Expelled FDD vice-president Chifumu Banda has demanded for a party convention to elect a new leader saying it is unconstitutional for Edith Nawakwi to cling to the party presidency.

At a press briefing today, where he also launched the ‘SAVE FDD committee’ mandated to mobilize funds necessary to hold a party convention, Banda said Nawakwi had exhausted her terms of office.

“The FDD party last held a convention in 2005. According to its Constitution, FDD is supposed to hold a convention every five years. As such the next convention could have taken place in 2010, but this did not happen. The explanation which was furnished to the general membership for the failure was the National Policy Committee had failed to raise funds for the event. Later on 2015 presented another lawful occasion for holding a convention. Again, the convention was not held and the opportunity was equally missed. The party secretariat explained off this failure by arguing that since the nation was going to the general elections the following year, change of leadership could have disadvantaged the party in the polls. For this same reason, it was accordingly announced that the convention would instead be held in February 2017 after the said general elections,” Banda, who said his expulsion was null and void, explained.

FDD women during a media briefing at Lusaka's Courtyard Hotel - picture by Tenson Mkhala
FDD women during a media briefing at Lusaka’s Courtyard Hotel – picture by Tenson Mkhala

Banda said the ‘lack of funds’ excuses were a ploy for Nawakwi to remain at the helm of the party.

“The party’s central leadership has however ignored this inherent strength of its numbers and has consequently not taken the initiative to mobilize contributions from members so as to promote the functions of intra-party democracy. As many authentic party members see it now, the consistent excuses about not having conventions are mere ploys by Ms Edith Nawakwi, the party president to remain at the helm of power,” he said.

And Banda accused Nawakwi of trying to manipulate the FDD constitution in order to allow her a third term of office.

“Currently, Edith Nawakwi is courting the party ranks in various provinces of the country. Evidently, her palpable intent is to enlist support of would-be delegates so as to allow her amend the Constitution to allow her run for a third term as president of the Party. Efforts to this end have manifested themselves in two major forms. She has been indirectly and directly canvassing among the provincial leaders and literally bribing them with money and other materials,” Banda said.

He charged that Nawakwi had brought down a once vibrant party with her poor leadership strategies.

“What is telling, however, is that President Edith Nawakwi took over a well-organised and strong Party, but she has run it down. Under the leadership of General Tembo, the first President, the FDD Party had more than ten MPs and had positioned itself well to govern the entire country. Currently, FDD is virtually a pulp to the point that it only has one MP. As well-funded as it was during the 2016 general elections, the FDD Party is currently facing lawsuits for failure to pay its polling agents which it had hired for the election,” Banda said.

Meanwhile Banda called for amnesty in the party saying any further suspensions or expulsions would prevent the party from holding a democratic and fair convention.

FDD members during the launch of 'The Save FDD Committee' at Lusaka's Courtyard Hotel-picture by Tenson Mkhala
FDD members during a media briefing at Lusaka’s Courtyard Hotel – picture by Tenson Mkhala

And speaking at the same occasion SAVE FDD Committee National Coordinator Lawrence Mwelwa admitted that the party was divided.
“There has grown an avert disregard for the party constitution, party structures as well as laid down procedures for handling internal matters. More still, the impetus to grow the membership and bolster parliamentary representation has practically been thrown to the winds. We implore the current leadership to treat this matter with the urgency it deserves. We are expecting them to act accordingly within seven (7) days from the date of the letter of arbitration,” said Mwelwa.

“Recently, the party secretariat has meted out expulsions and suspensions of party members who have risen and spoken out against the undemocratic tendencies of the central party leadership structure. On the 18th of February, 2017, the party chairman, announced the expulsion of the party vice-president, Mr. Chifumu Banda, and the suspension of the Lusaka Provincial Chairperson, Mr. James Musemuna. These were the latest causalities whose numbers were added to other prominent members who had suffered the same fate in November last year.What is, nonetheless, common about the aforementioned disciplinary measures is that the Constitution requirements were not followed at all, and in other cases they were stage-managed to give them procedural semblance.”

He also demanded for a financial accounts audit to ascertain the level of accountability on the party’s expenditure.