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Saturday, September 28, 2013


The National Party Chairman and Acting Party President

Monday October 6, 2008

Dear Chairman,


I have decided to write you on the above referenced subject as a matter of record and for the benefit of the Presidential Candidate, His Excellency Mr. Rupiah Banda. The core issue that drives me to write is the principle of sincerity and truth in the management of MMD.
By whatever forces of coincidence, the following people found themselves at the Campaign Centre on 5th October, 2008 in one office and engaged in a debate about the goings-on in the campaign: These were:
1.    Hon. M. Mabenga: National Chairman and Acting Party President
2.    Hon. Kabinga Pande, Deputy National Chairman
3.    Hon. Ben Tetamashimba, Party Spokesman and Presidential Election Agent
4.    Mr. Patrick Musonda, National Youth Chairman
5.    Katele Kalumba MP, National Secretary
6.    M. Jeff Kaande, Deputy National Secretary
A number of issues touching upon the following were raised:
1.    Problems related to the Campaign Structure and its performance in the Provinces
2.    Performance of the Campaign Manager, Hon. Mike Mulongoti in providing leadership to the Campaign Teams
3.    Campaign Funding, resourcing and materials distribution
4.    Presidential Candidate’s Campaign program management
5.    Strategies in our campaign regarding imaging the candidate and mobilizing support from various political constituents and interest groups
6.    The strength of the opposition in various provinces and the question of targeting our campaign
After considerable debate, some specific decisions were reached and the key ones I was asked to act upon were:
1.    That Hon. Kabinga Pande, our Deputy National Chairman, was to take over from Hon. Mike Mulongoti in order to overcome increasing complaints from within the Party and outside. Some reasons advanced were that the Campaign was beginning to falter for lack of leadership by the Campaign Manager. There has been no systematic coordination of the Campaign Committee and the rank and file of our members felt alienated by the people at the Campaign Centre. That the evolution of parallel campaign structures operating from many points is testimony of the failure to harmonize and strategize. The role of the Campaign Manager was to evolve strategies that respond to the opportunities or obstacles in the Campaign. All the members present agreed that Hon. Kabinga Pande’s demeanor and public relations training would bring harmony in the campaign and address media attacks on our Party campaign.
2.    That in order to overcome the problem of alienation of the cadres, Mr. Jeff Kaande should deputize the Campaign Manager and assume much of what Mr. Mbita Chitala has been doing. The meeting recognized the complaints against Mr. Chitala from Party members but accepted that his role will need to be re-defined by the Campaign Committee.
3.     Because Lusaka and the Copperbelt carry major voting strength, it is important that these be beefed up by senior leaders. Hence Hon. Mulongoti would be deployed to the Copperbelt, whilst Hon. Namugala would be retained in Lusaka.
4.    The tension between the Luapula Provincial Minister Hon. Musosha and Mr. Norman Chibamba, in the absence of the Provincial Chairman, was creating a problem for coordination in the campaign in Luapula. The Party needed a person who would be accepted by both. I proposed Mr. Jazzman Chikwakwa and the meeting agreed because of his past association with the Province and the initial positive reaction to his having been proposed to coordinate Luapula when the campaign team was configured.
5.    That the Party Treasurer focuses on general Party finance mobilization and policy for accountability and allow Ms. Agness Ngoma to deal with the day to day administration of campaign funds.
6.    That The Party Chairman and National Secretary be based in the base provinces but provide backstop support to the respective regions as well as avail themselves periodically to accompany the Candidate.
7.    That Hon. Pande would together with the Committee deal with the details of administration.
I was requested to write to all the concerned individuals about the senior Party leadership decisions. However, before I could write and after the meeting, I called Hon. Tetamashimba aside and suggested that he briefs the Presidential Candidate as a matter of procedure and protocol. He however suggested that I, as National Secretary, should instead brief the candidate because these were major policy decisions.
I called Government House and was cleared by the ADC and Mr. William Banda who met me at the gate. I briefed the candidate who, in spite of his pending appointment to go to the Memorial service, spared the moment for my brief. He raised certain points after my brief. The first was whether Hon. Mulongoti had attended the meeting. I said he had not, but that I intended to inform him of the decisions made. He encouraged me to do so and requested that since he had already asked Hon. Mulongoti to accompany him to Southern Province, he be allowed to do so before he goes to the Copperbelt. The second point was whether the Party Treasurer would not be a necessary person to keep in his current role. I explained that we wanted to separate the policy and administration functions and Mr. Desai would provide oversight without micromanaging campaign funding. I added, after we shared agreement over the proposals that I was now left to do the “shoe polishing work” of telling those involved.
I called Hon. Mike Mulongoti immediately after leaving Government House and we agreed that we meet at Parliamentary Motel where he was also meeting Hon. Desai. By coincidence, I met Hon. Musosha at the Motel and explained the impeding changes in the Province. He readily understood and accepted the idea of Mr. Chikwakwa. When Hon. Mulongoti arrived, I briefed him of the decision and my brief to the candidate including his appeal that Hon. Mulongoti still proceed to the Southern Province.  Hon Mulongoti was gracious, obliged to the changes and suggested that I ask Jazzman Chikwakwa and Hon. Mpombo to brief him fully on what they had done so far on the Copperbelt before Mr. Chikwakwa would leave for Luapula.
I rushed back to the Campaign Centre to prepare the letters and Press Statement. I also tried to reach Mr. Chikwakwa by phone. While finalizing these letters and the Press release, I was unexpectedly saddled with the angry flare-up of Eastern province MPs over campaign funds and materials. Sherry Thole and Agness Ngoma asked me to intervene and Mr. Mbushi came in to help explain the background. In the process, I did not continue trying to reach Mr. Chikwakwa until after the news broke on ZNBC when he called me pleading that he be kept on the Copperbelt because in his words “I have laid my foundation”. I told him that if that was in reference to 2011, that was the main reason we were moving him to support his brothers in Luapula to avoid the reports we were receiving against him. He promised to call again the following day.
After addressing and resolving the Eastern Province issue, I left the Campaign Centre around 21hrs. Ambassador Mbita Chitala called me expressing disquiet at the announced changes. He said they were impolitic; insensitive to the Lamba vote and believed that the decisions had totally mishandled Hon. Mulongoti and himself. He bemoaned the fact that Hon. Kabinga Pande could not be his supervisor because he ,(quote) “insulted me when I was in Libya over the Pan-African issue”; Chitala felt unwanted. I tried to assure him that the Party’s interests were considered first and nothing personal was implied. MMD needed to stem-off the pressure by these changes and his government problems over pan-Africanism was not relevant to this campaign. He sounded uncompromising even when I said nothing had been said about him specifically. I reminded him that he had quite recently proposed that I take over the campaign from Mulongoti as National Secretary in order to respond to the calls by party members because of the faltering in the campaign.  He was unyielding in his protest and I sensed from his statements, that he had been misinformed that he was “not wanted in the campaign team”.
A few minutes after talking to Mbita Chitala, Hon Tetamashimba called expressing anxiety about the statement and asking me whether I had explained to Hon Mike Mulongoti. I was surprised because I had informed him and Mr. Jeff Kaande after my meeting with Mr. Mulongoti. I re-confirmed to Hon. Tetamashimba my interaction with Hon. Mulongoti and his reaction. He said he understood but wanted me to speak to Hon Mulongoti again using Ben Tetamashimba’s cell phone because Hon. Mulongoti did not have airtime. I never received any further calls.
Today, Hon. Pande called me in response to my query as to what was going on and confirmed having talked to Chairman Mabenga who appeared to have forgotten what was discussed and was suggesting that the proposal was for the Deputy National Chairman to take over the functions of Mbita Chitala! He was as shocked as I was when he told me. Before 17hrs, a reporter from the Daily Mail called stating that they had received a statement signed by Hon Tetamashimba citing consultations with the National Chairman and Presidential Candidate reversing decisions made yesterday, and which I had the authority as National Secretary to announce. I tried desperately to reach the entourage in Southern Province and understand what was going on and explain the confusion such a statement would cause given the way the Party and the public in general had received the “re-alignments” in the campaign. I failed. When I got through it was news on ZNBC and cadres were calling asking what had gone wrong with the campaign.
Mr. Chairman, this is the record. I hope and pray that the actions we have all taken were meant in good faith and that we have been sincere not only to ourselves as Party leaders but also to the candidate. I do pray that we have made decisions for no other motive but to help our Candidate win. I have, as I had warned during the meeting, decided not to continue to participate in similar meetings on the campaign but instead will concentrate on campaigning in my area because I do not like to be part of a team that cannot stand up for its actions. I believe in telling the truth and standing up for it. We cannot afford to be deceptive as national leaders and misguide each other. We cannot afford to fail to come together to revise our decisions if we believe a mistake has been made. Above all, we need to assume collective responsibility as MMD leaders for those decisions we have been party to instead of scape-goating. It is not very ethical to escape responsibility. It is not politics at all. It is a negation of leadership.
Katele Kalumba MP
cc        MMD Presidential Candidate
cc        Deputy National Chairman
cc        Chairman Elections

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