Map of Zambia
Map of Zambia

Former Zambian Defense Minister George Mpombo says President Rupiah Banda has failed as leader of the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) and should be replaced as the party’s candidate in next year’s presidential election.

Mpombo said he wants to lead the MMD into next year’s election to save the party from political Armageddon.

“First of all, President Rupiah Banda has provided a tragic leadership failure. Since he took over, the government programs have been derailed, and he has introduced an element of dictatorship in the party structure,” he said.

Mpombo said President Banda first refused to go through the convention as a way of electing the party’s presidential candidate, even though he said such requirement is embedded in the MMD constitution.

“Also in terms of leadership, because of Rupiah Banda’s negative attitude, the party has slumped in what I would call sort of terminal decline. In the six months we have lost two major by-elections. And this is a barometer clearly indicating that unless drastic measures are taken, the party is headed for a big political Armageddon,” Mpombo said.

He said the ruling MMD would be able to retain power only if he Mpombo is the leader.

Zambian President Rupiah Banda
Zambian President Rupiah Banda

Dora Siliya, education minister and MMD spokesperson says President Banda and the MMD are focused on bringing development to Zambians.

“What the president is concerned about now, like all of us in this party, is to meet the promises of the last campaign in 2006 and the by-election and presidential election in 2008 to get development to the people. When the time for politics and electioneering comes and when the time for the convention comes, the party, the members will speak and speak loudly,” Siliya said.

She said the party and its members have no time to respond to what she called “Mr. Mpombo’s tantrum”.

Mpombo also accused President Banda of failing to uphold the late President Levy Mwanawasa’s sound economic and good governance policies.

“When we were campaigning for President Rupiah Banda to take over from the late Mwanawasa, he (Banda) committed himself to the upholding of the legacy that was left by President Mwanawasa in terms of good governance, fight against corruption and also continue on the economic policies. Now there is a total reverse of all those issues,” Mpombo said.

But Siliya said President Banda is obligated only to carry out the policies of the ruling MMD.

“President Banda has no mandate to carry out the legacy of anybody but the legacy of the MMD…And this is why leaders will come and leaders will go but the plan remains the same – the MMD plan. And that is President Banda’s mandate, and that was the same mandate that President Mwanawasa had when he was elected in 2001; the same mandate that President (Frederick) Chiluba had when he was elected in 1991,” Siliya said.

Although Mpombo said he still believes in the principles of the MMD, he would not say whether he would vote for the opposition candidate or President Banda’s candidacy in the event that he Mpombo does not win the contest for the MMD leadership.

“What I’m saying is if there will be manipulation, the product to that manipulation will not be acceptable. At that point we will question whether it will be necessary for us to support a man that would have come through manipulation and all sorts of intimidation and political gimmickry,” Mpombo said.