The Felix Mutati MMD faction has maintained that despite being in a relationship with the PF, the former ruling party is an independent movement with its own political agenda.

And MMD national secretary Raphael Nakacinda has expressed confidence that his party president will transform and add value to the Ministry of Works and Supply, the same way he “transformed the Ministry of Finance”.

Last week, President Lungu relegated Mutati, a move that was seen to be a consequence of statements which Nakacinda has been making regarding the MMD’s preparedness to stand along and beat PF in an election.

In an interview, Nakacinda said he did not regret making such remarks because it was a fact.

“We are not shy to state the truth, the point I want to make is that people should be able to appreciate that we are an independent political party which has independent programmes that we are undertaking to mobilise ourselves. But our independence must be appreciated in the context that whilst we are in a relationship with another political party, it does not take away the fact that we have to run our programmes because we are only of value to ourselves,” Nakacinda said.

“Even in our relationship [with PF] we are able to generate numbers to the table. So if what people are trying to use to debate that it is because of what I said [on Sunday interview], I don’t think that the adjustment (reshuffle) had anything to do with that interview because the interview apparently, even the PF leadership themselves who watched it, saw that it was actually a very good and balanced interview.”

he said President Lungu had the right to reshuffle his ministers, including Mutati, and the MMD was not going to hold him to ransom.

“The President must be accorded the prerogative that he enjoys, to appoint, reshuffle and to fire because that is his prerogative as Head of State. That should not be compromised for purposes of political convenience because we operate under a Presidential system and that’s how come the delivery of development is done in the name of the President. Therefore, we do not want to start arguing with the President and trying to hold him to ransom by demanding that honourable Mutati or any other person appointed in government from MMD, should hold a particular position. The President is the captain of the team of the executive and he should be given the liberty to structure the team the way he feels fit that they would be able to deliver development to the Zambian people,” he said.

“So the movement of ministers from one portfolio to the other, for us really is not something that we would debate in the context of what we expect but we would debate it based on the question that ‘will it be able to deliver?’ and that can only be judged after some time. The reshuffles only took place some days ago, so we don’t expect by now to judge whether that was the right thing to do by the President or not. I think time will be able to tell whether the adjustment to the team that the President has made is going to deliver to the expectations of the Zambian people.”

He added that those who were disregarding the relevance of the Ministry of Works and Supply should watch how Mutati would turn it around.

“We have had ministers of health who were not health practitioners themselves and even ministers of agriculture who are not agriculturists themselves. So I don’t think the executive being the policy body should really be restricted to having people in certain portfolios based on their qualifications. Of course we are very proud of the performance of honourable Felix Mutati as Minister of Finance and we want to believe it’s because of his skill, experience, and the good name he has built in many years of service to the country, which I think brought some value to that office. But we also are confident that even in his new portfolio as minister of works and supply, he will add value to that ministry because of his experience and his skill,” said Nakacinda.”

“If people think that the ministry is not as important or as active as other ministries, watch the space as he [Mutati] goes in that office because we believe as MMD that positions should not be the ones that add value to a person, it is the person that should add value to the position he’s given. And this business of wanting to have individuals seek validation by occupying a particular office should come to an end, we should now begin to have officers who are coming to add value to offices. We think the same way honourable Mutati added value to the Ministry of Finance, he will add value to the Ministry of Works and Supply.”