NEVERS Mumba was trying to run the party as though it was a church, where one person can be heard, MMD Eastern Province chairperson Jacob Mwanza yesterday told the Lusaka High Court.
Mwanza charged that Mumba was trying to illegally distort the party constitution in such a way that when party members called for a convention he would suggest that they backdate it to 2012 when he was ushered into office.
“Dr Mumba was trying to take the party as though it was a church where only one person can be heard,” he said.
“I say so because he has a background from the pulpit where as a pastor when he says ‘hallelujah’ everyone says ‘amen’ but not with the MMD which has a constitution. The party constitution has to be followed,” Mwanza said.
This is the matter in where MMD acting national secretary Winnie Zaloumis has sued Felix Mutati, Raphael Nakacinda and George Kangwa in the Lusaka High Court, challenging the legality of the convention which ushered them into power as leaders of the party.
Testifying before High Court Judge Sharon Newa, Mwanza said the MMD constitution stipulates holding a convention every five years, therefore 2016 was the right year to go to a convention and not 2017.
Mwanza said he attended the NEC meeting and that he was lodging at Dream Valley together with his colleagues.
He narrated that at midnight, they were awakened and informed that Mumba wanted to have a word with them, to which a roll call was conducted and it was discovered that two provincial representatives from Muchinga and North Western were not present.
“After that we were given files for the NEC meeting the following day and it was at that point that we were informed that Dreams Valley was only for lodging but the meeting was going to take place elsewhere,” he explained.
“When we were given these files, we went through and there were some legal opinions pertaining to whether we should go to a convention in that year or go to the convention in 2017.”
Mwanza claimed that the legal opinion had different opinions but there was one which stated clearly that Mumba could only go for a convention in 2017 and not 2016.
He said upon perusal of the files, they were collected from everyone by some people who accompanied Mumba, which he found was unusual.
Mwanza said there was commotion at MIKA Convention Centre just before the meeting could begin as some party cadres blocked some of the National Executive Committee members from entering the conference room.
He said among the senior NEC members that were harassed was UPND Nalikwanda member of parliament Geoffrey Lungwangwa and Bradford Machila.
Mwanza told the court that what he witnessed was a sign of intimidation from Mumba because at the time, he was insisting that they go for a convention in 2017.
He said there was a lot of intimidation in the NEC meeting as each time he wanted to visit the convenience room, some cadres would follow him to ensure he was not on phone.
He said during the meeting, there was an item on the agenda concerning the convention.
He narrated that an election was conducted during that meeting on whether they should go for a convention in 2016 or 2017.
Mwanza told the court that 33 members voted for a convention in 2016 and less than 33 voted for the holding of the convention in 2017.
“I remember there was an altercation between Dr Mumba and Honorable Mbulakulima, the then national secretary because Dr Mumba insisted that the legal opinion by Jeah Madaika saying the party should go to the convention in 2017 was the legitimate one,” he told court.
“Honorable Mbulakulima was surprised that there was another legal opinion coming from another lawyer and not the lawyers that the party had always depended upon for legal opinion.”
Mwanza said the meeting concluded that the party would go to the convention in 2017 based on the legal opinion present by Madaika and provincial representatives were advised to inform their members.
The witness explained that on Feb 12, 2016, he called for a joint provincial executive committee meeting to which a all district chairpersons were invited and informed that that NEC had decided that a convention would be held in 2017.
He said party members of Eastern Province suggested that the convention should be held in 2016 and it was resolved that a press statement be issued to indicate that a convention would be held as a way of healing the differences in the party because most of the NEC members were handpicked by Mumba.
Mwanza explained that the second resolution was to form an alliance with a political party that would agree with their conditions of partnership and that was the beginning of tension.
“What followed was drama in that in January 2016, Dr Mumba texted me saying there was a discussion between him and President [Edgar] Lungu that he would be made a running mate to President Lungu. This came about after a pronouncement by President Lungu in Eastern Province that he would rather work with MMD and not any other party. When that announcement was made, we were all excited but after that the President made it very clear that he was going to chose a woman as a running mate, that is where the drama started,” h told court.
“On April 17, 2016, at a rally held by the President in Chipata, I was one of the speakers at the party urging party members to support the candidature of President Lungu. I did that because of the same text message from Dr Mumba that he was in discussion with President Lungu,” Mwanza explained.
He indicated that in May 2016, Mumba, accompanied by Winnie Zaloumis and Elizabeth Chitika, visited Eastern Province with a clear intention to dissolve the provincial executive headed by him.
Mwanza averred that himself and his provincial executive members met in Mumba’s room at a named lodge.
He said Mumba was mad at him during that meeting, asking why he endorsed President Lungu, leaving him as a party president.
“Fortunately, I still kept the text message where he told me he would be the running mate and that I should support the PF. I explained to him that what I did was because of the message,” Mwana explained.
“Dr Mumba warned me very sternly that I should not do such a thing in the future and I am [sure] that is how my provincial executive committee survived until now,” he said.
Mwanza said the convention that was held in 2016 was legal because Mumba wanted to tamper with the Constitution of the party, which was illegal.
He claimed that Mumba was trying to do an illegal thing because every time he would say that they start counting from 2012 when he was ushered into office.
“The normal practice is that when a person is elected at a convention, they should stay in office for 5 years. According to the constitution, he was finishing off Rupiah Banda’s term of office and we were still supposed to go the convention in 2016, which is why I am saying he was trying to do something illegal,” the witness explained.
Mwanza insisted that the current office bearers of MMD are Felix Mutati and his team, who were elected at a convention in 2016 in Kabwe.
He said MMD was a people’s party and not one man’s show because members elect the leader and so the leader should learn to listen to what members say.
Mwanza said members noticed that the party was dying and did not want such to happen hence they called for a convention so that it could be re-energised.
“Looking at how we performed in the 2015 by-election, we did not expect Mumba to get 14,000 votes. That was a sign that the party is on its way out. Because that 14,000 is equal to my ward in Chipata,” he charged.
“What was more frustrating is that he got the least in Chinsali in his own homeland.”
During cross-examination by Mumba’s lawyer Madaika, Mwanza agreed that the court should determine the matter based on the MMD constitution as the party does not choose leaders from the courts of law.
He said conventions had been held every five years from the inception of the party with exceptions.
Mwanza indicated that there was no convention in 2012 but provincial conferences to choose a replacement for the previous leader.
He claimed that the MMD constitution was in tandem with the life of Parliament as each time general elections were held in Zambia, the MMD holds conventions.
When asked to clarify further, Mwanza indicated that there were exceptions on holding conventions.
He further denied misleading the people of Eastern Province that it was resolved that the convention would be held in 2017 during the NEC meeting.