“Top Soil”: Chinsali and the making of the Zambian nation

Zambia at 50: Essays in honour of Zambia’s golden jubilee
Between now and October 24 2014, Munshya wa Munshya column will be running special golden jubilee essays. The first one in these series is “’Top Soil’: Chinsali and the making of the Zambian nation”

E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

What makes Chinsali great is not necessarily because it is home to the Bemba people and their Bisa relatives. While some say Chinsali is “top soil” because of the Bemba people, I find that what makes Chinsali great goes far beyond that. It is the fact that it became a point of assimilation for many other tribes. With the founding of Lubwa Mission by an African evangelist, Chinsali would epitomize the character necessary for the founding and survival of a future Republic of Zambia. In that respect, it became a paradigm for the rest of the nation. Its story became the story of Zambia. Of all the fifty places, people and events that have shaped Zambia in the past fifty years, Chinsali tops them all. Chinsali is home to several of Zambia’s greatest: David Kaunda, Kenneth Kaunda, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Kapasa Makasa, Paul Mushindo, Mama Kankasa and Nevers Mumba among others.

It was around 1900, when a young black preacher known as David Kaunda, left Livingstonia Mission (In Nyasaland) to evangelize a neighboring tribe in Chinsali (North-Eastern Rhodesia). The distance between Livingstonia and Chinsali is about 500 kilometers. When Rev. Kaunda founded this church at Lubwa, he had no idea how this would set the character of a new nation.

If the Scottish missionaries had settled as strangers in Livingstonia (Nyasaland), David Kaunda’s strategy of evangelizing the Bembas meant that he was going to settle among them as one of them. He got assimilated quickly and became a subject of Chief Nkula. What happened here was by no means strange in colonial Africa. With migrations and cross-migrations, tribal loyalties gave way to assimilation and social sedimentation. As such, what was happening in Chinsali was not unique to it. It was part of the whole story-taking place across colonial Africa.

Kaunda’s work at Chinsali also goes to show just how Christianity spread across Africa by Africans’ own involvement. Obviously, by the time of the Kaundan evangelization, the Bembas had already come into contact with Christianity from Roman Catholic missionaries at Ilondola. But Kaunda’s insistence on starting a mission shows that in spite of Catholic influence, he knew that there was still a place for protestant Christianity in Bemba and Bisa lands. This act gives the religious pluralism character of the future nation of Zambia.

Lubwa Mission

Lubwa Mission

In 1924, David Kaunda and his wife Helen had child number eight, a son they called Buchizya – the unexpected one. By naming this child, Buchizya, David Kaunda displayed a tension between his Bemba identity and that of his original heritage as a Nyasalander. Buchizya would lead a future nation of Zambia to independence as one country. However, Buchizya was only, but one of the several young boys and girls who attended the mission school at Lubwa. His contemporaries Kapwepwe, Lenshina, Mama Kankasa and several others grew up within the worldview of Chinsali as a place bringing different people together: from neighboring tribes, to churches and religions. Buchizya would later be called Kenneth David Kaunda (KK), adopting his father’s first name as his middle name.

KK grew up with some tension as a young boy, the tension of being a stranger, while at the same time trying to negotiate assimilation as a subject of Chief Nkula. Even after tribal assimilation though, rumours and suspicions still haunted the Kaunda family. Even if David and Helen’s many children were born in Bemba land, there was always that suspicion that they were in fact aliens. It is this that makes Chinsali a paradigm for the rest of Zambia, a people having to negotiate identity, citizenship and all the misconceptions that came with it. But this never affected how KK took the value of what it meant to be a Bemba subject and future citizen of the Republic of Zambia. He took Chinsali as a critical place to his own identity.

When in January 1964, Kenneth Kaunda finally makes it to become the first black Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia; the trappings of Chinsali would still draw him. One of his first difficult decisions was to confront what he felt was a danger to national stability: Alice Mulenga Lenshina’s Lumpa church. Lenshina adds to the list of influential religious leaders in the history of Chinsali and the nation. Just like Buchizya, she too was educated at Lubwa Mission. However, she felt that both the Catholics and the Church of Scotland were not chaste enough for the kind of religious purity God desired. The church that Reverend Kaunda founded was no longer responsive to African needs. Lenshina provided what Lubwa Mission did not provide: robust worship, singing and exorcism. Alice also believed that God had appointed her to establish Zion, God’s kingdom on earth, with her as the Lenshina (from “Regina”, “queen”). Some reports suggest that Kaunda’s mother Helen and his brother Robert did become members of the Lumpa. Due to a mix of politics, and perhaps family consideration, Kaunda found the Lumpa church unacceptable. He responded with brutality and the exact sequence of events remains disputable. A descendant of Lenshina, Margaret Mwila Buter (An elected city councilor in England), has written an exciting version of the Kaunda massacre of the Lumpa. It is beyond this article to delve into that substance.

Buchizya

Buchizya

After the October 1964 national independence, Kaunda, aware of the integrative nature of his upbringing in Chinsali, desired to create a tribally diverse cabinet. While his own self-identity was that of being a Bemba from Chief Nkula, Kaunda by-passed his fellow Bemba Chinsalian Kapwepwe when choosing a Vice-President. Kaunda’s logic was flawless. It did not make sense to have two Chinsalians as president and vice-president of a new Zambia. As such, he looked to Reuben Kamanga an Easterner (believed to be originally Nyasalander) to be Vice-president. This is the decision Kaunda would live to regret. In spite of Kaunda’s assimilation into the Bemba commonwealth, there was still some lingering suspicion that he was indeed not Bemba enough. So when he opted for Kamanga as Veep, this confirmed the suspicions of the Chinsali group. However, after some political engineering, Kaunda had to appoint Kapwepwe Vice-President after the UNIP convention of 1967. Two Chinsalians had in fact become president and vice-president of the new nation. In 2003, Zambia’s president Levy Mwanawasa appointed another Chinsalian, Nevers Mumba (b. 1960), to become vice-President of Zambia. No other district in the history of Zambia has had this many leaders among the top-two cabinet members.

The controversies of tribal affiliations, identity, and citizenship continue to dog the new nation long after the arrival of David Kaunda into Chinsali. However, from the example of assimilation of Kaunda and his family, we find the hope of a new united nation. It is that and the many other historical figures in our nation that fortify Chinsali as the most influential districts in the last fifty years of our nation.

Chinsali is the most influential district in the history of Zambia - Munshya

Chinsali is the most influential district in the history of Zambia – Munshya

Limps of hope: Hon. Chilangwa, stigma and hope for Zambians living with disabilities

E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

There is no evidence to suggest that Nevers Mumba had, two weeks ago, approved of the action by MMD party cadres to sing lyrics mocking the disability of Hon. Nickson Chilangwa. In this article, I make no such allegation against Mumba. However, that unfortunate event provides us with an opportunity to address such issues. Chilangwa has lived with a slight physical disability since childhood. He limps in one of his legs. Mumba was addressing a political rally in Luapula Province when this happened. Chilangwa is a Member of Parliament and senior PF party leader in Luapula.

In responding to the cadres’ behaviour, Chilangwa expressed regret that Mumba could allow such terrible scorn at a political meeting. He also mentioned that he has learned to overcome stigma associated with his disability. This week, MMD Secretary Muhabi Lungu exonerated his boss, stating that Mumba is of such good character that he could not possibly have mocked a Zambian based on their disability. I believe him. However, the fact that a few rogue cadres could use Chilangwa’s disability as a mocking point deeply disturbs me. Our nation needs to move beyond stigma of the disabled. Zambia is one nation. In this nation we have people living with different challenges and yet they are all part of the tree that keeps the roots of our nation vibrant.

Academia refers to this kind of stigma as “Ableism”. According to Carmelita and others (2010) ableism is -

“an all-encompassing system of discrimination and exclusion of people who live with developmental, medical, neurological, physical, and psychological disabilities”.

Schwarzbaum & Thomas (2008) defined ableism as a “negative judgment about the characteristics and capabilities of an individual with a disability.” According to J. Mung’omba (2008), Zambia is home to over 256,000 people living with some form of a disability. About 5% of these live with mental disabilities.

Hon. Nickson Chilangwa, MP

Hon. Nickson Chilangwa, MP

Ableism could be attributed to our traditional worldview, which regards suffering in general and disability in particular as bad omens. Such suffering is usually blamed on the spiritual world. It is, therefore, not surprising that a Zambian would seek to “establish communication with the spirit world” to manipulate it in order to “bring security in a dangerous world” (Turaki 2006). Both Gray (1990) and Kunhiyop (2008) acknowledge that Africans’ conception of evil takes it as that which destroyed life, health, strength, fertility and prosperity. Suffering at both personal and community level was believed to be evil, and was mostly attributed to lack of adherence to taboos and rituals. It was believed across tribes that non-adherence to strict religious ritual would naturally invite the wrath of the gods and, therefore, cause untold suffering. The consequence of such a worldview translates into “ableism”. Unfortunately, each time a person living with a disability is mocked; we give credence to such ideas, which belong to a generation more barbaric than ours.

Ableism could also be attributed to scarcity of economic resources. Zambia has a population of 14 million living in an area of approximately 750,000 kms2. The gross domestic product of Zambia stands at $20 billion. Following the 3-years of gross economic mismanagement by President Sata and his crew, we could be talking of lower figures by next year. With so many people chasing so few resources it is clear that those living with disabilities become the casualties of this stampede for resources.

Zambians need to address some disturbing beliefs that perpetrate ableism. Some of these beliefs are a combination of tradition and plain nonsense. For example, albinos just on the basis of their skin disability are quite mistakenly considered to have some extra-spiritual powers. In neighbouring Tanzania, ritual killers, believing that albino body parts can be used to make someone rich, have murdered albinos. Even though this situation has not reached this level in Zambia, it is clear that there is a general stigma attached to albinos perpetrated by myths that don’t make sense.

"We will build Zambia together as one people, regardless of our physical abilities" - Munshya

“We will build Zambia together as one people, regardless of our physical abilities or disabilities” – Munshya

Hon. Chilangwa as a person living with a slight physical disability has done well for himself. He is a faithful member of the United Church of Zambia. He also runs successful businesses. He is living his great potential as a member of parliament. Nevertheless, our parliament should continue advocating for legal reform in this area. J. Mung’omba (2008) does cite the Persons with Disabilities Act (1996) as one of the most forward-looking legislation. However, we must not stop there, we should also work towards reforming laws such as Article 65 (1) (b) of the Constitution which disqualifies a candidate who is “under any law in force in Zambia, adjudged or otherwise declared to be of unsound mind”. While the constitution does not define “unsound mind”, this phrase could be used against some people faced with even mild mental illness.

The impact of ableism is obvious. Just like other forms of prejudice, ableism discriminates against citizens. It makes the majority feel that they are superior. It leads to all forms of unfair treatment of the “other”. Zambia is celebrating 50 years of political freedom. But what value is this political freedom if, 50 years after independence, we would still be mocking some among us simply because they do not share the same physical abilities as we do?

Ableism causes the nation to not use the full potential of its citizens. People who live with a disability are as gifted, in so many ways, as anybody else is. The consequence of discrimination is that the society would not benefit from their talents and abilities.

Ableism also leads to discrimination in education sector. In spite of poverty, most children in Zambia do get into grade one. However, many of these grade one spaces are designed for able-bodied students. In addition to the fact that there are no suitable facilities for use by the people living with disabilities, there are not enough spaces in schools that would be more geared towards teaching children living or born with disabilities (Nabuzoka & Rønning 1997). Failure in the special education sector means that young children are left without an education, critical to their service to the country. Once you add stigma to this mix, schoolyard bullying becomes even more lethal. We must end stigma against our people.

Chilangwa is 45 years old now. He is a senior leader of our country. He has overcome the stigma in many ways. Mocking him should not be justified in our society. He is an inspiration to all young people. If we are to build Zambia, we will build it together as one people, regardless of our physical abilities. It is one Zambia, many abilities!

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Suggested Citation: Munshya, Elias (2014), “Limps of hope: Hon. Chilangwa, stigma and hope for Zambians living with disabilities”, Elias Munshya blog  (8 August 2014) (www.eliasmunshya.org)

Assault on liberty: Why Immigration Zambia was wrong to raid churches

E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div

 The Zambian state has a legitimate interest in enforcing the law. The state is well within its powers to try and apply immigration laws. Those who are in our country illegally should be made to account for their abuse of the law. I do support the Zambian state in its desire to bring some sanity to our borders and ensure that those who visit Zambia do so in compliance with our statutes. However, in enforcing the law, it is important that the state acts fairly, proportionally and reasonably. Those who exercise power have a duty, both fiduciary and constitutional, to be sensible. A democratic state, like ours, that chooses to enforce laws must do so within constitutional boundaries. The state has an obligation to pay attention to the rule of law each time it conducts an operation of such magnitude as the one conducted by police and immigration this past weekend. Statutory powers should not be taken as a license for mischievousness on the part of those who wear state uniforms and carry machine guns.

Police and immigration officers went to two churches in Lusaka and conducted what they claimed was an operation aimed at arresting “illegal immigrants”. The two churches raided were having regular worship services on a Sunday. The first church is located in Chibolya and the other one is located in Kabwata. According to the Immigration Department spokesperson, they conducted this operation in churches because “churches are harbouring ‘illegal immigrants’”. Notwithstanding, their official duty as law enforcement agents, I find their action of raiding churches to not only be ridiculous but actually absolute nonsense. There is no justifiable reason why the immigration department should raid worship services in Lusaka on the pretext of arresting illegal immigrants. It does not make any sense. The action by police and immigration was excessive and lacked any constitutional justification.

This action by police is a violation of the freedom of worship. The fact that armed paramilitaries decided to enter sacred spaces of a people worshipping God is a serious assault on the liberties of our people. It is drivel to claim that the state can send soldiers to the churches just because those congregations have some illegal immigrants worshipping. There are other ways through which police and immigration could arrest illegal aliens. They could arrest them on the streets, in the markets and in many other places. Police could just go to Soweto Market and find numerous illegal Chinese aliens selling tomatoes, chickens and “chibwabwa”. However, police breaking into churches in order to commit this sacrilege is morally wrong.

President Michael Sata of Zambia

President Michael Sata of Zambia

It is telling that, police raided churches of the poor of Kabwata and Chibolya. From the names of these congregations, it does appear that they are independent churches. They do not belong to the mainline traditions. There have been insinuations by some Zambian government officials threatening to close these churches. The idea that smaller churches mushrooming in our compounds should be banned and closed, is itself a serious violation of the liberties that our people have to worship God in the churches they choose. I find it unacceptable for the state to use its power to order citizens which church they need to attend. We do not need government to tell us which church is better than the other. Government has no role whatsoever in adjudicating competing religious doctrine. It does appear that these armed officers chose these small churches simply because they could get away with it. They targeted the poor. There is no way they were going to enter a Roman Catholic parish and do what they did. I appeal to the PF government to guarantee liberties for our people. If indeed, there is any problem with some doctrines being taught in these new churches, it should not be the government’s role to decide for Zambians which doctrines they should embrace. The pretext that they are going to be closing churches and banning ministries belongs to the old and tired times more barbaric than ours. Kaunda effectuated an embargo on the registration of new churches. We all know the kind of government Kaunda led. It was a dictatorship whose philosophy has no place in our modern democracy. We refuse for the PF government to return this country to the days of “by air” militias.

If some of the members of these churches have committed a crime, please arrest them. You can arrest them in their homes, on the street, or at their work places. Please do not go and disrupt a church services and check NRCs of those in attendance. This is not the Zambia we expect.

Raiding churches is an assault on liberty - Munshya wa Munshya

Raiding churches is an assault on liberty – Munshya wa Munshya

Immigration action over the weekend will send chilling effects to church leaders. It will also arouse suspicion among church members. Pastors, elders, deacons and ushers in the churches should not be checking for passports before they receive new members. Pastors should not be immigration officers. The accusation that the church is harboring illegal immigrants is equally absurd. How can these two churches that in fact meet in rented community halls “harbor” illegal immigrants? Where do they harbor these immigrants? Is it on Sundays for 3 hours? How does having immigrants in church on Sunday, in a rented community hall, amount to harboring “illegal immigrants”? Police and Immigration should not be accusing the church of this serious crime, especially, not under these circumstances.

Churches in our country should continue to receive people in their services. Grace Ministries Mission International should continue breaking bread with all believers without the fear that soldiers will break-in to intimidate innocent worshippers. The pastors of Pentecostal Assemblies of God (Zambia) assemblies should not be asking members about their nationality or whether members have an NRC or not. The ushers of St. Paul’s or St. Peter’s churches should not have to check someone’s passport before they let them take Holy Communion at the altar. Equally, those churches in our compounds, mushrooming as they are, should have the liberty on Sundays to meet and dance with others without being suspicious of each other’s origins and nationality. There is already enough suspicion between Guy Scott and Mulenga Sata over the nationality of Mulenga’s mother. We refuse that the PF should spread this umulomo to the churches. In the church, we kneel and dance together as one people redeemed by Christ. If immigration officers want to arrest someone, they can do so, somewhere else, and not in the church.

I urge the so-called church mother bodies to stand up for religious liberty. She who assaults liberties of these small churches will one day also assault liberties of the so-called big churches. Injustice to the little among us should be regarded as injustice to all. It is in this respect that we should all condemn the action of the police and immigration officers.

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Suggested citation: Munshya, E., ‘Assault on liberty: Why Immigration Zambia was wrong to raid churches Elias Munshya Blog (August 1, 2014) (available at http://www.eliasmunshya.org)

Should Zambian MPs get a salary increase?

E. Munshya, LLB (Hons). M.Div.

Some Members of Parliament (MPs) are demanding for a pay increase. And our people are quite justified in their outrage. This is even sincerer since there is an assumption among our people that MPs are well compensated already. It is controversial to justify a salary hike for MPs at this time when there is apparently a wage freeze for all public workers. At least, that is the position of the Zambia Congress for Trade Unions (ZCTU). The economic difficulties brought by the no-clue government of Michael Sata affects all Zambians equally. That being the case, it is problematic to insist that MPs salaries should be increased without recourse to all other workers countrywide. There is wisdom in the idea that if MPs want their salaries increased, they should equally fight for all other public workers.

Hon. Catherine Namugala (MMD, Mafinga) believes that the current salary levels for MPs are too inadequate. Zambia’s popular online publication, the Zambian Watchdog, has issued an opinion supporting the salary increase. On the other hand, leader of Zambia’s biggest political party, the MMD, has expressed reservations about this salary increase. While the cost of living has gone up, Dr. Nevers Mumba nevertheless believes that this particular salary demand has come at the wrong time. There are many who agree with him.

There is obviously a legitimate philosophical discussion to be had about salaries, wages and related matters. How much is enough? We could debate for millennia on this. I wish to ague, though, that MPs should be compensated at the same level as cabinet ministers. Harmonising MPs salaries with that of ministers will help remove the incentive that seems to attract MPs towards the carrots dangled from the Executive. In our system of government, it is easy for an executive President to swing candies of ministerial privilege on unsuspecting MPs so as to lure them to her side. If this incentive is removed we would be closer to assuring a truly vibrant parliament. Consequently, harmonisation will create some level of egalitarianism within the august house. It seems, quite unsurprisingly, that some MPs demand for higher salaries because they see that their colleagues in government do seem to have better privileges than they do. As such, viewed from an economic comparative perspective, the floor of the house becomes not just about the political affiliation; it often turns out to be a divided trajectory between the privileged executive members and the ordinary backbenchers that are paid less. There is some sense in addressing this in the interest of democracy.

Hon. Catherine Namugala is asking for money in her pockets

Hon. Catherine Namugala (MMD) is asking for more money in her pockets

A harmonised salary structure is good for our democracy due to its attractional character as well. The quality of our parliament is dependent upon the quality of the MPs it can attract. If we want to attract more vibrant citizens, we should be able to pay a just wage for those we wish to attract. There is some argument by some of our people that only those financially successful in life should be able to aspire for parliament. This thinking is abhorrent to democratic principles. Parliament should not only be a place for the filthy rich. It should be a place for the ordinary citizen. Restricting leadership only to the rich has the consequence of confiscating governance from the ambits of ordinary citizens into the hands of the privileged few. In order for parliament to be a place for vibrant young professionals, it should be able to compete in the marketplace for that talent. While it is true that there is some level of personal sacrifice that goes into aspiring for parliamentary leadership, we should not make it more difficult for younger women and men to want to aspire for parliament due to an archaic and unworkable salary structure.

Harmonising salaries in parliament means that the current MPs will consequently get slightly higher salaries than they do now. But that will only be a smaller concern in a bigger picture: the picture of raising the profile of an MP to that of cabinet minister, at least in the salary and wages sense. Consequently, instead of thinking of such a salary hike as being a burden, we should look at good pay for MPs as the needed investment in our democracy. We cannot afford to have MPs’ independence sacrificed by sectarian interests falling from the dangled carrots of the executive. Most of the opposition MPs who crossed to the executive branch could not have done so, had they not had the financial incentive to do so. To reform parliament, we must be willing to think outside of the box. Salary harmonisation is such thinking.

Salaries for Zambian MPs need to be harmonized with that of Ministers - Munshya

Salaries for Zambian MPs need to be harmonized with that of cabinet ministers – Munshya

Harmonising MPs pay with that of ministers is good for its impact on the hospitality expected from MPs. In a nation like ours, MPs are not only political representatives; they are also expected to provide financially for some of their constituents. This is perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of the role performed by MPs. And when MPs try to explain this reality, we should listen to them and dialogue instead of dismissing it.

Traditionally, tribal leaders such as chiefs and village heads, provided hospitality from the resources gathered from their subjects. So the quality of hospitality was dependent upon the goodwill and generosity of the public. In our modern society, however, the reverse seems to have happened with regard to political leaders such as MPs. Some members of the public expect the MPs to leave some financial help each time they visit their constituencies. This help can range from basic assistance of the vulnerable to helping out at funerals. And many are the funerals among our people. We are a suffering nation and we must all sympathise with each other. Members of Parliament who are not responsive to these needs are usually labelled as selfish, even if they have no personal resources to help. Most of these MPs do not simply have sufficient resources from which to assist all the needs in their constituencies. Until our society changes the narrative of the roles MPs should play in the constituencies, we have a duty as a people to listen to MPs like Namugala who try to explain how difficult it is for MPs to be able to provide for so many of our people. I believe most MPs want to help from their own personal funds, but can’t afford to do so. While there is no way that our government can make all MPs afford to help as much as they would like to, we should sympathise with those MPs who try to explain their plight. Harmonisation, in my opinion, while not being the magic bullet to resolve this financial problem, would go along way in helping our democracy.

While I am not too sure about how much is really enough for an MP’s pay, I am very sure that harmonising their salaries with that of cabinet ministers will be a good idea for our democracy.

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Suggested citation: Munshya, E., ‘Should Zambian MPs get a salary increase? Elias Munshya Blog (July 28, 2014) (available at http://www.eliasmunshya.org)

 

 

 

Splitting Lusaka into two: Leadership of hope for Zambia’s capital region

Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

The City of Lusaka, as messy as it is, is still very strategic to the economic interests of our country. We must take great care of the hands that feed us. As a nation, we must arrange and repackage this city in ways that would ensure development for its people and generally for Zambia. The government should repackage Lusaka at two levels: first at the political administrative level and secondly, at the municipal level. There is just no other way we could solve the urban problem presented by Lusaka than finding different ways of how to run this capital city of our republic.

There is hope for Lusaka

There is hope for Lusaka

A number of analysts have pointed out the infrastructure deficit in Lusaka. I will not repeat those concerns here. They are eloquently loud and insolently clear. Lusaka is catering for far too many people than it was originally designed to hold. We have slightly over 2 million inhabitants in Lusaka. With this population increase we must change our approach to the way we govern and lead this city. The Patriotic Front government should begin to prioritize the local government administration of Lusaka. I wish to propose some reforms for the city of Lusaka and with that the province of Lusaka as well.

At political administration level, the Province of Lusaka should be split into two so that the current city of Lusaka boundary becomes a province on its own. The new province must have its own provincial minister and administration. Transforming the current Lusaka city into a province will ensure that the provincial administration takes the time to concentrate on trying to resolve unique issues faced by this huge urban dump. Currently, the Lusaka Province political administration spreads from Chirundu to Lusaka. This is a very huge area incorporating rural areas as well as the metropolitan Lusaka. Under current circumstances, the provincial administration will have to spread resources between the urban and rural areas. From experience, we know that challenges faced by the city dwellers are somewhat different from those in rural Lusaka province. Balancing these disparate needs is a huge challenge. Having the urban Lusaka become a province on its own could mitigate this. Consequently, if rural areas are unglued from the city, it will give time and space for these rural areas to develop and to craft a development agenda suited to rural realities. It would be a win-win situation.

Arguments have been made to divide Northwestern Province into two or three provinces. In fact, the PF government has moved to create a new province splitting the Northern Province into two. Muchinga has become Zambia’s 10th province. From this we can tell that land mass is the major determinant in President Sata’s local government strategy. I do not fault him for this. However, added to this land mass strategy should be the population density strategy. Using the density strategy it is clear that the City of Lusaka already carters for far more people than the entire Copperbelt Province. Lusaka city has more people than both Muchinga and Northern provinces. Additionally, Lusaka city population is more than Luapula and Northwestern combined. If there is any reason why this city should be made into a province, this should be it.

The 2 Satas - The President of Zambia and the Mayor of Lusaka - 2014

The two Satas – The President of Zambia and the Mayor of Lusaka – 2014

The changes I am proposing at the political administration level should also be happening at the local municipal level in Lusaka. The current city of Lusaka is unsustainable under one municipal authority. We have to think differently. The PF has been on rampage creating close to 30 new districts from 2011 to date. Most of these new districts are in rural areas with far fewer populations. Again, I think there is good reason to create new districts in Lunga, Nsama, or Chembe. But while doing this for rural areas, the PF should also look at the urban strategy and perhaps create some districts in the current Lusaka city municipality. It is absurd that the City of Lusaka should have one local authority presiding over close to 2 million inhabitants. The residents of Lusaka are the least represented per capita in terms of municipal representation. There is a smaller councilor to citizen ratio in Milenge District than in the Lusaka municipality. This is even though Lusaka city supplies more economic value to Zambia than Milenge. We must provide to Lusaka the local government profile best suited to its needs. The Lusaka Civic Centre just cannot effectively provide services to 2 million people.

Hope for Lusaka, hope for Zambia

Hope for Lusaka, hope for Zambia – Munshya

At municipal level, Lusaka city should be divided into four or five smaller municipal units that are more manageable. These municipal units could be divided along constituency lines. So Matero could be a municipality, Mandevu its own municipality and so on. These new councils could have their-own councilors and mayor. Smaller municipal units will be closer to the people. Smaller municipal units will leverage resources far much better than can a Mayor who presides over 2 million people. In fact, with 2 million people, the current Lusaka City arrangement is so politicized that any resources it has will always go towards the areas where the politicians live. This is no wonder the City of Lusaka fire department has diverted its fire trucks to water President Sata’s “ulunkoto” at State House and surrounding areas. Perhaps time has come to stop this abuse, and let the people of Matero or Mandevu to have a local government closer to them. If Munali, became a municipal unit, it could collect levies and deal with municipal issues better suited to its unique needs.

Smaller municipal units also make sense for Lusaka in terms of spreading the Lusaka wealth. Imagine what Mandevu could do if it begins levying its own market levy and its own business licenses. It could also provide employment for countless young people bringing development to their local areas. Smaller municipal units could also easily leverage donor funding and support. Currently, the city of Lusaka cannot do this in its current form. All resources get diverted to the rich and powerful areas, to the amayadi. In the current arrangement, Woodlands, Kabulonga and State House will always take priority. This must end. And the best way to end it is by giving power to the people and let the locals of Kabwata to control their own local resources.

Further centralization of power is not good for the development of an overgrown city like Lusaka. To help Lusaka flourish, we must change something about it. We must begin to think differently. We must leverage the population that Lusaka currently has. We must take the population as a blessing. We must invent new ways of providing services to this huge population. There is no better way to get started on doing this by truly devolving power to the smaller units. Having started on this new local government agenda, the PF government should expand it to include not only Chembe in Luapula but also Chawama in Lusaka.

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Suggested citation: Munshya, E., ‘Splitting Lusaka into two: Leadership of hope for Zambia’s capital region’ Elias Munshya Blog (July 22, 2014) (available at http://www.eliasmunshya.org)

On Facebook: President Sata and the absurdity of his rule through pictures

E. Munshya, M.Div., LLB (Hons)

 And then we all saw the pictures. They came 24 days after President Sata’s unannounced departure to Tel Aviv, Israel for a “working visit.” In the pictures taken with a Nikon D90 by Thomas Nsama, on July 14, between 9:02 and 9:34, President Sata could be seen addressing a cabinet meeting. Most ministers were present in those pictures. Conspicuously missing, of course, was Hon. Wynter Kabimba who had travelled to South Africa for a conference on “constitutionalism and the rule of law.” Quite a paradox, we must confess. It was President Sata’s Press Aide George Chellah who released the pictures to the press. There was no story accompanying the pictures. The only thing explained was the fact that President Sata was addressing a Cabinet meeting that day. While it is almost difficult to tell the actual wellbeing of a person by looking at a picture, one can safely infer that President Sata looked very fit on those pictures. He definitely did not appear like one walking out of a coma. As Robert Mugabe would say, he looked as “fit as a fiddle”.

The walk on picture

The walk on picture

On his famous Facebook page, President Sata released those same pictures, and then informed the over 100,000 followers that he’s just had a cabinet meeting that morning. President Sata then went on to give a laundry list of more promises that he was going to work on. In the evening main news, ZNBC Television copied that Facebook posting and repeated the same laundry list of projects the President had promised to work on. With that ZNBC news, the announcement of the return of a man who had not been seen for 24 days was now complete. What an absurd way to return.

President Sata did owe some kind of explanation to the nation about his 24-day absence. It was not enough to just address cabinet, take a few photos and then pretend as if everything is alright. A lot had happened in 24-days and it is only fair that he clears up some issues connected with that absence. It is not alright to just dish more promises on Facebook. Zambians do not need more promises than they do need to be assured that their Head of State is not only alive, but is also well. It is not promises Zambians needed during this time. They expected a greeting from President Sata and some explanation on the lines of “bane nalifuminepo nomba nimbwela. Nali endafye bwino uko naile”. But he said no such thing. He just walked into a cabinet meeting, took pictures and left the people of Zambia to dry.

There is a sense in which the speculations around President Sata’s health are not healthy for Zambia. But the actions of the President are also quite questionable. Instead of helping to clarify these difficult issues, the President and his handlers are stoking more gossip. The government cannot just be blaming “small tribes” from the South about these rumours. It has to come to terms with its own actions and take some responsibility. How does sending of photographs of a presidential cabinet meeting ever help to resolve the problems? Couldn’t government and State House have known that the still pictures will just raise more questions than answers?

It has been customary for a sitting president of Zambia to have a ZANIS news crew available to him all the time. It is quite absurd that State House chose to ignore this crew when it came to the brief reappearance of the President. In fact, ZNBC had to depend on the President’s Facebook page for news in connection with the reappearance of Michael Chilufya Sata. This is not only shocking but also questionable. When people question this wisdom, government reacts and tries to push back with brutal threats only fit for Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and not our Zambia. Honestly, the Bemba say: ukuteke mbwa mano. Governing is difficult. But it also takes a people of wisdom to govern well. While it is true that some of our people are determined to misunderstand whatever government is doing, we cannot help but wonder why government action seems to stoke and not halt those misunderstandings.

It is not enough to keep blaming “evil people” about their wishes for President Sata to be sick. Government should act appropriately so that it is clear from the start that they are not hiding anything. This whole episode has been so pathetically managed that no reasonable person can trust government on this issue. This PF government should do something better to help contain these rumours.

President Sata-Cabinet 1

President Sata and his cabinet

Does President Sata have “haters”? I bet he does. We all do. For sure after the ruling from Judge Chali in the Changala v. Attorney General case, this newspaper does have “haters” too. Those haters include the ruling of Judge Chali itself. Should we then blame Sata’s haters for wishing him sick and dead, I bet not. Democracy implies a governance structure that includes dealing with opposition, detractors and those who are plainly silly and petty. Ukuteke mbwa mano means that democracy calls for those in power to exercise good judgment and leadership in view of these detractors. As far as Zambia is concerned, we shall always have those who want to use gaps like this one to their own political advantage. But what we should not tolerate is a government that uses this justification to lie to the people of Zambia. It is easier to deal with the truth than it is to deal with lies. If Zambians are told the truth without deceit, our people can be spared the agony of guesswork that keeps nurturing the tree of gossip.

Munshya wa Munshya

What happened to the use of the good old microphone and a ZNBC video camera? – Munshya asks

While President Sata was gone, there were reports from the Israeli media that in fact he had not travelled to Israel to sprawl on a beach. Israeli media reported that he had gone to seek medical attention. There is no reason why our head of state should be ashamed of this fact, if indeed it were true. He is the President and we have the responsibility to take care of him in the finest of the world’s hospitals. But denying this reality not only annoys our people, it also gives the impression that Zambians are being taken for fools. If indeed the President is sick, why not just say so and move on? And if he is not sick, why not have him directly address our people?

There has been too much speculation for the past 26 days. Can the President please put these speculations to rest? He should do so through the means we all know. What happened to the use of the good old microphone and a ZNBC video camera? Putting pictures on Facebook just won’t do.

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Suggested citation: Munshya, E., ‘On Facebook: President Sata and the absurdity of his rule through pictures’ Elias Munshya Blog (July 18, 2014) (available at http://www.eliasmunshya.org)

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This article appeared in the print edition of “Munshya wa Munshya” column on Friday, July 18 in Zambia’s leading independent newspaper the Zambia Daily Nation.

 

Judge Chali’s ruling in Brebner Changala v. Attorney General 2014

By Elias Munshya, M.Div., LLM (Candidate)

Human Rights activist Brebner Changala sought leave of the High Court of Zambia to commence judicial review proceedings into the Zambian cabinet’s failure to enquire into President Sata’s apparent ill-health.

High Court Judge Isaac Chali issued his ruling today, July 11 2014. He has denied Changala leave to proceed. Here is a of the judgment: Changala v. Attorney General 2014

We will provide an analysis of this ruling at a later stage.

Brebner Changala

Brebner Changala