Thursday, September 26, 2013
SUCCESSION RITES IN THE MMD WHEN LEVY P. MWANAWASA DIED
THE MACHIVELLIAN RITES OF SUCCESSION IN THE MMD WHEN MWANAWASA DIED
BY KATELE KALUMBA
The murky forces that were unleashed in the wake of the news that Zambian Republican President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa had collapsed in Egypt and was struggling for dear life in a French Hospital where he later died will perhaps not be fully documented for the public. But as former Chief Executive of the Ruling Party with the title of National Secretary and the custodian of the Constitution of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (The MMD), I witnessed the most despicable acts of human folly in the process of finding a successor to Mwanawasa. I presided over this process while I was being stabbed front, back, sides and head. The abuses I was exposed to were principally authored by our then Vice President of the Republic of Zambia and our novitiate Party Trustee, Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda in his cunning quest to be “allowed to complete the three years left by my brother” as he put it. Needless to say after three years, he sought another five year term and fell to the Patriotic Front’s machine of Michael Chilufya Sata in 2011 after a sympathetic vote in 2008 allowed him to serve the three years he pleaded for.
Rupiah Bwezani Banda or RB as he was fondly known, was a master at concealing his hand in schemes of deceit and political mayhem. His dreaded foe, he was made to believe, was the National Secretary, moi, who under our Party Constitution managed fully the day to day processes of the Party. Sensing challenge from Ngandu Magande, probably the former First Lady, Maureen Mwanawasa, and a hoard of other older MMD leaders, he established a cartel of political hitmen and women. Prominent among these were the late Ben Tetamashimba, Mike Mulongoti, and Catherine Namugala. By liberally promising political tokens he won the hearts of even the most ardent trustees of Levy such as the late George Kunda and now diplomat Bwalya Chiti. He completely castrated the power of the National Chairman Michael Mabenga. With tons of misinformation procured through this cartel and particularly from Madam Catherine Namugala, he hated me with a passion and I have never been surprised at the legal woes that had befallen me under his tenure. As my late friend Mambo Banda who educated me about the character of the man, RB, particularly his art of deception, and who tried to work with my uncle Senior Chief Nzamane to mediate, I had to prepare myself for the worst. Mambo revealed to me how RB, being a major critic of Mwanawasa during their Katuta Lodge Days(which belonged to Mambo and frequented by his two “friends” Dr George Chabwera and RB), the latter surprisingly disappeared and went to donate a Boran Bull to Levy Mwanawasa during a public political rally of the MMD in Kasenengwa. I had drawn up a program to take Levy through out the Eastern Province to win it over after a flurry of complaints from Eastern Royal Houses. RB , an anti-MMD and a proclaimed retired politician from the UNIP days, announced to the audience how, as an old politician , he had discovered very important virtues in Levy and why he thought the East should support him. The Bull was a token of his support. Levy was ready to reject it as he whispered to me because he knew from his intelligence sources the “crap” this old man had been saying about him. But since we were canvassing for support for our 2006 elelctions and sensing the decline of support for Levy in the Northern and Luapula Provinces, I was not ready to risk an electoral loss because of my candidate’s delicate ego. I persuaded him to accept as measure of his magnanimity. Needless to say we won the East, lost Luapula and Northern to PF but the national “trophy” was ours, Levy was re-elected for the second time. And Rupiah Bwezani Banda was appointed his Vice President with his quite very young and unassuming wife Thandiwe as the Second Lady of our Republic. I reproduce the letter below as part of a series of battles I had to fight against Banda’s hitmen during the succession crisis of 2008. Banda’s dread was realized and confirmed why he had to hate me when I allowed to open the applications to any candidate who was a member and had not served a three year term in a party position. The legal reason was that three years only applied to Party offices. This allowed me to re-admit Enock Kavindele and Nevers Mumba who had been expelled by Levy and allowed them to contest. It also allowed me to accept RB who had not served three years in the Party. All in all all, I allowed 18 applicants amongst whom, one Hikaumba, President of the ZCTU was not publicly announced by me as per his request and speculation in the media was buzzing whether it was Maureen or indeed myself.
Having been told by Catherine that I had said “he lacked balls to be a leader” (an insult I never levelled at him in that way), he had enough reason to be suspicious of me. In my personal encounter on this particular grudge when Mambo organized a mediation, I confronted him and urged to stand up to the punches that Magande and Masebo were throwing if he really wanted to succeed Mwanawasa. That too confirmed the reported insult.
But I and RB went far in history in ways we both recalled different episodes. I remembered him in early 1970s as a General Manager of a NAMBoard that was corruptly and nepotistically run, where tons of fertilizer wagons disappeared and I was tasked by the State then to investigate under the guise of a Staff Development Officer under a Scottish “dog minder”. I reported to her and State House through Senior Officers of State. He was removed there and relegated to some low level parastatal and succeeded by a noble gentleman Dominic Mulaisho, now late. On his part he remembered a violent young man who “nearly killed us during a campaign in Feira" when General Fara was standing on a UNIP ticket. My recollection of that was quite the opposite. I was a lone ranger surrounded by violent old wounded UNIP buffaloes.Not even the small police post could protect me. I had to protect myself. We lost that violent by-election to UNIP. Nevertheless, these narratives may have fed into the heat that RB unleashed on me during that fateful period when Zambia lost a President. My letter of complaint to Mabenga reveals my preoccupation to try and defend the tenets of the MMD against a Man whose membership to the Party was even suspect. RB was never on my Register as a member the same way Clive Chirwa was not despite his carrying a hastely bought Party card from someone. The National Secretary was the registrar of members and he authenticated them. I am not sure whether RB even knew where the Party Headquarters was. I never recall him visiting. At his core, I believed, he was anti-MMD and UNIP if not born-again FDD.
Dear Chairman Mabenga,
Re: THE PARTY POLICY, ADMINISTRATION ISSUES AND THE CASE AGAINST BEN TETAMASHIMBA
I have been briefed by my Deputy National Secretary about the meeting that was convened by the National Trustee, His Honor the Vice President Mr. Rupiah Banda at Government House on 22nd July 2008 to discuss matters related to the Party’s image of late, a meeting I did not attend. I was not clear who convened the meeting in question but I understood from you that you were just invited to it. I assume then it was by our senior trustee who also wanted to brief members on the President’s health as reported in the media and the solidarity statement to which I render my support. Please recall that the Secretariat has sent a formal letter to the First Lady on behalf of the Party.
I therefore want to address some issues that appear to have vexed the minds of our members as reported to me.
1. PARTY POLICY: As I informed you in my SMS text which I equally availed to the VP and my DNS, I considered the consultation an informal matter which I did not want to be misconstrued as a NEC meeting discussing Policy matters. I have had numerous queries from other NEC members who did not attend the meeting. My position has been consistent: that it was an informal consultation on a disciplinary matter by the National Chairman, to whom the Secretariat had written, to convene a disciplinary committee after charging Hon. Ben Tetamashimba. As you are aware, the full NEC in consultation with the Party President is in charge of Policy direction. (Article 19 (b) and Article 41(b) and in his absence, the Vice President of the Party. Article 45 (2) gives power to the National Chairman. In the absence of both the President and Vice President to provide Policy leadership.
2. ADMINISTRATION. Sir, our constitution is clear, the National Secretary is the Chief Executive Officer of the Party for supervision, co-ordination and efficient administration of the day to day activities of the Party (Article 46 (1)) with the clear mandate to organize and mobilize the Party (Article 46 (2)). In addition, the Constitution is clear that issues of discipline are an administrative matter. In terms of day to day administration of Party discipline, this is vested in the National Secretary by article 52 (3) and I quote: “The power to ensure discipline and take disciplinary action among the officers, Members and employees of the Party shall lie with the National Secretary”. This clause is unequivocal on the definition of “powers” to ensure discipline and to “take disciplinary action”. That power is not vested in any other Office of the Party defined in article 41 and 42. In doing so of course the National Secretary is guided by the Rules and Regulations and conventions derived from this Constitutional Article. Yet any such Subsidiary Rules and Regulations are not designed to render incompetent the powers vested in the National Secretary on Discipline. This is so because the term “ensure” carries the notion of “guarantee” as a “matter of honor”. It is a “promise” the National Secretary has to make to the Party as a “word of honor”. No other officer in the Party NEC has that burden on his or her shoulders.
In the event of doubt regarding the status of the New Party Constitution (as Hon Tetamashimba had tried to suggest that it was not effective), the President agreed with the Secretariat that the Convention is the highest organ and NEC cannot “re-approve” the amended constitution. He directed the Secretariat to publicize it in his letter dated 10th August 2007. The attempt to re-amend the Constitution proposed in a petition letter to His Excellency by Hon Tetamashimba regarding President Mwanawasa continuing as MMD President dated 13th August, 2007 and the President’s reaction to it dated 27th August 2007 was never tabled to the NEC after appropriate consultations at the highest level. Therefore, our document is the authentic constitution as amended in 2005.
I heard about the arguments proffered by Chairman Chiti and others about the limits of the powers of the National Secretary, over the discipline of NEC members. The regulation derived from Article 52, defines disciplinary authorities including the NEC. And he was right in quoting clause 5 (a) which defines the NEC as a disciplinary authority for NEC members. What Chairman Chiti did not bring to the attention of the meeting, and which independent legal persons would clearly point out, is that Clause 6 of the disciplinary Rules and Regulations is very clear. I quote: “The National Secretary shall have power to direct (emphasis is mine) any disciplinary authority to initiate disciplinary action against any erring party member”. This Clause does not exclude NEC and that is why only the National Secretary can proffer charges and constitute the Disciplinary Committee to examine a case of an erring NEC member for the NEC to take disciplinary action.
3. THE CASE OF HON. BEN TETAMASHIMBA
The history of insubordination, arrogance, and malicious publicity has characterized the Office of the Party Spokesperson. In fact quite recently, on May 5th, 2008, our Party President wrote Chairman Tetamashimba on his characteristic behaviour to my office and I quote “ Your letter to Hon. Dr Katele Kalumba, MP., National Secretary of the Party dated 16th January, 2008 was extremely hostile, rude and unnecessary.” Previous communications from the President have restricted Tetamashimba as spokesperson to clear his public statements with the NEC and the National Secretary. He has ignored this many times.
Chairman, in the context of recent events, the question is: What is the problem? In my view, it is not whether or not there has arisen a crisis in the Party as such, but rather the following:
1. Tetamashimba’s remarks on the health of the President and the need for a new leader in the press
2. Tetamashimba’s public attack and gravely false information regarding the National Secretary publicized in the media during a press conference
3. Tetamashimba misrepresenting a Party program on Women and the Youth in relation to (2) above not only to the public but to all national Party organs
4. Answering the question of whether a disciplinary case exists
5. Who has constitutional authority to proffer a charge against a member, including a NEC member
6. What are the Regulations, conventions and procedures followed in a disciplinary case.
7. Are there exceptional political considerations to avoid specific disciplinary actions
8. Who decides on exceptions
9. What are the political costs of any course of action
10. Is the Party willing to bear any such costs?
Chairman, arising from the discussions in Part 1 and 2 of this letter, I have answered most of the issues in points 5 and 6 in the above list of issues. I address the remaining 8 issues.
The charge letter signed by my Deputy National Secretary on behalf of my Office clearly sets out the issues in 1, 2, 3, and 4, 5 and 6. No one else but Tetamashimba made an “insensitive” statement at a wrong time in the press which created a perception of crisis and consequently ridicule to the Party. It angered party members, including the women members of Lusaka province who demonstrated but were calmed down by the Secretariat. Party leaders including Hon. Mangani, Hon Mpombo, Hon Magande and Hon Mulongoti speaking in their various capacities condemned the statement. The Post Newspaper carried an editorial that disregarded anyone else’s sentiments, but supported Tetamashimba in their usual characteristic and irrational attacks on Katele Kalumba whom they had asked to react to what they considered a rather unusual call. That I believe bolstered Tetamashimba to play to the gallery and proceed further to create and publicise falsehoods about the National Secretary having “bused into Lusaka Women and Youths from all provinces” to demonstrate against him. Thus, this National Secretary who was calming people down and calling for prayers was “involved in sinister schemes” against Tetamashimba and by derivation the Party and President Mwanawasa.
Chairman, I quote the sentiments of our Party President on such falsehoods and insults as in the case of Findlay’s MMD DOES NOT BELONG TO LEVY’s RELATIVES,-POST “The statement certainly brings the name of the Party into disrepute in that it suggests that Senior leadership of the Party including myself are allowing my relatives to run the Party as a family enterprise” (Letter to NS dated Nov 19th, 2007). Further on the same issue following a misunderstanding that I had not written to Findlay on his statement asking him to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken, His Excellency wrote “…if we are going to treat offenders with kinder gloves, then the Party has a wrong man for its President”. You agree Chair, these were strong sentiments magnified in the Moonga case which you are all too familiar with.
In the case of Tetamashimba, my Office has clearly defined the injuries and put it to the correct “Disciplinary authority” through the provisions established by Rules and Regulations and by Conventions, the setting up of a disciplinary committee and therefore answered issue 5 and 6 in particular.
The question of issue 7 and 8 can also be addressed through the case of Chairman Chumbwe. Considering both the political and diplomatic implications and the charges proffered by the Secretariat, NEC only asked Chumbwe to apologize for the embarrassment caused and the Party President who was offended as a Republican President, accepted the apology in a letter to Chumbwe dated 12 May 2008. Tetamashimba has refused to apologize to the Party, the nation or to me as National Secretary, although he appears to have apologized to the Mwanawasa family. He has continued to misrepresent the Party and undermine my person and office by false and malicious statements including efforts to try and destabilize the Party organs in Solwezi District. I find it hard to define an exceptional circumstance which would not require specific sanctions including a public apology to the Nation, the Party and to my Office.
This matter is in your hands Chairman as per the Constitution, articles which I have referred to thus answering issue 7 and 8. But in addressing yourself to these two issues, please try and answer the implications of inaction raised in issue 9 and 10. However, I would like to inform you that as National Secretary and as an individual member of the MMD and a Citizen of Zambia, I reserve the right to react should there appear to be a “conspiracy of a dark convenience” designed to undermine my person and my political authority in MMD.
Having put the Secretariat’s case at length against the background of what my DNS briefed me about and what I learnt in my telephone conversation with Chairman Chiti, my discussions in person with you and Hon treasurer Suresh Desai, we have rested our official case and await the Disciplinary process of NEC to act. In the meantime, our Party organs are being informed in a public statement that until NEC decides on the charges proffered by the Secretariat on Hon Ben Tetamashimba, he shall not speak on behalf of the Party effective from the date the charge letter was signed and delivered. This action is common practice. As Party Chairman who is acting in the absence of the President (and as we have no vice Party President) you can direct us or act arbitrarily to reconstitute the Disciplinary Committee so that when the matter is brought to the full NEC, at some point, and if our Party President would still be indisposed, you would not be rendered unable to preside over the NEC meeting discussing a matter you chaired as Chairman of the adhoc Disciplinary Committee.
Katele Kalumba MP
cc. Trustee and Republican Vice President
Deputy National Secretary