Fall of Kaunda’s UNIP: Zambia’s 50-year lesson in power and politics

E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

Many have eloquently told the powerful story of the founding of the United National Independence Party (UNIP). I should not retell that story here. My concern now is to acknowledge that UNIP remains the most significant political movement in the history of Zambia. If we are to be faithful to the Zambian golden jubilee story, we must be faithful to the story of our country that considers the role-played by UNIP. Nevertheless, with this in mind, it is prudent to discuss how this great movement got reduced to a level where it is basically extinct in 2014. What happened to UNIP?

Some analysts point to the 1991 election loss as the primary reason why UNIP is dead today. With due respect, I find this reason not to be compelling. In as much it was a very desolate loss, UNIP could have survived and, in fact, it did survive for several years after 1991.

United National Independence Party (UNIP)

United National Independence Party (UNIP)

Some have suggested that UNIP has died due to poor leadership from its president Tilyenji Kaunda. If parties died just because of bad leadership, almost all parties in Zambia would be extinct by now. Most parties in Zambia do actually have bad leadership. I know of a political party currently run by a president who has not been seen in public for over 90 days. That party is still winning elections in spite of its president being AWOL. That being the case, Tilyenji’s no-show in UNIP cannot be reason why his party has become extinct.

The other reason proposed is equally deficient: that of internal squabbles. All parties in Zambia do face internal squabbles. But these squabbles do not lead to the demise of these parties. The Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) has had its own squabbles. The Patriotic Front (PF) has squabbles every day. There is always a fight between the A-Team and B-Team. The United Party for National Development (UPND) was itself embroiled in serious squabbles after the death of its founder Anderson Mazoka. Internal squabbles are insufficient to explain the fall of UNIP.

When UNIP lost power in 1991, it had a series of seats in parliament. In fact, all of the parliamentary seats in Eastern Province were held by UNIP. It had 25 out of the 150 seats in the 1991 parliament. Relatively speaking then, with 25 seats UNIP was still a significant political force. Having sunk so low, the only way for UNIP was for it to rise from the ashes of the 1991 defeat. And rising it did rise.

President Kenneth Kaunda

President Kenneth Kaunda

What is telling about the 25 seats was the fact that they were regional seats. This is perhaps one of the most important trends in strong parties in Zambia; they must first and foremost have a strong regional base. If UNIP was going to rise out of the ashes of 1991, it needed to preserve this regional base and then build from there to grow back its share countrywide. Any political party that does not have a regional powerhouse cannot survive in the Zambian political landscape. Post-1991 UNIP was going to become a nationally significant party again only by building from its regional base of Eastern Province. What was true for UNIP in the 1990s remains true for all other parties today. Let me take the UPND for example. The power of the UPND lies primarily in its regional base of Southern Province. If it loses that support, it would become extinct as well. As such, there is some hope for UPND as long as it can build upon its regional base and then expand into other areas as well. Expanding it must do, but it cannot go for the false security of expansion at the expense of losing its base. The same applies to the ruling PF. At the time it was founded in 2001, the PF became a party for the discontented urban areas as well as a non-compromising regional base of Luapula-North corridor. If the PF loses this base in the North, it could potentially be extinct too. In fact, the PF can spread into other areas, to become a resemblance of a national party, by first recognizing its strength as a regional party. In Zambian politics, any political party of consequence must have the backing of a region. You lose a region you are gone.

This is the greatest challenge faced by Nevers Mumba’s MMD today. If MMD does not commandeer a loyal region in Zambia, it would be extinct. Its resurgence depends upon its ability to hold a region, and then from there rebuild its national character. Those in MMD that are thinking that it will remain a balanced national party do so at their own peril. Most indications are showing that the stronghold for MMD is ironically going to be the Eastern Province. If they lose the East, MMD will be toast for they will not have any regional stronghold from which they can plot a political revival.

Having looked at present realities, we must now return to how UNIP handled its regional power after the 1991 elections. By 1993, it had become apparent and clear that the resurgence of UNIP had commenced. After the jostling of internal power politics, Kenneth Kaunda returned as party president. By 1995 Kaunda and his UNIP were again causing headaches for President Chiluba’s MMD. Some Zambians were indeed seriously considering voting UNIP back into power. The founding political movement of the Zambian nation was winning back its support.

Kenneth Kaunda

Kenneth Kaunda

President Chiluba knew the political threat posed by Kaunda’s UNIP in 1995. With Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta as party vice-president, it had become apparent that UNIP was looking to expand beyond the East. To forestall this growth of UNIP, Chiluba came up with the 1996 constitutional amendments, which purported to stop both Kaunda and Inyambo Yeta. The parentage clause was inserted to bar Kaunda whose father and mother apparently came from Nyasaland. Yeta was also barred by the constitutional provision that prohibited traditional chiefs from participating in active politics. However, the way UNIP decided to react to these provisions is what killed it. Had UNIP decided differently, it would still be present today!

Kaunda and his party vice-President decided to lead UNIP into a boycott of the 1996 elections, “mu cipyu”. National politics should never be decided “mu cipyu.” This was a bad call on Kaunda’s part. It is a no brainer that he was victimized and was indeed unfairly treated, but Kaunda’s decision to boycott the 1996 elections meant that UNIP would cease to represent its regional Eastern block. With the loss of that Eastern region came the rapid fall of a party that once led Zambia into independence. Ironically, the same man who built UNIP to its climax in the 1960s also presided over its downfall in the 1990s. With that 1996 boycott, Kenneth Kaunda hammered the last nail in UNIP’s coffin. As we reflect on the past 50 years of our independence, I just hope MMD, UPND and PF will learn important lessons from the rise, and fall of UNIP. But are they?

UNIP is one of the  most significant political movements in Zambia's 50 years of nationhood - Munshya wa Munshya

UNIP is one of the most significant political movements in Zambia’s 50 years of nationhood – Munshya wa Munshya

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Suggested Citation:

Munshya, E. (2014). “Fall of Kaunda’s UNIP: Zambia’s 50-year lesson in power and politics”. Elias Munshya Blog (www.eliasmunshya.org) (12 September 2014)

Challenges, weaknesses, and lapses: Beyond the sacking of Wynter Kabimba

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

In the 50 years of our independence, what really sets us apart as a people is the ability to reflect on issues after we have done our celebrations. Perhaps, after we have downed bottles of Kachasu and emptied tins of champagne, we really do come round to look at issues more critically. After we recover from Katubi and Katata, we always ask ourselves the critical question: “why were we celebrating in the first place”? Had it not been for this analytical character of our people, Zambia would have long disappeared from the face of the earth. No politician can hold Zambians hostage. In fact, no amount of the celebrations of even the most popular among our politicians can bewitch the democratic character of our people. We always come around.

Wynter is gone. Let's celebrate over Katubi & Katata.

Wynter is gone. Let’s celebrate over Katubi & Katata.

A few days ago, if not a week ago, Zambians from all around the country, at least from the towns and villages we received reports from, had taken to potholed streets to celebrate the fall of Wynter Kabimba. There was a festive atmosphere among many that, somehow, the fall of Kabimba had given the nation a new break, a new dawn. Some Patriotic Front (PF) cadres in Kaoma under the influence of Shake Shake stated that they were happy with the fall of Kabimba because “he was the main hindrance to their development.” They mused that, Kabimba had brought them a lot of poverty, and as such, his firing will now truly bring “more money in their pockets”. In Kasama, GBM also led a march of PF cadres thanking President Sata for firing Wynter. Again, PF cadres danced and drank. A week could be a long time in Zambian politics. The same GBM who had been disowned by the PF structures in Kasama was now leading the same structures in disowning Kabimba. Some reports claim that the fall of Kabimba was celebrated in the same way, the PF electoral win in 2011 was celebrated: people spontaneously taking to the streets to drink, dance and cause mayhem in the hope that finally an answer had come. But did an answer really come? Or it is still the old story of people taking to the streets to celebrate a political milestone that eventually leaves them hungrier than before.

Days after celebrations of the fall of Wynter, several Zambians are asking themselves: “why were we celebrating in the first place?” In any case, how did the firing of Wynter come about? It is these questions that perhaps could bring some sobriety to a nation drunk on the good news of Kabimba’s firing. To me the dismissal of Wynter has not really resolved the main issues facing our country. In fact, contrary to the Kaoma cadres, the canning of Wynter will not lead to more money in their pockets. They are likely to continue suffering just like they were suffering under Wynter as Secretary General of the Patriotic Front. The reason is simple: the fall of Wynter has not fundamentally altered the character or the nature of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) as a party that has no plan for the development of Zambia. It is ridiculous to expect anymore from the PF. It has no program to fight corruption. The PF has borrowed more money than any government in the history of Zambia. Rupiah Banda left reserves in the coffers that Sata and his PF have squandered on activities that do very little to help the nation develop. Having inherited Rupiah Banda’s Formula One road development plans, the PF have gone overboard to grant themselves contracts through the Road Development Agency (RDA), which unfortunately operates from President Sata’s office at State House.

With the firing of Wynter, President Sata has undoubtedly gotten rid of a very contentious and divisive figure in Zambian politics. But without a clear departure from the politics that made Wynter in the first place, I doubt if there will be real change in the way Sata and the PF handle issues of governance. As a demonstration of the fact that it will be business as usual, President Sata went on to personally appoint a new Secretary General of PF in the same way he appointed the guy he had just fired. Such actions are repugnant to democracy. Unless we change templates in Zambia, we are likely to be facing the same issues over and over again. That which is a problem with a template can only be changed if we reformed not only the persons, but also the templates themselves. We cannot resolve systemic deficiencies simply by changing people around. This is why, no amount of firings or sackings can bring about the change we need if the structures, templates and systems remain the same.

Going beyond Wynter has several implications. Zambians need answers as to how they are being governed. It does seems like a private newspaper that is an ally to both President Sata and Wynter Kabimba appears to be confirming Zambians’ suspicion. For its part the newspaper has gone to state that the firing of Wynter might have to do with President Sata’s “challenges, weaknesses, lapses”. The newspaper has not elaborated on this, but has further warned that if anything happened to President Sata, it will be the fault of they who engineered Wynter’s sacking. In the midst of this confusion and uncertainly, it is incumbent upon Zambians to demand answers from State House as to what these challenges, weaknesses and lapses are considering that they have led to the dismissal of a guy we all thought was the emissary of the president.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Zambians, as stated above, need to take seriously efforts at reforming not just the people, but also the structures and the templates of our government. This is more reason why we need to pay attention to the constitution making process. I believe that the constitution making process is an integral activity to the good governance of Zambia. While I do not believe that a good constitution by itself will guarantee good governance, I believe that a good constitution could help us a great deal in putting structures in place for good governance. What is really shocking out of the Kabimba saga is just how an unelected person managed to climb up to the highest echelons of power. Indeed, as mentioned above, without a clear reform to our systems, another person after the image and likeness of Kabimba could easily do the same thing.

Today Wynter Kabimba is gone. However, in our celebrations of his fall, we must be mindful of the fact that the struggle for a better Zambia continues. Problems in our country are bigger than Kabimba. As such, we need to go beyond him and capture the real issues stealing the prosperity of our people. This we must do even if we are faced with “challenges, weaknesses and lapses”.

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Suggested Citation:

Munshya, Elias. (2014). “Challenges, weaknesses, lapses: Beyond the sacking of Wynter Kabimba”. Elias Munshya Blog (www.eliasmunshya.org) (12 September 2014)

Sacking Wynter Kabimba: Implications for Sata’s presidency

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

When Wynter Kabimba got implicated in the oil scandal in 2012, we called upon President Sata to suspend him so that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) could freely investigate the matter. Sata said no! In 2013, when Wynter stated that the PF would rule for over 100 years, we expressed our concerns at the dictatorial and undemocratic tendencies that started to develop in him. Sata looked the other way. When Wynter stated that Zambians wanted to return to a one party state we gave our opinion. We stated that Wynter was getting it wrong on democracy. We again called upon Sata to fire him. But Sata instead, promoted Wynter and left him to act as President. When in June 2014, Wynter claimed that he had smuggled Kenyans through Nakonde to rig the 2011 elections in Sata’s favour, we said his statement was a falsehood and absolute nonsense. By this time, Sata was nowhere to be seen. He had gone AWOL. We said what we said and we still do believe that Wynter Kabimba’s politics were repugnant to democracy. We stand by what we said about Wynter, but there is more that must be added: Wynter was only but a minute symptom of a grander disease. Firing him does not heal the disease; it only postpones it to another day.

Kabimba and Sata - the good days

Kabimba and Sata – the good days

Kabimba has been fired not as a way to stump out corruption in Sata’s crooked government, but rather to entrench corruption. Ever since President Sata assumed power, he has never acted, not even once, to stump-out corruption. Instead, Sata has both tolerated and exacerbated corruption. Sata has not acted on several allegations of corruption involving his officials. A publication has shown us evidence of questionable deposits into the bank account of one of Sata’s many sons. Sata has not acted to stop the rampant corrupt dealings involving the Road Development Agency (RDA) that operates from State House. Several ruling party stalwarts have illicit RDA contracts. GBM is alleged to have been a principal supplier of goods and services to the Ministry of Defence, the same ministry he served as minister. In 2011, at the onset of the don’t kubeba government, Apollo Enterprises, a company belonging to Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda was, without tender, given the contract to rehabilitate State House. Chikwanda never declared interest. Chikwanda is also alleged to have shares in a company supplying Zambian mines in 2014. While these allegations have not been proven in court, it is prudent to have police investigate them. Nevertheless, when the allegations were revealed about Chikwanda’s involvement in these illicit contracts, the result was a witch-hunt that led to the dismissal of Kabimba. Sata acted against Kabimba to protect the corruption of one against that of the other corrupt. This makes the sacking of Kabimba to be an activity of the corrupt against the other corrupt. It is not a fight between good and evil but rather a fight between one set of evil against another set of evil.

President Sata must resign for the same reasons that he has fired Wynter Kabimba. The problem with Wynter is not his alone. President Sata himself created them. What is even more painful is that in firing Kabimba the president has not moved to change the corrupt system that breeds the Kabimbas of this world. The president has gone on to unilaterally choose a new Secretary-General in a way that is repugnant to democracy. Wynter has gone the same way that he came. Without changing the system, we have no guarantee that Edgar Lungu will do anything different from what Wynter did. President Sata has changed the personnel, but he has not changed the system that is responsible for breeding the mayhem. I cannot celebrate the dismissal of Wynter simply because, his replacement comes with the same platform and template that gives way for undemocratic tendencies. The firing of Wynter removes a person called Wynter but retains the same corrupt template in its place.

Sata should resign because, in neglecting to give reasons why he fired Wynter, he has created an avenue for gossip and wanton political recklessness. Under the Sata presidency, State House has been reduced to an orgy of gossip, misinformation and “chilande lande” with no one seeming to be in control. I am surprised that the President chose to fire Wynter through a press statement without caring to let the nation know reasons why he was fired in the first place. Wynter was the Chief Executive of the ruling party. He was a senior cabinet member. He has acted as President of our republic. Surely, for a person of such stature, the president owes a duty to explain to the nation why he decided to drop him. President Sata should not be running our country as if it is his own village or household. He needs to know that Zambians want to get answers from him. He needs to talk to us. He needs to answer questions from the press. He cannot just wake up one day, fire Wynter through a press statement and hibernate back into oblivion.

After the fall of Wynter several ruling party cadres are now claiming that life will be better for them. Some in Kaoma are even saying that it was Wynter that led to their poverty. GBM led a march in Kasama to celebrate the dismissal of Wynter and pledged unwavering support to President Michael Sata. What a reversal! Isn’t this the same gentleman who in 2013 claimed to have fallen out with Sata based not on Wynter but on Chitimukulu Kanyanta-Manga?

By the actions of the Patriotic Front cadres, it does seem as if Wynter was the President who made all the decisions. If indeed, even a portion of all these power-allegations against Wynter were true, then they are a damaging indictment against the judgment and leadership of President Sata. How is it that President Sata allowed an unelected Kabimba to have so much sway over what is constitutionally supposed to be done by a president? Surely, it cannot be Wynter’s problem alone. Could it be that the president is unfit to rule? From the Post editorials, it appears like they are willing to unleash the truth about the state of President Sata’s perceived “weaknesses and failings”. But Zambians of course know that there is something fundamentally problematic with the health and wellbeing of the President. Firing Wynter does not solve the problem of President Sata’s own inefficiency and unsuitability to hold office. Firing Wynter has not resolved any problem. That which is a problem with Sata cannot be resolved by firing a person other than Sata. Sata has failed Zambia, and Wynter was only a symptom of the wider failing of the leadership of Zambia’s fifth president.

President Sata should resign - Munshya

President Sata should resign – Munshya

 

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Suggested Citation: Munshya, Elias (2014). “Sacking Wynter Kabimba: Implications for Sata’s presidency”. Elias Munshya Blog (www.eliasmunshya.org) (1 September 2014)

 

 

Lewanika and Others v Chiluba (1998): The most significant court ruling in Zambia’s 50-year jurisprudence

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

 Zambia has seen no court case full of stuff only fit for reality TV than the case of Lewanika & Others v Chiluba (1998). Mention it. And you would most probably find it there. A president who seemed to have had no idea about the identity of his father. A picture that disappeared at night only to reappear days later on the desk of a government director, doctored. The case had allegations of illicit sex, secrets and added mysteries.

It all started in 1996 when President Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba (FJT) and his MMD government bigwigs, Miyanda and Sata, hatched a clever plan to prevent Kenneth Kaunda (KK) from contesting the 1996 elections. I must note here that Miyanda denies such characterization. Nevertheless, their plan involved an amendment to the constitution to restrict the presidency only to those whose father and mother were “Zambian by birth or descent”. KK complained that this constitutional provision was unfair and was aimed at stopping him. Apparently, KK’s star was rising again after the 1991 bruising defeat. “Mu cipyu”, KK boycotted the elections and urged his UNIP party to do the same. The boycott came as Chiluba’s early Christmas present.

In pushing through this constitutional amendment, Chiluba invoked Kaunda’s deep-rooted nightmare: the fact that his parents were Nyasalanders. These are the same hitches that had dogged KK even before the founding of Zambia. It was a notoriously open secret that nearly everyone knew in Chinsali that KK’s father and mother were actually not natives of Chinsali. However, KK became an influential leader of the independence movement leading up to the liberation of Zambia. In spite of this history and suspicion, KK overcame this prejudice to lead Northern Rhodesia into an independent nation of Zambia. This year, Zambia celebrates its 50 years of independence. Before and after 1964, though, friends and enemies would use Kaunda’s Malawian heritage as a weapon of convenience when their positions became threatened. Certainly, even democrat Chiluba succumbed to this temptation to corner a founding figure of our republic.

Kenneth David Kaunda

Kenneth David Kaunda

What is mostly bizarre, however, about the 1996 story is the irony buried in it. Chiluba won the 1996 elections handily, delivering a blistering defeat to Mbikusita-Lewanika, Mung’omba and Chakomboka. And then all hell broke loose. Lewanika decided to challenge the election of Chiluba based on the same law that Chiluba had originally created to bar Kaunda. Lewanika and his colleagues challenged Chiluba on the basis that he could not be president since his father “was not a Zambian by birth or descent”. The bed of thorns Chiluba had weaved for Kaunda was now getting warm for him to sleep on it. Lewanika and his friends were not bluffing – Chiluba’s father was not a Zambian and as such, he could not possibly be president of Zambia.

When Chiluba came up with the 1996 amendment, he should have known that his own parentage was more questionable than Kaunda’s. But in keeping with common human weakness, FJT probably felt that he was safer than KK. Kaunda’s father was a famous evangelist well documented in history, but Chiluba’s father wasn’t. Chiluba wanted to use this as a way to cast suspicions on KK.

During the Lewanika v Chiluba trial it emerged that on his passport applications and affidavits before he became president, FJT swore that his father was a Jacob Titus Chiluba of Chief Lubunda in Mwense. However, when filing in his candidacy for the 1996 elections FJT declared that his father was a Mr. Jacob Titus Chiluba Nkonde of Lengwe Villange in Kawambwa. This was a serious discrepancy. Another colourful figure testified, at trial, to have been Chiluba’s biological father. Chabala Kafupi claimed to have had an illicit sexual relationship with FJT’s mother Mama Kaimba. It was from this affair that Chiluba and his twin brother were born at Chibambo Hospital in what is now called Congo DR. Other witnesses, in the same case, testified that Chiluba’s father was actually a Jim Zahare from Mozambique. In the proverbial dock was a president of Zambia, whose parentage was now under legal microscope. If Kaunda’s undoing was that his father was a Malawian, Chiluba’s own undoing was the fact that there were four possibilities of his father: Chabala Kafupi a Congolese, Jim Zahare a Mozambican, and the two others Chiluba had self-declared.

How would the judges make sense of all this? Well, judges do what judges want to do. They had to come up with a creative way to settle this. In explaining their reasoning, they delved into citizenship; Cecil Rhodes’ settling into Africa; British jurisprudence and then concluded Chiluba was validly elected regardless of whether his father was the Congolese Kafupi or the Mozambican Zahare.

In retrospect, the 1998 ruling absolved Kaunda. It meant that he could have successfully filed in his candidacy in 1996 even if his father were Malawian. The outcome of this case undermined Chiluba’s original motives for barring KK just as it bolstered Chiluba’s own presidency regardless of what Chabala Kafupi had testified. Most importantly, this ruling defined for Zambia, the meaning of citizenship denied to Zambians since 1964. This ruling added the new meaning to what it meant to be a citizen.

Frederick Jacob Titus CHILUBA

Frederick Jacob Titus CHILUBA

1998 was not the last time Zambia was to hear of the Lewanika v Chiluba case, however. Shortly after the Supreme Court had rendered its decision, two controversial gentlemen: Mushota and Katyoka decided to sue Kaunda claiming that he was “stateless” since he had not applied for Zambian citizenship. As if it could not get any bizarre, Ndola High Court Judge Chalendo Sakala agreed with Katyoka and declared Kenneth Kaunda “stateless.” When Kaunda’s lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, one of the authorities they relied on was Lewanika and others v Chiluba. They claimed that the Supreme Court had already ruled on such matters: Kaunda was a bonafide citizen of Zambia regardless of the purported nationality of his father. Lawyers also relied on the Chiluba case to assert that citizenship was conferred to people like Kaunda who were ordinarily resident in Zambia on the eve of independence. Before the Supreme Court could rule, Katyoka conceded and decided not to go on with the court process delivering a victory to KK.

Akashambatwa Mbikusita-LEWANIKA

Akashambatwa Mbikusita-LEWANIKA

Sixteen years after Lewanika v Chiluba, we seem to be facing the same challenges. President Sata doesn’t trust his vice-president Guy Scott due to his Scottish heritage. In turn, Scott does not trust Sata’s son, Mayor Mulenga Sata, due to the Malawian origin of his mother. Scott has also stated that “zayelo” Given Lubinda is probably disqualified from the presidency. But if we are to resolve these problems, we have to look to Lewanika and others v Chiluba, and realize that Scott, Lubinda, Mulenga and others like them are bonafide Zambians who satisfy all the 1996 amendments regardless of the colour of their skins. It is this powerful truth that makes Lewanika v Chiluba the most influential ruling in the 50-year history of our jurisprudence.

Lewanika & Others v. Chiluba is the most significant court ruling in our 50 year jurisprudence in Zambia - Munshya

Lewanika & Others v. Chiluba is the most significant court ruling in our 50 year jurisprudence in Zambia – Munshya

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Suggested Citation: Munshya, Elias. (2014). “Lewanika and Others v Chiluba (1998): The most significant court ruling in the last 50 years” Elias Munshya Blog (www.eliasmunshya.org) 25 August 2014

“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)