Call MMD convention, founders tell Nevers

MMD founding members have demanded that Nevers Mumba should immediately call for an ordinary convention from which the party should elect its new crop of leaders and reconcile itself if it is to remain relevant to the country’s democratic dispensation.

The MMD founding members said the former ruling party, as a pioneer of democracy, should not be ‘‘condemned to extinction’’ on account of lack of dialogue between Dr Mumba and the members most of whom he has either expelled or suspended leading to the former ruling party getting fragmented.

Donald Chanda, Teta Vundamina, Dr Katele Kalumba, Matiya Ngalande, Fisho Mwale, Teddy Mulonga, Colonel C.Y. Chambula and Colonel C. Shula, the founding members of the MMD, yesterday gathered at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Lusaka and called for reconciliation among party members and declared that a convention should be held as a matter of principle and democratic practice. Speaking on behalf of the MMD founding members, Donald Chanda said the pioneers of multiparty democracy were deeply concerned with the continued in-fighting in the former ruling party.

Mr Chanda, who is University of Zambia (UNZA) development studies lecturer, said the founding members appreciated efforts by MMD president Nevers Mumba and former President Rupiah Banda to reconcile various groups within the former ruling party.

Mr Chanda, however, said the reconciliation of Dr Mumba and former President Banda should be extended to the general membership of the MMD because the party had remained divided despite the reconciliation between the two leaders. He said the MMD founding fathers recognised the fact that Dr Mumba, having been elected as MMD president in 2011, was still the leader of the party but that his mandate had expired and a convention was, therefore, not a matter of necessity but a call to respect the party’s constitution and democratic values.

Mr Chanda said it was necessary for Dr Mumba to continue presiding over the MMD to avoid creating a leadership vacuum in the former ruling party but that there was urgent need for the national executive committee to call for a convention as soon as possible.

“As MMD founding members, our point of departure is the democratic multi-party ideals and principles which the party adopted and has continued to use ever since the 1991 Garden Hotel conference.

‘‘Never again would the wishes of an individual or indeed a clique subdue the collective will of the people. The people would choose their leaders at an assembly convened for that purpose as agreed and at predetermined intervals.

‘‘Based on these principles and upholding them in the interest of the nation, we call an all the groups in the MMD to stop the political in-fighting and accept the principles of the party and follow the constitution of the party as the way forward,” Mr Chanda said.

Mr Chanda said the decision to hold a convention in an open and transparent manner as enshrined in the party constitution should be respected by the warring parties in the MMD. He said the MMD convention would see the election of leaders that would guide party members on the proposed alliance between the Patriotic Front (PF) and the former ruling party. Mr Chanda said first republican President Kenneth Kaunda was made to cut his term of office by heeding the people’s call for multi-party democracy and elections and it was, therefore, important for Dr Mumba to emulate the democratic spirit of the first republican President. “Our courts through history have guided us through precedence, rulings and legal opinions and some of the guiding past experiences includes the court ruling on the need for the MMD to go for a convention to elect its leaders.

‘‘There is precedence in the case of late President Levy Mwanawasa who assumed the leadership of the MMD after President Frederick Chiluba stepped down. President Banda took over the leadership of the MMD after the death of Dr Mwanawasa to serve his unexpired term up to 2011 when he was re-elected as MMD president,” Mr Chanda said.

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