MMD president Nevers Mumba says the status of Felix Mutati and all those expelled and suspended from the party has not changed.
Addressing the media at the MMD secretariat in Lusaka yesterday, a day after the High Court declared him the legitimate president of the party, Mumba said Mutati and his team would remain expelled until they realise that what they did was wrong and say sorry.
On Tuesday, Lusaka High Court judge Sharon Newa declared Mumba the legitimate president of the MMD, ending a three-year internal wrangle between his camp and that of Mutati.
MMD acting national secretary Winnie Zaloumis had sued Mutati, Mwansa Mbulakulima, Raphael Nakacinda and George Kangwa seeking a declaration that their claim to the leadership of MMD was illegal, null and void.
Yesterday Mumba said his colleagues, as former senior members of the party, knew the procedure for readmission into the group.
He said what was happening to Mutati and team happened to him before but he was magnanimous enough to go back to former party president Levy Mwanawasa and apologised to be readmitted.
“Those that are expelled are still expelled. I have given an example of myself. When I was expelled, I went back to MMD, back to president Mwanawasa and said ‘I realised I was wrong’ and I was instituted and today I am MMD president. So my colleagues know exactly what to do. They have been senior members of the party, they know how to restore their membership, and they know how to get back to the political party,” Mumba said.
“Honourable Mutati is very aware of the fact that my hands are open to him and he is also aware that there is a process. He himself as a former senior leader of this party knows how this party operates. From what you heard, yesterday’s judgment, Honourable Mutati was expelled in 2015, January 2015 but he came back and saw me at home later on and said, ‘Mr President, I am sorry about what I did, I think we should just keep working together’ and he was readmitted into the party. It took as little as that.”
Mumba said there was no animosity between him and Mutati.
“The importance of that step is to show that there is remorse and understanding that what they did was wrong. I am not sitting here opening my hands and trying to give the impression that we have not had problems. It would be erroneous for me to think like that. It’s up to my friends to say, ‘listen, we wasted the time of our party for three years and we are sorry but we are now committed to making sure that we take the same direction’,” Mumba said. “We had warned them that if you repeat this, you will be expelled again and when he repeated it he was expelled again. But he still knows, they still know that this is their party and there is always a way to come back home. At least there is no animosity from me and from my leadership against them, that I can guarantee. I want them to know that if they acknowledge what they did and say ‘let’s move on’, I have no problem taking it to the National Executive Committee.”
And Mumba said he expected MMD members of parliament to come before the NEC to renew their commitment to ‘New Hope MMD’.
“If the MPs don’t come to review their commitment to their party, the NEC will decide on their behalf of what happens to them next. But obviously we expect them to come because there is a new development in their political organisation,” he said. “If they don’t come, this NEC will make the next decision whether they have to continue with them or they have to discontinue with them. You can’t force them if they don’t want to work with the party. It means maybe that they have chosen to go another way.”
The former Republican vice-president said he would not segregate between those ‘slapped’ him or not during the last three years but would stand as MMD president.
He said the court ruling was not for his party alone but for the entire political establishment hence there was no winner or loser.
“It’s only the MMD constitution that has prevailed. Our suffering was worth it and the court verdict was about correcting something in our organisation so that we can govern ourselves better,” Mumba said.
He said there would be no petty vindictiveness as it was not his style of leadership.
Mumba said he was not afraid of going to a convection. He said the country was yearning for tough leadership and that the ‘New Hope’ MMD was back to occupy its lost political space.
“We are going to occupy our lost space and we will occupy it big time,” said Mumba.