Nevers Mumba was trying to take MMD as a church where only a pastor can be listened to and when he says “hallelujah”, everyone says “amen”, Eastern Province MMD chairperson Jacob Mwanza said before the Lusaka High Court on Monday.

And Mwanza has claimed that drama in MMD started when Mumba was left out as running mate for President Edgar Lungu despite being promised in 2016.

Meanwhile, the defence witness told the court that the current office bearers in MMD are Felix Mutati and his team who were elected at a convention in Kabwe in May 2016.

This is the matter in which Winnie Zaloumis, in her capacity as MMD acting National Secretary for the Mumba led-MMD, has sued Mutati, Mwansa Mbulakulima, Raphael Nakacinda and George Kangwa in the Lusaka High Court, challenging the legality of the convention that was held in Kabwe that elected Mutati and others into office.

The defence opened its defence in July and various witnesses have testified.

And when the matter came up for continued defence before High Court judge Sharon Newa, Mwanza told the court that MMD had a constitution, which was in line with the Zambian constitution.

He added that their constitution stipulated that every five years, MMD should go for a convention, adding that 2016 was hence the right year to go for a convention and not 2017.

Mwanza said the day before the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, he was lodging at Dream Valley together with other provincial chairpersons, when they were awaken at midnight and informed that Mumba wanted to meet them.

He said the said files had some legal opinions on whether they should hold a convention in 2016 or in 2017.

Mwanza said the legal opinions had different opinions but added that there was one legal opinion that stated clearly that Mumba could only go for a convention in 2017 and not 2016.

He said when they went to the Mika Convention Centre where the NEC meeting was to be held the following day, there was a commotion before the event could begin.

Mwanza said some party cadres blocked some NEC members from entering the conference room, adding that two senior NEC members, Nalikwanda UPND member of parliament Geoffrey Lungwangwa and Bradford Hamachila, were harassed by the said cadres.

He said Mumba opened the meeting and there was an item on the agenda concerning the convention.

Mwanza added that an election was conducted during that meeting as to whether they should go for a convention in 2016 or 2017.

He said 33 members voted that it should be held in 2016 while less than 33 opted that they go for a convention in 2017.

“I remember there was an altercation between Dr Mumba as party president and Mwansa Mbulakulima as national secretary then. Because Dr Mumba insisted that the legal opinions, especially one made by Mr Madaika which said we go for a convention in 2017 not 2016, was the legitimate one. The altercation was that honourable Mbulakulima was surprised as to how that legal opinion could be adopted by Dr Mumba, ignoring other legal opinions. Honourable Mbulakulima was surprised that there was another legal opinion coming from another lawyer who was not part of the legal team that the party has always depended upon for legal matters,” the witness said.

Mwanza, however, said at the end of the meeting, they were told by Mumba that the legal opinion that was there stated that the convention should be held in 2017, hence they needed to inform their members that it would be held in 2017.

The witness further testified that drama started in January 2016 when Mumba texted him, saying there was a discussion between him and President Lungu that he would be made a running mate but the Head of State later opted for a female running mate.

“This came about after an announcement that President Lungu made in Eastern Province that he would rather work with MMD, not any other party. When that announcement was made, all of us as a party were excited but later on, the Republican President made it very clear that he was going to choose a lady as his running mate. That is where the drama started. So on April 17, 2016 at a rally addressed by President Lungu in Chipata, I was one of the speakers, urging our MMD members in the province to support the candidature of President Lungu,” Mwanza said.

“I did that because of the same text message from Dr Mumba. In May 2016, Dr Mumba visited Eastern Province with a clear intention of wanting to dissolve the provincial executive committee headed by me. We met in Dr Mumba’s room at a named lodge with my executive. Dr Mumba looked very angry with me in that meeting. After he expressed his disappointment and anger, he asked me why I had endorsed President Lungu as Presidential candidate, leaving him out as my party president. Fortunately, I still kept the message from him advising me to support the PF as he will be the running mate.”

He claimed that Mumba warned him very sternly not do such a thing in the future and his provincial executive committee survived until now.

The defence witness insisted that the current office bearers of MMD were Mutati and his team who were elected at a convention in Kabwe in 2016.

“…what Dr Mumba was trying to do was to…take the party as a church where only one person can be listened to. I say so because the former party president has a background from the pulpit where as a pastor you say ‘hallelujah’, you expect everyone to say ‘amen’. But not with MMD which has a constitution,” Mwanza said.

In cross examination by Mumba’s lawyer Jeah Madaika, Mwanza agreed with the lawyer that the court should determine the matter based on what was contained in the MMD constitution.

He said elections in MMD had been held every five years, but added that there were some exceptions when the elections were held outside the five years.

Trial continues.