News

MMD factions clash over convention

KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka
TWO MMD rival groups yesterday clashed physically at the party secretariat in Lusaka’s Kabulonga and left a trail of destruction.
One group comprises members calling for a national party convention to elect leaders while their rivals are MMD president Nevers Mumba’s supporters.
And police have arrested four people involved in the fracas and charged them with malicious damage to property.
The cadres besieged the MMD secretariat in busloads and stoned five vehicles, including a bus belonging to Flash Bus Services, which was used to ferry cadres who wanted to present a petition to MMD president Nevers Mumba demanding that he should call for a convention.
Around 10:00 hours , a horde of cadres who are demanding that the MMD leadership should hold a national convention to elect new leaders, was ferried to the party secretariat and attempted to present a petition to Dr Mumba but they were repelled by Dr Mumba’s supporters before they could disembark, sparking scenes of violence.
Police officers arrived at the scene and fired teargas canisters to disperse the unruly cadres and arrested four in the process.
Dr Mumba charged that the cadres were sent to the secretariat by people bent on destabilising the party.
He said in an interview yesterday that the MMD is intact and will not hold a national convention to elect new leaders.
Police spokesperson Charity Chanda said in a separate interview that those arrested are Fanwell Phiri, 27, Joseph Phiri, 30, Webster Mwenya, 37, and Gilbert Sitali, 20.
“The four are currently in police custody and charged with malicious damage to property. The situation has since returned to normal and the police are still on the ground monitoring the situation,” she said.
Meanwhile, MMD members who want Lunte member of Parliament (MP) Felix Mutati to take over as party president have vowed to continue putting pressure on their leadership until a national convention is held before April 2016 ostensibly in line with the party constitution.
Some of the party members calling for a convention said yesterday that they want Mr Mutati to head the party and get into an alliance with the United Party for National Development (UPND) ahead of the August 11 general elections.
But Mr Mutati said in an interview that the members are calling for a national convention because it is in the interest of the MMD.
Mr Mutati said calls for a national convention are not about individual members as perceived.
Mr Mutati said he is just among many MMD members calling for the national convention to resolve issues in the party.
“I don’t have any appetite to promote violence in the country,” he said.

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