Author Archives: Elias Munshya, LLB (Hons), MA., M.Div.

The King of Zambia: Mwanawina III and the making of a new nation

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

This republic we now call Zambia is a product of several currents. As we celebrate 50 years of its existence we must look at all the stories that could help us navigate through these currents so that we can learn from history and not repeat mistakes from that history. Fifty years after our independence, there is no issue that could potentially divide our nation more than the contentious Barotseland Agreement of 1964 (BA 64). Nevertheless, as contentious as it may be, we would be doing a great disservice to ourselves if we do not confront this story. The BA 64 and the role of King Mwanawina III in the formation of our nation are important Zambian stories. Discussions on the BA 64 have dwelt on its formation in 1964 and its abrogation months after independence. However, in order for us to understand the role, if any, it played in the making of our nation, we must situate it within its own context and milieu.

King Mwanawina III

King Mwanawina III

The Supreme Court in the case of Lewanika and Others v Chiluba (1998) paid some cursory attention to the fact that the homeland we now call Zambia pooled several territories administered by the British prior to 1924. Northwestern Rhodesia, Barotseland and Northeastern Rhodesia combined to form the British Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia administered by the British Colonial Office. In the treaty-making system, the British South African Company (BSAC) identified powerful chiefs, signed agreements with them and then used those treaties as the basis for colonialism. By far, one of the most powerful empires in what would become Zambia was Lewanika, whose Lozi Empire covered parts of present Namibia, Angola and Zambia prior to 1924. As such, it was quite natural that the BSAC’s desire to legitimize its colonial crusade involved signing some kind of a treaty with Lewanika. By the time the British Crown commenced its direct rule over Northern Rhodesia in 1924, Lewanika’s Kingdom was somewhat definable. During the struggle for independence, Mwanawina III was the Litunga of Barotseland. He reigned from 1948 to 1968.

President Kenneth Kaunda and King Mwanawina III

President Kenneth Kaunda and King Mwanawina III

Both before and after 1924, when the British ruled over a unified Northern Rhodesia, the Litunga maintained some level of autonomy. This autonomy, however, was a two-edged sword. A Litunga would be influential only to the extent that the British permitted him to. As such, the Litunga’s power was simply an extension of British rule. Even though the British had early treaties with the Litunga, the only thing that seems to matter for them was that they had a dominant king whom they were “protecting”. The subtlest effect of this “protection”, however, had to do with how the British extended this protection to the rest of the Rhodesian territories. While the less powerful kings and traditional rulers still exerted some moderate influence over their areas, Litunga was more formidable over his areas due to the direct consent of the British. This became the dominant political perception of Litungas and the times they lived in. It was certainly so, for Mwanawina III who reigned during the difficult time of the dawn of independence. Barotseland subjects, had by the 1950s come to perceive and begrudge their king not as a liberator but as a collaborator with the British. At one time, the White settlers of Southern Rhodesia were even considering a federation of sorts involving Rhodesia, Barotseland and Katanga. Rumours of such maneuvers were damaging to the standing of Mwanawina III among his people. This became one issue Kenneth Kaunda exploited during the 1964 elections.

Sensing the changing tide for independence in what would later be called the Republic of Zambia, the British decided to side-step King Mwanawina III and gave in to popular demands for native direct rule for all territories in Northern Rhodesia including Barotseland. By the 1950s when Kaunda led the splinter group away from the ANC, there was clear consensus that it was he and his more radical group that would best epitomise and actualise the dream of freedom for all blacks in Northern Rhodesia. Indeed, in the elections of the Barotse National Council itself, Kaunda’s UNIP soundly defeated political parties that were aligned to the ruling aristocracy of the Barotse nation.

However, the greatest historical mistake Kaunda ever committed was misinterpreting the meaning of this win in Barotseland. The reason why the BA 64 will continue to haunt Zambia is closely connected to the way UNIP’s win was taken both by the British and by Kaunda himself. For sure, Kaunda interpreted his win in Barotseland as a sign that the people were solidly behind him to push through an independent nation while ignoring Litunga Mwanawina III. The British too, fearful of UNIP and its mandate were reluctant to side with Mwanawina. Indeed, the king of the once great Lozi Empire was now in a corner. He had no political capital and his British backers had abandoned him. It seems Kaunda had the support of the people of Barotseland, but Mwanawina III still had the throne. A compromise had to be forced. It is this compromise, which would continue to haunt the new nation 50 years after its independence.

The story of Zambia is incomplete without Mwanawina III - Munshya

The story of Zambia is incomplete without Mwanawina III – Munshya

What can we learn from the context surrounding the Barotse negotiations? First, Kaunda should have treated Mwanawina III more like a partner than as a minor. Truly, Kaunda had the people, but it was naïve of him to push through some changes without having recourse to Mwanawina III’s genuine concerns. Second, KK should have known that winning elections in the Barotse National Council did not mean that the people of Barotseland had decided to do away with their king or their customs. Third, KK should have been more humble after winning and he should have used that leverage to come up with an agreement that was more acceptable to the Litunga and through him, the people of Barotseland. Perhaps KK should have been open to the idea of either federalising or even prevailing upon the British to grant Mwanawina III some boosted autonomy. It has been 50 years since the BA 64 and yet the question of Barotseland still haunts our young nation. Nevertheless, King Mwanawina III remains one of the important figures in Zambia’s history. He was a king, in Zambia.

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Suggested citation:

Munshya, Elias (2014). The King of Zambia: Mwanawina III and the making of a new nation. Elias Munshya blog (www.eliasmunshya.org) (October 12 2014).

Chikwanda’s other bombshell conversation with Edgar Lungu

Chikwanda and Lungu

You’ve all read the wiretap story from The Post about Chikwanda having a conversation with The Post’s employee. I also wiretapped Chikwanda. This time he was talking to Acting President Edgar Lungu. The issue with my wiretap though is that it is true and I have the tape to prove it. Anyway this is how it went.

Edgar Lungu: Ba mudala mwa lenjamba. Ninshi ulwambo so?

Chikwanda: Mwaice wandi tu be practical. Before nshila asuka, teti unweko ka good, red French wine?

Edgar Lungu: Ehe ba mudala kuti nanwa, as long as na mukwata ko ka crate ka Mosi.

Chikwanda: Efyo na kutemenwa mwaice. Waliba close na bantu elo walikwata na humility. Ani crate iyi.

Edgar Lungu: No problem ba mudala. Ni pali cimbuya kaili. Mwe ba Bemba, katwishi nga muli ba Bisa, mutila “ici kalilwa pa nsaka musumba wa bwali.” Nga katubi, katata na lutuku ili kuti?

Chikwanda: Iyo ifyo nshinwa. Nwafye ama “wines” abalumendo bandi bantumina from London. Any way uyu ceremonial umusungu, tatu mfwana iyo. Alintumina utusungu tubili. Nakene fye njebele naliba moral ine. Twali leniko Fraud Mmembe.

Edgar Lungu: Naumfwa mudala, aleni natu bombeshe apo absent landlord tala bwela. Teti cimoneke bwino ukumusha eka ne cilafi.

Chikwanda: Nifyo fine mwaice. Here, more red wine from France. At least we are not owing ZRA K24 Billion, yet. Natu kolwe apo Disaster Msiska talaisa tupinda VAT. Ine nalikwata sana ama company ayengi. Pressure nai fula sana nomba.

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There is a little problem, however with this conversation. It seems it is real only in my mind. – Munshya wa Munshya (Additional edits to the original post).

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

There is a little problem, however with this conversation. It seems it is real only in my mind. – Munshya wa Munshya

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