The newly confirmed leader of Zambia’s main opposition Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) says he will officially launch a nationwide campaign Friday in the run up to the January presidential by-election.
Nevers Mumba was declared the MMD’s de facto presidential candidate by Zambia’s Supreme Court Thursday.
“We will start the campaigns tomorrow. I am going to file in the nominations on Saturday, and I am going to have my first rally in the Northern Province in Kasama on Sunday afternoon. So from there we are going to have a non-stop campaign until 20th of January,” said Mumba.
Mumba was suspended as leader of the MMD after senior party executives replaced him with former president Rupiah Banda as presidential candidate for the party.
Mumba, who is also a former Zambian vice president, says he was right to challenge his suspension from the party. He called the suspension “illegal” and in violation of the MMD party constitution.
He called Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling “magnanimous”.
“Our team was always aware that if we stayed true to our constitutional provision, we would emerge victorious," Mumba said.. And it has been our position that anything that seems to be abrogating our constitution, will not be entertained firstly by Zambians and then secondly by the judiciary. And our prediction has come to pass today and [we are] vindicated.”
Some political analysts say the court’s ruling will create divisions and weaken the MMD. They contend that the party’s chances of winning the election are in danger since the MMD has wasted time and resources needed to organize its nationwide campaign.
Mumba, however, says he is ready to work with the former president’s supporters, who might feel disenfranchised following the court ruling.
He acknowledged the political challenge he faces ahead of the vote.
“It was unfortunate that we spent so much time trying to deal with this matter," he said. "But, now that it is concluded, I call on all members from all provinces to concentrate on uniting the party, and mobilizing membership and campaigning that we win this election.”
Mumba expressed confidence that the party could win.
“We will receive the vote from [all] Zambians who are not members of my party, Zambians who are not even political and we are going to concentrate on that great crowd of Zambians that just want a good president, and those are the ones we are counting on," he said. "But our party is still there, very strong… And we have done quite a lot of work within our party so we are o.k.”
Next month’s election became necessary after the death of President Michael Sata in October.