Nevers and the injured MMD

Nevers Mumba, the MMD president, says in its current form, the former ruling party has no chance of effectively participating in the country’s politics.

“Although we have won these legal cases, we have lost the political clout because for four years our party was embattled, riddled with battles, creating a very unattractive organisation in the eyes of Zambians that to vote for it was almost unthinkable. This is because our detractors, who were fighting us created an impression that this organisation is not at peace with itself and cannot be given the authority to govern. Therefore, the poor performance in any election we tried to attempt,” notes Nevers. “MMD vehicle is greatly injured. Its sponsors have all disappeared. Because they are not going to sponsor an organisation that is embattled and therefore it took my own personal friends around the world, most of them bishops, to support me as an individual so that I can support the Movement for Multiparty Democracy. I paid with my blood to keep this party alive. Those who fought us were more powerful politically and more well financed than ourselves. I paid with my blood, with my brand being compromised as somebody who was not even electable because of trying to defend a political organisation that was riddled. But I did that for a reason that I wanted to set a precedent and we did. We paid highly by winning the legal battle but we lost the political battle to the extent that this last election showed us that it is very difficult to use the Movement for Multiparty Democracy in its current form to turn the tables round and win an election.”

We do not think Nevers has made these observations lightly!

It is said if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader…

Douglas MacArthur once stated that, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the quality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

And Jim Rohn said, “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humour, but without folly.”

Nevers’ observations on the current state of the MMD need commendation. The maturity with which he has outlined challenges that have and continue to impact on the fortunes of the party 10 years after being dislodged from power in 2011 is admirable. Instead of vilifying the MMD leader, party loyalists should embrace this striking confession and call themselves to introspection.

As Winston Churchill put it, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

UNIP has failed to recover since the 1991 polls, now MMD has been joined by the PF. Yet it is the PF that worked hard to dismantle the MMD. In 2012, the PF instigated an action to deregister MMD by slapping on it an almost K400 million in unpaid statutory fees to the Registrar of Societies. We saw Nevers raising the money to save the party he had just inherited as leader. MMD was saved. During Edgar Lungu’s mandate, the PF was feasting on MMD structures to patch its fast waning popularity to remain in power. It continued to create and sustain supposedly internal wrangles in MMD, in a way to kill off Nevers’ chances of reviving the party. It rewarded pseudo leaders, so-called MMD faction leaders, those who lost to Nevers. These individuals, some of whom were eventually expelled and/or suspended from the party, together with others that failed to grab the MMD from Nevers, coalesced into a group that, with PF’s backing, tormented Nevers daily, subjecting him to a prolonged court process through unwarranted appeals. The group entered into pact with Edgar’s PF ahead of the 2016 polls. Since then it has taken Nevers’ strong character and oratory/charisma to keep the MMD together. Otherwise, the former ruling party is closer to a giant ship running aground effortlessly unless radical changes are undertaken sooner than later. Mind you, other players have come on board – on the political scene – and it won’t be smooth sailing for the MMD considering the results of the August 12 presidential and general elections.

The MMD is encouraged to calmly internalise the poll outcome, reflect harder on it, do a self-SWOT analysis and chart the objective way forward. It’s always cardinal to accept reality. Any progressive outcome or survival plan can only be born of rational or deep reflection on the issues at hand, one’s state/status, challenges being confronted against possible solutions. And sometimes solutions can mean a radical change in leaders and, or leadership structures, a deeper look at strategies, ideas and ideals! Who to partner in case of forging alliances! There are generational circumstances too to take care of! It’ll be interesting to see how the MMD will reinvent itself given the dire prospects of the party turning the electoral tables. 2026 seems far but it is not – per se. It’s far when as a politician you consider the huge cost of running a party in an unforgiving environment that favours the party in government.

MMD challenges are real. They are not imaginary and they cannot be masked anymore. And it takes a courageous leader to publicly lay claim to the problems and seeking an honest review so as to fundamentally resolve the situation. Bravo Nevers. This is leadership!

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