BY Dr Robert Mtonga
Dr. Nevers Sekwila Mumba, the President of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) Party, needs to tread softly over the overtures from His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, Zambia’s Republican and the Patriotic Front (PF) Party President to join hands in order to achieve the 50% plus 1 threshold needed to win the 2016 national Presidential poll.
Many neutrals in Zambia and in the diaspora are wondering, and perhaps rightly so, as to why Lungu has all of a sudden found the MMD, in his own words, “a user-friendly party”?
The confession by Lungu that the PF would have lost the 2015 Presidential (bye) election had the MMD not lent it its weight, says a lot. For starters, it confirms what many believed that PF, in the Horse and Rider story, was the rider and MMD the horse. More crucially, it reveals that the PF is not the giant that it has been trying to portray it is under Lungu’s administration.
In treading softly, the MMD must do a lot of introspection to answer at least two questions
The first one is whether Lungu is not using it for his own ulterior motives. This is based on the President’s unsolicited confession that it would be very difficult for the PF to reach the 50% plus 1 winning threshold on its own, hence his ostensible desperation to find a “user-friendly” party to work with. (Note the word user-friendly carefully and deliberately chosen by President Lungu.) MMD needs to brood over this statement lest it be used NOT as a partner per se, but as a user-friendly party i.e. to be used by Lungu. Repeat used.
The second question is one of ideology. MMD needs to tread softly here too. In other words, let it be settled now as to what MMD and PF have in common ideologically. MMD must remember the colours PF painted it in in 2011 and before.
Last time around, Nevers’ MMD was not a factor. Now it is, it would seem. Last time Former President Rupiah Banda was “used” (that little word again!) by PF to get ashore.
Now we can see that Lungu has gone a step further, to instruct an independent party that Nevers and RB must reconcile so that, as the natural meaning of words would suppose, the “user-friendly” party can be organized and deliver a victory not for itself, but for President Lungu! Lungu, note carelly, is not suggesting but ordering a party he is not a member of!
Having come full-circle, MMD should tread softly and make conscious decisions. This does not mean MMD should not or cannot forge an alliance with the PF or any party for that matter, but it must do so with its eyes wide open. Nevers must think with his head before he decides with his heart. As things stand MMD, and not PF, stands to lose if MMD does not tread softly.