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December 03, 2012

Expulsion of Zambia Opposition Party Leader Stirs Controversy

by James Butty

Zambia’s opposition Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) party was thrown into chaos over the weekend when National Secretary Richard Kachingwe unilaterally announced the expulsion of party president Nevers Mumba.  

Kachingwe said Mumba was being expelled because he was still a bonafide leader of the rival Reform Party. 

Soon after, MMD supporters reportedly beat up Kachingwe for single-handedly invalidating the election of Mumba as party president. They also accused Kachingwe of working for the ruling Patriotic Front party.  

All attempts to reach Kachingwe failed.  But, Mumba said he is still president of MMD.

He said Kachingwe chose to create confusion within the party because an internal investigation concluded that Kachingwe had been passing information to the ruling Patriotic Front party.

“We did have, over the past few days, a situation with our national security who has been accused by the membership from across the country for sending information to the ruling party.  So, a demand was made for him to be removed and, when I told him that he needed to consider going on leave to facilitate the investigation, he reacted by having a press conference which he himself organized and announced that he had expelled the president, which is a ridiculous attempt to cover himself,” he said.

Mumba said, according to party constitution, only the national convention can remove or vote in a president.  He said the national secretary has no constitutional powers.

Butty interview with Mumba

At a news conference Saturday, Kachingwe said he was invalidating Mumba’s election because Mumba had been expelled in 2005, and his request for re-admission was rejected in 2008.

Kachingwe also said Mumba was still a bonafide leader of the rival Reform Party.

Mumba described the allegations as ridiculous lies that do not merit a response.

“MMD is the largest political party and it’s got some of the most effective verification system.  There is no way anybody can ascend to that highest office who does not qualify to be [a] candidate,” Mumba said.

Mumba acknowledged some MMD supporters beat up Kachingwe Saturday soon after his news conference, but denied they were his supporters.

“We feel terrible that Mr. Kachingwe was beaten up, but those cannot be my supporters as I was not even there when that event took place.  He went to our secretariat and held a conference without my authority and that of the chairman of the party, and without authority from the national executive committee, and made a ridiculous announcement of expelling the president,” Mumba said.

Mumba denied that the former ruling party has been in disarray since the 2011 election of Patriotic Front party leader Michael Sata.

“We have no confusion.  We have one rogue official that is trying to do all he can to try to destabilize our party on behalf of the ruling party, so that they can weaken our party, and we have identified that person and he is trying to cause ripples to act like he’s able to do us much damage before he leaves,” Mumba said.