By Dr Nevers Sekwila Mumba, President
30 years ago, this Month, a Movement for Democracy was born. It was a people’s movement.
After 26 years of a UNIP led one party state, Zambians decided, in their numbers to change the shape and culture of Zambian politics.
The Movement for Multiparty Democracy, MMD started as a Pressure group in 1990 to fight for the re-introduction of a Multi-Party system of government. Dr Kenneth Kaunda then President of the Republic of Zambia refused to accept this option, but after pressure from the MMD, he relented and called for a referendum, supposedly to enable the Zambian people to decide the issue. MMD seized the opportunity to mount one of the most effective pro democracy campaigns ever seen anywhere in Africa. Before the referendum could be held, Dr Kaunda called it off and accepted MMD’s demand for Multiparty elections. The then article 4 of the Republican Constitution of Zambia was repealed allowing for the formation of other parties. Dr Kaunda signed the bill into law on 17th December, 1990.
This day remains etched on my mental mind because at 09:00hrs that day, Dr Kaunda had called for me to meet him at State House. I was a young Evangelist of only 30 years of age. I was conducting a Gospel Crusade in Woodlands stadium when I was summoned to State House. I had no idea what the urgent call was all about until I was ushered into the President’s office. It is then that Dr Kaunda mentioned that he was about to make a huge declaration that afternoon and needed God’s strength and guidance. We held hands and prayed for a prolonged period of time. Little did I know that after that prayer a new Party, MMD would be formed and that 22 years later, I would become its 4th President.
MMD became a political party on 21st December, 1990. The Registrar of Societies issued a registration certificate to MMD on 4th January, 1991.
The National Interim Committee (NIC) comprising Mr FJT Chiluba, Mr Arthur N Wina, Mr V J Mwaanga, Mr Kelly Walubita, Mr Levy Mwanawasa, Mr Ephraim C Chibwe, Mr Andrew Kashita and Mr Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika decided to call a National Convention on 27th and 28th February, 1991 to elect a National Executive Committee in accordance with the Party Constitution which was prepared by the legal Committee and approved by the National Interim Committee.
30 years later, we gather here to honor and celebrate the many champions of Zambian democracy who have gifted us with the freedoms we now enjoy. We shall never forget your courage, your resilience and your determination to form the Movement for Multiparty Democracy. As a party, we have chosen to etch your names permanently on the history blocks of our changing nation. We salute the Unions, the Media, the University and college students, the marketeers, the Churches and the millions of Zambians for setting aside your individual comforts in order to create the movement we now call the MMD.
There are those who wish to diminish the significance of these sacrifices. There are those who wish to bury this history and pretend to forget that the MMD represents the aspirations of most Zambians. The party that represents freedom for all. Freedom of speech. Freedom of expression. Freedom of association and the Freedom of assembly. These are the godly values our founders suffered for. Today, we shall have the rare privilege of honoring a few of our founding fathers.
At 30 years, the MMD stands as a battle tested organization. It has seen both great days and terrible days. It has seen both good and bad leaders. It has brought both good and bad things. But MMD has been greatly applauded for the great things it has brought and has also equally been punished for the bad things. MMD was rewarded for bringing back multiparty democracy. It has been heralded for bringing a free market economy and a free media. MMD dismantled the troubling national debt of $7.5 billion. MMD sustained an average economic growth rate of 6%. MMD liberalized both politics and the economy.
But it has also been punished when in 2011 it was accused of corruption. Zambians decided to withdraw their trust in September 2011 and voted the MMD out of power.
REGAINING THE TRUST
It was at this point of weakness that the party started to look for a way to rebuild and survive. A National Convention was called in 2012 to choose new leadership which could bring hope to a dispirited and tired party. A leadership which could stand toe to toe with the new and vengeful ruling PF party whose priority was to dismantle the former ruling Party. The lot fell on the current New Hope Leadership led by myself whose responsibility is to assure all Zambians that this is a new MMD. We shall take all that was good about MMD and publicly abandon all that which the Zambian people detested about the MMD prior to 2011 General election.
MESSAGE TO GENERAL MEMBERSHIP
To our membership nationwide, we wish to assure you that your party having survived one of the most punishing storms is back on its feet and it has come back with great determination to recapture its number one place in Zambian politics.
Some feared that the persecution, the assault and the destabilization we faced the past four years has taken away our chances of winning the next election. To the contrary, our pain, humiliation, tears were only meant to prepare us for the humongous work ahead of us. The work to bring a divided nation together. The work to restore the lost faith in government. The work to rebuild the broken economy. The work to bring back our lost Christian values and restore our nation to the true status of a Christian nation as declared by our founding President Dr FJT Chiluba.
Under my watch, we shall not disappoint or fail our founding fathers. Both those in the grave and those still with us. We shall turn our past battles into victory for all Zambians. This is not the first setback our party has faced in its 30 year journey. Shortly after announcing the first cabinet, in 1991, some of the original members who felt that they deserved better agitated for the establishment of a new party called National Party. Many Zambians believed this break away would end the MMD journey, but our party membership fought and overcame the temporal setback. In 2001, an agitation by some to give our first President a third term threatened the very existence of the MMD. The result was a fragmentation of our party into three parties, the FDD, and HERITAGE Party. This was considered the last nail in the existence of our party by many, but the national membership rallied together again and pulled the party out of danger and managed to win the following election under the late Levy Patrick Mwanawasa.
In 2014 following the death of President Michael Sata, our party’s democratic credentials were once again tested. We called on the highest courts of the land, we met in many places as different groups and in the end, the party was divided into three. Some supported the ruling Patriotic Front while a number of our MPs opted to support the UPND. The core membership as in previous times again stood firm to defend the existence of the party. Then came a more vicious test in 2016. It was like none other in the past. A convention was simulated and purported to have been held. This one went to the core of our credentials as a democratic party. It was very confusing as it easily convinced some unsuspecting members. But with a vow never to disappoint the sacrifices of our founding leaders, we led a determined fight to defend and protect the party. We were thrown in jail, stoned, the secretariat taken and verbally abused. My guidance to the party was not to use any violence to protect the truth but rather to test the justice system of our country. During the three year legal battle our opponents made more than 23 applications and appeals and we won all the twenty three including the final judgement on November 5th 2019. We wish to pledge to our membership and to the legacy of our founding fathers that with the same determination and fight that we have exhibited in the past four years, we shall fight to rescue our nation from the deeming light of the Patriotic Front. We have done it before and we shall do it again.
MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH
From our inception in 1990 as a party, the church has supported our values for freedom and the rule of law. The church was vocal against any injustices they observed during our rule. The church was the moral compass of the nation.
Today our nation is lost at sea. Our title of Christian nation has been rendered almost of no value. The country is broke and broken. Witchcraft has found its abode in the corridors of power. The anger of the Lord looms over our nation. Freedom has been taken away from the citizens. But more worrying is the silence of the corporate voice of the church. Our prayer as the New Hope Movement for Multiparty Democracy is that, “Let God arise and His enemies be scattered.” We have chosen to partner with the Church to bring back Zambia on the road to prosperity and Godliness. May the Church not become the enablers of evil but the watchmen on the wall of justice and morality. We pledge to the founding President Dr FJT Chiluba to uphold the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation.
MESSAGE TO THE WOMEN
As we approach the 2021 general election, the New Hope MMD has as a matter of policy decided to make our women folk the engine for political and social change. Our 55 member National Executive committee has finally reached the 50% threshold for women. This is the reflection which we shall see in the distribution of leadership positions when we form government next year. We are not aware of any party in the nation with similar demographics. We call all women with a passion to create a better Zambia to make the New Hope MMD as a party of choice if you wish to stand for any elective office next year.
MESSAGE TO THE YOUTH
Without a courageous cadre of youths, no society can experience real change. Today, our young people remain cheated without a future. Our generation in our selfishness has not planned for the future of our young people. With certificates, diplomas and degrees in their hands, they have no where to go. They remain chained to their parents or other people’s homes with no income and worse still no dignity. While we are living in our future today, no future is being created for our young people. The PF government continues to use the youth as bulldozers to clear political paths for a privileged few. They are used to wield pangas to instill fear in the opponents of those in power. Government has continued to abuse the fortunes which must be preserved for future generations. I wish to apologize on behalf of my generation to our youth in the nation for consuming your future through unrestrained corruption and selfishness.
It appears that those with power to prepare and preserve your future are determined to squander it. They are not willing to give it to you. Our call to you is that you come and get your future. You must get it by force as the Bible says. New Hope MMD is leading the way to create an opportunity for any youth who wishes to participate in governance to come and take advantage of the youth policy of our party which has reserved 50% of all elective positions in next year’s election for the youth. To demonstrate our commitment, the party recently elected the first youth as Deputy National Secretary, Gregory Mofu. We shall keep our word. The MMD shall uphold the original dream of our founding fathers in this regard.
MESSAGE TO PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Multiparty Democracy is also a representative form of government. The New Hope MMD is resolved to fully incorporate persons with disabilities into all structures of the party with an affirmative policy. We have encouraged persons with disabilities to aspire for positions at the National Executive Committee level by participating in our forthcoming National Convention. We shall have as many ministers from persons with disabilities as qualify to play those roles. There shall be no discrimination in the coming New Hope Government.
TO ALL ZAMBIANS- Let no one rob you of the government you need by unproven theories that seem to suggest that a former ruling party cannot be voted back into power. Last month Malawi proved this theory to be impotent when they elected the Malawi Congress Party back in office after being in opposition for twenty six years. Zambians and Africans in general are no longer concerned about the name of a political party but the content and the character of the people who run that party.
Martin Luther King Jnr said, “ I have a dream that my four little Children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I wish to add that, “I have a dream that Zambians shall not judge true leadership by the name of a political party but by the morality and integrity of its leaders.”
Let no one rob you of the leader you need by unproven theories that seem to suggest that a Pastor cannot become a President. Again, it has taken Malawi to teach Zambia, a Christian nation that it is possible. Malawi becomes the first country on the continent to elect a Pentecostal Pastor as President, Rev Dr Lazarous Chakwera. The best president is the one elected on merit and not on prejudice.
Zambia needs a revamped MMD to come back and renew the dreams and aspirations of all Zambians.
Zambia needs a leadership of morality and integrity to take it beyond 2021.
May the spirit and courage of our founding fathers carry us to victory next year. Happy 30th Anniversary to all members of the MMD, past and present.
May God bless our great party and may God bless the Republic of Zambia.
I thank you.
30 Jul 2020