The Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID) says it is ready to defend its recognition of Felix Mutati as president of the MMD.
But the conflict resolutions body also says it is constrained to take any further steps towards addressing the intra-party wrangles within the MMD which have split the former ruling party into two factions, saying it was cognisant of the fact the dispute was before court.
Last week, SCID initiated talks with the Mutati-led MMD, saying that was the faction that was registered under the Registrar of Societies, but the move angered Mumba who threatened to sue the institution for contempt of court.
He further accused ZCID of colluding with the Mutati MMD to change records at the Registrar of Societies in order to fit their political desires.
But ZCID Spokesperson Jackson Silavwa, told News Diggers in an interview that Mumba had the right to seek legal redress over the matter but boasted that the institution was also ready to defend itself in court.
“ZCID has no powers whatsoever to change the records of the Registrar of Societies because that department falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs, so it does not have such tentacles to go in and influence records there. However, as a centre, we recognise leadership based on the records that are obtaining from the office of the Registrar of Societies. And last year when we checked, we realised that the recognised President of the MMD at the registrar of societies is Felix Mutati. So therefore, ZCID started bidding with Mutati as the officially recognised President of the MMD. Dr Nevers Mumba knows that membership to the centre is based on the records status of office bearers from the registrar of societies. So if he wants to seek a recourse or legal redress over this issue, the centre is prepared to defend itself and to speak in court as to how membership is recognised,” Silavwa said.
Asked if the centre did consult Mumba before declaring Mutati as it’s legitimately recognised President of the MMD, Silavwa said ZCID had always had an open door policy for it’s members, including Mumba.
“No no no, we never called anyone. We simply communicated the position that was obtaining on the ground. Like I have said, ZCID only recognise political leadership based on the records of the registrar of societies. But let me also mention that in light of the new development from the Kabwe High Court where the case was being handled for the MMD, we wrote again to the Registrar of Societies to guide us as to interpret the judgment and also to guide us accordingly as to who is the legitimate leader of the MMD. If there are any changes that have occurred since the last time we consulted them over this matter last last year, so we are waiting for the response from the registrar of societies and we are going to communicate openly to Dr Nevers Mumba and his team as to the advise of the registrar of societies. So really, if Dr Mumba wants to address this issue, the centre can advise him to take it up with the Registrar of Societies because what the Registrar of Societies will advise is what the centre is going to follow,” Silavwa said.
“We have always met Dr Mumba and there is no animosity between ZCID and Dr Mumba, all this is just being created by the media. Dr Nevers Mumba is free to walk in our offices like he did last time where we had a very good meeting and we’ve always communicated our position. The ZCID board has always deliberated on this issue. The position of the board in as far as the MMD is concerned is that a unified MMD is more beneficial to the centre and the nation at large. So we are for a United MMD that is going to contribute effectively to the democratic dispensation of our country. So between us and Dr Nevers Mumba, there is an open door policy. We will always accommodate each other and we will always be talking.”
He insisted that Dr Mumba should engage the ZCID of he was aggrieved with the recognition of Mutati as President of the party.
“If Dr Nevers Mumba is aggrieved by the recent meeting that we had [with the Felix Mutati faction] as part of confidence building towards the national political dialogue, ZCID only took that step based on the information that is before us based on the information said last year when we consulted the Registrar of Societies as to who is the legitimate leader of the MMD. That is why we have taken another step to communicate to the office of the Registrar, to take into consideration the new development which regards to the judgment that was obtained in light of the Kabwe High Court so that they can advise us accordingly. And when they do, we are going to communicate to Dr Nevers Mumba. So really, ZCID has no problem. If today, the Registrar of Societies responds to us and the official record at the office of the Registrar is in favour of Dr Nevers Mumba, I can tell you that the centre will make sure that he participates in all the activities of the centre,” Silavwa said.
“Dr Mumba has participated before, he has attended workshops and we have got minutes to prove that. So really, from the centre’s position there is no acrimony. We are siding with the Felix Mutati group but what is guiding us is the record at the Registrar of Societies. So I would advise Dr Nevers Mumba to continuously engage the centre directly as well as also to engage the Registrar of Societies. So really if we are in recognition, then it’s not based on who we like or who we do not like. It will be based on what the Registrar of Societies is going to advise us.”
Meanwhile, Silavwa said ZCID was constrained to take any further steps towards addressing the intra-party wrangles within the MMD.
“We are interested in both inter-party and intra-party dialogue. But when you look at the case of MMD, it’s different. The issue is under the courts of law, we are constrained to take some of the steps because the issue is already in the courts of law. However, the centre stands ready to engage both parties to find an amicable solution. But of course you understand that the contest is between the two leaders and also as the center, we feel that when court rules in favour of either the two of them, then we will be able to oblige. But at the moment, it’s difficult for us to begin to bring the parties together when the issue is actively in court. Otherwise, we are looking forward to the courts decision with regards to who is the legitimate President of MMD so that we can settle this once and for all. But for now, the records are showing us that Mr Mutati is the President of the MMD at the Registrar of Societies,” said Silavwa.