Major Richard Kachingwe has accused MMD leader Nevers Mumba of being a dictator.
But in cross-examination, Maj Kachingwe confirmed massaging his testimony because issues that were in favour of Mumba were not necessary.
He also told court that he could not confirm the legality of the convention held by Felix Mutati and others in 2016 as he was not a member of the party at the time.
Maj Kachingwe, a one-time MMD national secretary, including under Mumba’s reign, told High Court judge Sharon Newa on Friday that Mumba was a dictator because he always performed the work of his subordinates by taking disciplinary action against some party members without subjecting them to disciplinary committee nor seeking authority from the National Executive Committee.
“Dictatorship emerged in the party I once cherished. Dictatorial tendencies surfaced in the party. Since I left, six national secretaries have been appointed, which shows that there is something wrong with the kind of leadership,” he said.
Maj Kachingwe said whilst he was serving as High Commissioner to Malawi, he returned to Zambia to attend the opening ceremony of the MMD convention held in 2011 and that there was a public demand that he files in his nomination and stand as national secretary in order to resuscitate the party.
He narrated that general elections were held and the party lost the presidential seat to the Patriotic Front in the same year.
The then president Rupiah Banda decided to resign and become an elder statesman in order to fulfill the requirements of the Republican Constitution, Maj Kachingwe said.
He said the party had no president and the seat of vice-president was frozen due to ‘acrimony’.
“Whoever was chosen as vice-president thought that he was heir apparent [of the presidency]. At that time it was a very difficult time for the party because the PF had taken over and there was hostility against us (MMD),” he explained.
“The NEC decided that we go for a convention. We were in very difficult conditions; the party had no money, NEC said delegates would be appointed but would not convene at one place and it was suggested that the delegates would vote simultaneously beginning at 10:00. The delegates had access to the candidates.”
He said in 2012, the national executive committee had a clear motive of electing a president to spearhead the party and conclude Banda’s term.
Maj Kachingwe said elections were held and there was a tie on Mumba, and Felix Mutati, and former finance minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane.
Maj Kachingwe explained that none of the contestants met the 50 per cent plus one threshold and there was an immediate re-run and Mumba emerged winner.
He explained that following the elections, senior MMD members approached him complaining that Mumba did not qualify to be party president.
Maj Kachingwe said he asked for reasons and he was told that after Mumba was dropped as vice-president of Zambia, he remained a trustee of the party and could attend NEC meetings.
He said the party members disclosed that Mumba became arrogant towards late president levy Mwanawasa and the NEC considered it as indiscipline and hounded him out of the party.
Maj Kachingwe said Mumba applied to the party to re-admit him and president Mwanawasa selected a committee to look into the matter.
He said the members indicated that their decision to expel Mumba was because they noticed that he had disrespected president Mwanawasa which they considered to be insubordination.
He said Mwanawasa did not respond and Mumba remained expelled.
Maj Kachingwe said members brought up another issue suggesting that in order for Mumba to stand as a member of the party, he needed three card renewals and questioned when renewed his membership.
Maj Kachingwe said he called a few senior party members and the concerns raised against Mumba were discussed on a Saturday.
He testified that he wrote to Mumba notifying him that he had fraudulently submitted fake credentials for the purpose of being elected as president rendering his elections null and void.
“As chief executive, I decided that the NEC makes a position on the matter but I did not have a chance to do so, he [Mumba] came with a crowd of people and I was removed from the secretariat and he held a press briefing and announced that he had expelled me there and then and that was the beginning of undemocratic policies,” he said.
“The powers of the president are to head the party and not to discipline members as there are organs and the organ that can do so is the disciplinary committee, the secretariat with the permission from NEC. The president has no powers to expel members, it can only be done through disciplinary organs.”
Maj Kachingwe testified that according to the MMD constitution, conventions are held every five years.
He said MMD conventions fall in two categories: extraordinary – which is called by the NEC – and a regular convention – where primary organs begin elections from the lowest positions to the top most.
He said the party constitution avoids a vacuum at the provincial level therefore a chairman, provincial youth chairman and chairlady are elected as the three members of NEC.
He explained that at the convention, the first person who is elected is the party president after which NEC members file in their nominations.
“A term of a president in the MMD is similar to the life of the National Assembly. A convention is held every five years. There is nothing like no I came in 2018, I came in 2008,” he explained.
“The essence of democracy would be destroyed if a person whose mandate expires extend their stay in office. Party members would be the first ones to rebel because cadres enjoy elections a lot,” Maj Kachingwe said.
He indicated that MMD brought about democracy in the country and in democracy the minority have a say and the majority have a way.
He added that the president can express displeasure towards a member and not to met out punishment because that was a duty of his subordinates.
“The President chairs the appeals committee; if he is going to be charging people, where are they going to appeal to?” he questioned.
“In 2016 I heard about the convention. The NEC members elected at the 2012 convention were all chucked out. They cannot claim to be the owners of NEC, it belongs to the people and this makes a very sad reading just as the Bemba idiom says: ‘ukuselela uwamatako ayaku pacipuna kuti akupoka icipuna’ meaning when you give a person an opportunity they might end up overshadowing you”.
Maj Kachingwe said the party members, not the national secretary were the owners of the MMD.
He said it was undemocratic for office bearers to extend their mandate in order to satisfy their selfish interests.
He added that if the convention of 2016 was called by the national secretary of the party then it was a legal convention.
He also said if Mwansa Mbulakulima was not instructed to issue a notice for holding a convention by the NEC then it was illegal.
However, Maj Kachingwe said if there were petitions from different provinces to hold a convention then there was needed for a convention.
After his testimony Maj Kachingwe alleged that Mumba had instructed people to beg him not to testify against him.
“My coming here, I received calls from people that Dr Mumba instructed to tell me not to come and testify. In fact, they said he pleads with you not to testify,” Maj Kachingwe alleged.
During cross-examination by Mumba’s lawyer Jeah Madaika, Maj Kachingwe was asked for the name of the individual who phoned him, asking him not to give his testimony and he mentioned Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba told him that Mumba had called him and sent him a text to plead with him (Kachingwe) not to testify in the matter.
When asked if he had seen the text message, Maj Kachingwe responded in the negative.
When asked if he decided to testify against Mumba with intention to make headlines in the media, Maj Kachingwe refused saying he did not hold grudges against him.
Maj Kachingwe affirmed omitting the evidence that Mumba’s political party, Reformed Party, was deregistered by the registrar of societies before he was readmitted in the MMD.
He claimed that he was not aware that former national secretary of the MMD Katele Kalumba had readmitted Mumba into the party.
Maj Kachingwe confirmed massaging his testimony because issues that were in favour of Mumba were not necessary.
He denied that his testimony was aimed at painting Mumba’s name black as he refuted claims that Kabinga Pande had expelled him due to indiscipline.
He also confirmed that Mbulakulima never consulted him before issuing a notice calling for a convention saying that in order for him to issue that notice, he ought to have been authorised by NEC.
He insisted that if Mbulakulima did not seek the permission of NEC before issuing the notice for the convention, such an act would amount illegality
Maj Kachingwe contended that it was cantankerous for members not to heed to the party constitution.
“The casual vacancies in the national executive committee were caused by members who resigned and defected,” he said.
When asked if he was trying to create a bad image of Mumba when he also created a vacancy in the party, Maj Kachingwe sulked.
When asked if he went to court with a motive to fuel more confusion in the MMD, Maj Kachingwe denied.
He affirmed that he had no idea how the convention was held, neither could he confirm its legality as he was not a member of the party at the time.