MMD split deepens

A FRESH row has exploded in the beleaguered former ruling party MMD, with national secretary Mwansa Mbulakulima dissociating himself and condemning the party decision to expel Lunte parliamentarian Felix Mutati.

And party spokesperson Reuben Sambo has described Mr Mbulakulima’s decision as ‘‘playful and undemocratic’’, saying he expected the national secretary to support the party position over Mr Mutati and the two others who petitioned MMD for deciding not to hold a convention.

Mr Mbulakulima told a press briefing at the party’s secretariat yesterday that he was not aware of an affidavit filed at the Constitutional Court by MMD challenging the petition of Mr Mutati, Inkelenge MP Elijah Muchima and Lufwanyama MP Annie Chuungu, to contest the party decision not to hold a convention.

Mr Mbulakulima said reports that he had filed an affidavit in the Lusaka High Court opposing the petition by the three MPs were false and did not represent his position on the matter. ‘‘I am not against those calling for a convention,’’ he declared.

“I have not seen the said affidavit and I want the lawyers to tell me the truth,” he said. He said he was annoyed to read that he had filed a challenge against the trio when in fact it was someone else.

Mr Mbulakulima disclosed that his position was that the party did not need suspensions and expulsions but unity. ‘‘I am against party suspensions and expulsions but a united MMD; I have always stood for peace and unity in the party.’’

Reacting to the statement, MMD spokesperson Reverend Sambo said the MMD had indeed challenged the petition of the three parliamentarians but that the deputy national secretary Mwangala Zaloumis signed the document because the national secretary was not in the office at the time.

“I can confirm that the MMD has challenged Mr Mutati’s petition but Mr Mbulakulima did not sign the affidavit,” he said.

Rev Sambo accused Mr Mbulakulima of pursuing a personal agenda, saying the MMD Chembe parliamentarian was playing politics. “He is being playful and a poor democrat,” he said.

He said he expected the national secretary to respect the democratic process which NEC used to decide not to hold a convention, at which the majority NEC members decided in favour of not holding the event.

Mr Sambo called for patience as matters were still before the courts of law. “We shall respect the decision of the courts because we are a democratic party.”

And Mr Mbulakulima, who was flanked at his press briefing by MMD Muchinga MP Howard Kunda, said he wanted to clear his position on the matter which had been full of inconsistencies due to false reports.

He charged that people who have been dragging his name in the controversy must come out and state their position on the matter.  “People behind this must come out in the open and state their position, let them not use Mbulakulima to fight their own battles,”  he said.

“I am not desperate for political office and all I want is to clear my name that I am not against those calling for a convention,” he said.

And Mr Mbulakuluma disclosed that the party is courting former republican president Rupiah Banda to unify the Party. “President Edgar Lungu said he wants to deal with a united party and that is why we want to unify the party,” he said

Mr Mbulakulima said the party’s constitution stated that a convention must be held every five years. He said the party was in a position to hold a convention before the 2016 general elections but that time was running out. “If we can work effectively we can but we do not have the luxury of time,” he said.

Mr Mutati has filed an injuction to restrain MMD from expelling him and an inter-parte hearing will be held this week over the matter.

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