(By Christopher Miti, Salim Dawood and Tobias Phiri)
MMD Eastern Province chairperson Jacob Mwanza says the firing of its faction leader Felix Mutati from the PF government means that the former ruling party will have to fight its own battles without having to look left and right. And provincial youth chairperson Felix Muzwiti says the dismissal of Mutati from his ministerial position is a good life lesson.
Meanwhile, MMD president Nevers Mumba has sympathised with Mutati over his dismissal saying he knows how difficult it is to lose a job. In an interview yesterday, Mwanza said the MMD had now come out of a detention camp and could now explore their own ways to strengthen the party.
“All along we were being tied down by what I would perceive as an alliance in inverted comas. The alliance in our case was not helping a lot; it was just an alliance at the top but not in the structures at the bottom. So the general membership of the MMD in the province is very, very happy. The MMD membership will continue supporting president Mutati until when probably we have our next convention but for now he remains our president and we are very, very happy with what has been done,” he said.
Mwanza thanked PF for having considered Mutati to be part of government.
“In addition, we would say that the sacking of Mr Mutati was expected. From the time we held that card renewal in Chipata, our friends (PF) have been growing cold feet but they forgot that Mutati even before he was made minister was president of a political party called MMD. Going forward, I think the PF is just creating more enemies around them, beyond them and within them because at least they had breathing space with us as their partners in this. Now everything else will be dropped as well because now we have to make sure that we fight our own battles without having to look left and right,” he said.
And Muzwiti said a lot of things would unfold following Mutati’s dismissal.
“This teaches a lesson to our president. You remember the last statement he issued at our card renewal (in Chipata in September) that him and Edgar Lungu are phone and simcard, now this is a question he must ask himself; kuti now the issue of phone and simcard, is this the way a phone treats the simcard or a simcard treats the phone? So there is more to it, this is just the beginning. A lot of issues are yet to come,” he said.
Muzwiti likened Mutati to someone who forces themselves into a marriage where they are not wanted. He said Mutati’s dismissal was a happiest moment for MMD members in Eastern Province. Muzwiti said Mutati had now realized where he belongs.
“That agreement which was there (that led to Mutati’s appointment) it was not given in sincerity but now that he has been relieved of his duties, he will realise where he comes from and what he is supposed to do. We are not hurt but for us it’s a plus because we can see a president moving forward and reorganising our party. These (PF) people we assisted them in 2015, every Zambian knows that in 2015 we assisted them through our former president Rupiah Banda who encouraged us to say ‘let’s support our own. In 2016 we did the same to support them but we have never been respected from that time,” he said.
Muzwiti said without MMD’s support, PF would not have been in power.
“As a province, we are going to make sure that we put our foot down so that MMD is recognised as MMD as it has always been,” he said. Muzwiti said Mutati was first dropped as finance minister and later as works and supply minister adding that there must be reasons behind his dismissal.
“I think this should not worry Mutati, this gives him the strength to mobilise the party. We know that a lot of other issues will come up because MMD is a threat, our president is a very hard working person and issues that are not even there might start following him up but let him be strong alongside those with goodwill to advise him to be strong. We know Mutati to be a strong character. Right now he may not be in his own state but all he needs is just to be strong enough to go ahead and mobilise the party,” he said.
Muzwiti said things were not moving the way they were supposed to be after Mutati’s appointment into government.
“A lot of MMD members across the country complained that he (Mutati) cannot serve two masters at a time, so now he has come back and we are welcoming him back because he has come back to the roots where he belongs. So to us whether he worked under the PF government as Minister of Finance and he went into the second ministry where now he has been dropped, that does not matter because at first these things did not appear in our minds, it wasn’t there,” he said.
Muzwiti said MMD did not benefit anything from Mutati’s appointment in the PF government.
“After all the party could have even gone astray because we have even lost so many members because there was a lot of quietness. There was nothing during that particular moment. Everybody thought that he (Mutati) has crossed over and there were a lot of wrangles in MMD, people were not decided but now things will be okay,” said Muzwiti.
And speaking to journalists after attending court hearing yesterday, Mumba said he felt terrible about Mutati’s dismissal.
“Concerning the firing of Mr Mutati, I would not, none of my team members is celebrating his loss of a job, it would be unChristian, inhuman for us to celebrate that, maybe you, young people who have never been fired from those high profile jobs can joke about it. I was [Republican] vice-president, I was fired. I know how difficult it is, so we sympathise with him, we sympathise with his family and we wish them well as they get guided to move on further,” said Mumba.
“So we feel terrible about his being fired but these jobs are not permanent features in our lives. The President gives you the honour to serve the Zambian people and the President dishonours you with a disappointment and I think we should all be grateful if we were given an opportunity out of 15 million Zambians to serve as a minister. I think all he needs to do is thank the President for the opportunity he gave him.”