Dr. Mumba had declared in 2012 during the campaign period for the MMD presidency that the strength of any party lay in the grassroots. He won a landslide victory of 70% of the vote in May 2012 after travelling throughout the entire country to sell himself to the grassroots structures that have remained his power base. It was therefore no surprise that an enthusiastic crowd of 300 delegates came from all over the country to attend the NPC, eagerly looking forward to being briefed first-hand about what had been going on in the party and what was the way forward.
“The MMD is the Mother of Democracy and it is very encouraging and important for us to be given an opportunity to hear for ourselves what has been going on and be given an opportunity to allow our voices to be heard on everything. The unique character of the MMD is that it does not belong to an individual but is a movement made up of all of us. We are grateful that our leaders have practically demonstrated that the grassroots structures of the party are crucial to the success of our party and should be consulted on all important issues.” said one of the delegates.
The mood of the conference was vibrant and upbeat as the delegates listened to presentations about policy issues on various aspects of the party. Among the presentations made were guidelines on the preparation for the elections related to selection of parliamentary and ward candidates and preparation for branch, ward, district, provincial and constituency elections leading to the upcoming MMD convention in 2016.
MMD Trustee Dr. Peter Machungwa made an elaborate presentation on the crucial need for discipline and unity in the party to surmount any challenges that the party may face going forward.
Other presentations were on the party policy document “The MMD Back in Government 10 Point Master Plan,” which was enthusiastically endorsed by all delegates who requested that it be translated into local languages and distributed to all districts including chiefs and village headmen so that everyone would appreciate the good policies of the MMD. The delegates endorsed the disciplinary measures taken against erring members that recently campaigned against the party. They also endorsed Dr. Mumba’s stance on the offer of an olive branch and reconciliation to truly repentant members.
Members broke out in shouts of joy and jubilation when they saw some leaders such as Honorable Elijah Muchima, MMD Ikelen’gi Member of Parliament take his position in line among other senior Party members to welcome Dr. Mumba as he arrived at the conference. There were spontaneous shouts of “Chwela! Chwela!” as several MPs, mostly from Eastern Province, arrived to show solidarity and unity with their party. Among them were Hon. Nicholas Banda (Kapoche), Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Allan Mbewe (Chadidza), Hon. Isaac Banda (Lumezi), Hon. Howard Kunda (Muchinga), Hon. Mushili Malama (Chitambo), Hon. Danny Chingimbu (Kabompo East), Hon. Whiteson Banda (Milanzi), Hon. Peter Phiri (Mkaika), Hon. Dr. Christopher Kalila (Lukulu East) and Hon. Josephine Limata (Luampa).
Former MMD Vice-President Hon. Dr. Brian Chituwo (Mumbwa) arrived at the conference and elicited loud cheers welcoming him. Hon. Mkhondo Lungu (Lundazi) who is Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly came to the conference briefly before the official opening.
The conference received an impromptu visitation from a large group of local NRDC students who had learnt about the conference the previous night and had requested to be allowed to make a statement at the conference. Speaking on behalf of his fellow students, one student leader noted that they have been closely watching everything that the MMD has been going through. They encouraged the party president to stay strong and focused and invited him to visit the campus and address the students at an appropriate time.
Others who attended the opening ceremony were Hon. Rev. Ronnie Shikapwasha (Keembe) who expressed joy at the jubilant atmosphere in the conference. In his remarks, he explained that he had been instrumental in the appointment of Dr. Mumba as Vice-President. He said that he had had a dream showing Dr. Mumba’s face during a critical period when late president Levy Mwanawasa was searching for a suitable person to take up the position of Vice-President. He advised the president that Dr. Mumba was the right man for the job.
Hon. Muchima rose and offered to give a vote of thanks and made a moving speech saying that he believed that Dr. Mumba was a genuine Christian because of how he extended an olive branch to him and others that damaged the party during the recent presidential election campaigns.
Delegates later broke into ten groups to deliberate on all the presentations that were made and later presented their recommendations which will be tabled at an upcoming National Executive Committee for ratification. The conference closed on Thursday after an enthusiastic Party Membership Renewal exercise.