[By Chimweta Luyando and Tobias Phiri]
EDITH Nawakwi has accused UPND president Hakainde Hichilema of being behind the revolt simmering in her party, the FDD.
“Hakainde thinks we are all dull and he is smart, let him just prepare defence. I want to meet him in court and he should prepare his case because once he is done with his accusations as the plaintiff, we will ask him some questions,” Nawakwi told Hichilema. “Justice has to be done. The spirits of the dead are upset with him because the widows are suffering. Some people are asking why I am talking now and that I was quiet. Yes, I was quiet, I was quiet making sausage but you know me. I will pursue this until the end. I am focused, by the end I will make sure he hands over those farms to the owners.”
An anti-Nawakwi crusade is simmering in the FDD with some senior members of the opposition party accusing her of grossly violating the party constitution and neglecting to mobilise party membership.
Meanwhile, the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) has suspended a provincial official in Central Province for secretly agitating for a party convention, inter alia.
Senior FDD officials granted an unsolicited for interview to The Mast in Lusaka on Thursday.
They requested for anonymity.
“What is surprising us, the true and long-time members of FDD, is that Nawakwi has the energy to fight these battles against HH and UPND, but she has no energy to mobilise the party,” the sources said. “Since 2016 she has never mobilised anywhere and she has never convened an NPC (National Policy Committee) meeting, which is a violation of the party constitution – because it says there shall be an NPC meeting after three months.”
They said in 2016, Nawakwi even failed to pay the FDD’s polling agents.
“FDD members have been pushing those of us holding senior positions that ‘please, hold an NPC meeting and discuss the convention and party mobilisation.’ But Nawakwi doesn’t want to call for that meeting,” they said. “Last time we just had to call for an emergency NPC meeting – we actually used our own resources and Nawakwi was summoned. In that meeting, she committed that she was going to change and start mobilising the party. But she has not fulfilled that promise, as everyone can see.”
The sources explained that Nawakwi does not get in touch with party structures.
“She does not even work closely with the national secretary Mr Nathan Mulonga, the national chairman Mr Potiphar Chungu – they are completely sidelined. In short, she thinks she is FDD and FDD is herself,” they said. “She has been telling us party officials that we must look for our own money for transport and even accommodation if we want a convention. I mean, (late FDD founding president) Christon Tembo organised a convention in 2005.”
They further recalled that Lieutenant General Tembo “did not ask us to look for our own money for transport and accommodation to go to the 2005 convention.”
“No! Christon Tembo organised for a convention and that’s how Nawakwi was elected. Christon Tembo gave in because of the pressure from her and others who were saying ‘you (Tembo) have lost the elections [in 2001] and according to our party constitution, you can’t again continue,’” the officials recalled. “For her, in 2008 she supported Rupiah Banda. In 2011 she stood and lost lamentably, in 2015 she stood and lost [and] in 2016 she stood and lost. All this is in violation of the party constitution.”
The sources explained that Article 42 (1) of the FDD constitution says: “the party president shall hold office for a maximum period of not more than two consecutive terms of five years each.”
“Article 42 (2) says the president of the party may be removed from the party presidency after the party loses an election, provided that this clause shall apply to the 2001 election,” they noted.
“Article 42 (3) says the party president may be removed from the party presidency by secret vote of two thirds of the majority of the party convention for either gross violation of the party constitution.”
They indicated that the general membership of the FDD felt that Nawakwi had massively violated the party constitution.
“She lost in 2011, 2015 and 2016 but she continued as FDD president – this is gross violation of the party constitution. Nawakwi has to rest now!” they said.
Meanwhile, the officials believe Nawakwi is behind the suspension of Central Province FDD secretary Jerry Simpemba.
“We are aware that she tried to call him (Simpemba) today (Thursday) but he refused to talk to her,” the officials said, adding that the FDD constitution was the most democratic one.
“You cannot intimidate a member by trying to stop them from exercising their democratic rights. What kind of politics does she want to bring to FDD?” he said.
Asked about the last time the FDD held an NPC meeting, the officials said: “about two years ago.”
“Even that meeting we just called for it as an emergency. But Nawakwi today wants to be wasting time talking about HH!” they complained.
“I remember in that emergency NPC meeting we held we gave the party leadership two weeks to hold an ordinary NPC meeting. But nothing has happened to this day. So, FDD members out there are saying that since Nawakwi has failed to call for an NPC, we will go ahead and hold an NPC meeting and pass resolutions. That is what is there now!”
They further asserted that: “this is just the beginning.”
“The battle will be fierce as we progress into another phase, until the party is liberated from non-performing and highly compromised leadership which has failed to provide the required leadership. That’s the reason the party is losing members,” said the officials.
Central Province FDD chairman Innocent Chanda signed Simpemba’s suspension letter, dated September 9, 2020.
“It has come to my attention that you have been accused of destabilising the party, having made numerous telephone calls between July-August 2020 to various provincial chairmen across the country urging them to petition the National Policy Committee (NPC) to convene an urgent NPC meeting, whose agenda only you knows, despite not being a member of the National Policy Committee,” Chanda stated.
“You have further continued to call various provincial chairmen with a view of bringing the name of the party and its leadership into disrepute, in the matter involving our party president before the courts of law.”
Chanda stated that in view of the above, he found Simpemba’s alleged conduct in breach of Article 9 (c) and (k) of the FDD constitution.
The cited Article, according to Chanda, required Simpemba to exhibit in service the highest morality and probity in his (Simpemba’s) conduct and to always act civilly and responsibility as deserving of a leader.
“I therefore suspend you from your office and given 14 days to exculpate yourself why further disciplinary action should not be taken against you. Your matter will be considered by [the] disciplinary committee within the stipulated period,” stated Chanda. “Kindly hand over all party properties, if any, that may be in your possession to my office while on suspension.”
Chanda copied the letter to the party president, vice-president, national chairperson, national secretary and disciplinary committee chairperson.
Simpemba acknowledged receipt of Chanda’s letter but was quick to indicate that the action taken against him was illegal and unconstitutional.
He said the action against him amounted to gross violation of the FDD constitution’s Article 8 (a) (b).
Simpemba explained that an FDD member has a right to freely and publicly demand the fulfillment of what is enshrined in the party constitution, resolutions, directives and obligations of the party.
He added that FDD members are constitutionally permitted to participate in a forum and/or meeting at the relevant level of the party organs, to which they belong and to freely contribute in any debate and other relevant activities.
“May I also educate you (Chanda) that demanding for an NPC meeting and discussing the matter of the party president over the stance she has taken, in regard to the issue of privatisation, is not illegal but [a] constitutional requirement,” stated Simpemba, in his written response to Chanda.
“Therefore, I am wondering where you are drawing this authority to suspend me. But I want to reiterate that I shall not be intimidated in exercising my democratic rights.”
But when contacted, Nawakwi refused to comment on the issues raised charging that the sources were hired guns.
She claimed UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema was behind the accusations because he had enough money to buy off “hungry cadres”.
“I don’t want to be diverted by those trivialities, and I can’t respond to people who are anonymous. Let them come in the open otherwise I won’t respond,” Nawakwi said. “These are inspired stories meant to divert me. It’s a diversion tactic by UPND but it won’t work. When I set on a mission, I must conclude. Hakainde thinks we are all dull and he is smart, let him just prepare defence. If he thinks he is smart, we will meet in court. I want to meet him in court and he should prepare his case because once he is done with his accusations as the plaintiff, we will ask him some questions. Let him stop running around like a headless chicken.”
Nawakwi stressed that Hichilema is a rich man and he can buy any hungry party cadre from any party.
“And I know it is him who is paying these people who are purporting to rise up in FDD. He has evicted widows and orphans in Kalomo… Tell him, please napapata [I beg] concentrate on your cases which you have been sued in the Livingstone High Court over,” she said. “He is rich but he is busy grazing his stupid animals in someone’s farm. It’s a pity that a rich man should stand in court and start to argue with orphans and the poor people.”
Nawakwi added that she would fight the matter against Hichilema to the end.
“Justice has to be done, the spirits of the dead are upset with him because the widows are suffering. Some people are asking why I am talking now and that I was quiet. Yes, I was quiet, I was quiet making sausage but you know me. I will pursue this until the end. I am focused, by the end I will make sure he hands over those farms to the owners,” vowed Nawakwi.
Hichilema has dragged Nawakwi to court over her allegation that he failed to declare interest in the privatisation of national assets in the 1990s.