Tuesday, July 30, 2013

UPND wants to merge with MMD
By Allan Mulenga
Sun 14 July 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE UPND senior leadership has tasked Mutale Nalumango to engage senior MMD officials among them Dr Brian Chituwo, Kabinga Pande and Kenneth Chipungu with a view to merge the two parties. The UPND wants to merge with MMD in order to dislodge the PF from power in the 2016 elections.

Sources disclosed that Nalumango, who recently defected from MMD to join UPND, has so far held meetings with the three senior MMD officials - the party's vice-president for administration Dr Chituwo, national chairperson Pande and chairperson for elections Chipungu.

Sources said Nalumango met the trio about a week ago to discuss the possibilities and the MMD leaders were of the view that party leader Nevers Mumba should work under Hakainde Hichilema.

Sources said the MMD leadership were agreeable to Nalumango's proposal for a merger.

When contacted, Nalumango said she would appreciate a merger although she does not know what people were thinking about.

She denied that the party leadership had tasked her to broker a deal between the two opposition parties, saying that she was talking to her counterparts personally.

"Nobody has tasked me anything. I am a member of the UPND and as a member of UPND, I feel UPND is the best party for now; therefore it becomes my responsibility to convince others to join UPND. It is just like being converted to Christianity, you need to share the Good News. You need to try to convince as many people as possible; you don't need to be given a task by somebody," she said.

"I believe if you are in any party, you want others to join because you have seen something good. It is not a task. Nobody has talked to me over that, but I strongly feel we are not just targeting MMD. Even PF if I have friends, I must talk to them and tell them what I think is wrong in their party and what I think is right in my party so that they make informed decisions."

Nalumango said it was her responsibility to convince friends in MMD to join UPND.

"I have never sat with anybody who has given me any name to target. So, that one is not true. But they are all my friends and as long as I meet them, I will talk to them and reason together. But if I meet them friends in MMD and such a situation arises that we discuss politics, I will definitely try to convince them without being tasked by anybody," she said.

"It is my responsibility, I can even talk to Wynter Kabimba to try and convince him. I don't have to be tasked, but it is my responsibility to try and tell people why they should move to UPND, why I think UPND would form a better government compared to others or is it to the current. That is my responsibility."

Nalumango, who is also former deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, said it was her desire that the two opposition parties could form an alliance.

"I really would wish there was a chance for the two parties to work together, but I can't tell you whether there will be a chance because I am not part of the decision-making body of either group. But there is need for unity of purpose. Do we have similar vision for Zambia? Because really to come together you need shared vision. In coming together, people must sit and agree. I would appreciate a merger, but I don't know what people are thinking about," said Nalumango.
And Chituwo denied working with Nalumango, saying that the party leadership had not given him authority to make arrangements for an alliance.

Dr Chituwo however said he would be willing to be part of a team negotiating for an alliance between the two opposition parties as he was a strong believer of a united opposition.

"It is very clearly known that for me, I have stood for a united opposition. Now, to say that I am working towards that it is not true, in the sense that I have not engaged in any talk because I have not had authority or permission of my party to engage the other colleagues," he said.

"But at intellectual level, if you analyse issues how best can we strengthen democracy. I don't know whether it can be interpreted as working towards a merger. When that possibility comes, I hope I would be in the team to work for the alliance because I think it is important. We are not talking about individuals; of course this has to be done through individuals and we have to believe in what we are doing."

Dr Chituwo said an alliance could only materialise if the opposition shared common values and principles.

"For that to happen, we need to have common values and principles and that is the starting point. You cannot just go into a merger when ideals are different and values are different. It means it cannot work.

"It is for the opposition to be united to have a common voice. I have always stated that the opposition is not meant to be distracted. The opposition is there to strengthen the values we have in respecting different opinions," said Dr Chituwo.

And when contacted for a comment, Chipungu referred all queries to the party's national secretary Kapembwa Simbao.

"Ask the national secretary, you call the national secretary. No, no I am not part of that team; I am not part of that team," said Chipungu before hanging up.

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