The current wrangling within the Movement for Multi Party Democracy MMD is a sad development that is obviously dissipating energy and effort in a war of attrition that could to lead to the extinction of the party.
Unless well managed the schisms have the potential of fomenting long lasting differences that will result in fracture and disintegration on very minor and sometimes inconsequential issues. At the moment contention surrounds the tenure of the President which some members are challenging for good or indeed bad reasons. The issue however, is on the timing of such polemics.
It is unadvisable to consider a change of guard in the middle of these tumultuous events which will affect the future of the party.
Given the fact that the party is currently in the middle of by-elections it would have appeared prudent and a matter of common sense that issues dealing with leadership and indeed any other divisive matters would be put in abeyance to concentrate all efforts on the campaigns.
These by-elections are important for the MMD if it is to survive as the largest opposition party. The dwindling numbers of law makers and perennial defections by ordinary members make a very persuasive case for closing of ranks to conserve resources and present a united front to the electorate.
There are very important constituencies at stake in these elections. For example Chipata Central has been a stronghold for the MMD and its loss would be a big blow to the party.
Equally developments in Petauke where former Transport Minister Dora Siliya’s seat has been nullified will present an equally formidable but surmountable challenge for the party.
However, above all else time has come for broader inter-party cohesion to confront the growing intolerance exhibited by the ruling party. Without intra party cohesion MMD is unlikely to play a significant role in interparty dialogue. This will be unfortunate because MMD is a major factor in opposition with the largest number of members.
That the party must undertake comprehensive introspection is an imperative, but how this is managed should be well thought out in view of internal constraints and the very fact that the party has already undertaken some kind of national convention at which Dr. Nevers Mumba emerged as the winner. Any change, any variation and indeed any intention to change leadership must be by the book with the majority of party members participating. And more importantly it must be done with the purpose of unifying the party.
There is no shortage of detractors who will wish to accentuate every minor difference in order to promote disaffection in the leadership.
But if change is inevitable this must be the collective will of the party in the interests of the party and by the party itself. The party should not be stampeded into rash decisions which it will regret forever.