Nevers fails to stop convention

THERE is nothing to stop the Felix Mutati group in the MMD from holding a convention to elect the next president of the party, the Lusaka High Court ruled yesterday.

This was because there was no documentary evidence before court to support the fact that MMD president Nevers Mumba was elected for a five-year tenure of office in April 2012, and therefore a party convention can be held.

Lusaka High Court Judge Mubanga Kondolo said there was also no evidence to support the notion that the convention could only be held in 2017.

In a landmark decision which has far-reaching consequences for the former ruling party which has been rocked by leadership squabbles, Mr Justice Kondolo allowed MMD Lunte Member of Parliament Felix Mutati and 11 others to hold a party convention to choose the president of the party.

But MMD spokesperson Reverend Sambo said the national executive committee was going to study the judgment and would certainly appeal against the ruling to the Supreme Court.

And Mr Mutati said he was not aware of the court ruling and could not comment until after making consultations with the lawyers.

“No document has also been produced showing that the 1st defendant (Felix Mutati) was expelled from the party by the national executive committee,” he said.

This is a matter in which MMD acting national secretary Winnie Zaloumis was seeking an order of injunction restraining Mr Mutati from illegally removing Dr Mumba from office as president of  MMD.

Mr Justice Kondolo said the affidavit by Ms Zaloumis was full of assertions that were unsupported by any documentary evidence and an irrelevant reference was made to Article 12 of the MMD constitution.

He ruled that seeking an injunction for relief should not be secured so easily with unsupported facts and allegations.

The judge said granting injunctions so easily would bruise the rationale that the court discretion had to exercise its power.

“Therefore, the ex-parte application for an order of interim injunction is refused,” Mr Justice Kondolo said.

He said he could not stop Mr Mutati and his colleagues from interfering with the running of the office of the president or putting the MMD into disrepute.

Ms Zaloumis wanted a declaration that by virtue of the provisions of the MMD constitution, the president of the MMD was duly elected for a five-year mandate in April 2012.

She wanted a declaration that by virtue of the five-year mandate for which the MMD president was elected, the next elections to the office of MMD president was due in April 2017.

Ms Zaloumis had stated that Dr Mumba was elected for a term of five years, but Mr Mutati had continued to call for a convention and allegedly sent thugs to destroy property at the secretariat, resulting in Mr Mutati being expelled from the party by the national executive committee (NEC). She said she had received impeccable information that Mr Mutati now intended to hold a convention or disrupt the running of the secretariat any day after April 11, 2016, by which date they claimed the president’s tenure of office expired.

Yesterday’s ruling attempts to put to rest two years of intense wrangling in the former ruling party during which several high-ranking party members have been expelled or suspended as they rebelled against the leadership of Dr Mumba whom they accused of running the MMD like a private club.

Twelve MMD members of Parliament two months ago defected to the opposition United Party for National Development and attempts by Dr  Mumba to forge an alliance with the ruling Patriotic Party have stalled over the leadership squabbles.

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