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

Wrong General?: Linda Kasonde’s opposition to appointment of Likando Kalaluka as Attorney General

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

President Lungu in exercise of his power has appointed a Mr. Likando Kalaluka as Attorney General of the Republic of Zambia subject to parliamentary ratification. This last week, a parliamentary committee met to scrutinize the appointment. It has been common practice that the committee would invite submissions from the Law Association of Zambia (LAW). The LAZ is a statutory body created to regulate the legal profession. More than that though, LAZ is also a “fellowship” of some kind that advocates for lawyers’ interests.

LAZ Vice-President Linda Kasonde presented to the committee what she stated to be the LAZ’s position over the appointment of Mr. Kalaluka. According to her, the Council of LAZ (which is a highest management committee) would not support President Lungu’s nominee. On close scrutiny, it has emerged that she might have presented to parliament views that are at most not representative of the Council of LAZ. There is doubt about whether indeed what Ms. Kasonde presented are the views of LAZ.

Ms. Kasonde in her submission to parliament did rightly state Article 54 of the Constitution of Zambia and the role of an Attorney General (AG). An AG is an ex-officio cabinet member and principal legal adviser to the Government. Government in this case includes all the three branches and their subsidiaries. The qualifications for appointment to the office of AG are that the candidate must be qualified for appointment as Judge of the High Court. This means that for a person to be appointed as Attorney General they must have been member of the Zambian (or any other commonwealth bar) for at least ten years.

Linda Kasonde - LAZ

Linda Kasonde – LAZ

Being Attorney General also comes with some bells and whistles: the AG on appointment becomes a “leader of the Zambian Bar”, and gets automatically conferred with the “status” of “State Counsel”. The most ridiculous aspect of Ms. Kasonde’s submission to parliament showed itself in the way she mistreated the subject of “State Counsel”. According to her, Mr. Kalaluka does satisfy Article 54 of the constitution to be Attorney General since he has been practicing for the past eleven years. Nevertheless, she feels that Mr. Kalaluka cannot be appointed AG because he does not have the necessary experience and respect to be a “State Counsel”. I must respectfully differ with Ms. Kasonde here. She conflates issues. In fact, she uses very selective and at most wrong law and authorities from other commonwealth jurisdictions. Mr. Kalaluka is not being appointed to be State Counsel, he is being appointed to be Attorney General. The test, therefore, that he must meet is not the test for State Counsel, but rather the test for Attorney General, which is ten years at the bar and “some respect”. In her submission however, Ms. Kasonde goes to use authorities that have to do with being conferred the status of “State Counsel” and completely ignores both convention and custom with regard to appointments of Attorneys General in the commonwealth. The authorities that Ms. Kasonde uses on Queensland, Scotland and British Columbia are irrelevant here. Here President Lungu is appointing a quasi-political officer known as Attorney General.

Perhaps a little tutelage can do for Ms. Kasonde. The role of Attorney General is a both quasi-political and political appointment. It is a politician (a President) who chooses the individual to be the principal legal adviser to government. This person as per constitution must have been a member of the bar for at least ten years. It so happens that this political individual appointed to be AG must be conferred the status of State Counsel as an auxiliary consequence of the political appointment. This role is not strictly a bar seniority position. It is a political process tampered by at least 10 years of experience.

If we went by Ms. Kasonde’s reasoning, then we must be using army procedure when electing a president since a president also becomes Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces. This is a ridiculous submission to say the least. When Zambians are electing a president, they are electing, not a soldier, but a civilian who after receiving the oath of office assumes auxiliary functions of Commander. The president of the republic becomes a commander, just as an AG becomes leader of the bar and gets conferred the status of “State Counsel”.

Ms. Kasonde mentions that Mr. Kalaluka is a man of integrity, he has good character but for his “lack of relevant experience” he would be suitable for office. Bo Kasonde might need reminding that these are the qualities we need in an AG: a person with good character and integrity. She also submitted that Mr. Kalaluka needed a “little more experience”. Isn’t this insulting? Kalaluka has been a member of the bar for eleven years. He has appeared in all levels of court. He has an LLB from UNZA and an LLM in disability law from Ireland. How then does, according to Ms. Kasonde, he not meet the requisite experience? All those who have been at the bar for over ten years should really question Ms. Kasonde’s thinking here. Today it is Kalaluka and tomorrow it could be anybody. I cannot possibly stomach this kind of reasoning from Ms. Kasonde.

Ms. Kasonde then alludes to the position that a group of State Counsel took over Mr. Kalaluka. According to her, several individuals currently holding this rank do not support Mr. Kalaluka. While I really do understand their concerns, I do not believe these concerns are fatal to a political decision such as this. They just do not want an eleven-year call to join their ranks. But these lawyers need to separate their own sectarian interests from the whole. State Counsel are advisory and are consulted from time to time, but they do not make decisions for the Law Association of Zambia. And yes, as AG, Mr. Kalaluka would become a leader of the entire Zambian bar including these very State Counsel, but that is a political role. A republican President, who otherwise has never even held a gun, does by virtue of the political office become a commander of all the guns held by our armed forces. It would be ridiculous if soldiers objected to this and stated that they would only “respect” a Commander-In-Chief who knows how to shoot and kill the enemy.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

In making the discussion above, I have made it clear that the sentiments that Ms. Kasonde purported to present to parliament were actually her own. I am skeptical if these sentiments are indeed representative of the LAZ Council. To this I must now turn. The current term of the LAZ Council comprises sixteen members: President Chisanga, Vice-President Linda Kasonde, Secretary Likando Kalaluka, and members Mr Mwenya, Mrs. Yangailo, Mr. Mwitumwa, Mr. Lisimba, Mr. Tafeni, Mr. Muyatwa and Mr. Dzekedzeke. Others are Mr. Mwiche, Mrs. Kateka, Mr. Banda, Mr. Mwitwa, Mr. Sikaulu and Mr. Chulu. Apparently, the Council must meet regularly to make decisions on day-to-day decisions for the LAZ. Once a republican President nominates an Attorney General it is general practice that the nomination is given deference. LAZ does routinely support these appointments. As for Mr. Kalaluka’s appointment, however, it seemed to be a little complicated. Obviously, Ms. Kasonde convened a LAZ Council meeting but they could not form a quorum. So she innovated to have the meeting vote by “e-mails”. According to her letter sent to all members of the Zambian bar, the vote went as follows: Mwenya, Tangailo, Mwitumwa, Lisimba, Tafeni, Muyatwa, and Dzekedzeke were in favour of having Mr. Kalaluka as AG. The following voted “no”: Kasonde, Mwiche, Kateka, Banda, Mwitwa, Sikaulu and Chulu. This means that the vote was a tie, seven were for the resolution and seven were against the resolution. After noting that the vote was a tie, Ms. Kasonde decided to use a very controversial provision in LAZ rules to vote again (twice) so as to break the tie. And she voted again against the resolution to support Mr. Likando Kalaluka. There is a lot to be said about this controversial provision (SI 155 of 1996).

From this voting pattern, I have some questions, and please indulge me. As you can see from the foregoing, the president of LAZ Mr. George Chisanga decided not to vote. He abstained. Mr. Kalaluka too was asked not to vote because he was the subject in the proceedings. It appears to me that Ms. Kasonde should have recused herself as well since she obviously was patently against Mr. Kalaluka. She shouldn’t have voted twice. Having regard to all these issues, I am of the view that this “e-mail” voting was patently unfair and appears not to have been a correct reflection of the sentiments of the members of the LAZ Council. Controversially, I am shocked that Ms. Kasonde went ahead to make presentation to the parliamentary committee inspite of the obvious confusion inherent in this process.

Another disturbing pattern of the vote is that mostly, it is Bemba names that were against the resolution. I do not want to accuse the Bemba members of the LAZ Council to be tribalists, but they might need to explain this. How come it is Kasonde, Mwiche, Kateka, Mwitwa, Sikaulu, Chulu and Banda that are against Kalaluka? Did tribe play a role in this? Interestingly though, Mr. Kalaluka’s CV we have obtained seems to indicate that his languages are English, Lozi and Nyanja. Conspicuously missing from this is Bemba! Interesting. Nevertheless, Bemba-speaking citizens of our republic need to really create a space where we can in unity discuss this idea that we are the centres of this nation while others are only but peripheral. And going by the voting pattern, I call upon our people to realise that merit should not include “tribal” merit. As an Aushi, I must state here it is not in the interest of our shared Bemba commonwealth that we should as a people become insensitive to the interests of other citizens. Zambia is for all Bembas as well as Lozis. President Lungu nominated a Lozi citizen of our republic to be our government’s chief legal adviser, it is only right that we give great deference to this nomination.

Mr. Likando Kalaluka has satisfied all the requirements for appointment as Attorney General of Zambia. I appeal to our parliament to ignore the submissions given by Ms. Linda Kasonde and ratify this appointment. There is a lot of work to do, and the sooner Mr. Kalaluka starts the better! As for Ms. Kasonde, she perhaps might need to read a little more about what obtains in British Columbia, Scotland and Queensland about Attorneys General, and not just about “State Counsel”.

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Here are the two documents Ms. Kasonde submitted to parliament and a letter she wrote to the LAZ Council after using their name to attempt to derail Mr. Likando Kalaluka’s nomination. Judge for yourselves.

LAZ SUBMISSION ON THE APPOINTMENT OF AG

LAZ MEMORANDUM ON APPOINTMENT OF AG 18.03.15

Same or Different?: Contrasting the Mutuna Tribunal with the Nchito Tribunal

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

When President Sata established the Chikopa Tribunal to probe the conduct of Judge Mutuna and Judge Kajimanga, I vehemently objected to that action. My reasons for objecting were provided in the article published by the Daily Nation Newspaper and the http://www.eliasmunshya.org blog. I supported Justice Fulgence Chisanga when she stayed President Sata’s decision. This case, will be referred to as Mutuna I, and should not be confused with the other Mutuna case, which was heard by Justice Siavwapa. Justice Siavwapa has since issued his ruling in the Mutuna II case. In this article, I will not dwell on the Mutuna II case. Suffice here to mention that Mutuna II might be under appeal as the Attorney General has objected to the holding of Mr. Justice Siavwapa. Indeed, as and when the case of “Mutuna I” is overruled by the Supreme Court of Zambia, it remains good law. Justice Siavwapa needed to follow Mutuna I when he ruled for Judges Mutuna and Kajimanga in Mutuna II. But we should return to this case another day.

The Mutuna I case ended up in the Supreme Court of Zambia, where Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda and her majority held that the President of Zambia does have unfettered powers under the constitution to suspend judges and establish a tribunal to probe their conduct (Article 98). It is this holding that I found quite offensive to say the least. At that time, I held and still do hold that the President of our republic, while being the Executive Head of our nation can not, or perhaps should not, have unfettered discretion or powers to suspend judges based on “information” that he alone receives (see Mutuna and others v. Attorney General, [2013]). The chief reason why the President shouldn’t be given all this power is because of our constitutional doctrines of “separation of powers” and “judicial independence”. The power of the president to establish a tribunal to probe judges must be balanced by the doctrine of judicial independence so that the president is estopped from establishing tribunals in ways that erode this doctrine. This was the issue that the application (or trial) judge Madam Fulgence Chisanga had to resolve. There was no question about whether the President has the power to suspend the judges (Article 98 of the Constitution of Zambia), but rather how we must balance that power with the doctrine of judicial independence (Article 91 of the Constitution). So the issue was about whether we needed to use the Judicial Complaints Authority to deal with the Mutuna and Kajimanga complaints first in keeping with Article 91 before we use the President’s power in Article 98. Justice Chisanga gave a stay of proceedings and set a hearing date into these issues. However, the Supreme Court who stated that the President’s power to suspend and appoint a tribunal is sacrosanct overruled her. Even if I disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling, I still respect it as part of our present constitutional law.

Having regard to this background information about the Mutuna I case, can we say the same about the recent tribunal established to probe Mr. Mutembo Nchito? Mr. Nchito, after learning that he had been suspended by the President, rushed to the High Court to obtain a stay of proceedings of the tribunal. Justice Chitabo granted the stay and set the hearing date. It was only after the intervention of the Attorney General that Justice Chitabo reversed himself and quashed his stay. It appears that Mr. Nchito wanted to use the strategy and the arguments that Judge Mutuna and others had used. But the problems I find is that the two cases are quite different. In fact, the two cases are very dissimilar. What was at issue with Mutuna I was the “independence of the judiciary” from executive interference. The objection was reasonable, the president should not be seen to be interfering with the judiciary when the constitution has Article 91, which prescribes the route to be taken when dealing with an erring judicial officer. Regardless of how Mr. Nchito holds himself to be, with regard to the position of the Director of Public Prosecutions, our constitution does not provide that office with any elaborate way for dealing with complaints against the office of DPP. As such, while the DPP does have the security of tenure, she shouldn’t have the security against presidential suspension. There is no other doctrine upon which the DPP could challenge a presidential suspension or tribunal. The doctrine of separation of powers, applies to the judges, but it does not and cannot apply to the Director of Public of Prosecutions since the DPP is only but an arm of the administrative state. The DPP is an arm of the Executive and belongs to the Executive, there is no way a holder of that office should impose upon itself the doctrinal protections afforded only to the judiciary.

Nchito should stop hiding behind bombasa - Munshya wa Munshya

Nchito should stop hiding behind bombasa – Munshya wa Munshya

In fact taking this matter further, I find it quite anomalous that the Zambian constitution affords the DPP security of tenure. In many ways security of tenure has everything to do with shielding certain government officials from direct political accountability. Judges for an example do have security of tenure and consequently have no direct political accountability. However, all officers of the administrative state should not have any security of tenure because security of tenure has the potential to amputate such officers from the process of political accountability. The role of the DPP is to carry out prosecutions on behalf of the “people”. Isn’t it ridiculous that for the same people to remove this officer they must jump too many hoops? The role of Attorney General in fact has a larger public interest role than the DPP and yet she has no security of tenure under our constitution, why should the DPP have it? It is this limited security of tenure that made Bo Mutembo to make some decisions that went against common sense and the rule of law. Why wouldn’t he not issue a nolle in his own case if to remove him from office, we must first move mountains? Justice Chitabo was right to reverse himself over the matter. Mutembo should be able to appear before the tribunal and account for the serious allegations of unethical behavior and most probably crimes.

Lungu, Nchito, Illnesses the and the challenge of transparency

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

The fact that events are identical does not necessarily mean that they are the same. This sounds rhetorical, doesn’t it? You cannot tell how the public will react to one thing by looking at the way they reacted when similar events happened. Similarly, you cannot predict the way the courts will rule simply because of the way they reacted a few years ago. Times do change and so do circumstances. In the changing of the circumstances, we must all praise the current President of our republic in the manner he has handled the affairs of his personal health. President Lungu collapsed on Sunday and was forthcoming about it. He did not try to conceal and neither did he run away “ku bwendo” to hide himself. He instead invited the press, the cameras and the columnists to answer their questions by his hospital bedside. What is really remarkable about that interview at Maina Soko Military Hospital is that the president identified with the concerns of the common man by expressing his desire to go “back home after the doctors release” him. We should all commend His Excellency for that. It only takes a few years for one to know that sickness and human frailty are a reality of human existence. Humans are mortal and they have time attached to their existence. Humans get sick and might need surgery and medical attention. As such, Zambians are concerned not by the leader getting sick, but rather by the secrecy that previously characterized presidential illnesses. When President Mwanawasa was obviously incapacitated in London, the then Vice-President Lupando Mwape Katoloshi quipped that Levy was healthy and was in fact “jogging in London”. Mr. Katoloshi’s answer infuriated then opposition leader Michael Chilufya Sata who asserted that “ubu lwele bwa Mfumu litensha chalo”.

President Lungu

President Lungu

In 2013, when it became all but obvious that President Sata was clearly incapacitated, Zambians were met by the insolence of silence and the harm of denial. The official State House George Chellah line was deny, deny and then deny some more. Such behavior was barbaric. Mr. Brebner Changala went to the extent of asking the cabinet and the courts to try and have a tribunal constituted to probe the health status of the then president. This was completely unnecessary had State House been more transparent and forthcoming about the condition of the late president. But all these good efforts were recompensed by repeated spite and injury. Indeed, for those who followed the illnesses of the late president, we were more concerned at the unrealistic denials than we were at the fact that President Sata was in fact sick. We all knew that on this side of heaven, we are all mortals on a pilgrimage. That being the case, the head of state and those close to him must be more forthcoming by opening up about illness and the course of treatment being followed. It was ridiculously foolish to parade a sick man and cover that injury with plastic smiles. This is the more reason why when the widow wanted to succeed her late husband questions were asked, about that huge smirk in parliament.

Again, we must commend Lungu for giving us information straightforward and for showing “ipompo” on his forehead coming from his alleged collapse. We also must commend him for releasing data quickly about what doctors suspected to have been the cause of the health scare: malaria, fatigue or most probably achalasia. This achalasia we are told is a recurring medical condition that was treated thirty years ago. Lungu’s actions inspire confidence, and I have no doubt that if he were to become incapacitated he would be willing to give up power.

Shortly before leaving for Johannesburg for medical tests and treatment, President Lungu suspended Mr. Mutembo Nchito the Director of Public Prosecutions. For his part, Bo Mutembo was swift to obtain “an injunction”, or is it a “stay”, against the tribunal. In his mind Bo Mutembo is probably thinking that this tribunal should be stopped just like judges Mutuna and Kajimanga succeeded in stopping the Chikopa tribunal. We await how Judge Chitabo will handle this matter when it comes up for inter-partes hearing on March 23, but my gut feeling is that Bo Mutembo will not get away that easily. The case of the judges is quite different from the present case. I know there are some people who are trying to fault Judge Chitabo. The judge is just trying to do his job.

Zimya Neighbour

Zimya Neighbour

Ultimately though, justice will prevail and Bo Mutembo will have to account to the people of Zambia about his alleged criminal activities. Nchito was ever so zealous to prosecute others, but when the time comes for him, he wants to stop his prosecution by any means possible. Well, it will not work this time around. Without the bombasa of a nolle prosequi, Bo Mutembo should be prepared to appear before Justices Silungwe, Ngulube and Chirwa as they probe his conduct as a DPP. Crime does not pay and neither does bombasa. It is good to be proud of your station in life and enjoy the little you have with joy than try to live large on the basis of theft, arrogance and pride. A humble lawyer’s chamber with joy is so much more desirable than running an airline with alleged stolen dough. It is a pity that a man credited with a fight against corruption has himself found himself in a wave of a very complicated matrices of plunder aimed at shielding himself, his friends and the infamous cartel. The law is finally catching up with him like it has always done with the many others. For now, however, we wish President Lungu a quick recovery and may God help restore his health. Leading this nation might mean making very difficult decisions such as the one to do with suspending Nchito. He had to be suspended though, with achalasia or not.

Zimya Neighbour: When A Director of Public Prosecutions becomes a Director of Public Criminality

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

The case is very familiar to many of us. But for the sake of clarity, we might need to restate its facts. In 2013, Rupiah Bwezani Banda was in court appearing for various charges under the Anti-Corruption Act. We need not mention that Banda is a former president of the republic who nevertheless had his bombasa removed by parliament. So sad that the current Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) wants to hide in a bombasa stitched with “nolle”. In our constitution, those accused of crimes are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty by an impartial and competent tribunal. However, in spite of this legal presumption a newspaper owned by Mr. Fred M’membe, a member of the Zambian bar, continued to describe Mr. Banda as a thief or as corrupt while the trial was on-going. Such characterization led to Mr. Banda’s legal team applying before the magistrate court that Mr. M’membe and his newspaper be cited for contempt of court. Contempt of court is a criminal offence and is punishable by jail or a fine.

Zimya Neighbour

Zimya Neighbour

Mr. Banda’s lawyers applied that they be the ones to prosecute this matter. Their decision to do so made sense. It was their client who had been affected and our criminal procedure permits a party to commence a private prosecution. However, when Mr. Banda’s lawyers appeared in court to prosecute this matter, the DPP Mr. Mutembo Nchito took over the matter so that he could prosecute it himself. In our system of law, the constitution gives the DPP wide powers to decide both the operational and the policy side of prosecutions in Zambia. As far as private prosecutions are concerned, the DPP has the power to take over the matter, discontinue it or change some aspects of the prosecution. There is a reason why our laws allow the DPP to do so: that all prosecutionary power is reposed in at least one constitutional official. The only problem with Mr. Nchito’s action was that he is a personal friend and business partner of Mr. M’membe’s. Mr. Banda and his lawyers got concerned that while the DPP does have the legal power to assume the prosecution, he nevertheless was so close to the alleged contemnor, for him to ensure an effective prosecution. What is even stranger is that the DPP was going to prosecute Mr. M’membe who is his personal friend while Mr. M’membe himself uses the Nchito law firm as his lawyers. If this does not sound right, it definitely doesn’t smell right too. It is a matrix of confusion and a ticket for corruption. Mr. Banda’s lawyers took this matter to the High Court to ask the court to remove Mr. Nchito from prosecuting this matter due to the fact he was too close to Mr. M’membe.

Brebner Changala

Brebner Changala

Mr. Justice Chalwe Farai Mchenga issued a ruling just this week. It is a powerful ruling. It is ruling that helps to restore common sense in our criminal justice system that seems to be held hostage by the infamous cartel. It should be simple common sense for any one to note that Nchito cannot effectively prosecute M’membe. Teti fibombe. The only thing Nchito claimed was that he decided to take over the matter from Banda’s lawyers because “the law allows him to do so”. You do not make decisions simply because “the law allows” you to do so. This cartel seems to have no respect whatsoever for principles of equity, common sense, and the rule of law. Regardless of whether the law allows one to take over any matter, it should occur to any reasonable woman that a close friend couldn’t successfully prosecute her friends. You do not need article so and so or CAP ntwenu kane of the laws of Zambia. All you need is simple common sense. Obviously, Justice Mchenga pumped a little common sense into the matter and has removed Mr. Nchito from claiming to take over the matter from Mr. Banda’s lawyers. According to Mr. Justice Mchenga, Nchito is a business partner of Mr. M’membe and as such he cannot objectively prosecute this matter. Additionally, according to the honourable judge’s finding, Mr. Nchito could intervene in prosecutorial matters if the matter has reached the “public interest” threshold. Nchito was wrong at law to assume this matter because he used the wrong legal test. He used the “personal interest” test and not the “public interest” test. If I were to add something to the honorable judge’s words, I would say that Nchito’s interest might have been worth at least K14Billion. And it is to this K14 Billion I must now turn.

Zimya

Zimya

It is common knowledge that Bo Nchito and his friend Fred M’membe decided to diversify from running law firms and newspapers to running indeke. They became ba cenda mundeke. It was not enough to deal with legal clients they wanted to fly airplanes. Like I mentioned last week, there is nothing wrong with flying airplanes, but “zimya neighbor” with alleged stolen money is not good for the country. In our laws, a corporation is a legal person and can contract debts on its own. However, if directors of a corporation having known that their corporation is dead and yet they still go ahead to contract debt for the corporation in order to allegedly steal from the corporation, those directors cannot be protected by the law.

I am not in any way alleging that Nchito and M’membe used Zambia Airways to steal from the Zambian people, I am merely stating that according to some charges brought against Nchito recently, this could as well be a possibility. But we may never know until an impartial court decides on the matter. If this matter came up to trial the question will be simple: having regard to what the directors knew about the company, did they go on to contract K14 Billion debt from the Zambian people knowing full well that the money will not go to the corporation but to their pockets? If this cash went to their pockets with intent to keep it in their pockets and deceive the Development Bank of Zambia then there is a criminal case. For sure the Zambian people will not know the truth until the courts decide. However, before the courts get to hear this matter, the DPP Mr. Mutembo Nchito walked into the courtroom and entered a nolle prosequi just like he had decided to be the one to prosecute his friend in the Bwezani case. It seems to me that there is a pattern here, a pattern of thievery, corruption and confusion. This cartel seems to be using constitutional power to escape criminal liability for their alleged misdeeds. However, just as ruled by Mr. Justice Mchenga in the case of M’membe, I believe the same principles should be used in the case of Mr. Nchito’s nolle. An alleged criminal should not escape alleged liability by invoking to enter an alleged nolle thereby depriving the Zambian people some alleged truth about the alleged criminal whereabouts of their alleged K14 Billion. The DPP should save us the drama and help us escape the word “alleged”, so that we can come to the truth about Bwezani, Nchito, M’membe and the K14 Billion.

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Suggested Citation: Munshya, E. (2015) Zimya Neighbour: When A Director of Public Prosecutions becomes a Director of Public Criminality. Elias Munshya Blog. Available at (www.eliasmunshya.org) (11 March 2015)

Indecent Discretion: Why Nchito’s “nolle” defies both law and common sense

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

As a constitutional democracy, our republic must be led and controlled by both the written constitution and the unwritten spirit of constitutionalism. It would be ridiculous for officers of the state to go on a rampage abusing their discretion simply because the text of the constitution so says. It is dangerous to read or apply the text of our constitution without regard to important principles that undergird it. It would be wanton recklessness for our people to do stuff simply because the constitution says so. It can never be justified to do injustice to another simply because the rote text of the constitution so says. Beyond the written text, we must adhere to common sense, common sense of justice and the call of sanity rationed by a command of justice.

There are a number of officers in our republic who have been given the sacred duty to exercise discretion for the good of our democracy. This is a sanctified calling. It is a huge responsibility. Discretion is not an opportunity for selfishness, nepotism and tribalism. For example, the Head of State has discretion to choose a cabinet of her choice from among the Members of Parliament. She also has been given the discretion and prerogative to elect 8 individuals who should become members of our national assembly. The Head of State also exercises numerable other prerogatives. Indeed for our democracy to work, prerogatives must be had. Cabinet ministers also exercise some prerogatives. In some cases, these prerogatives are quite wide and often ambiguous. The Attorney General does have powers and prerogatives within her jurisdiction and so does the Director of Public Prosecutions. When it comes to the Zambia Revenue Authority Act, the Commissioner General has the prerogative to alter, change or make exceptions to taxes imposed on individuals, companies or corporations. Wouldn’t it be offensive to common sense if the Commissioner-General used this prerogative to exempt her personal companies from paying duty? If the Commissioner-General can’t be allowed to abuse her discretion in that manner, how on earth did Bo Mutembo get the guts to believe that he could walk into our sacred chambers and stop the prosecution of a case involving his own alleged criminal activities?

The exercise of state power, discretion, and prerogative is not just limited to the texts that empower these individuals. The exercise of these prerogatives is tied to the spirit of the constitution and the rule of law under whose guidance the said texts predicate. Several principles undergird the exercise of the prerogatives or discretions of state power. The first principle predicates from the idea that any officer of the republic should exercise her powers to the furtherance of the interests of the republic. Second, any one exercising state prerogatives should recuse themselves, if the exercise of their prerogatives will directly impact on their personal interest. Now there is no law that should actually say so in order for this presumption to be valid. There are so many presumptions at law that we take without having to demand that they be written before they are valid. To demand that everything in law should be written first before it takes effect would be tantamount to threatening our democratic civilization itself.

Bo Nchito has been accused of heinous crimes against individuals and the state. That being the case, we must follow through the law and let the courts deal with these cases. If not for any other reason, it should be offensive to public morality for a DPP to enter a nolle in a case that involves his or her own alleged crimes. The letter of the text of the law has given powers to the DPP to discontinue prosecutions of any criminal matter. But the law never envisaged a situation where the DPP would discontinue a matter that involves her own alleged personal crimes. However, in the specific case of Mutembo Nchito, we all should be patient enough to hear what the Magistrate Court will finally rule on the matter.

Nchito should stop hiding behind bombasa - Munshya wa Munshya

Nchito should stop hiding behind bombasa – Munshya wa Munshya

When people demand that Bo Mutembo should account for his alleged criminal activities, they should be taken seriously. Mutembo and his cartel did well to go beyond the business of running a law firm to the business of running airlines. Good for them, they diversified. However, we should be firm in our demand that those who want to run airlines, law chambers or mines should do so with a specter of integrity. Regardless of how many airplanes you acquire, if you are using stolen money, it cannot be good for the county. As we used to say in Chiwempala, “zimya neighbor” using “indalama isha kwiba” does not help in the long run. Here is what Bo Mutembo should do. Stop hiding behind the bombasa of nolle prosequi. We have had presidents in this country whose bombasa got stripped and they had to account for their alleged crimes. These presidents commanded our soldiers, ruled over the police, and all the million guns in our country quivered at their signature. What makes Bo Mutembo think that he could get away from the people’s process using a “nolle”? There have been great men and women in this country who have had their day in court. Bushe bena tabali bantu? What makes Mr. Zimya Neighbour think that he can get away with these allegations? The best way to beat these allegations is not by all this “nolle” nonsense, but rather by accounting to the people of Zambia. Zambians have some questions. Bushe indalama sha ndeke shali sha kwiba? What about the court judgment, did you falsify it? When you became DPP did you know that you had stolen “katundu” from the Zambian people? When trying to convict Chiluba and his friends, did you cook some evidence? These are some questions our people are asking. And it is only right that they get an answer even if that answer has to be whispered in court. Bo Mutembo, please save us the drama and take off that bombasa, tafiweme!

President Lungu

President Lungu

President Edgar Lungu is now Head of State. He should act quickly in matters that threaten national integrity. It is not right for His Excellency to ignore this matter when there is some evidence, at face value, that suggest some crimes may have been committed by the occupant of a constitutional office. President Lungu should not be ruling through “slow motion”. There are decisions in this country that must be made before making trips to Addis Ababa, Cape Town or Mfuwe. If he can’t act on this serious matter, we should all doubt his seriousness to fight corruption and rein in a cartel that went berserk dogging allegations of crimes, theft, and corruption.

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Suggested Citation: Munshya, E. (2015). “Indecent Discretion: Why Nchito’s “nolle” defies both law and common sense”. Elias Munshya Blog (www.eliasmunshya.org) February 2015

No Creativity, No Imagination: My reflections on President Lungu’s cabinet

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

President Lungu

President Lungu

For someone who took almost three weeks to announce the cabinet, it is rather surprising that this cabinet has very few surprises. Unprecedented in the history of our nation, Edgar Lungu becomes the first president to take 19 days to announce a full cabinet. What is equally unusual with Lungu is the fact that by the time he was taking his oath of office, he had already worked for about three years as a minister and as a Member of Parliament. So Edgar Lungu was much more familiar with more MPs than any of the previous presidents. Kenneth Kaunda had known and personally worked with most of the people he appointed as ministers in 1964, but he never took long to identify a cabinet. Chiluba had a fleeting personal knowledge of the MPs, and yet he appointed cabinet just a day after he assumed power. Mwanawasa appointed a full cabinet within days. He most certainly retained Chiluba’s ministers, but added a few individuals here and there. Rupiah Banda in 2008 also kept Mwanawasa’s cabinet but appointed a full cabinet just days after taking the oath. President Sata took slightly a week to form his team.

We can only speculate as to why Lungu took 19 days to form his full team. But looking at the ministers, it becomes quite apparent that the team offers nothing new. With the exception of a few faces, this team remains hugely uneventful.

Emmanuel Mwamba

Emmanuel Mwamba

By far, the most daring of these appointments is Chishimba Kambwili as Minister of Information. Kambwili has not fared very well in ministries that have to do with tact and diplomacy. His first job as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2011 ended in disaster. His stint at Labour was equally uninspiring. During the run up to the elections late last-year, Kambwili stormed ZNBC studios to protest ZNBC’s editorial choice. This was when Kambwili was Team Guy Scott and not Team Edgar Lungu. It is quite surprising that President Lungu has found Kambwili suitable to take over this portfolio. The selection of Kambwili though might be sending a message that Lungu is willing to put a fighter at information who will dictate news and information for the 2016 election cycle. Kambwili has several strengths. He is a great organizer, having created the Team7500, which served as his own campaign team for Lungu in the just ended election. In addition, Kambwili has turned out to be good with social media. In fact, he used his page on Facebook to organize this Team7500. For sure, both the PF and its government would do with a good social media strategy in this age where news is being dictated by likes, tweets, hashtags and shares.

Vincent Mwale - Youth and Sport

Vincent Mwale – Youth and Sport

Kambwili’s appointment is also quite ironic. During the PF squabbles, Kambwili was quite outspoken about his disapproval of Lungu and his team. In fact, the storming of ZNBC happened during that same time. On the other side of Team Lungu was Emmanuel Mwamba, a social media and public relations guru who castigated Kambwili for intimidating journalists at ZNBC. Many expected Mwamba to play some role in Lungu’s government with regard to information, news, or public relations. It is ironic that Lungu has completely sidelined Mwamba, but goes to appoint Kambwili as Information minister. This is the same Kambwili whose behavior towards journalists was anathema to Lungu’s PR team led by Mwamba.

Vincent Mwale has been a very consistent figure in MMD politics. It is rather startling that it has taken him over a decade to be recognised as Cabinet Minister material. He has been an MP under four of Zambia’s six presidents. It has taken Lungu to recognize his leadership abilities by appointing him Minister of Youth and Sport. This is quite a great choice. I just hope that Mwale will take his zeal to cabinet just like he worked tirelessly as chair of the public accounts committee of Zambia’s parliament.

Given Lubinda was almost certainly going to bounce back. As a cunning politician, he changed sides quickly when it became apparent that Lungu was going to be the PF’s nominee. He campaigned vigorously for Lungu and he has been rewarded with a strategic portfolio – Agriculture. He takes over from one of the most inefficient ministers in the history of Zambia. Lungu has done well to do away with Wilbur Simuusa.

Michael Kaingu has been appointed Minister of Education. In 2011 Sata merged this portfolio with higher education, science and vocational training. As such, it is a huge responsibility for Kaingu. This gentleman seems to be a hard worker and he is likely to do well at education. However, his role in the MMD squabbles creates a doubt in my mind as to his judgment and character.

Lungu stated at one point that he was going to split some ministries. It seems he has backpedaled. It doesn’t make sense to have one minister take care of Works, Supply, Communications and Transport. This ministry needed to be split. I just hope that the President will go ahead with plans and streamline this ministry. Yamfwa Mukanga is a good choice for this portfolio. Education, higher education, vocational training, and science is one other ministry that needs splitting.

The following portfolios should be merged: Gender, Traditional Affairs and Community Development. They take up too much space and could be better streamlined. From the address of President Lungu it appears Professor Nkandu Luo might not take up the Gender portfolio. If she declines, it will mark a remarkable fall for a woman who was the rising star in the PF government. Her fight with Bashi Lubemba has had an effect on her plummeting relevance.

This cabinet has six women out of 21. This makes it one of the least gender-balanced cabinets in our history. It is remarkable though that the Vice-President is a woman. It has about 9 Bemba-speaking members. This makes the Bemba-block the most powerful chunk in the cabinet. It has four Easterners and three from Barotseland. Even though it has about 50% Bemba representation, I have no issues with its tribal composition. The PF remains primarily a Bemba-speaking party.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Lungu has taken a very comfortable posture. He has not stretched nor challenged himself. He is a lawyer and it seems this has come through the choice of cabinet, bizarrely risk averse. He has fired almost all of the ministers that did not support him during the PF squabbles. He has taken an adversarial stand. This is a bit concerning to me. As president, Lungu needed to appear like the big man that he is by absorbing a few of the ministers from the camp that did not support him. It is woeful that Kapeya, Chenda, Simuusa and Sichinga have not been retained. We know Lungu is the boss, but appointing an “adversary” would have shown his true greatness. For now, Lungu took 19 days to come up with a cabinet that lacks both imagination and ingenuity. But it is too early to tell how this team will perform. I wish them all the best.

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Suggested Citation: Munshya, E. (2015). “No Creativity, No Imagination: My reflections on President Lungu’s cabinet.” Elias Munshya Blog (www.eliasmunshya.org). 12 February 2015

My Tribe Is NOT Zambia: Erasure, tribalism and the challenge of national cohesion

E. Munshya, LLB, M.Div.

To help fight the scourge of tribalism in Zambia, some of our people are buying into several slogans in the hope that these slogans will help build some national cohesion. There is one particular slogan that I find patently problematic. This slogan states, “My tribe is Zambia”. The goal of using this slogan is to try and have the user know or convince others that they are above tribalism by emphasizing the fact that the only tribe that matters, should be the “tribe” called Zambia. I have a problem with such sloganeering, because it really does not help fight tribalism but could actually be used to perpetuate it.

It should be clear that Zambia is not a tribe and it was never meant to be a tribe. Rather it is a republic that is formed by people who belong to different tribes, persuasions and races. As such, there is no way that “Zambia” can fulfill a goal that it was never meant to fulfill in the first place. Zambia has not replaced our ethnic heritage; rather Zambia is a creation of people who already belonged to different ethnic groups. When we say that all these tribes do not really matter and all that matters is “Zambia” we are robbing our nationhood of a clear philosophical basis grounded upon the tribal diversity of this space we now call Zambia.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Stating, “my tribe is Zambia” has the potential of erasure. The most potent tool against tribalism is not erasure of tribes, but rather the respect for all tribes. That which we fail to do by respect of tribes cannot be achieved through contempt for those tribes. If we cannot respect Tongas and Lozis and Tumbukas, we do no service to the destiny of our country by trying to erase the experience of Tongas, Lozis, and Tumbukas. What we need in Zambia is acknowledgement and respect for the “Zambianness” of all tribes. The paramount assumption should be that all tribes contribute equally to the Zambian project. There is no tribe that contributes less to Zambia, but rather that all tribes are part and parcel of the Zambian venture. If we acknowledge that fact, it will lead all of us to a more respectful attitude towards the other. It will make us realise that on our own, we cannot make Zambia, Zambia. It takes the effort of all. And these “all” are the different tribes that make up our nation. It was not the intention of the Republic of Zambia to erase the reality of ethnic diversity, but rather the republic exists as a result of this ethnic diversity.

To fight tribalism in Zambia, we must also interrogate the assumptions exhibited by some of our people. Zambia is not a Bemba country to which they invited other tribes such as the Tongas or Lenjes. Zambia is a diverse nation to which all tribes contribute equally to its subsistence. As such, removing some tribes from national memory does not resolve the tribalism problem it just exacerbates it. All tribes must be visible and none should be assigned to the garbage bin of obliteration.

Zambians should listen to each other. We should listen to how various tribes are experiencing the Zambian promise. We should not shut each other up. If the Zambian project is not working for some of our people, it is time for us to listen to each other without judgment and without threats of “tribal” accusations. To listen to each other, we must draw the discourse from the urban centers of Lusaka and Ndola to the interior of Gwembe and Mapatizya. We should ask each other, do the people of Milenge and Mongu perceive the Zambian project in the same way? Before we accuse any tribe of being more tribal than our tribes, let us take the time to listen to each other. As such, let us take the 2015 elections as a way to begin conversations, not as a way to stop conversations. The people of Southern Province made their voices heard through the ballot, it is time to listen before we accuse.

Zambians should learn to respect each other’s tribes. Respect is predicated on numerous elements. Each of us should love our heritage. We should celebrate our traditions. We should feel free to speak our language and enjoy the intonation inherited from our forefathers. But after we have done that, we will realise how our own heritage is so inadequate to fully express the Zambian spirit. It is this humility that should push us to want to respect the heritage of others. By respecting the culture of others, we are becoming totally Zambian, as Zambia itself is best expressed by the respect we feel for the peoples that comprise its confines. Respect for others means, a Bemba person should have that humbling respect for a Goba and vice-versa. It also means that we take the time to acknowledge that the Zambian greatness lies not in ourselves alone but in the collective effort of all – the others and me. This can best be done in an environment that respects others and not the one that seeks to erase the other.

All political leaders in our country should be aware of the power of tribal balancing. Regardless of how technically astute a cabinet is, I would not support it if it only comprises people belonging to one tribe or region. If Chagwa Lungu dared to appoint an all Nsenga-cabinet, I would be the first one to protest against such an act. Through tribal balancing, you are acknowledging the strength of others and you are also showing our nation that you respect the other. Even God in the Bible asked Joshua and Moses to select 12 men, one from each tribe to perform specific tasks. God balanced tribe in Israel. If tribal balancing was good for Israel, it is surely good for our people.

President Kenneth Kaunda also realized the power of tribal balancing. He deliberately sought to appoint a diverse cabinet. Assuming that he was from Chinsali, he made sure that people belonging to other tribes held the positions of Prime Minister. This was a very powerful way of saying; the Zambian project truly belongs to all. Merit in that case, was clearly supplemented by a touch of balance. It cannot be on merit that which produces a board filled with Bembas alone!

We do misconstrue the One Zambia One Nation motto if we think that it means that “tribes” do not matter. The motto actually is an ideal way of saying that the Republic is a product of various peoples who come together to form it. Such an understanding of One Zambia One Nation, does not lead to erasure, it instead leads to a healthy respect for all. And it is this respect for the other that we all need as we navigate through the challenge of tribalism.

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This article appeared in the print edition of the Zambia Daily Nation on Friday, 30 January 2015.

Suggested citation: Munshya, E. (2015). “My tribe is not Zambia: erasure, tribalism and the challenge of national cohesion”. Elias Munshya Blog (www.eliasmunshya.org) (29 January 2015)