In recent weeks the internal wrangles inside the former ruling party Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) have been portrayed as the devious work of traitors, send to cause confusion as part of a strategy designed by the Patriotic Front (PF) leadership.
However this portrayal of events is deeply misleading and false, says one source close to the MMD, as the parties who have challenged the leadership of MMD President Nevers Mumba have come under attack when all they wanted to do was seek reform within the party.
“What is happening inside the MMD is not some sort of PF conspiracy – they aren’t smart enough or capable enough to carry that out,” the source said. “Instead, there are many party members who are not happy with the leadership and are seeking reforms. Unfortunately, people among both PF and UPND are taking advantage to sow discord by publishing false stories.”
On March 24, a group of senior MMD members in the National Executive Committee (NEC) passed a no confidence vote against Mumba, and have since been attempting to organise an extraordinary convention to elect a new party leader.
In response, Mumba, along with communications director Muhabi Lungu, have waged an aggressive media war in publications such as Zambian Watchdog and Post against the group of reformers, which includes MMD vice-presidents Brian Chituwo and Michael Kaingu, former Petauke MP Dora Siliya, Senga Hill MP Kapembwa Simbao, and former Solwezi Central MP Lucky Mulusa, causing damage to the party.
According to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the only reason why Chituwo and Kaingu held a meeting with M’membe was part of an attempt to get Wynter Kabimba and the Ministry of Justice to release some of the hundreds of MMD vehicles that were seized after the last election.
“Of course there is disagreement about whether or not such deals should be made, but that does not mean that the reformers are compromised,” the source said. “Just look at the pattern of by-election losses, failure to raise funds, and general mismanagement and lack of vision at MMD under Mumba’s leadership – it’s not a conspiracy that people want him out – we just think we can do better with a change of leadership.”
The source indicated furthermore that the recent disputes were instigated by publications in Zambian Watchdog by the orders of UPND, showing that the two opposition parties need to show more maturity in how they treat each other.
“If Nevers is meant to be the party president of the MMD, he should prove it by winning the votes of our membership,” the source said. “But to dismiss and attack anybody who wants the party to do better as compromised, it is simply not true.”
Muhabi Lungu, who has very weak support among the grassroots, is hoping to capitalize from the fighting with a higher political position that he failed to achieve during the last convention, the source says. “And to further his personal goals, he is actually helping the PF and feeding the UPND with information to damage MMD.”