MMD president Nevers Mumba has credited his victory in the leadership contest with Felix Mutati’s faction to the ‘God of justice’.
Lusaka High Court judge Sharon Newa in a landmark judgment yesterday declared Mumba the dully elected and legitimate president of the former ruling party.
The High Court also declared the 2016 convention that purported to elect Felix Mutati as president and Raphael Nakacinda as national secretary null and void, including all elections that were conducted.
Speaking after the verdict, Mumba said the battle had come to an end and gave credit to God’s faithfulness.
“This is something that the members of our party have been looking forward to. We knew all along that justice is gonna be served no matter how long it takes. I just want to let you know that the convention that our colleagues had in Kabwe has been declared null and void, meaning that there is only one leadership for the Movement for Multiparty Democracy led by myself and the National Executive Committee,” he said.
Mumba praised his lawyers for an excellent job and his NEC members for demonstrating leadership and patience.
He said the same resilience they had in the case was the same they would use in moving Zambia “forward from the place where we are”.
“For now we just want to give God the praise, we do not credit this victory to our own intelligence or the intelligence of our lawyers, we attribute this victory to the God of Justice, the God Whom we worship; we are on our knees thanking God for His faithfulness. No matter how long it takes, God remains faithful,” said Mumba.
The case had dragged since 2016 when the disputed convention was held.
Winnie Zaloumis, the MMD national secretary, sued Mutati, Mwansa Mbulakulima, Raphael Nakacinda, and George Kangwa over the illegal convention.
The defendants raised a myriad of reasons and made several applications in attempts to delay the case.
By a meeting of MMD National Executive Committee of 30th January 2016, a resolution was passed, setting the date for holding the MMD Convention as May 2017, which Mutati and group disagreed with and privately mobilised disgruntled former MMD members to call for a convention in contravention of the NEC decision.
Disciplinary measures were taken against the defendants with Mutati being expelled from the MMD for continued gross indiscipline, having only recently been re-admitted to the party after being expelled in 2015 for having defected to the UPND during the 2015 Presidential Elections.
“The 2nd and 3rd Defendants as first offenders were suspended from the party pending disciplinary proceedings,” according to MMD lawyer Jeah Madaika.
“On the other hand, the 1st Defendant challenged his expulsion under cause number 2016/HP/0338 and applied for an injunction against his expulsion but by Ruling dated 26th March, 2016, the Honourable Madam Justice M. Chanda, the application for the injunction was declined meaning that the 1st Defendant remained expelled until further order of the Court. However, the 1st Defendant did not proceed to trial and filed a Notice of Discontinuance on 30th May 2016. The order made by Judge M. Chanda has never been appealed against nor has any contrary order ever been made by any court of competent jurisdiction in Zambia, meaning that to date, the 1st Defendant remains expelled,” he submitted.
Judge Newa declared the convention irregularly convened and any deliberations, resolutions, elections and pronouncements made at the convention were of no legal effect and not binding on the party.
She said suspended MMD national secretary Mwansa Mbulakulima failed to present the petitions by different provinces demanding for a convention but chose to adopt an illegal method of convening a convention as only the National Executive Committee was mandated to call for a convention.
She stated that inasmuch as political parties govern themselves through consensus, rules stipulated by the party have to be followed.
Judge Newa said Mutati having been expelled from the party, although he challenged his expulsion, was not eligible to stand as president of the party as Article 39(1) of the MMD constitution, which provides that a person who is not a member of the party shall not be elected as the president of the party.
She said Mbulakulima, the PF Milenge member of Parliament, and nominated member of Parliament Raphael Nakacinda having been suspended from the party had no right to convene, attend or participate in the Convention as their rights as members of the MMD were on hold.
Judge Newa said acting National Secretary of the MMD Winnie Zaloumis had the authority to commence the proceedings as she sued in her capacity as acting National Secretary.
“Since the second defendant (Mbulakulima) was suspended from the party, the person who would protect the interest of the party was his deputy. The argument that the plaintiff has no locus standi to seek reliefs that the convention was illegal and should be declared null and void is dismissed,” she said.
“It is hereby held that the plaintiff has locus standi to commence these proceedings held. The plaintiff having succeeded on the claims, I hereby order that she is awarded costs of the action to be taxed in default of agreement. I hereby order the Registrar of Societies to rectify the record relating to the membership of the party, leave to appeal is hereby granted.”
After the court session Mutati’s supporters, who were dismayed with the judgment, said they would not consider the court’s ruling that the convention of May 2016 was illegal.
The supporters threatened to lynch Mumba as they hurled insults at him.
Police officers acted swiftly and secured Mumba from being clobbered.