Damaging Zambia: Why parliamentary floor-crossing dents our democracy

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

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

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

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

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

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

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

Double tobela

Double tobela

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

Zambia United

Zambia United

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

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

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

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

Beyond Kolopa.com: Hichilema, by-elections and the future of the UPND

By Elias Munshya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

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

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

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

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

Cuundu Chaitwa: Leveraging the power of regional politics in Zambia

E. Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

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

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

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

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

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

Cuundu Chaitwa

Cuundu Chaitwa

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

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

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

Politician and businessman Hakainde Hichilema

Politician and businessman Hakainde Hichilema

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

Turning Water Into Paraffin: Towards a pentecostal theology of miracles

E. Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

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

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

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Zambia Many Cheaters: The politics and challenges of dual nationality

Elias Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has indicated that he will support dual nationality for Zambians. While we do not yet know the shape this initiative will take, it is important for us to support it. The last time a government tried to reform this area of law, it was severely defeated. Dr. Rupiah Banda of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) tried his finest, but a combined bunch of Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND) parliamentarians shot him down. We must caution the current opposition MPs that shooting down dual nationality will not be tolerated by the Zambian diaspora. So we warn the opposition UPND and MMD to act reasonably and support this cause. The UPND should stop being a party of “no” for once, and do some growing-up by showing its willingness to support dual nationality. Dual nationality should not suffer as a casualty of any legislative mischievousness of the Lungu administration. Regardless of how much quarrelling they have to do with Lungu, the opposition should not play with dual nationality. Zambians have waited for this opportunity for a very long time. It is time for parliament to deliver.

At the heart of the dual nationality debate is the idea that Zambians who acquire a citizenship of another country should not lose Zambian citizenship. As the law stands now, immediately after one acquires British, Moroccan or American citizenship, they at that same second lose the privilege of Zambian citizenship. The only exception to this rule is a child. Children are allowed, theoretically, to maintain dual nationality, but must choose between Zambian citizenship and that other country’s citizenship after they reach 21 years of age. Otherwise, any adult Zambian who becomes a citizen of another country, automatically drops Zambian citizenship. This is ridiculous. It must change. It is unfair and it disadvantages Zambians, their economy and their socio-cultural progress.

Kenneth David Kaunda

Kenneth David Kaunda

A report suggests that many Zambians, in spite of assuming citizenship of another country, have still held on to Zambian passports and the Green National Registration Cards. As such, the current law as it stands, has created a nation of cheats. This should not be the case. A Zambian should not be made to choose between cheating and maintaining their Zambian identity. For once, the people of Zambia should be delivered from the desire to cheat to maintain nationality. There are credible reports that some of the ambassadors appointed in the previous PF regime were actually British citizens. If these reports are accurate, then we should safely say that even the most anti-dual nationality President Sata did not believe in the restrictions the law placed on Zambians who had acquired citizenship of other countries. So President Sata, in one breath, was opposed to dual nationality, and yet would in another breath appoint former Zambians to positions that only citizens could hold. It is time to remove the mask and officially adopt dual nationality. No need to live a lie. The most dramatic of these events is when Professor E. Clive Chirwa (a very educated Zambian) openly confessed on ZNBC TV that he, in fact, was a British citizen who nevertheless decided to drop British citizenship to resume Zambian citizenship. With more openness towards dual nationality, there would be no need for such intellectual gymnastics.

Michael Sata and Guy Scott

Michael Sata and Guy Scott

Dual nationality, in fact, should have been allowed right from independence in 1964. It was ridiculous that Zambia’s founding president, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda had to choose between being a Malawian and being a Zambian, as if these two concepts are mutually exclusive. It offends our common decency that in order to be a Zambian, Kaunda had to be forced in the 1970s to write the Malawian government renouncing that country’s citizenship he acquired by descent. What on earth would Zambia lose if Kenneth Kaunda were both Zambian and Malawian? By clinging to a purist definition of Zambian citizenship we have created and continue to create a nation of cheats. There are a good number of Kaunda’s Malawian contemporaries who were forced to find bogus villages on the Zambian side in order for them to qualify for Zambian citizenship. KK, however, couldn’t fake it because the story of his father is well documented. There was no need for some Malawians to have to find solace in fake Zambian villages. As a result of these post-independence lapses, we continue to suffer from an irrational and mostly neurotic suspicion of citizenship. How else can you explain an acting president called Guy Lindsay Scott probing Chagwa Lungu’s Malawian connections? Had we been more open to dual-nationality at independence, we wouldn’t have given opportunity to such “umulomo” in 2015. If someone went to probe the citizenship of Lungu’s aunt, all we would ask is, so what?

There is a good number of Zambians who should have been allowed to claim dual nationality of both Congo and Zambia as well. But no! Zambian citizenship had to be “pure”, and so was Congolese citizenship. The search for a pure Zambian led to dishonesty. Lambas of Sakania and Tshinsenda, or Lalas of Kachelo in Katanga, had to conveniently hunt for a Serenje or a Ndola rural village to justify their claim to pure Zambian citizenship. The same can be said of either side of the Luapula River. Africa had a false start as far as citizenship is concerned.

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One Zambia Many Cheaters

The mistakes we made in 1964 should not be repeated. In 2015, we should let Zambians acquire citizenship of other countries without having to sacrifice their nationality. They can come back freely to invest in Zambia. The world has now become globalized, leading to the ease of both human and capital movements. If, peradventure, we forbade dual nationality for the fear that the Katangese and the Malawians will take over Zambia, this fear is really unjustified since the Katangese and Malawians have already done so! It is only right that we are more truthful about it.

Zambians are demanding for dual nationality without having to cheat to keep their sacred green NRCs. I just hope that we all will stand together as “One Zambia One Nation” with all Zambians, both home and abroad.

A Nation of Ba Chakolwa: My position on Pilato’s “A Lungu Anabwera”

E. Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

Chama Fumba’s “A Lungu Anabwera” is most likely defamatory, disparaging, insulting and slanderous. No matter how we spin it, stating that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is a “clueless drunkard from Chawama who came with suitcases full of ‘Kachasu’” is, quite probably, defamatory. The problem is not really whether Chama has defamed, but rather what we should do about it. At the moment, the police in their usual unusual prudence have charged Mr. Chama Fumba with “breach of peace”. We will see how that pans out in court.

By plagiarizing Pichen Kazembe, Chama reminds us of the glorious days of Zambian (or is it Luapula) music. Kazembe made music at a time when musicians chorded authentic tunes playing real instruments. Unlike currently, where any person with a comedy crammed voice can computer-synthesize a beat without ever learning how to play an instrument, artists of old were really artistes, par-excellence. Chama and his group of present-day artists have a lot to learn from the likes Kazembe. Those were the days of Teddy Chilambe, whose song “bwesha umutengo” was a catalyst in the fall of the Kaunda dictatorship. At a time when Chiluba was mounting in popularity, P.K. Chishala had a different look at events and with his guitar chimed rhymes of nonconformity in “Common Man”. With Maiko Zulu’s “Mad President” and Chama Fumba’s “Bufi” we are almost assured that the tradition of doing political songs will continue, albeit now without the sounds of original instruments.

Chama Fumba as Pilato

Chama Fumba as Pilato

Chama Fumba is obviously wrong in his exploration of “a Lungu ana bwera”. He uses the late Sata’s words to paint a picture that Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) members joining the Patriotic Front (PF) are so wicked that they should not be brought any closer to this “a Lungu ba ku Chawama.” What Chama fails to acknowledge is that in actual fact, both the PF and the UPND are going after former members of the MMD to an equal degree. PF is welcoming MMD members and so is the UPND. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous. One of the MPs who signed as surety for Chama’s bail is an MMD member working very closely with Hakainde. The UPND has attracted many MMD members such as Maureen Mwanawasa, Mutale Nalumango, Canisius Banda, Maxwell Mwale, Katele Kalumba and many others. So the MMD blue chameleons are not only turning into green, but are also turning into red, Hakainde’s colour. How is it intolerable for “A Lungu” to welcome MMD members to PF and yet it is tolerable for Bo Chama Fumba’s UPND to welcome MMD members? This is a fundamental problem with the UPND, it condemns others for stuff that it is, itself, doing.

We all know that had it not been for Rupiah Banda, the PF would have lost the 2015 elections to Hakainde Hichilema. The unpopularity of the PF in 2015 was unfortunately, a consequence of the way the late President Sata ruled our country. The brave person, in fact, to articulate us that Sata was not such a stellar president is Chama Fumba himself in his lyrics of the songs “Bufi” and “Pilato na kateka”. Now that it is convenient for him, he uses the words of the very Sata to fortify his support for the UPND. So nomba, ba Sata ba wama?

In “a Lungu ana bwera”, Chama Fumba quotes Sata’s words about “inkondo kuba Lozi”. Here is a guy named Chama, using a Bemba named Sata, talking about “aba Lozi”. What is it that the great people of Barotseland have done to Pilato? Couldn’t he have quarreled with Lungu, without involving the Lozi people? The Barotseland issue is complicated. It is just so unfair to drag Lozis into fights that Bembas are fermenting with abena Chipata. “Inkondo kuba Lozi”, as used in Pilato’s song, is not a chuckling matter. There are some of our citizens in Barotseland that have genuine concerns over how Kaunda and his successors dribble them. Chama should be penning a song asking KK to correct the injustice he started rather than quoting Sata over this. Uku kudelela, aba Lozi.

Is Zambia a nation of

Is Zambia a nation of “ba chakolwa”?

Having established how useless Chama Fumba’s song is, I must then turn to what we must do about it. We Zambians are really “chakolwas”. I do not, in any way, mean that we are all addicts to “Lutuku” or “Jameson”, but rather that we are hooked on a drug much more toxic than Kachasu. And this drug is known as “power”. The only way we know to deal with problems is to use force. We really are obsessed with guns, bombs and bullets. Kaunda “tatu fundile bwino” with our reliance on intimidation. To counter the baseless song from Chama Fumba’s Pilato character we went for the overkill. We sent police to go search for him. We used our powercoholism. We are powerholics in need of powerholics anonymous. I was taken aback by suggestions from the good people of our country that Chama Fumba needed to be silenced for this horrible song. Calling for Chama’s blood is hardly the best way to respond.

A lot of things were problematic under the rule of Michael Chilufya Sata, as Chama testified in “Bufi” and “Pilato na Kateka”. However, by going to court to assert his own private rights when he sued this newspaper’s editor for defamation, Sata left for us an example. A president of our republic who is defamed should enforce his private rights to sue the defamers. The use of force each time a president is defamed, is an act that should rightly belong to the old and tired regime of Kenneth Kaunda. In our democracy, we now have freedom to speak, and sing, some funny and foolish things. Police cells should not be the right place to correct human foolishness and naïve stupidity. If we respond by force to all manner of folly, we will be venerating foolishness unjustifiably. As Frederick Chiluba rightly put it: “imfumu taituka bantu, abantu ebatuke mfumu”.

I disagree with Chama Fumba, but I do defend his right to freely express his opinions, including out-rightly silly ones. And if the consequence of Chama’s “pakamwa” were that the defamed sues him for slander, I would support such a lawsuit. However, the use of force, police, and prosecutors should be reserved for stuff more felonious such as corrupt nolle prosequies in Lusaka, theft of bicycles in Malambo, or shootings in Mulobezi.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Mothers’ Rights: Women, the Law and culture when obtaining National Registration Cards (NRCs) in Zambia

E. Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

There have been reports that single mothers are having a hard time obtaining National Registration Cards (NRCs) for their children due to the demands by some registration officers for details of the father of those children before they are issued NRCs. The Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC) has rightly observed that such demands by some registration officers are not only illegal but also disenfranchise a generation of voters. While it is true that it is only a few registration officers guilty of these illegalities, I believe that even if we had one case, it would still be one case too many. In modern Zambia, there should be no reason why mothers should be denied to register their children simply because they do not or cannot supply the details of the father of those children.

Edith Nawakwi

Edith Nawakwi

I do believe that some registration officers could have fundamentally misunderstood our current laws. According to our current laws, both the mother and the father are equal before the law as far as the family is concerned. Women are no longer legally subservient to men. As such, the father is not legally more of a parent than a mother is. Any woman who is a mother or guardian of a child has all the rights that a man who is father has over that child. These rights include the ability to obtain NRCs for their children. As such, for NRC officers to demand that a mother produces a letter or proof of paternal parentage goes against the current law.

According to the ruling of Lewanika and others v. Chiluba, a National Registration Card does not confer Zambian citizenship. The card merely registers Zambian citizenship. That being the case, when interpreting who and how should one obtain an NRC we must go to the constitution and find out how one acquires citizenship. Children born of a Zambian father or mother become citizens of our republic. In the case of women, it really does not matter the citizenship of the man who made them pregnant. A Zambian woman, who bears a child fathered by a Malawian, transmits Zambian citizenship to that child. When the time comes for the registration of that child, the mother could go to the NRC officers, swear an affidavit and have that child obtain their NRC.

Perhaps the most significant case that dealt with this issue is Nawakwi v. Attorney General (1991). Let me restate some facts. Ms. Nawakwi applied for the renewal of her passport. That passport had endorsed in it the names of her two children born out of wedlock. When she had applied for this original passport, the NRC officials made her swear affidavits whose effects were to make her appear like a secondary factor with regard to her legal rights. At the time of renewing that passport, the NRC officers asked her to produce written consent from the fathers of the children and swear more affidavits to that effect. She refused and commenced legal proceedings.

The ruling of Mr. Justice Claver Musumali was clear. Zambian law should recognise single parent headed families. The demand by the Passport Office for a father’s consent was illegal and Ms. Nawakwi did not need permission from the biological father of these children to put them in her passport. Justice Musumali did not have choice words for the Zambian government. He stated:

It is not at all justified … for a father to treat himself or to be treated by the institutions of society to be more entitled to the affairs of his child/ren than the mother of that child or those children.

Musumali then rightly declared, “the mother is as much an authority over the affairs of her child/ren as the father is.” These words from the Nawakwi case are powerful to shatter any doubts from a few NRC officers who are blocking women from obtaining NRCs.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

I must then add another dimension to this discussion. Zambian peoples are quite diverse. Patrilineal tribes in Zambia derive inheritance and the family tree through the father. Matrilineal tribes, on the other hand, derive inheritance and the family tree through the mother. With such diversity, it is ridiculous for NRC officials to insist on the identity of fathers only at the expense of mothers. To be clear, matrilineal tribes do not have family names, in the same way, as patrilineal tribes do. In patrilineal tribes the practice is that all children are given the last name of the father and that name becomes the family name or the surname, as the case may be. It is this last name through which “patrilineals” can know their clan and their family tree. In matrilineal tribes, this is not the case as the last name of a person has very little to do with the clan or the family tree to which that individual should belong. For example, patrilineal families from the East could sustain the last name of “Jere” derived from the father. That Jere name in fact could go on to tell you the clan of the person. It is not so among “matrilineals”, since you cannot tell someone’s family tree simply by the last name. The family tree and clan are derived from the mother. So in Luapula, there is no such thing as “Munshya” being a clan or family name, it is simply a name. For one to figure out a clan, they must ask the mother of Munshya. A last name in Luapula doesn’t mean as much as it does among patrilineal tribes. When obtaining NRCs, therefore, there is likely to be confusion when a mother from a matrilineal tribe shows up with her children all bearing differing “surnames”, even if they have the same biological father. This could be bewildering to NRC officials, but it shouldn’t. It is cultural reality for most of our people.

I appeal to all of our citizens, far and wide, women as well as men, to do the right thing and register their Zambian children freely and without fear. To the great women of our country, feel free to exercise the liberties afforded by your sacred citizenship to transmit it to your children without recourse to the men who made you pregnant. To the NRC officials, keep doing a good job, but for those officers who are unsure of the law, read Nawakwi again and let the women obtain NRCs for their children.

President Lungu greets Edith Nawakwi at an SDA event

President Lungu greets Edith Nawakwi