MMD president Nevers Mumba has complained to the High Court of wholesale asset stripping by the Felix Mutati faction and has asked the court to declare the convention that purported to elect them to party positions null and void.
In his evidence on Thursday, Mumba told court that the happenings in the last two years had injured the party’s image through non-participation in elections, loss of donors.
He said dropping out of the Presidential election in 2016 had eaten into his time as president as he had been fighting in court.
“Donors are not interested. All MMD MPs have had to succumb to other parties. Mobilisation has been affected. I haven’t been able to hold a rally because sponsors are not willing to give to an embattled organisation. Two years of my presidency and life has been lost as a result,” Mumba said in his plea for damages.
He complained of asset stripping through wholesale of party vehicles by the Mutati group and that the party’s bank Accounts have been cleaned out.
Mumba asked the court to declare the 2016 convention by the Mutati group illegal, all outcomes, including elections, null and void, and a return of all party property.
He has also asked for an order to correct the tampered with names at the Registrar of Societies office and to send a warning to all parties to respect their party constitutions.
“It has become obvious that our colleagues on the other side are not interested in ending this conflict as their relevance is based on perpetuating this paralysis. They have resisted trial for two years and survived on applications and multiple appeals from the lowest court all the way to the Supreme Court and back. They have lost almost all appeals and applications. At least eighteen of them. This month alone, they have lost six applications and appeals. Their goal is to frustrate Justice,” submitted Mumba submitted.
“The Supreme Court has simplified this case by reducing it to two questions: 1. Where did they get authority to hold a convention? 2. Where they legitimately elected?”
In his edividence, Mumba told the court that the four defendants, Felix Mutati, Raphael Nakacinda, Mwansa Mbulakulima and George Kangwa, who were all expelled and suspended at the time, abrogated the constitution of the MMD party.
“They decided to hold an illegal convention at which they elected themselves to the positions they now claim to hold. This has never been done in the history of our political organisation, which is branded as the mother of democracy,” he told court. “The attempted coup de tat has left our party paralysed and ineffective and it’s for this reason we are in this hall of justice today.”
Mumba told judge Sharon Newa that the
background of “this criminality” followed an announcement by President Edgar Lungu who expressed a public desire to get into an alliance with the MMD ahead of the August 11th 2016 election.
“The cartel decided to usurp power through illegal means so that they can broker the announced alliance. This was their motivation,”Mumba told court.
“My Lady, this is not the first time this cartel has attempted to usurp the authority of the legitimate leadership of MMD led by myself. In 2014, a similar attempt was made. The cartel mobilised themselves and suspended me in order to bring back the former party president Mr Rupiah Banda as the 2015 Presidential candidate. The party and the nation remain indebted to the Supreme Court which unanimously ruled in our favour in their Select Judgement of December 18th 2014 and restored order in the party.”
Mumba told court that the purported May 2016 convention organised by the defendants was illegal on all fronts as they did not have locus standi.
“Mr Felix Mutati was expelled on February 22nd 2016. Letter [of expulsion] is on page 196 of the bundle. Further, Mr Mutati cannot be floated for the MMD presidency because he is not a member of the party. ARTICLE 39(1) says, ‘No person shall be allowed to be elected as president of the party who is not a member of the party’,” Mumba told court.
“His expulsion was confirmed by this court in the ruling of Judge Chanda cause number 2016/HP/0338.”
Mumba also told court that Mwansa Mbulakulima was suspended on March 3rd 2016 and never contested his suspension in any court.
He said Nakacinda was suspended on 22nd February 2016 while Kangwa was suspended and later expelled in 2014.
“The conveners had no authority: My Lady, even assuming the defendants were in good standing, they could not convene a convention without the authority of the NEC. Not even I as party president can convene a convention without a resolution from the NEC. The constitution of the party only mandates the NEC with the sole responsibility to convene a convention as per article 19(g). The purported convention had NO RESOLUTION from NEC. It had NO MINUTES of the sitting. It had NO approved list of attendees. It had NO BUDGET committee,” Mumba testified.
He alleged that dirty money sponsored the “illegal convention”.
He explained that during the 2012 national convention at which he was elected president, the agenda consisted of three items: the re-instatement of the positions of two Vice-Presidents, New financial regulations, and the election of party President.
“Agenda item (2) introduced new financial guidelines, including that every amount raised in the name of the party for party work must be deposited into party accounts by the national treasurer. My lady, I wish to state that the money which was used for the purported convention is unknown to the party and was never subjected to party financial regulations. The treasurer is unaware of these funds as revealed on pages 86 and 87 of their bundle of documents,” Mumba tesified. “MMD does not have those receipts. It is such dirty money which hijacks the integrity of any party as it serves the interest of the funder. In this case, the funder’s intention was to paralyze the operations of the MMD.”
Mumba told court that MMD has had seven Conventions since 1991 and that the party constitution provides for regular conventions every five years.
“In practice, no convention has ever been held in cycles of five years, as the constitution provides for NEC to vary the periods in order to have smooth running of the party. ARTICLE 56 of Party regulations states that: ‘The NEC shall have power to make regulations, rules and standing orders for the effective carrying out of the provisions of this Constitution and for the proper running of the party.’ History reveals that the conventions were held in: 1991,1993,1995,2001,2005,2011,2012. As you can see my Lady, none of the conventions came after five years,” he explained.
Mumba also gave court the steps to convene a convention.
“The NEC meets and makes the resolution; the NEC appoints a Convention Committee chaired by the National Secretary; the NEC appoints a fundraising committee chaired by the National treasurer; the NEC approves the delegates’ list;
the President opens the Convention; the party chairman chairs the convention,” he explained. “None of the above constitutional steps were observed in the purported convention. It was an illegal gathering of people not in good standing with the party. My lady, four individuals decided to trash the wisdom of forty NEC members and went ahead to act outside the provisions of our party constitution to convene a convention.”
Mumba told court that the Mika meeting of January 30th 2016 was a regular, legitimately convened NEC meeting, which resolved to hold a Convention in 2017 in accordance with article 40(1) of the party.
According to the constitution, the party president shall hold office for two terms of five years each and shall not be eligible for re-election.
“My election as president took place on 25th May 2012. Five years was to expire in May 2017. NEC was on Tera Firma. The NEC meeting was called in line with the party constitution. A seven-day notice was given. Two of the defendants in this case were present at the meeting. The second defendant, Mr Mbulakulima was the national secretary and was responsible for ensuring that the NEC meeting was held in accordance with the party constitution,” Mumba explained.
And Mumba told court that Winnie Zaloumis
was legitimate acting national secretary.
“After the suspension of Mr Mbulakulima as national secretary, Winnie Zaloumis as deputy national secretary (as per constitution) automatically assumed the position of acting national secretary. To make it even more official, she was officially appointed by a recorded minute on page 205 of our bundle of documents. Her letter of appointment is on page 208 of our bundle of documents. Please note that from time to time NEC will appoint any member of the executive to act in any capacity,” Mumba said. “The NEC has immense powers to make regulations, rules and standing orders to ensure the smooth running of the party. When the acting national secretary was indisposed for example, Reuben Sambo and Hon Elizabeth Chitika have acted as national secretary. MMD has similar acting procedures like government. When a Vice-President acts as President, the documents call Him President. They hold both positions until the substantive one returns.”
On the petitions for convention, Mumba said the defendants claim that the convention they held was in line with article 15 of the party constitution and that they received petitions from one third of the provinces.
“ARTICLE 15(1) states, ‘The NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE may on its own initiative, or at the REQUEST of at least one third of the Provincial Executive Committees convene an extraordinary meeting of Convention.’ This article clearly states that one third of Provincial Committees must REQUEST the NEC for a convention. In this case, no petition was ever presented to the NEC requesting for a convention. There is no record for such a meeting, no minutes and no resolution to hold a convention. This is a hoax,” Mumba told court.
“Surprisingly, when this case started, purported petitions were created to misdirect the court that indeed petitions were made. No petitions were made or presented to the NEC, which I have chaired the past five years. I, however, wish to confirm that the purported petitions were fraudulent and an act of criminality on the part of the defendants: My lady, for a petition to be properly lodged with NEC, it must consist of three elements:
1. Petition letter must be signed by the Provincial Chairman and Secretary stating the reasons they wish to hold a convention; 2. They must attach minutes of the meeting signed by both the Chairman and Secretary; 3. They must attach the list of Committee members who attended the meeting with their signatures. Allow me my lady to show the court that the purported petitions were a work of fraud by the defendants.”
Mumba told court that the Lusaka Province chairman presented by the Mutati faction was a fraud.
He said the chairman for Lusaka Province is Stephen Bwalya and not Donald Chilufya as purported by Mutati and his group.
He also told court that at the MIKA NEC meeting, the record shows that Lusaka voted for no Convention in 2016.
“The petition is incomplete and invalid as it has no minutes, no signatures and the names on the list are unknown to the party. This petition fails and it is a FRAUD,” Mumba testified.
On Eastern Province, Mumba said what was presented as a petition was not a petition but a brief on a district and provincial meeting which is purported to have been held on February 12, 2016 long after the January 30th NEC meeting which resolved for NO Convention in 2016.
“There is no signed list of attendees. This so called petition contradicts the recorded position of Eastern Province at MIKA NEC meeting, which voted for NO Convention. The entire petition is a fabrication and a FRAUD,” Mumba told court.
On Southern Province, he said there was not a petition letter, the Chairman a fraud because the sitting chairman of the province is Kashinka and not Pelete.
“Mulobeka, who signed as acting Secretary is a constituency official and not Provincial. The Province Voted for NO Convention as per record of the minutes of the MIKA NEC meeting on page 188 of our bundle of documents. List of attendees is a fraud. This petition fails and is a FRAUD,” Mumba told court.
He also dismissed what the Mutati group presented as petitions from North Western and Luapula provinces as fraud as they voted No convention.
“My lady, our findings are that these meetings did not take place. This was an attempt to undo the resolutions of the NEC meeting of January 30th 2016. Even if they had taken place, they would have been of no use as the NEC had already resolved and the Chairmen of all provinces were in attendance and part of the resolutions passed,” Mumba testified.
“In conclusion my lady, even if these petitions had been legitimate, they should have been submitted to NEC for consideration. This was never done as there were no petitions. The Petition exercise is a sham and a criminal act by those who fabricated it and it is clear that they were done after the fact.”