FOR 20 years the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) ruled supreme over the affairs of Zambia.
The MMD was the party that brought real democracy to the country, it was the party that spearheaded privatisation, entreprenuership, road rehabilitation and of course a free and unfettered press.
How things change!
Today MMD is a poor shadow of itself. After being humiliated by Michael Sata’s Patriotic Front in the 2011 elections, the party has never been the same. It plunged even lower when Rupiah Banda stepped down and Nevers Mumba was elected president at an acrimonious convention that followed.
For the past five years MMD has been wracked by wrangles, deep mistrust and poor leadership. These undercurrents exploded into the open during the 2014 presidential by-election when the party was riven by former president Banda’s bid to stand on the MMD ticket in place of the seemingly ineffectual Nevers Mumba.
While the MMD still boasts some of the country’s eminent persons among its membership in Parliament such as Lunte’s Felix Mutati, Liuwa’s Situmbeko Musokotwane and Dora Siliya of Petauke Central, the party has continued to disintegrate and there is clearly no immediate cure to its myriad of challenges.
And yet MMD is still potentially an attractive and strong political organization. Its grassroots structures are still visible and viable in many rural areas. They are dormant because the present leadership has failed to inspire self-esteem and engender the will to get up from the canvass where the PF left them for the dead and fight again.
This is perhaps the reason why President Edgar Lungu did not hesitate to pick MMD as a potential ally in the forthcoming general elections. They are still a force to reckon with only if Dr Nevers Mumba can get his act together and show leadership.
Regardless of the past and present problems in the MMD, it is not too late for the party to pull itself together and accept the huge challenge put before it by the ruling party and prove its worth as a PF partner in the 2016 elections. MMD needs unity of purpose.
That is why we think MMD can rise to the national challenge by first putting its house in order before joining the alliance. To do this Nevers Mumba must be a statesman and swallow his pride and sit on the same table with President Banda and bury the hatchet.
The former president still has the charisma, charm, experience and political clout to weld together and re-energize the MMD. He is the only one who can bring all its factions together and is hugely respected by MMD parliamentarians, many of whom he personally appointed in his government.
Every war ends on the negotiable table. Even the bitter Angolan civil war ended when the protagonists agreed to meet in Lusaka under President Frederick Chiluba where they thrashed a peace deal that still stands today between UNITA and MPLA.
President Banda has nothing against Dr Mumba and has had very cordial relations with MMD national secretary Mwansa Mbulakulima who served under him as Cabinet minister. Dr Mumba must seize this opportunity and extricate himself from a potentially embarrassing situation where some of his senior members are pushing for a party convention obviously to get rid of him.
It is our hope that the former ruling party can stir itself from the deep political slumber and rise to become the feared competitor that it was through an alliance with its hitherto bitter rival PF. They say there are no permanent enemies in politics. Hakainde Hichilema and Wynter Kabimba are a fine example.
It is clear that the MMD today stands at the crossroads. It is up to Nevers Mumba to decide to swim or sink.