The MMD after Kasama, Solwezi defeats

Flash back: President Banda with Burton Mugala during Kasama campaigns

Flash back: President Banda with Burton Mugala during Kasama campaigns

Political pundits are declaring that the MMD has exhausted its usefulness as a ruling party as it will turn 20 years by 2011.

The recent loss of the Kasama and Solwezi parliamentary elections by the MMD to the Opposition has buttressed this theory and the loss is being deemed as the beginning of the end of the party.

President Rupiah Banda’s political enemies led by The Post have used the recent losses to declare that Banda ‘has failed barely a year in office’! But what are the intricacies?

What are the dynamics in the party? Why is there vehemence resistance by most NEC members to hold the party Convention due in 2010? Why are Banda’s enemies, however, relishing the prospect of the Party holding a Convention?

And why is it important that Banda holds the Convention anyway? Is MMD really finished? What is the state of regional parties that have held power for up-to 50 years such as CHAMA CHA MAPINDUZI (CCM), BOTSWANA DEMOCRATIC PARTY (BDP), SWAPO, ZANU-PF, and AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS (ANC)?

The loss in quick succession, of parliamentary seats of Kasama and Solwezi by the MMD to the Opposition, has given an opportunity to President Rupiah Banda’s enemies to declare him ‘’finished’’ and spell irrefutable doom for the MMD come 2011!

The Post has recently run stories portraying President Banda as a poisoned chalice to the MMD.  The paper has run sour editorials proclaiming the death of the MMD if they kept Banda at the helm. The paper ran such stories as ‘’RUPIAH IS DESTROYING MMD – MPOMBO’’ (November 25th), to support their position.

Banda is only one year in office but he is facing and shouldering the criticism of the MMD’s 18 year rule.

Although the economy under President Rupiah Banda is doing extremely well; the country is enjoying a relatively stable currency, a low inflation rate, and the country has accumulated an all time high of foreign reserves of USD1.7billion in 38 years! This year, the country has also recorded a whopping 6.5% growth rate, and has embarked on numerous infrastructure development. The Opposition has however pre-occupied Banda with trivial politics and criticism, imprisoning him and his team with their narrow and shallow issues!

For example his foreign travels, which are important to the Presidency and the nation, have been depicted as frequent and irrelevant. Banda has been accused of being on ‘‘perpetual holiday’’! He has undertaken 22 official trips in one year, giving him a low average of two trips a month! Yet his critics view this as numerous and protest the president’s trips as mere financial drain.

Although Banda and his Minister of Finance, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane have managed to steer the doom and gloom of the global credit crunch away from the economy and the impending industrial disaster that many companies faced has been avoided, all these important credits are lost in the petty politics.

The mines and other key industries are slowly rising to their usual productivity levels and their operations are now normal barely a year later. Yet none of these momentous achievements are given due recognition.

Banda has also provided the country with its first ever Anti-Corruption Policy. His government has ratified the UN Protocol against Corruption. He has also abolished the Task-Force on Corruption, whose illegality took away the legitimacy of its work. He has also strengthened public procurement processes where most grand acts of corruption occur by enacting the Zambia Public Procurement Authority Act.

Yet his enemies have ratcheted up the severe criticism against him and his style of government and his ineffective media team have not helped matters.

KASAMA AND SOLWEZI PARLIAMENTARY SEATS

The loss of the two seats by the MMD to the Opposition is attributable to many factors. Many insiders feel that the selection and choice of the candidates were critical to the ability by the party to win these elections.

For example, the Kasama by-election was lost on the candidate’s non-Bemba tribe. Although Kasama Central is in town, and therefore cosmopolitan, of the 50 polling stations, 32 are in the rural part of the constituency.

Kasama is literally the seat for Bembas, Burton Mugala fared well in town where the population is cosmopolitan and modern, but lost badly in the rural polling stations where the voters’ tribal conservatism were evoked by Michael Sata and his candidate, GB Mwamba.

The party also lost to the PF as their campaign machinery was rigid, lacking innovation and showed exclusive tendencies.

For example, PF leader, Michael Sata who camped in the area for over 14 days prior to the Election Day, booked Radio Mano to cover him live during all his campaign trails, and his 3-times- a-day rallies peppered with tribal remarks against Mugala, were broadcast live to the 200km radius audience of the station. This just vanquished the isolated but valiant efforts of the MMD campaign machinery.

The Solwezi Central Seat seems to have been lost on the choice of the candidate too. Some insiders are convinced that the failure to adopt Teddy Mulonga, who is said to have even won the primary selection, has a wider recognition in Solwezi Central than Albert Chifita.

Although Chifita lost by a narrow margin, it was suicidal for the MMD to ignore Teddy Mulonga who has fared increasingly well in that constituency in the 2001 and 2006 elections.

THE LOSSES OF THE TWO SEATS- WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

The strategic meeting convened by MMD NEC member and party treasurer, Suresh Desai attempted to identify the problems the party is facing and consequently recommend certain solutions.

Among the key recommendations was the need for the MMD to hold a national convention due in 2010. The meeting was unanimous in accepting the notion that the Convention will enable President Rupiah Banda emerge with his own team before the 2011 Elections.

The party’s lethargy is attributed to many individuals in government and the NEC who are deemed not be loyal to the President and have allowed him to battle his woes alone with only a few ministers. The silence from most NEC members and the rest of the party structure across the country is cause for serious worry as the party appears to be dead!

This recommendation to go to the Convention has however, brought serious problems for most current holders of NEC positions. Looking at their performance it’s unlikely that most will retain their seats.

The prospect of losing the influence they sway as members of the NEC as jolted them to viciously discredit the manner and structure of this meeting with the National Secretary, Katele Kalumba dismissing the meeting as illegal and lacking the blessing of the party. Jeff Kaande has supported his boss describing the meeting as a collection of sympathisers!

The meeting also reviewed the particular problem of Western Province and discussed the activities of the dissolved committee led by Simasiku Namakando. Namakando has been courted by a new party formed by independent Member of Parliament for Luena, Charles Milupi. Milupi has formed a new party called the Alliance for Development and Democracy (ADD) and wants to harvest members from the MMD for their perceived discontent with the party in Western Province.

The Post reported that among other things, Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika asserted that the Litunga was behind the fall out of the MMD in Western Province. Aka (as he his popularly known) was reported to have convened the strategic meeting!

Aka promptly issued a strong statement denying that he ever made such remarks and informed the country that party treasurer, Suresh Desai was the convenor of the meeting! He further stated that he played no role in officiating or hosting the meeting.

Aka emphasised that there is ‘’no human personage or authority I honour more than the Litunga’’! He strongly defended the reverence of the Litunga by asserting that the ‘’Litungaship and the Litunga-in-Council represent parents, fore parents, spiritual, culture and governance instructions built over 400 years!’’

However his strong rebuttal did nothing to allay the actions of his enemies! Aka’s enemies seized the opportunity.

Namakando Imasiku issued a statement accusing Aka of using State House to fight the Litunga. Namakando insisted that Aka’s actions were insulting to the Litunga and the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and would make the MMD more unpopular!

Charles Milupi also derided Aka and defended the Litunga on the matter. Milupi defended the integrity of The Post story alleging that the Litunga was aware of Aka’s remarks before they were even published by The Post.

Milupi demanded for Aka to apologise to the Litunga and to the Kuta!

Before long, a Kuta was convened and a strong statement was later issued condemning the convenors of the meeting and demanding an unreserved apology from the MMD and Aka.

Acting Ngambela, Litia Walubita called remarks attributed to Aka and the meeting as distasteful, disrespectful and a taboo to the Lozi culture and that the allegation that  ‘’His Majesty colluded with His subject Simasiku Namakando to bring about the assumed unpopularity of the MMD in the province was beneath his royal standing and would defy century-old etiquette’’!

The statement issued on 25th November 2009, further stated that ‘’the derogatory insinuations are highly distasteful and are clearly intended to show disrespect to the revered office of His majesty the Litunga’’!

The statement even went to ridicule Aka by stating that ‘’It is particularly disheartening that the convenor of the meeting Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika, not only hails from Barotseland but is also BELIEVED to be a member of the Baroste Royal Family’’!

Aka was a nominated contender to this throne! Aka’s father was even once a Litunga! But the statement even doubted his royalty and brought into question the membership of the House of the Lewanikas into the Royal family!

Cleary Aka is in serious trouble. Aka’s activities around the Litunga throne and Barotseland in the 1990’s continue to haunt him. He is accused of promoting a secession of Western Province from Zambia and parts of Namibia to create an Independent Baroste State. Recently there were unfounded allegations linking him to a ‘coup’ against Litunga Imwiko.

It is no wonder that this small discussion in the strategic meeting about Simasiku Namakando has spiralled out of control as Aka’s enemies have seen an opportunity to cause his dismissal! His enemies reason that the threat to President Banda of losing Western Province cannot be ransomed to Aka! In their view, Aka ought to go! They argue that Banda cannot afford to lose Western province just after gaining Luapula on account of Aka! Clearly Aka is in trouble!

President Banda held these developments so serious that he convened a meeting with Simasiku Namakando, Namatama Mupo and Kameya on November 21st 2009 and and after a four hour meeting, lifted their suspensions.

Banda also directed that Namakando re-organises the party in Western Province in preparation for his planned visit there.

President Banda also promised to resolve all outstanding issues of Western Province including the Mongu- Kalabo road informing Namakando that he had directed Minister of Finance, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane to release the K1.3 trillion required for this massive project.

Namakando however did not leave State House without intoning that President Banda ‘’was surrounded by evil men that were causing confusion for him’’!

The Post has relished on the issues and reported in details the ‘crises’ in the party. The Post has created an impression that President Banda has lost national grip by using the inflamed opinions of a few opinions by Banda’s known political enemies such as George Mpombo, Ngandu Magande, Michael Sata, and Hakainde Hichilema to support their twisted campaign.

The Post even went to the base level when they quoted a statement purported to have been issued by Patrick Mwanawasa.

In his purported statement to The Post ‘’People have lost confidence in the MMD ‘’, Patrick ‘’reminisced’’ and ‘’remembered’’ (he was 7yrs old then) how Fred Mmembe brought the first batch of MMD Cards, how Ronald Penza practiced sound economic policies, how Alfeyo Hambayi could have backed his statement, how the financial muscle of Ben Mwila, Danny Kalenga and Humphrey Mulemba helped the party!

Patrick alleges that he ‘’remembers’’, during the 1991 election campaigns, how humble Elias Chipimo Snr, Mbita chitala and Remmy Mushota were, when discussing in detail how to deliver the northern vote!

Patrick also ‘’called’’ upon the MMD to remember the contributions of Paul Tembo, Arthur Wina, and Baldwin Nkumbula! He also quoted the book of Timothy to rally MMD cadres to the principles of unity and hard work!

Clearly Patrick’s statement seems like a personal diary of Fred Mmembe! Mmembe was always a ‘’chola boy’’ of MMD Chairman, Arthur Wina during the 1991 campaigns.

In his recent editorials, Mmembe is urging all members of the MMD to come together while harshly portraying President Banda as a leader who has failed in barely a year and requires no further political support!

It is clear that the need for the MMD to host the Convention is a double edged sword with Banda’s enemies led by The Post campaigning that the MMD should elect another leader, ‘’who is electable’’, probably in Mmembe’s view, Ngandu Magande!

It appears that Mmembe’s hopes still remain entrenched in the MMD and not in the PF/UPND Pact, if only he could manipulate the party to elect any of his puppets such as Magande!

The indication by President Banda that he has never spoken against the convention and is likely to host it, has brought inimical activities with his enemies re-drawing their plans and those in the current NEC fearing that the internal calls for change and dynamism in the party will sweep them away!

This is the more reason President Banda should hold the convention to remove chaff from Wheat and create a formidable team that could help him rally Zambians to support his policies.

THE UTTERANCES OF GABRIEL NAMULAMBE

On 17th November 2009, Transparency International (TI) hosted a gathering at Chrisma Hotel, where a report was delivered  that showed that Zambia had made tremendous improvement in the fight against corruption.

On its Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of 2009, Zambia scored 3.0 out of 10 points. This has made Zambia leap from among the worst 11th to 17th on the index. This score was a remarkable improvement with Zambia’s public sector corruption being perceived to be better than Argentina, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Togo, Mauritania, Kenya, and Russia.

The worst perceived countries were Somalia, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Sudan.

Since 2002, the CPI has given Zambia a score of 2.6 – 2.8 out of 10 points and the CPI made no discernible improvements from 2001 to 2008.

TI however attributed the Zambia’s improvement to the late President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa’s ‘’efforts’’ against corruption.

Transparency International, Board Treasurer, Sampa Kalunga urged the government of President Rupiah Banda to emulate the late President and give the fight against corruption political will. Sampa insisted that this international report reflected past events and had no consequence to present circumstances.

Chief Policy Analyst for Politics at State House, Dr. Francis Chigunta objected to TI’s twisting of facts. He stated that this international report is presented annually and the past results since 2002 are known. He stated that this report reflected the research and perceptions of 2008 and 2009 as shown by TI’s own documents!

He stated that it was erroneous to condemn President Rupiah Banda as not fighting corruption and attribute all the gains Zambia had made in the fight against corruption to President Mwanawasa. He stated that in fact President Banda had shown more commitment to fighting corruption by his recent measures. He reminded TI that most of the corruption scandals such as the K27billion at Ministry of Health occurred during the tenure of Mwanawasa but was merely being exposed now.

This seems to have sparked a raw nerve in Maureen Mwanawasa’s camp whose duty it is to ensure that President Mwanawasa’s legacy is ‘’preserved’’ and no ‘’mud’’ is thrown at it.

Science and Technology Minister, Gabriel Namulambe issued a detailed and daring statements claiming that the ‘’Lamba people’’ are hurt, injured and frustrated by constant attacks against Levy Mwanawasa’s legacy. Namulambe demanded that government and the MMD respect President Mwanawasa as the party’s victories in 2001, 2006 and 2008 was due to Mwanawasa’s own name!

Namulambe warned that ‘’Lambas’’ would not take kindly to attacks against President Mwanawasa ‘’from anyone’’!

Asked whether he would resign or risk being dismissed, Namulambe ridiculed the assertions and insisted that he was only serving the people of Zambia and since he ‘didn’t’ commit any offence and therefore saw no reason why he would lose his job!. He insisted that he will stay in Cabinet to ‘fight from inside’!

Clearly this statement constituted total indiscipline. Namulambe assumed the position of speaking for all Lambas, a lofty position he does not occupy. Further his defence of the Mwanawasa’s legacy is flawed as he and George Mpombo want to refuse Zambians the opportunity of reviewing the performance of its Presidents as they have done to Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, Dr. Frederick Chiluba and President Rupiah Banda.

Clearly what to be said ought to be said and Namulambe, Mpombo and others can not halt such a debate!

President Banda’s efforts to incorporate nearly all persons left by his predecessor are not bearing good fruits. Many are using their positions to undermine and sabotage his works. They accuse Banda of abandoning Mwanawasa’s legacy yet they are the biggest legacy that Banda has adopted! Banda has left the government of Mwanawasa and its infrastructure almost intact in Cabinet Ministers, Government and the Foreign Service. Yet he is accused of abandoning the legacy!

And the demands for Banda to adopt Mwanawasa’s legacy is unfair as he ought to create and define his own image and his own identity. For Dr. Kaunda is remembered for his uniting efforts and left us with that famous motto ‘‘One Zambia One Nation’’.

Dr. Chiluba is remembered for his empowerment policies and the houses he sold to Zambians. Chiluba is also remembered for his declaration of Zambia as a Christian Nation.

President Mwanawasa is remembered for his anti-corruption fight.

So it is clearly unfair to laden President Banda with a legacy of others. Banda ought to be allowed to craft and curve his own legacy. In the elections of 2011, Banda’s own record will come up for scrutiny and he will be elected or fail to be elected on account of his own record.

So Banda should strongly crack his whip against people such as Namulambe whose disloyalty is so apparent. Banda should be advised that the next two years will be shifty as the countenance of opportunists will begin to openly show. In their view, the PF/UPND pact is forming the next government and beckons them with alluring calls!

CONCLUSION

There is a mortified fear that the MMD would have reached its useful life span of 20 years by 2011. Analysts are predicting that since that the appeal properties of a governing party diminishes quickly after 10 years and appear to expire after 20 years, they are predicting a ‘’sure’’ victory for the Opposition!

But statistics abound in the region where parties have ‘defied’ the 20 year expiry period. The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) founded by Sir Seretse Khama in 1961, has held power since 1966.

The BDP now led by Khama’s son Ian Khama recently won elections with majority seats of 47 out of a Parliament of 57 seats.

The African National Congress of South Africa (ANC) was founded in 1912 and is the governing party of South Africa since 1994. The party rules ‘in a tripartite alliance’ with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). The two parties are alliance partners to the ANC.

Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) of the United Republic of Tanzania has held power since 1961. The party was founded by Africa’s elder statesman, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. CCM is constantly evolving and rebranding and the high turn-over of its leaders (a new President every 10 years) has helped it hold on to power for over 48 years now.

The liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO) has held power in Mozambique since 1975. FRELIMO was, like CCM, ANC, and BDP, a liberation movement.

The Zimbabwe African National union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) founded and led by President Robert Mugabe has held power since its Independence in 1980.

Clearly, unless the MMD wishes to hand over power to the Opposition on a silver platter, it has a strong fighting chance to retain power in 2011. The fear of the PF/UPND Pact is fuelled by numerous opportunists that know no hard work and are quick to harvest where they didn’t sow.

It is an accepted and indisputable fact that the Pact portends a serious threat to the MMD but presents no real danger if President Rupiah Banda can re-cast himself and use the recent losses of the two parliamentary seats as a dip-stick of the state of his party and government.

While the PF/UPND Pact is using its win of the two seats as a measure of its popularity and potential to take over power, the MMD should view this as a blessed and timely warning and use this loss to put its house in order.

It said that, in the dark, a drunk uses a lamp post, not for its illumination, but for support to hide his inebriated state!

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