Convene inclusive MMD convention, Gaston Sichilima dares Dr. Nevers Sekwila Mumba
By Simon Banda and Derrick Sinjela
“Once we have held an inclusive National Convention and elected a legitimate Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) president, then, we shall definitely be ready to go into an alliance with any political grouping, prods a tart former Deputy Minister in the Office of the Vice President, Mr. Gaston Sichilima, in an interview with this Kwilanzi Newspaper Zambia (KNZ) authors.
Mr. Sichilima argues that for now it is not tenable to tie MMD into a political matrimony with President Hakainde Sammy Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) New Dawn Administration as the former ruling party is yet to hold an inclusive elective convention.
In an apparent response to an indication by MMD New Hope leader Dr. Nevers Sekwila Mumba that the party membership had agreed to enter into an alliance with UPND, Sichilima protested that such an undertaking could only be done once an inclusive elective convention is held.
“As members, we have no problem in going to an alliance with anybody but it must be after an all inclusive convention. How does Dr. Mumba know his members because ever since he was elected no annual card renewal has been held. He has never held a convention and how do we go to an alliance, when we have no political party president, who is supposed to lead this process. Our constitution says 10 years is a term one serves as President, so from 2012 to now, his tenure is over, so how do we go to the alliance without a president? We have no problem with going for an alliance as long as it arises after an all inclusive convention. Basically, we are not consulted as members. For some time, we have been asking Dr. Mumba to convene a convention to choose a new leadership. Now, he (Dr. Nevers Sekwila Mumba) was eligible, but not now,” explained Sichilima.
Asked on who is in better standing to take over the leadership of the MMD, Sichilima boasted that the former ruling party has a lot of competent women and men.
“We are not short of leaders, that is why have the political parties that took over power from us (MMD) still using our MP’s as ministers to the current government. Our members are working with President Hichilema such as Vice President, Reverend Witner Kapembwa Mutale-Nalumango, Agriculture Minister, Rueben Mtolo Phiri and Water Affairs Minister, Mike Mposha, to name but three. Sir, as one delegated as spokesperson I am ready to be insulted for stating the truth guided by the MMD intra-party constitution. Maybe, let me give you just a few backgrounds, when we lost power to the late 5th President , the late Michael Charles Chilufya Sata and the Patriotic Front (PF), we tried to take MMD into an alliance but all this was abandoned on account of intra-party fighting.
We had Members of Parliament and councilors, but like the United National Independence Party (UNIP), today we have none. It was good and is still good for everybody in the MMD to go to a convention. Unfortunately that didn’t happen; what did he do? Dr. Mumba started suspending everybody deemed as holding this viewpoint. To date, Dr. Mumba has never gone to the convention. We are asking for an all inclusive convention. We are actually talking to each other even the people that Dr. Mumba says are backing him, they too are working with us. We have no president of MMD because Dr. Mumba’s tenure is over, so how do we go into any alliance. Anyway, as individuals, it is their democratic right including Dr. Mumba, if he wants to defect to you UPND no one can stop him. In addition, the proposed change of our party name can only be changed at the convention as no member has agreed to have it changed,” noted Sichilima.
Sichilima recollected being consulted by former Third Republican President, the late Levy Patrick Mwanawasa on a decision to recruit Dr. Mumba as Vice President from the National Christian Coalition (NCC).
Late Mwanawasa, defended a decision to have a vice president, who had previously contested as a candidate for the presidency.
“I think there was an argument that we could not bring somebody who stood for election but as a lawyer (LPM) held a view that a presidential candidate from a political party was not precluded (barred) from being appointed. My brother, Peter Ng’andu Magande was brought in as finance minister from the UPND, understood as an agenda to bring any people from opposition to come and assist driving government, as a ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ spirit. Many others; Dipak Patel, Chance Kabaghe of the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), Geoffrey Samukonga and Ms. Sylvia Tembo-Masebo from late Benjamin Yorum Mwila’s Zambia Republican Party (ZRP) were brought into government as ministers.
I was a deputy minister of Local Government to Ms. Tembo-Masebo from opposition. I can I tell you that MMD is the only party that is national. Sadly, miraculously, in a short period of time, MMD has fallen in the shoes of UNIP by not not having a single MP or Councilor. Today, agreeing with you, we don’t have not even a single MMD representative in the National Assembly or local government. There is need to go back to the drawing board.
We are not going to give up as new political Party for National Unity and Progress (PNUP) led by Highvie Hambulo Hamududu and Kasote Singogo have produced Imanga Wamunyimaas Nalolo MP. This in my view means the current MMD leadership was rejected countrywideLike football, when you realize one is not scoring, such a player is replaced. We have abundant capable people who can play better as we are going for 2026 election.
We are not precluding Dr. Mumba from contesting but only one is to compete in inclusive contest for the leadership. When you have political party president, it is not automatic that that particular individual is flouted as a presidential aspirant. A person has to attract national appeal. Looking back, after Mwanawasa’s death in 2008, we subjected then Vice President, the late Dr. Rupiah Bwezani Banda to an intra-party contest in the MMD National Executive Committee (NEC), competing against Lieutenant Colonel Rhonie Shikapwashya, late Magande and others,” reminisced Sichilima.
Teased Sichilima quoting former Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Vernon Johnson Mwaanga: “ If you can not win at NEC, how can you win at national level. I can tell you and this thing that people talking about the ‘tribal’ in we don’t know no ‘tribal’ as MMD, we came out united in 1991. As MMD, we believe you sometimes win, and lose some other time. but when you become a Republican President, that is another story for another day though in a word you become a ‘Leader’ for all Zambians regardless of a citizens political affiliation. Dr. Mumba could even have been Republican President from the time we started fighting in 2016. But now MMD has no secretariat, The beauty about the MMD is that my colleagues have told me to speak on their behalf. I do not answer to insults but adhere to the constitution of the MMD. We are saying let’s go to the convention, as tomorrow you never know, who becomes the leader? We are saying, if I have lost a National Secretary contest say against Elizabeth Chitika, I must respect the hierarchy, the issue of alliance politics can come afterwards,” advised Sichilima, who recalled being brought to Lusaka Politics from the Copperbelt Province by late King Cobra Sata.
Talking preparedness ahead of the Thursday 13th August 2026, Sichilima argued that as a collective approach, togetherness will triumph as 2024 is in earnest campaigns year.
“2026, nobody goes to fight alone and and you have basically about 900 days remaining. It does very good for the politicians to hear 900 days as though a lot of time remains but let me tell you this year (2024) is the campaign year as every project whether you are in government or in opposition, you need to look at your strategies now. I’m saying the government didn’t look at the project to point that industrial policy position. Former Second Republican President, the late Dr. Frederick Titus Chiluba used to say “politics work is in the night’ while in the day time is doing implication. Tell me, which party is now working in the night and reserving the morning to execute tasks assigned,” said Sichilima