ZAMTEL Kaloba: Politics of running parastatal companies in Zambia

Elias Munshya, LLM, M.Div., MBA

To redeem our national pride and domestic prowess, we must face the truth. To quote our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall “know the truth and the truth shall set us free”. What we need in Zambia is a huge dose of truth. Truth is important for several reasons. First, truth helps us to make a fair assessment of our weaknesses, our abilities and ourselves. Second, truth helps to rob us of all the trappings of self-deception that are so endemic with our shared humanity. Third, truth directs us to what really matters to aid us navigate through the alterations we desperately want. Fourth, truth should inspire us to seek and pursue change. Our country does not need irrational positive confessions more than it needs realistic assessment of how we have interacted within our young history as a nation.

Elias Munshya, LLM, M.Div., M.A., MBA

Elias Munshya, LLM, M.Div., M.A., MBA

The Patriotic Front government has now decided to borrow $300 million to revamp Zambia Telecommunications Limited (ZAMTEL). Previously, it borrowed several millions to revamp Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL). It appears like they might borrow more money to revamp companies such as Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) and many more. It seems there is always someone willing to lend money to us, even if we do not have any tangible plans to pay it back. While the PF’s intentions seem quite legitimate, I am quite concerned that putting more money in these entities will actually not lead to any revival. Had the major problem with these entities been money, I would not have hesitated to support recapitalization. The greatest problem with these entities is not money. ZAMTEL does not have a money problem it has a political problem. The PF cannot resolve a political problem by pumping more borrowed money into a loss making enterprise. Cash recapitalization cannot answer an endemic political problem. Contracting more kaloba from New York shylocks cannot cure a weakness in the political process and culture behind the malaise in these companies.

How is it that ZAMTEL makes losses when its competitors are churning out huge profits? How come Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) makes profits but the company, which sells it power, ZESCO, is bleeding? It is not more money that will resolve the problem Zambian parastatals have. We must do more than that. We must face the truth and then make some changes.

Very educated managers run nearly all parastatals in Zambia. They are the very best in their industries. They are the engineers, lawyers, and Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduates. These directors are the crème de la crème of Zambian society. And yet these educated Zambians cannot manage these companies effectively, because of a political interference, patronage and “wako ni wako” problems. It is these political problems that require change first before we can even think of changing management or even throwing more money at these companies.

Since independence, the Zambian state has lamentably failed to stay away from boardrooms of parastatal companies. The Government of Republic of Zambia (GRZ) has so disappointingly interfered with business decisions of parastatals as to render the educated and skilled men and women at the helm of these companies ineffective and at most redundant. We need to rethink the present parastatal model. GRZ control of boardrooms of parastatals should be abandoned. GRZ is not good at doing business that actually makes profit. It must stop pretending to run business. It should stay away from these companies.

The kaloba couple

The kaloba couple

If GRZ cannot stay away from boardrooms, the next proposal should be that it sells its majority shares in these companies so that private capital takes over these companies. GRZ does not need to sell all shares; all it needs is to sell its majority shares to others who can run businesses better in a quasi-parastatal model. So far, the best quasi-parastatal models that seem to work are Indo-Zambia Bank and Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO). In both of these companies, GRZ has some shares but not controlling shares stemming the politicization of the boardroom. As such, once IZB or ZANACO declare profits, GRZ does get a share of the dividends. It is not usually huge amounts, but it shows that with government staying away from controlling boardrooms, Zambian companies can run at some profit.

Professor E. Clive Chirwa

Professor E. Clive Chirwa

There is a market for a good railway company in Zambia. But in order to have a good railway company, GRZ should stop political interference in ZRL. The MMD government did well to sell ZRL to private investors. The only thing GRZ needed was to have significant number of shares in the company to have a say in it and help nudge the company in the right direction. Disaster happened when the PF government repossessed ZRL, forced politics into it and before long, ZRL became a tool in the hands of a Good Parasite who demanded a K2 Billion annual salary and a $1,000 per night home. Professor Chirwa could make all these grandiose demands, because he knew that ZRL was a political cow that could be milked at the will of politicians. No reasonable private board would have allowed the eminent professor to have such a go at a company. But to date, Professor Chirwa justifies his demands because politicians said so!

The Zambian state should now privatize and sell the following companies: The University of Zambia, the Copperbelt University, one of the two government owned newspapers, ZESCO, ZRL, ZAMTEL and the many other companies. Perhaps the only institutions that should be saved are statutory bodies such as NAPSA and strategic organisations such as State House and the red brick. Once organisations such as UNZA are sold, government can then concentrate on what government can actually do better: making policy and enforcing standards. Why on earth have we insisted on running UNZA when GRZ’s running of UNZA has transformed it into a cacophony of shame? Sell all these companies and save us from the drama.

As for ZAMTEL, I urge GRZ to not contract any more debt. Unless if GRZ has really got other plans for this kaloba. The last time I checked a bottle of Jameson or a designer suit does not cost $300 Million.

The Siamunene Factor: Implications for Edgar Lungu and the future of the Patriotic Front

Elias Munshya, LLM, MDiv., MA, MBA

 To say that Zambia’s new defence minister is a political neophyte is an understatement. President Lungu’s choice is surprising, shocking and ultimately contentious. From the little I have gathered, the Patriotic Front diehards are quite angry at the turn of events. They are equally shocked. I share with them feelings of deep doubt and uncertainty that this choice for a defence minister brings.

Richwell Siamunene is actually a member of the United Party for National Development (UPND). Regardless of how we spin it, Siamunene remains a member of parliament sponsored to parliament by the opposition UPND. From the last time I checked, President Lungu is not in an alliance of any sort with the UPND. How does he then choose a defence minister from its ranks? The idea that the president of our republic has the power to desecrate the multiparty character of our democratic edifice is an assault on the very foundations of our republic. Appointing an opposition MP to a sensitive position such as minister of defence does not sound right; it certainly does not feel right. It can not be justified.

Lungu now says that Siamunene is loyal. In Aushi, we say “imputi isula taibula kubwekeshapo.” Siamunene threw the electorates of Sinazongwe and his party UPND under the bus, what makes Lungu believe that he will be loyal to the PF, when in fact he is not even a member of the PF.

Lungu's new found love

Lungu’s new found love

Following his elevation, Siamunene is now insulting Hakainde Hichilema. In a democracy like ours, it is to be expected that an MP can change her mind and choose to associate with a different party. Our constitution provides a process for that: resign and go back to the electorate. By-elections are expensive and many Zambians do not like them. But I am shocked that the same party that has led Zambia into unprecedented by-elections is refusing to have just one more by-election to test the popularity of the defence minister who Lungu has elevated behind the back of the people of Sinazongwe. The PF is not least concerned about the cost of by-elections. Had they been concerned, they would not have done a wholesale petition of nearly all of the seats won by the MMD. If Lungu wants Siamunene so much, he can take Siamunene back to Sinazongwe to re-contest on Lungu’s ticket. Then only can we be sure that this gentleman has the blessing of the people who sent him to parliament in the first place.

The appointment of Siamunene displaces several PF stalwarts within the government structure and hierarchy. By government practice, a minister of defence is a defacto number three. While the Zambian constitution does not categorically put the minister of defence as the third in command, Zambian practice and precedence has always recognised the seniority of the defence minister above other ministers. It is therefore quite questionable that President Lungu would award an opposition MP with such a colossal ministry, thereby displacing the cabinet seniority of such ministers as Simbyakula, Harry Kalaba, Yamfwa Mukanga, and Chishimba Kambwili. These ministers are not likely to revolt openly, but there are murmurs in the background loud enough to knock down a bottle of Jameson off a huge black table at Chez Ntemba.

Is Lungu sidelining Bembas?

Is Lungu sidelining Bembas?

Some good people in our country seem to suggest that President Lungu needed to appease the good people of the South after the Chundu Chaitwa by appointing a Tonga to cabinet. I find this justification to be quite insulting to say the least. What Patriotic Front Secretary General, Davies Chama, said about Tongas was very offensive. The good people from the South have justifiably expressed outrage about those remarks. The Right Honourable Inonge Wina even went to the extent of apologizing in parliament on behalf of her Patriotic Front party. Contrary to the demands by the Tonga citizens of our republic that Chama apologizes for his remarks, he has not. In addition to that, President Lungu has still not publicly addressed himself to these remarks. The only way to resolve those offensive words is for President Lungu to prevail upon his Secretary General to apologise. It is an apology that would show respect for the Tonga people of Zambia, and not this nominal elevation of a novice to the powerful position of defence minister. That which should be mended by making amends through an apology cannot be patched by making a superficial appointment of a polemic person to the position of defence minister. President Lungu’s appointment is a show of his strength and his power, but beyond power, we need compassion, common sense and fortitude. What we need is for President Lungu to show respect for the nation by bringing his disordered party collaborator into line. Chama must apologise and then resign or get fired.

Where then does Siamunene appointment leave the rest of the PF stalwarts? They really have no idea what certainly hit them. They are as shocked as a cucumber. They cannot decode what Lungu is up to. But one thing should not be doubted; Lungu’s action has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many. They have been by-passed only for Lungu to go and appoint a non-member of the PF to a very powerful position. The PF will be demoralized. The troupes of the party will not be happy. A message will be sent to Mansa, Milenge, Kasama, Lubansenshi, Kanchibiya and Chinsali. That message will state very briefly, “there is a huge change in Lusaka and it might be time to break from the Patriotic Front as it stands now”. Lungu’s recent remarks are not providing comfort to Bemba citizens of our republic. The theory I am providing here is a real possibility.

Zambia's new minister of defence Richwell Siamunene

Zambia’s new minister of defence Richwell Siamunene

Once analysed within the ambit of our brief political history though, Lungu’s action of appointing a politically weak person to a powerful political position is not unique. Most of Zambia’s presidents have done it. But very rarely have Zambian presidents extended this to a minister of defence. Mostly, Zambian presidents appoint politically weak candidates to the position of vice-president. Since Lungu has a politically powerful Veep, he might have naturally wanted to go for a weak number three. For surely, had Lungu appointed politically astute candidates such as Frank Bwalya, Emmanuel Mwamba, Harry Kalaba or Mumbi Phiri to this position, they would have grown political brains much faster than Siamunene ever would. By growing brains, I mean having the ability to outshine their boss and mount a formidable political following. Lungu does not want any one to shine in the PF, and he despises anyone who shows some political prowess. May be looked at from this angle, we might find some justification in President Lungu’s elevation of a nonentity to become a defacto number 3. Congratulations to Hon Siamunene, but the real fallout is only beginning.

Mwamba, Kasama and the changing political landscape in Zambia

By Elias Munshya, LLM, M.Div., MBA

 The resignation of Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) from the Patriotic Front (PF) to the United Party for National Development (UPND) is a game changer. It is a game changer for both the PF and the UPND. It is rather fascinating, if not shocking, to see how GBM is managing to champion two causes that seem to be contradictory with each other. On one hand, GBM is saying that the people of Kasama should trust him because he had the courage to stand up to President Sata when Sata refused to recognise Henry Sosala as Chitimukulu of the Bemba people. On the other hand, GBM is also claiming that he is the true representative of the legacy of the late president. The speech GBM gave when he defected to the UPND shows that he had issues with Lungu’s PF because Lungu has neglected Sata’s vision (whatever that means). Politics is not supposed to make sense. And that is where the GBM factor becomes politically lethal to Lungu’s PF. GBM seems to be championing a cause and directing a narrative that the PF has failed to champion: the legacy of President Michael Sata.

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya, LLM, M.Div., MBA

It has been my opinion that the presidency of Michael Chilufya Sata was one of the least successful legacies Zambia has ever had. However, some people now would still look back to the Sata presidency, get nostalgic and ruminate that Sata was better than the man who succeeded him. This is to be expected. A claim to the legacy of President Sata has now become politically desirable, and it is GBM who is winning that debate. GBM is also winning on the question of the Chitimukulu. In spite of the fact that it is Lungu who finally recognised Mr. Sosala as Chitimukulu, it is surprising that Lungu’s PF has not gotten any significant political capital out of it. For the PF to survive, it must keep the support it enjoys in Bemba areas. The political capital out of the Chitimukulu saga is instead going to GBM, and he is exploiting it very well. Lungu has neglected to drive the narrative of the Chitimukulu story. He is non-existent in the whole story. It is GBM who is being credited for something that took Lungu to correct. Lungu should now retake this narrative if he is to survive the coming Bemba political onslaught. I call it an onslaught because that is exactly what it is.

GBM and HH - Janza kumbele

GBM and HH – Janza kumbele

GBM’s decision to re-contest Kasama might hurt the PF strategically. At the strategic level, GBM does not need to win Kasama in order to damage the PF’s claim to its Bemba strongholds. All that GBM needs is to create a framework in which the Bemba areas begin to listen to UPND and Hakainde Hichilema (HH). GBM might win in Kasama, however, a loss for GBM, is likely to be a loss of a battle, but not the war. In a wider scheme of things, what UPND needs in the Bemba lands is to raise its profile by just a small margin. Everything else being equal, if UPND raised their numbers in Bemba lands by just a quarter, they will surely make government next year. It is this reality that should make Lungu re-strategise, otherwise, he will be a half-term president, like his older brother Bwezani.

When it comes to strategy, Lungu made some errors that need correcting. It was all clear that the PF was a Bemba dominated party. When Lungu took over as president, he labored under a false assumption that the PF was a “national party”. In reality, the PF had never been a “national” party. It was and still remains a Bemba dominated party with a huge urban following. If these two constituencies leave the PF, it will collapse. With these realities in mind, Lungu needed to manage the party better. It was expected that the Vice-Presidency would go to Madam Inonge Wina. This was an excellent choice. But Lungu needed to create a powerful position that would calm some jitters among Bembas. A position such as Minister-without-Portfolio would have worked. Harry Kalaba, Emmanuel Mwamba, or even GBM would have been great choices. Such an action would have helped forestall a Bemba rebellion within the PF, which is now almost guaranteed. However, it is not too late to act.

Michael Sata

Michael Sata

This now should bring us to the Emmanuel Mwamba issue. Emmanuel was interested in the Kasama seat. Strategically, it was going to be in the interest of both the PF and Lungu’s government to have Emmanuel in Kasama. But for some reason we all do not understand, Lungu seems to insist that Emmanuel should be shanked far away from Zambia’s political hotbed. This is a huge mistake. The PF needs a politically savvy spokesman like Emmanuel to help it retain power next year. Currently, the spokespersons for the PF are doing a great disservice. Chishimba Kambwili is a quick-tempered lead and his off-the-cuff remarks are not helpful at all. The other spokesman, Davies Chama, has also said some unsavory stuff that continue to create problems for the party and its government. Lungu needs people who can talk a little more sensibly for him: Emmanuel fits that bill. Lungu also has Sunday Chanda at his disposal, but Chanda appears sidelined too. I would not be surprised if he too is moved away from the political limelight. Lungu’s strategies are hurting the PF everywhere. You cannot run a political party like this. Something must change, and Lungu has the power to make changes.

While, President Lungu is taking his time to act on these issues I have highlighted here, Hichilema’s star is rising among the constituents that had rejected him: the Bembas and the urban areas. Kaloba, devalued kwacha, the high cost of living and quarrels with Cuundu Caitwa are not helping Lungu. GBM is helping in a little way to bring visibility to Hichilema. It will not be too long, before we have the repeat of 1968 when to the consternation of Kaunda; the Chona-Kapwepwe group beat the Kamanga alliance. Those who subscribe to a superficial view of our united nation might slam my sentiments. But those with ears to hear might get one thing or two and make political decisions that unite Zambia and actually change the political landscape for the better. The UPND seems to have gotten the message. I just hope Lungu will get it too: ukuteke mbwa mano!

Damaging Zambia: Why parliamentary floor-crossing dents our democracy

By Elias Munshya, LLM, M.Div., M.A., LLB, B.A.

 Multi-party participatory democracy is deeply weaved in the very fabric of Zambian democracy. It should be an offence under the penalty of treason to undermine our democratic foundations fortified by the concrete beams of multipartyism. Zambians fought Kenneth Kaunda’s one-party participatory democracy because we knew the benefit that lay in having parties freely compete for support in the market place of democracy. Weak and sometimes inefficient as they are, political parties provide a primary platform to debate ideas and policies that strengthen our nation. In our constitution, presidential candidates must be members or should be sponsored by a political party. In parliament, our constitution recognizes the role that political parties play by crafting our democratic instructions in terms of the ruling party, the opposition party and other political parties.

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

Parties are important for several reasons. First, they provide a platform to test political ideas and persuasions. Second, parties provide a platform to assess leaders, at least in theory. Third, parties provide checks and balances. If political leaders go against party policy, the party that sponsored them can always attempt to bring them into line. Fourth, political parties provide the restraint desirable in political players. Left on their own, MPs can grow brains and get into serious mischief. Fifth, political parties are smaller models of what national governance should look like. We should be able to look at how someone runs their political party to judge how effective or ineffective their leadership could be. Sixth, and most importantly, political parties provide a stage for political organisation, civic association and electoral mobilization.

Our constitution protects our multi-party system by putting in place mechanisms by which the party political system must be respected. A member of parliament, who resigns from the party that sponsored her to parliament, must relinquish her parliamentary seat (Article 71[2]). This is a reasonable system to ensure that political parties have a voice in the governance of the nation. Additionally, if an MP is not conforming to party policy, the party has the right to suspend or expel that MP. Party leaders should have the power to intervene, suspend and expel their erring MPs. That is the nature of our system.

The idea that MPs who go to parliament should be beyond the reach of party discipline is repugnant to me and certainly distasteful to our democratic system. Multi-partyism is the system we have chosen for our selves and we had better make good use of it. I know some people who hate political parties. Well, here is some news to such characters; the Zambian system is a party political system. We do partisan politics. We are a partisan nation. And that is well within the nature of our democracy.

It is in this vein that we must interpret the recent remarks by Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM). On Wednesday 22 July 2015, GBM got appointed to the position of Vice-President of the United Party for National Development (UPND). However, he refused to step down as the Patriotic Front (PF) Kasama Member of Parliament (MP). Essentially, GBM wants to do a double tobela. He wants to be a Vice-President of the UPND while at the same time serving as a member of parliament for a different political party. The Zambian constitution forbids what GBM claims he is doing. By joining the UPND, he has lost the parliamentary seat, which he acquired as a member of the Patriotic Front.

Double tobela

Double tobela

Both UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and GBM know that they cannot hold on to a PF seat. I think though, that their words are some kind of a protest at the way President Lungu and his predecessors have wantonly ignored the sacredness of our party political system. Beginning with Levy Mwanawasa, presidents have unashamedly poached opposition MPs by appointing them to cabinet and then using them for partisan interests of the ruling party. In the case of Edgar Lungu, he has poached several UPND MPs, and in spite of legitimate protests from the UPND leadership and membership, Lungu has not relented in using these UPND MPs for Patriotic Front partisan business. Perhaps the most bizarre of these machinations was when Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) MP Vincent Mwale served as campaign manager for a PF parliamentary candidate in the recent by-elections in which the MMD, which sent him to parliament, was supposed to participate. The idea that Vincent Mwale is beyond the reach of his principal Nevers Mumba is an affront to democracy. Equally, the idea that Greyford Monde should be beyond the reach of UPND discipline when it is the UPND that sponsored him to parliament is ridiculous. In fact, it is as ridiculous as GBM defiantly grandstanding that he has a right to be a PF MP when he has clearly joined the UPND.

Zambia United

Zambia United

Apparently, President Levy Mwanawasa started this deplorable practice. According to Levy, since the constitution says the President can appoint a cabinet from parliament, the president could appoint to parliament any MP she wants. Levy was both right and wrong. He was right that a president could appoint any MP, but Levy was wrong to preach that the president could ignore opposition political party leaders by poaching MPs without sanction of the sponsoring party. The constitution should never be interpreted in ways that undermine multipartyism and pluralism. A president who wants to work with opposition MPs should first get permission from the particular party. Under this arrangement, both the president’s party and the concerned opposition party will then have some kind of an alliance (or coalition) to rule together. Brazenly poaching MPs from parties does not advance our democratic ideals it undermines it.

President Lungu should forthwith reconsider his appointment of opposition MPs and have these MPs amenable to the discipline of their political parties. Lungu cannot justify his actions simply because Levy did it. “Levy did it”, is not justification enough to break, damage, and then undermine a fundamental character of our democratic system. If Lungu really likes Levy, he should copy the good things Levy did and not copy Levy’s bad manners. Levy helped Zambia reduce kaloba, he invested wisely in infrastructure, the kwacha was under control and he fought corruption. Those are the good things to copy.

For now, I am almost certain that there will be a by-election in Kasama. GBM cannot sustain the claim to a PF seat. As the by-election approaches, I am sure the UPND will make huge gains. GBM’s move to the UPND is certainly a game changer. God bless our partisan republic.

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

Beyond Hichilema, by-elections and the future of the UPND

By Elias Munshya

This article appeared in the Zambia Daily Nation Newspapers. It is reproduced below.

It is another batch of by-elections and another of the United Party for National Development (UPND) by the Patriotic Front (PF). The PF has its own tactical and strategic blunders. They are, however, the ruling party and as such, they are getting some advantage of incumbency. There is still a lot of time to discuss what I have noticed to be serious glaring gaps in the PF overall strategy to date. I will defer that discussion to another date. Since the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) is not the ruling party, it bears the greater burden of the two parties to show a strong strategy in the political process. If Hakainde Hichilema is to beat Lungu and the PF in 2016, he had better come up with a better plan. What we are seeing so far is a “chimbwi no plan” approach.

After losing to Lungu in January 2015, we thought that the UPND would critically evaluate its role and make some changes to its strategy. It is rather surprising that the party’s way of doing things has remained the same. It is ridiculous for the UPND to believe that it can use the same strategy it used before January 2015, and expect to win in 2016 and in between.

Weeks after this article was published in the daily nation, it appears that GBM might become UPND Vice-President at tomorrow, Wednesday July 22 conference.

Weeks after this article was published in the Zambia Daily Nation, it appears that GBM might become UPND Vice-President at tomorrow, Wednesday July 22, press conference. We will come back with an analysis of what that will mean.

Hakainde Hichilema has left intact the same team that led to his loss. While the PF has made changes to their team, Hichilema has done nothing. The UPND needs some shake up. I do not advocate for the removal of Hakainde Hichilema, but HH must shake his team a little bit. It is now six months since the 2015 loss, and yet, he has not dared to make some strategic changes to his UPND squad. The only change to have taken place in the UPND was the resignation of Richard Kapita. But what the UPND needs is some deliberate retooling of its top leadership. Hichilema must bring in fresh blood such as Maureen Mwanawasa into the top UPND leadership. He could also need to look at the position of Secretary General of the party. I am afraid, the current occupant of this position has been ineffective and for a Chief Executive of a major party, he virtually is unknown. It is time to replace Chibwe with someone more vibrant. Maureen Mwanawasa would be a great choice for this job. She is strong, she is vibrant, and she is the real deal.

Hichilema must also move quickly to find a new vice-president to replace the departed Kapita and the current Canisius Banda. I have been of the opinion that the one to replace Kapita should be a Bemba-speaking candidate. Such a choice will help balance a key weakness perceived by a section of the population about the UPND. While empirically, the UPND is tribally balanced, there are some very loud perceptions out there that seem to suggest that it is a tribal party. Hichilema needs to manage those perceptions by wisely dispelling them. And by integrating a Bemba Vice-President, the UPND will be adding an important layer to dismissing such perceptions. UPND does not have a reality problem it has a perception problem. And in politics like everywhere else in life, perceptions matter.

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

During the January 2015 election campaign, we all thought that the golden era of the UPND had finally dawned. And the results showed a great showing of the UPND in nearly all parts of the country. But in order to win in 2016, the UPND will need to do even better in its non-traditional areas. It is rather surprising, that after the elections, all the politicians, particularly Bemba ones, have now abandoned HH. The question we are asking is, “why does HH fail to make these people stay”? So far, they appear like they support HH and the UPND but they have not done anything tangible to show that they are willing to invest their political capital in the UPND. The likes of Mucheleka, GBM, and Mutati all appear to be quite reluctant to commit. Without serious commitment from such politicians, the UPND will continue in its failure to move its narrative forward. We have, of course, seen HH appear with GBM. But in almost all instances he appears with GBM, they are either roasting michopo at the Hakainde mansion, or they are busy boogying to Pilato’s “Alungu ana bwera” at GBM’s extravagant wedding for his daughter. There is nothing wrong with two rich guys drinking expensive drinks and celebrating a daughter’s nuptials, the problem is with the perception that such activities bring. Instead of just being BBQ buddies, GBM should commit to the UPND, resign his seat in Kasama and do something more tangible for his newly found party. The time to do so is now. Waiting until campaign period opens up in 2016 might be too late.

Many Zambians still believe in HH. But HH must do more to show that he believes in himself. So far, he appears to be unsure of himself. He appears insecure and weak. The UPND team needs revamping. HH must do something more daring and take some risks. He is a rich businessman and he has learnt risk taking through his productive life as a businessman. He needs to translate that experience to the UPND. Change something, fire someone and bring in new blood. If GBM, Mutati and Mucheleka will not commit, HH should be decisive and shove them off for people that are actually willing to commit. There is just no time left. Beauty pageants should now be over. Time for roasting BBQs at the mansion is over. A team that is willing to work hard for HH must be recognised now and assembled quickly.

And just as a suggestion. HH can also try to talk to Nevers Mumba. It is obvious that Nevers’ talks with Lungu have failed. That should provide an opportunity for HH. Every one knows that the MMD under Nevers will not go anywhere because politics has changed to disfavor the MMD. But that is not to say that Nevers cannot be useful elsewhere. If Nevers cannot approach HH, HH should approach Nevers and try to make a deal, the one that could help the UPND in the long run.

HH at one time, did say that President Sata was running a “chimbwi no plan” government. However, the same can be said of HH now. He needs to show that he still has something more for Zambia; otherwise, it will be another in the next batch of by-elections and terrifyingly in 2016 as well.

Cuundu Chaitwa: Leveraging the power of regional politics in Zambia

E. Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

Regions are vital ingredients of our democracy. Without regional power and peculiarities, Zambian democracy would have long perished. The best way for Zambia is a heterogeneous political polity and a diverse confluence of various regional patterns and preferences. Instead of castigating regionalism, we must now, more than ever, embrace it and leverage it for national development. The issue should never be about destruction of tribes and regions, but rather equal respect for all and by all. And that includes respecting “cuundu chaitwa”.

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

While we were all intoxicated by the charm of Frederick Chiluba and his team of magicians in the 1991 elections, there was one region that stood firm against the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD): the Eastern province. The Easterners did a “wako ni wako” and decided to stick with Kaunda’s UNIP. Those 25 seats held by UNIP in the east saved Zambian democracy. Those seats assured checks and balances in parliament. They provided a cushion. Had Frederick Chiluba won all the seats in parliament, we would have lost our democracy. In 1991, and years after that, Zambian democracy was saved because a region decided not to follow the whole country in the sweeping of change.

Shortly after the 1991 defeat, Kenneth Kaunda retired from active politics. However, he still had interest in the presidency and this interest became a great source of instability in UNIP. Kaunda finally returned to the helm of the ruling party. What ensued was a bitter political fight between Chiluba and Kaunda. The fallout was acrimonious. Kaunda decided to lead UNIP into the boycott of the 1996 elections. And with that boycott Chiluba accomplished what he had failed in 1991 – total control over all the constituencies and all the regions. The MMD’s control of almost all seats in parliament after the 1996 elections led to its natural consequence: Chiluba was going to be “wamuyaya”. He was now commander of the entire republic and as such, his lieutenants in the MMD started promoting a Third Term. He had reason to do that because he had the requisite numbers in parliament and there was no region and no party to hold him accountable. But then another region emerged.

After the 1996 elections, it is the rise of the United Party for National Development (UPND) that would help refurbish our democracy. In the ensuing by-elections between 1996 and 2001, the UPND swept all of them in Southern Province. With those wins in the south, Anderson Mazoka’s party was going to develop into a real national party. By the 2001 elections, it was the UPND which had become the biggest opposition party. It had a loyal region in the south and it has been so for many years. After the disappointing fall of UNIP after 1996, there was virtually no opposition of consequence until the emergence of Mazoka.

Cuundu Chaitwa

Cuundu Chaitwa

Having one party win all the seats in parliament, has not worked very well for Zambia. When Chiluba had almost all the seats after the 1996 elections, he began to contemplate the “wamuyaya” doctrine. When Sata’s Patriotic Front (PF) swept to power in 2011, the Secretary of the PF, Wynter Kabimba would be heard boasting that Sata and the PF should become the sole party. Kabimba saw the PF’s victory in 2011 as indicative of the fact that Zambians now wanted to have the PF as the sole political party. Kabimba’s one-party project flopped because, there was clearly one region that was not going to tolerate his nonsense: the Southern Province. Had the south not been an opposition stronghold it would have been easier for the ruling party to try and push through some undemocratic “wamuyaya” changes. Currently, Davies Chama the new Secretary of the Patriotic Front has also been heard stating that the Patriotic Front might as well be Zambia’s sole party. Indeed, it does appear like the PF is sweeping the East and if they make gains in the Northwest and Western, they are likely to command unhealthily large sections of parliament. The only real antidote to their venom is the faithfulness of the south to the opposition UPND.

In the Third Republic, the south has been a great blessing to our democracy without which we would have long gone back to the Kaunda days. So instead of feasting on our condemnation of the political behavior of the south, we all must be grateful that the south has remained a stronghold of the UPND. The UPND’s message is now seemingly resonating across the country and very soon the party might as well grow to become a ruling party one-day. I just hope that if and when it rules, there will be a region that will stand up and say no to the UPND so that we maintain great checks and balances. For now, the UPND and the south should continue holding the PF accountable. Doing so is a great service to the people of Zambia.

Zambia comprises regions, and tribes and a dose of diversity. We cannot have any one party dictate how all this diversity must behave politically. So instead of using the One Zambia One Nation as a tool of pretense and hypocrisy, we had better say thank you to regions that have not tolled that UNIPist line and have instead decided to exercise their democratic right differently.

Politician and businessman Hakainde Hichilema

Politician and businessman Hakainde Hichilema

Regionalism in Zambian politics will almost certainly bring political players to the table. It will ensure that no one party dominates the entire political process and take us to the abyss. Regionalism will help our country to truly devolve power to the regions and districts. Regionalism will prevent the people of Milenge from voting for a party on a promise that the party will build a bridge in Malambo. Regionalism will help us ask the question: if you need a vote from my region, what will you do for Milenge? It is not enough to get votes in Milenge and then disappear to take development to Mandevu in Lusaka. Lusaka is a region in Zambia but so are Mongu and Kazungula. One Zambia, many regions.

Turning Water Into Paraffin: Towards a pentecostal theology of miracles

E. Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

From my upbringing as a child, to the present, I remain indebted to the nurturing I received as a member of the Pentecostal movement. I am forever grateful to my aunt’s church, which used to meet in a rented classroom at Chabanyama Primary School in Chingola. I learned to have faith in God. Pentecostalism’s greatest strength lies in its ability to help people believe that God is on their side, that he is working for their good, and that they will be used “greatly by God”. Critics of the Pentecostal movement miss an important character of the movement: its ability to create dreams and foster human imagination.

Even though the Pentecostal-charismatic movement has had a long history in Zambia, it remains only but a young movement. As such, just like any other movement, Pentecostals must have a conversation among themselves. They must create a dialogue. Unless we talk to each other, we might lose our impact. It is understandable that of all brands of Christianity, Pentecostalism is the closest to the African worldviews and mindsets. In fact, this is the reason why it is growing in Zambia: compatibility with African traditional religions and worldviews. It is this reality, taken together with current events in our movement that necessitate a reimagination of the Pentecostal theology of miracles.

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

A Pentecostal theology of miracles must be biblical. Simply quoting verses in the Bible does not necessarily mean that what someone is saying is biblical. It goes beyond that. The Bible must be interpreted as a whole. We must not just take a few verses here and there and make them suit our own explanations. We must look at it and let the Bible speak for itself. Those who teach the Bible, have a duty to rightly interpret it. From a biblical perspective, nearly each and every miracle Jesus performed was done to meet a need. Even when he was tempted to perform miracles as a show-off, our Lord resisted that temptation. It is to meet the need for social happiness, that Christ performed his first miracle, turning water into wine. Some preachers should refrain from purporting to perform miracles that have no semblance to meeting the immediate needs of the people.

A Pentecostal theology of miracles must have respect for human dignity. God loves people. God loves human beings. It is his love for human beings that he sent his Son to die on the cross. The idea that some prophets are using the anointing in ways that violate human dignity is repugnant to the Bible. It gives the good movement of Pentecostalism a very depraved image. We have seen it on video, where a preacher kicks into the tummy of a pregnant woman as a way of transmitting a miracle. Kicking a pregnant woman is a violation of human dignity and integrity. The practice of kicking people into miracles is indeed an innovation and departs quite significantly from the biblical imperative. Another video shows a preacher jumping on the bodies of people lying on the floor and is seen springing on the back and buttocks of a woman. The jumping on the bokosi of a woman is justified by the preacher stating, “all things are possible”. We cannot use the dignity of the anointing in ways that violate the integrity of people’s bodies. Regardless of how we spin it, kicking and jumping on bokosi does not add to the biblical cause.

A Pentecostal theology of miracles should be guided by common sense. Common sense is a gift of God. To say that God wants his people to discard common sense is actually nonsense. Faith does not mean we should abandon simple common sense. When Scripture says we can do all things, it is literally not “all things” that we can do. There are some things we should not do. While it is true that a barren woman can miraculously conceive, it is unbiblical to teach that the barren woman should get holy sperm from a prophet. Certainly, the statement that we can do all things has some limits. It is these limits that some in Pentecostal circles are daily blurring and expanding.

Being anointed is just one of the things that a successful church needs to have. In addition to the anointing, we need common sense and some exposure to an education. Education helps to preserve a revival. We can almost predict the future of any ministry by looking at their attitude towards people, towards common sense and towards education. It is through an education that you can know that the distinctions between “major” and “minor” prophets has nothing to do with the ranks of prophets but has everything to do with the size of a particular book in the Hebrew Canon. Isaiah’s book is “Major”, not because Isaiah is greater in rank than prophet Micah, but because Isaiah is a bigger book than Micah. Prophets Elias and Elisha never wrote a book, are they lesser prophets? Satan hates an anointed and educated people.

Some in our movement occasionally disparage education. Theological education is a frequent casualty. Ironic that some who oppose education go hunting for dubious honorary doctorate degrees and insist on being addressed as “doctor”. Leaders of our movement must go to school and stop the false security found in honorary doctorates. There is a good number who merits honorary degrees, but this should not be an excuse for the movement leaders not going to school.

I must state that only a few are spoiling the Pentecostal movement. Nevertheless, university campuses are now filled with educated and anointed Pentecostals, the future of our movement belongs to them. I know of a ministry started by a university graduate who is doing very well “winning souls” without resorting to magic shows. Genuine prophets and teachers are laboring in our compounds by spreading the empowering message of the gospel. Such need our commendation. Our movement is young. Our movement is growing. But it needs a conversation that is biblical, that respects human dignity, and has a dose of common sense.


Elias Munshya is an ordained pentecostal minister. He served as lecturer and principal at the Grace Theological College in Lusaka, Zambia from 2001 to 2007. He holds several academic degrees from seminaries in Swaziland, South Africa, the USA and Canada.