Works and Supply Minister Felix Mutati, who also leeds an MMD faction that campaigned for President Edgar Lungu, says his party’s relationship with PF is not smooth because there are unresolved issues.

And Party national secretary Raphael Nakacinda has explained that Mutati made the statement in order to encourage members to focus on strengthening the party ahead of the 2021 elections.

Mutati said this when he opened a two-day Luapula provincial conference where he encouraged members to regroup and mobilise the party.

“In any marriage, everything is not smooth. We have issues with our alliance with the PF, but these are bedroom issues. For us, ours is to grow our party MMD, and they (PF) will give us respect. MMD was founded to give oxygen to democracy for national development. Let us not betray the confidence that our founding leaders gave to us,” said Mutati last week.

Asked what issues Mutati was referring to, Nakacinda admitted that the two parties had relationship issues that needed to be resolved, but stressed that it was ‘just a metaphor”.

“The president (Mutati) was just encouraging members that, of course, there could be areas of concern in our relationship with the PF and, therefore, he gave a metaphor that, just like in marriage, it’s not all rosy every time. There are moments when there could be issues, and so it is in our relationship with our colleagues. Therefore, we must work towards focusing and progressing things other than complaining and bickering around some of the things that we could challenge in our working relationship. So, I think, basically, it was just a word of encouragement,” he said.

“Zambians like drama so others were hoping that that statement meant that the relationship is not working, therefore, we are moving on. But that’s not the position; it was just to highlight the fact that people shouldn’t expect that the working relationship we have is a perfect one. There would be once in a while challenges that we will face and we will have to determine to make something positive out of it.”

Asked if the MMD’s relations with the PF had compromised his party, and in the process lost some members, Nakacinda said that their relationship had grown stronger after partnering with PF.

“That question, maybe, could have been relevant two years ago when we just got into an alliance with PF because then people were not sure whether we were going into that relationship on principle if it was just leaders compromising themselves, but two years down the line, people have begun to appreciate that we meant well, we didn’t mean to sell out or to compromise the independence of our party, and I think that has been demonstrated publicly in our discourse and also through our contribution in government,” he said.

“And I think if you remember last year, and part of this year, we were undertaking a process of taking inventory of our structures, let’s not jump to conclusions. MMD had gone through a lot of challenges prior to the 2016 general elections. It was going to be a high-level of defeat, if not self-denial, if we just said we were going to participate in the elections without considering a pact or alliance with other political parties in view of some of the issues we were going through. We needed a moment of stabilisation. After that, and now that we have taken inventory of our structures, we now started having provincial conferences. MMD is committed to intra-party democracy, that’s who we are.”

And asked if the MMD would consider ending its alliance with the PF after stabilising, Nakacinda said that was a matter to be determined at the national convention for the party.

“In MMD, no individual person makes a decision on behalf of the majority, not even the party president. The subject of us going into a working relationship with PF was made collectively at the convention, so any other decision to the contrary or to the affirmative will be made at the convention by the members of the party,” said Nakacinda.