their positions, as there could only be one leader at any given time.
He said many party members had suggested that Banda should takeover from Mwanawasa's reign.
According to Tetamashimba, the MMD has little time to settle for a candidate since there are less than 90 days before the presidential by-election is held.
However, he said all those wishing to contest the position were free to apply as long as they have been members of the party for not less than two years.
"As you may be aware, we have very few days before the elections. It is a fact and let's face the fact here. We don't have a leader and we have to identify one now," he said.
But Chibombamilimo has proposed that Mrs Mwanawasa should take over as president, saying she has the attributes necessary for the job.
He said in Lusaka Sunday that Mrs Mwanawasa's credentials were appropriate for this period and that she could be trusted to stick to the principles set by Mwanawasa.
"We cannot doubt her capacity to discharge the duties of this office as we have been witnesses to her developmental work scattered throughout the country and her leadership at the continental level where she has led her fellow first ladies in the fight against HIV/AIDS," Chibombamilimo said in a statement.
He said a cross-section of Zambians would not hesitate to rally behind Mrs Mwanawasa as a way of honoring her late husband's vision.
"My strongest appeal to my fellow leaders in government and the ruling party is that we put aside our individual pursuit for leadership and demonstrate to the nation and the world at large that we are not in power for the sake of power," he said.
And losing Matero MMD candidate in the 2006 general elections, Goodward Mulubwa has echoed Chibombamilimo's sentiments.
Mulubwa said Mrs Mwanawasa had the right qualities befitting a national president.
He said the first lady was well known countrywide because of the Maureen Mwanawasa Community Initiative programs she had been undertaking.