Muhabi Says MMD is Ready to Fight
Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) National Secretary Muhabi Lungu says that the MMD is in a state of good health and back on course, despite the recent internal wrangles it went through. Featuring on UNZA Radio’s “The Focus” programme, Mr Lungu said that the MMD can be likened to a Champion fighter who lost a fight but is training for the next one. He said the MMD is rebuilding itself in readiness for the 2016 election battle and is now stable.
When questioned about the relevance of the MMD Die-Hard Youth Wing led by Bowman Lusambo, he responded by saying that there would always be structures outside the main party systems that wish to help and there was nothing wrong with that. However, he emphasized that they do not reflect the official position of the party and there are currently efforts to bring the Die-Hard group into the official party structures.
And Mr Lungu said that the statement by United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema that anyone who goes back to the MMD is insane was very unfortunate and it made it difficult for the MMD to work with the UPND. “You can only sit across the table to agree on some form of working relationship if there is mutual respect by both parties…. and clearly, there does not appear any respect of the MMD inasfar as president HH is concerned or the rest of the UPND.”
Mr Lungu said that the MMD has so far refrained from fighting back but the MMD leadership now believes that they should start defending the party against the UPND because they are being pushed into a corner. “We have refrained from attacking the UPND, which we could. We could raise issues which are very potent and pertinent about what the UPND stands for and what they have not done, and we have refrained.” Mr Lungu further said that it was important to defend the party position because the survivial of MMD is important for Zambia.
Mr Lungu said “We are the only democratically enhanced party. We are much more democratic than the UPND is, and much more democratically inclined than the Patriotic Front (PF) and the values that we hold are the values that every decent Zambian should be espousing to. I think that there is a limit to which we are going to take this abuse. We are obviously prepared to always have a discussion with our colleagues, but they have to respect us first. If they are not, then obviously they have declared ill-intent.”
Mr Lungu went on to explain that the performance of the MMD in its last three years in government was much better than the first three years of the PF. He explained the great discrepancy between the two sets of performances by describing some of the failures of the PF. He noted high levels of political intolerance and infringements of basic freedoms such as the right to assemble by referring to the recent cancelled public meeting that was supposed to be held at Alliance Française to discuss matters around the Republican President’s health. “Things like that didn’t happen under the MMD” he said. “We received a lot of flack and a lot of criticism from the NGO’s and indeed from Civil Society about a lot of things that MMD was guilty of. But this level of abuse was never seen by the MMD.”
“The PF has failed on all accounts. In terms of delivering a people-driven constitution, they have failed. In terms of putting more money in people’s pockets, they have failed. The business environment in this country is so difficult that the average businessman is finding it so difficult to survive.” He added that “In a comparative basis, we in the MMD can say ‘Look at our record. It was far far better than what the PF are doing.’ And in retrospect, we can also say ‘Do not take any chances to begin to experiment with those people who are going to bring you new promises which will not yield anything’”.
Mr Lungu said it was important for all the opposition parties to provide checks and balances so that the PF can succeed in bringing good political and economic governance, rather than turning their guns on each other. He said “We have to discuss pertinent issues and peoples’ livelihoods which mean things to people on the ground.”
Mr Lungu reiterated the statement made earlier in the week by the MMD President Nevers Mumba that this is not the right time for MPs to begin demanding increments in their emoluments because of the hostile economic environment created by the PF. He noted that there is an attempt to portray this issue as having originated from the MMD when in fact, MPs from PF and UPND were also in support of the increments during a debate in Parliament. He however said that the MMD was not going to reprimand their MPs for supporting the emolument increases because the electorate would be the judges. He noted that two-thirds of MPs fail to retain their seats in the following election.
He also stated that in the last three years, the PF government has adjusted the salaries of the President and Ministers three times. “The salary of the president now is a hundred per cent of what it was when we were in power, and yet the voices of reason have not been as loud. If something is principally wrong, all of us have to be able to rally to condemn what is wrong.”
When asked about MMD’s participation in the upcoming By-Elections, Mr Lungu said the party will compete in 21 out of 25 Ward elections and the Mangango Parliamentary seat. He charged that the UPND had poached one of its Ward candidates and this was part of the reason there was mistrust between MMD and UPND. He said MMD will do well in the Mangango By-election.
On the question of whether the Constitution issue is dead, Mr Lungu said the matter was very much alive and that the MMD was part of the Grand Coalition pressing for the release of the Constitution. He said “It is an insanity of the highest order to find a situation where a promise of 90 Days and three years later, we do not know the contents of a draft Constitution. That is scandalous. We are still demanding that the government unveils the Constitution.”
He also said that “The people of this country should judge the Patriotic Front government very harshly for having been disingenuous to them. Their behaviour inasfar as the Constintution is concerned … should be an example to the people of Zambia that anyone who comes to you making promises which sound unreal, which make promies of their greatness and the greatness of their leader, you have to be able to be careful. It is not Messiahs that bring leadership and successful development. It is a system of governance which is collective.”
Mr Lungu closed by saying that people who go around saying that MMD brought nothing will be shamed by the facts and statistics under the MMD. “Those who believe that the MMD is never going to come back to power will be surprised.” He said MMD would give a run to anyone who thinks they have already arrived at Plot One. He emphasized that the MMD has the greatest amount of talent in terms of skills and reason. He said “We have been there before and we know what it is to govern. We are not going to make any false promises to anyone.”