Author Archives: Elias Munshya

Has Hon. Mulusa Become Unlucky?

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

Our republic can have no better politicians than the promise epitomised by young and educated leaders such as Hon. Lucky Mulusa. We are better and we will better as a nation if people of Mulusa’s calibre are encouraged to participate in politics. They bring a breath of fresh air to the political scene. When dinosaurs, that have no idea of modern economics, represent a generation of politics it is vibrant people like Mulusa that the nation can fall back on. However, in order to help Mulusa live up to his potential greatness we all have seen in him, it becomes important, actually critical to ask ourselves, has he become unlucky. This question is necessary now, especially in view of the unnecessary squabbles currently prevailing in the MMD. I am of the opinion that Mulusa is likely to emerge damaged after this debacle. He must quickly reevaluate his role in the confusion. Otherwise, he could lose the little respect he currently has in the minds and hearts of some Zambians. I say so for several reasons.

The people Mulusa seems to have joined in fighting Nevers Mumba have played him. I seem to get Mulusa’s argument. He believes in the potential and greatness of the MMD. He believes that the party can do better but cannot do so as long as Nevers Mumba continues to be at its helm. However, this message of his love for the MMD now has been overshadowed by the fact that the other rebels are alleged to have had secret meetings with State House and with senior Patriotic Front leaders. In fact, Hon. Chituwo has confirmed that he had such meetings and so has Hon. Kaingu. We are not privileged to know the motive for these meetings, and the gist of these meetings could be removed from the problems in the MMD. However, these meetings create a reasonable apprehension in the minds of some Zambians and some MMD members that the Patriotic Front is actually sponsoring the people fighting Nevers. The real casualty of such perceptions is actually Mulusa himself. I doubt whether he knew of these meetings. If he did know about them, but nevertheless, went ahead to scheme with Siliya, Kaingu, and Chituwo then I would doubt his judgment. However, if he had no idea that the PF leaders were meeting his colleagues then I would doubt his political competency. Dora and her colleagues have played Mulusa and his message has now been so mired in quagmire that it will take some more work for him to redeem himself. He could be running out of luck.

The timing is not right for Hon. Mulusa to lead a rebellion against Nevers Mumba. This is barely 2 years after the MMD lost power in 2011. Having the MMD begin fighting now will only weaken it further and make the death of the MMD inevitable. Lucky Mulusa does seem to still have some more fighting to do, but beginning them this early will only finish him.

Hon. Lucky Mulusa

Hon. Lucky Mulusa

Hon Mulusa does seem to be making several enemies at the wrong time in his political life. In times like this, he needed to be a little bit more strategic. He has now aroused the Nevers Mumba group. He has equally roused the UPND. In addition to that I understand that online, he has raised the ire of the zambianwatchdog.com website. These are too many battles to be fighting for any one man. You cannot take on so many people at the same time and expect to come out alive politically. For his part, he has also taken issues with Muhabi Lungu. Fighting Muhabi is bad strategically for Mulusa. Muhabi has several things going well for him. First, he has been public and political life longer than Mulusa. Zambians got introduced to Muhabi at a time when he was a sharp talking defender of the then UNIP President Kenneth Kaunda in the mid-1990s. Second, Muhabi being Easterner comes from the only province proving to be the stronghold for the MMD. And for the MMD to survive they need a regional base just like PF and UPND do have regional bases. For any political party in Zambia to become a national party, it must first be able to command an unwavering regional support. PF have their Northern-Luapula corridor and the UPND have their Southern region. The MMD must have the Eastern Province. Otherwise, they are toast. Third, Muhabi Lungu has actually worked for both Rupiah and Mwanawasa governments crafting the very policies that Mulusa is claiming made the MMD great. Fourth, Muhabi has taken on a different approach to the MMD problems. Every one with half a brain knows that the MMD has declined and is likely to decline further. However, the solution to these problems does not lie with fighting Nevers Mumba but with working with Nevers Mumba. Any MMD member who wishes to see the MMD rise again should try to work with Nevers and supplement his weaknesses. This is exactly what Muhabi is doing. To see Mulusa begin fighting Muhabi does not make sense. Some Zambians could as well ask, Muhabi we know, what about this new guy? Is he “a John come lately”

Nevers Sekwila Mumba

Nevers Sekwila Mumba

Hon Mulusa is not making sense politically when he claims that Nevers is irrelevant to the MMD because he caused the party to lose a ward election in Mpulungu in February. According to Mulusa, he believes that the MMD should be able to do well in the North because Nevers comes from there. The problem with the MMD is that they have a very popular opponent in the PF’s Michael Sata. Sata, in spite, of the economic failure in Zambia still remains a very formidable and personally popular candidate in the North. Currently, there is no politician who can dislodge Sata from the North. This is not Nevers’ problem. Additionally, Mulusa alleges that since Nevers is not that popular in the North this should be the reason to leave the MMD presidency. I doubt this kind of reasoning. Nevers Mumba is MMD president because he went to the convention and overwhelmingly beat his rivals. Those elections matter just like any other elections do matter. To claim that Nevers has never won an election when the guy had just beaten five other contestants in 2012 does not help Mulusa with his argument at all.

If Hon Mulusa believes that only parliamentary elections are the real elections, may be this is the time to doubt then whether Mulusa himself has lost relevance since the last time he ran for parliament, his seat was nullified due to electoral corruption. There is a lot Mulusa can offer Zambia. But this route he has taken will only lead to his political demise. My advice? Mulusa should cool down. Take it easy and fight for the people of Zambia instead of fighting Nevers Mumba. Mulusa has already done some remarkable things in both parliament and outside it. These are the kind of fights; they want him to continue championing.

Many Zambians do not believe that Nevers Mumba is the greatest of their problems. The greatest problems for Zambia are things such as the value of the Kwacha, out of control inflation, the stolen constitution and corruption perpetrated by the party in power. That being the case, the perception that it is the Patriotic Front sponsoring the anti-Nevers campaign in the MMD does not augur well at all. Nevers and the MMD needed an enemy to fight, and they have just been given that punching bag – the so-called anti-Nevers group. They will now use these anti-Nevers individuals as whipping boys (and girl) for the broader campaign to highlight the misdeeds of the Patriotic Front. This message might resonate with Zambians and entrench Nevers in the minds of many Zambians even deeper. Hon Mulusa’s star should shine, but if he continues on this path, he might just run out of political luck. Or may be Lucky Mulusa has already become unlucky!

Good Guy, Bad Skin: Is President Sata discriminating against a “muzungu” Vice-President?

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

Agony is having someone serve as your vice-president and yet never give him the opportunity to act as president when you are not around. It is quite absurd that President Sata would have a vice-president distrusted to serve. When the PF government came into power in 2011, we welcomed the idea of an African country with a Whiteman as its vice-president. Indeed, President Sata has himself bragged to foreign dignitaries that only two countries in the world have a Blackman for president and Whiteman for vice-president: USA and Zambia. But what lies beneath all this chatter, is a glaring reality: President Sata has never left this Whiteman to act as president of Zambia. This oversight on the president’s part, in my opinion, is an anomaly that could trigger a grave but avoidable crisis.

Guy Lindsay Scott - Vice-President of the Republic of  Zambia (2011 - )

Guy Lindsay Scott – Vice-President of the Republic of Zambia (2011 – )

President Sata does seem to be operating under the assumption that he could do anything he wants with the office of the vice-president. This is a serious misapplication of the law and the constitution. Unlike positions of cabinet minister, the office of vice-president is a constitutionally provided and protected office. It is the constitution that both limits and delimits the powers and structure of a vice-president (Article 45). Whereas the president does have a lot of discretion with how he configures the offices falling in Cabinet and their functions, the Zambian constitution does not give the president the sole discretion to configure the office of vice-president. Very little is left to presidential wishes. If a president selects a person to serve as vice-president then that appointment should confer upon such person all constitutional duties and privileges.

Article 45 (4) acknowledges that the primary functions of the vice-president are those imposed upon her or him, first and foremost, by the constitution itself and then secondarily by the president’s delegation. This is how Art 45 (4) is phrased:

In addition to the powers and functions of the Vice-President specified in this Constitution or under any other law, the Vice-President shall perform such functions as shall be assigned to him by the President.

So from this article, the president may assign the vice-president some functions, but these functions are “in addition” to the powers specified for the vice-president from the constitution. That being the case, the president cannot use Article 45 (4) to vary constitutional powers conferred upon a vice-president. It does not matter that the vice-president is just an appointee of a president.

The most significant function of a republican vice-president is to be a “transitory” executive office. According to Article 38 the vice-president runs the affairs of the state in an acting capacity when there is a vacancy in the presidency. This involves arranging for fresh elections and presiding over the affairs of the state. This transitory period is up to 90 days and could subsist until the next president takes the oath of office. It is only when the vice-president is “absent” or “sick” or “incapacitated” that cabinet is then authorized to appoint someone else.

Is President Sata discriminating against a white vice-president?

Is President Sata discriminating against a white vice-president?

In addition to being a transitory office, the vice-president also becomes a repository of executive power when parliament is dissolved. The Zambian courts have held very consistently that the vice-president and the president are the only members of the executive who remain in office after the dissolution of parliament. This is what Justice Wood stated in the case of Wynter Kabimba v. Attorney General and George Kunda (2011). It is the intent of our constitution that while the vice-president is indeed a member of parliament, he or she does not lose the office when parliament gets dissolved. Here is how this interpretation would apply to the Guy Scott issue. When President Sata dissolves parliament sometime in 2016 for elections, Hon Chikwanda and his cabinet colleagues will cease to be MPs. They will also cease to be cabinet members. Under those circumstances Chikwanda will not and cannot act as president. Vice-President Guy Scott, however, would continue to occupy the office of vice-president until a new president is sworn in. If President Sata continues with the current practice of leaving power only to Chikwanda, he could potentially create a crisis prior to 2016 elections when there will be no Chikwanda and no parliament. President Sata should begin giving the constitutional reins that Guy Scott already possesses by virtue of his office as vice-president. Levers of power should begin getting used to saluting legitimate office bearers regardless of their creed or colour. By stating this, I am not in any way insinuating that Guy Scott is a great political leader. Far from it. I am merely asking that Scott be treated equally like any other citizen of our republic.

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Good Guy, but bad skin?

Does the constitution preclude Scott from acting as president due to his skin? Arguing that the constitution has precluded a Whiteman from Zambian presidency is plain racism. In fact, it is nonsense. And if that is what is going on in the don’t kubeba government, then we should pity both the Head of State and the cadre of his legal advisors. Isn’t it absurd that the president would go ahead to appoint a vice-president who does not meet presidential eligibility? If a Veep can’t act as president, why then does he even occupy that office? However, I find no legal or constitutional basis why a Whiteman such as Guy Scott should be precluded from acting as president of Zambia. Article 34 as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Lewanika & Others v. Chiluba does suggest that any Zambian fitting Guy Scott’s situation could in fact satisfy the eligibility requirements, including the “parentage clause”. Interestingly, the “parentage clause” was passed when Mr. Sata was the country’s third most powerful politician. I wonder whether the contextual discrimination of 1996 is having an impact on the way President Sata is treating Scott today. In Chiluba, The Supreme Court went on to state that the 1996 constitution in Article 34 created problems for the future. Nevertheless, constitutionally absurd rules should be interpreted liberally. You cannot use kangaroo rules to deny a birthright to Zambians simply because they are of the wrong skin!

It is nonsense to claim that the Zambian constitution discriminates against Guy Scott - Munshya

It is nonsense to claim that the Zambian constitution discriminates against Guy Scott – Munshya

Some have stated that there is precedence that presidents have left power in the hands of their preferred cabinet members. Some point to Chiluba occasionally leaving power to his close ministers and not his Veep. In fact, there is speculation that President Mwanawasa left symbols of power with Defense Minister Mpombo and not Vice-President Rupiah Banda in 2008. For administrative convenience, a president could leave his preferred chaps to act in his absence. But this should be for governmental expediency and should happen once in a while. Administrative convenience does not mean, racial convenience. Scott is not “absent” or “sick” or “incapacitated” for President Sata to continually sideline him for a presidential salute. Or may be he is indeed “incapacitated”. But I am left to wonder whether it is the colour of his skin that makes him incapacitated. It certainly appears so. Only the president can correct this anomaly and do right.

Scott has received some very demeaning remarks from some opposition leaders. That should not be the case. However, President Sata can help prevent these slurs by giving to Scott the privilege of nationality constitutionally accorded to vice-presidents, white or black. Then only will it make sense that Zambia indeed has a black president and a white vice-president. Our Zambia belongs equally to all: Bembas, Tongas, and, of course, bazungus like Guy Lindsay Scott.

Note: This article deals with general matters of the law from a public interest perspective. Those needing specific legal counsel on some of these questions should consult members of the Zambian bar.

The Temptation of Nevers Sekwila Mumba (Part IV): Battle for the Soul of the MMD

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

 The calls are eloquently loud and menacingly clear. Some influential members of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) want Nevers Mumba out. Dora Siliya, Lucky Mulusa, Michael Kaingu and Brian Chituwo are among a cadre of senior leaders howling for Nevers Mumba’s blood. They want to have a new convention so that the MMD NEC could get a new mandate from members. They feel that if the MMD continued on the same path, it will die. It does appear like they are having a “John come lately” moment since the MMD crashed a long time ago.

Nevers Sekwila Mumba

Nevers Sekwila Mumba

According to Honourable Lucky Mulusa, Nevers was elected and given some “performance deliverables” which he has failed to achieve. Since Mulusa wants to run politics like a business he feels that a manager who does not deliver the “deliverables” should be fired. I wonder, though, whether Mulusa and his group have the power to fire Nevers. Major Kachingwe tried it, and the High Court correctly said no. Never in the history of Zambian political parties has a party president been elected with a wish list of “deliverables”. Zambian politics, like anywhere else, is not an exact science. What so called “deliverables” was the MMD’s first president given in 1991? What deliverables was Sata given when he launched his one-man PF party? What about Hichilema, did the UPND give him a set of deliverables? With due respect to Mulusa, this thinking of treating Nevers like a manager who should deliver “deliverables” is unique, peculiar and quite innovative for its ludicrousness. As a political principle it is untenable.

In my estimation, the MMD is sinking now because it effectively died in 2001. It was destroyed by the very people who were responsible for its founding in 1991. It is the third term debate that obliterated the MMD as a party of any political consequence. It was only the “boma ni boma” power that kept it alive, albeit on life support through the Mwanawasa and Banda presidencies. After losing power in 2011, the life support machine also got swiftly cut off. And the demise became inevitable.

There is nothing any new party president could have done to turn around the fortunes of the MMD due to the public perception that the MMD is corrupt. What is even more surprising is that at least two of these leaders baying for Nevers’ blood have had their own parliamentary seats nullified due to, among other things, electoral corruption. For Zambians who already perceive the MMD as corrupt, it does not help that Siliya and Mulusa are spearheading the anti-Nevers campaign. Could it be then, that corruption could be the problem in the MMD and not necessarily Nevers?

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Some are claiming that Nevers has failed as a politician to keep the MMD seats in parliament. I sympathise with this group a great deal. I have no doubt that they mean well, but choose not to evaluate Zambia’s political trends. In many ways Nevers’ temperament does not help him much. He appears pompous, aloof and politically out-of-touch. But that is hardly the reason why a party president should be removed. Even Hichilema has faced the accusations of being aloof. With time HH has learnt to loosen-up a bit, and this is working wonders for the UPND now. Under the current political environment, there is nothing the MMD can do to defend its seats in parliament. The MMD cannot hold on to their seats, especially the nullified ones, due to two realities. First, it is the unwavering support of the PF in Bemba-speaking areas and the second one is the rise of the UPND in the South, Copperbelt rural, West and Northwest. The only province that might provide some buffer for the MMD is Eastern Province. But it too is crumbling and UPND might be the beneficiary. Bizarrely, after MMD went for the 2012 convention, it had no Easterner among its top NEC leaders. This was strange considering the fact that all parties in Zambia must have an unwavering regional support to survive. The PF is regionally strong in Luapula/North while the UPND is strong in the South. Without a regional block, the MMD cannot survive. UNIP died because it lost the Eastern regional block in 1996. Had UNIP not boycotted those elections they would still be alive and well today.

Could Nevers have provided some magic to turn around the fortunes of the MMD and provide an alternative to Sata in the North and Luapula? Simply put, in spite of the cimbwi no plan economics of the PF; President Sata remains reasonably popular in the North. Neither Nevers nor Felix Mutati was going to be effective against Sata. The MMD is simply facing a very strong opponent in Sata. With regard to Luapula, the only constituency not under PF, Milenge, appears to be leaning towards PF too. MMD simply can’t match PF at the moment. And it is showing.

Michael Kaingu and Brian Chituwo have seats in the areas where Hakainde Hichilema’s UPND is doing very well. There is no way the MMD will do well in Northwestern and the Bantu Botatwe areas because those areas are returning back to the UPND. And it is not Nevers Mumba’s fault. Give the MMD presidency to Kaingu, or to Mulusa and see that they will not be able to stem the rise of the UPND just like Nevers has failed to dent Sata’s popularity in Chinsali and other areas. The MMD is in a precarious situation. They are facing difficulties from PF as well as UPND. Additionally, they are facing judgment from the courts of public opinion as the corrupt party. Public perceptions take time to change. It is expecting too much to think that suddenly Zambians will forget about the perception they have of the MMD. Conversely, the PF might be more corrupt than the MMD, but public opinion has not caught up yet. That being the case, it is ridiculous to begin firing Nevers now, for perceptions that he had no responsibility creating.

Chiluba and Sata - MMD leaders 1991 to 2002

Chiluba and Sata – MMD leaders 1991 to 2002

Mulusa says he is concerned that Nevers has stuffed the MMD NEC with his own men and women. This sentiment should be pitied. Party presidents always do that. If Mulusa wants a party where it would be different, it would be great for the gentleman to start his own party. Parties are made in the image of their leaders. Nevers is trying to fashion the MMD in his image too. I trust his judgment to have Muhabi Lungu as National Secretary. Specifically, then as regard the leadership challenge, going by precedence, it does seem that party presidents do stay safe in their positions, and it is the challengers that leave. If the four challengers decide to leave the MMD there will be lots of room elsewhere for them. They can go to UPND and of course they would be welcome in PF. And may be then, the public perception of party corruption will shift to the PF. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Mulusa and Siliya join PF? Indeed they would be welcome in PF if Nevers wallops them again at the convention. And he is likely to do so.

The same people that destroyed the MMD are now turning back and blaming Nevers for this. In Milenge we have a saying for this: Nevers balemushinga amala ya mbushi. Other people destroy the MMD, they eat from the table of corruption and then they turn back and smear goat offals on Nevers so that they can say, it is Nevers responsible for the demise of the MMD!

But is he?

 

 

The Temptation of Nevers Sekwila Mumba (Part II): A Turbulent Vice-President

By E. Munshya wa Munshya

In 2008, as President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa was reflecting on his legacy, one issue he had to confront was whether he had any regrets in choosing Nevers Mumba for his Vice-President from 2003 to 2004. According to Malupenga (2010), President Mwanawasa hoped that in future Zambians will come to the same conclusion he had come to in 2003 – that choosing Nevers Mumba as Vice-Present was a great choice.

Nevers Mumba 2To put Mwanawasa’s sentiments in perspective it is important to begin from
where it all started. When Mwanawasa assumed power, he came to a country that was deeply divided. For the first time in history, Zambia had eleven presidential candidates in the election that brought in Mwanawasa. The margin of victory for Mwanawasa was a paltry 28%, just a point ahead of his closest rival UPND’s Anderson Mazoka. The EU Observers condemned the 2001 elections as having not been free and fair. On the other hand, an active civil society and The Post newspapers had been pushing the agenda that Mwanawasa’s predecessor, Frederick Chiluba had stolen public funds and should be prosecuted for it.

Within the ruling party, the MMD, there were apparent fractures. President Frederick Chiluba, even after he had relinquished the republican presidency, still maintained a grip on the ruling MMD party. Early 2002 was a difficult time for the country and Mwanawasa needed to act fast to show that he was in charge.

Most of the leaders within the MMD were still loyal to President Frederick Chiluba. Vice-President Kavindele, Foreign Affairs Minister Katele Kalumba and many others still held Chiluba in high esteem. To respond to this, Mwanawasa fired some of Chiluba loyalists including Katele Kalumba and Lupando Mwape. Mwanawasa had to find his own niche.

In this context then, the most attractive of all the candidates he had considered to replace Vice-President Enoch Kavindele was Nevers Mumba. Nevers had been attractive to Mwanawasa for several reasons. First, he had long campaigned against Chiluba’s corruption. Starting from the 1997 formation of the NCC it had been a political aim of Nevers’ to bring to light the misdeeds of the Chiluba administration. Faced with possibilities of a prolonged fight against corruption, Mwanawasa needed a good partner for a Veep whom he could rely on in tough times.

Secondly, Nevers was attractive to Mwanawasa because he was considered an outsider. Lacking any genuine political base, Levy had somehow believed that Nevers would be personally loyal to him. Actually, Zambian presidents do have the habit of choosing politically unpopular candidates as their vice-presidents. Any vice-president that proved politically popular or astute has never lasted in that position beginning with Kapwepwe and ending with Mwanawasa. As an outsider with no political clout, Nevers Mumba would be a good candidate for Vice-President.

Thirdly, Nevers was attractive due to his tribe. When Mwanawasa came into power it was not long before the Bemba political aristocracy got concerned at his lack of regard for the Bemba hegemony. The firebrand of a Bemba aristocracy, Michael Sata was now in opposition and he never hesitated to drive home the point that Mwanawasa’s leadership was heavily nepotic and was patently anti-Bemba. When Levy started to prosecute Chiluba and his close associates, Sata even accused Mwanawasa of unfairly targeting Bemba-speaking politicians. Mwanawasa’s response to this criticism did not help matters. In Ndola in 2003 when he was asked to respond to the anti-Bemba criticism Mwanawasa is reported to have said that he made no tribal exception to the fight against corruption because “corruption stinks.” These remarks became folder for opposition leader Sata.

“Mwanawasa”, Sata claimed, “had insulted the Bembas.”

In a flurry of arrests and detentions, not even Sata was spared from Mwanawasa’s anti-corruption fury. Sata got arrested for theft of a motor vehicle in 2002. As this is going on – president Chiluba, now facing corruption charges, had abandoned his MMD membership to become a member of Michael Sata’s Patriotic Front. Sensing a tribal revolt, Mwanawasa needed a Bemba vice-president to show that he indeed was not as nepotic as his critics were suggesting. That Bemba vice-president was going to be Nevers Mumba a native of Chinsali.

At the time Nevers was assuming the Vice-Presidency in 2003, He was basically destitute. He statutorily declared a house in Texas to be his only meaningful asset. He owed a mortgage of thousands of dollars on that house. The only other asset was Chishimba Farm in Chinsali. Among other sources of income, Nevers had declared was “honoraria he receives when he speaks in conventions overseas.”

How Nevers got himself to this destitute situation has been explained in a previous article. Suffice to mention here that when Nevers entered politics in 1997, he had lost everything by 2001. Chiluba squeezed any value out of Nevers. He had lost his house, his friends, and some closest to him even suggested he was about to lose his family. The price Nevers had paid for politics was just too high. It is this kind of personal sacrifice that should make critics of Nevers Mumba to reflect and realize that Nevers was not into politics for the money. He had invested far too much than he had earned back by the time he was being appointed vice-president. It should not be hard to notice the dedication to the nation Nevers exhibited, even at the price of personal sacrifice.

If anyone did not believe in miracles, they had to. Nevers Mumba, a boy from Chinsali, and a preacher who had abandoned the pulpit and lost everything, was now going to be the second most powerful person in the country. As vice-president he had clear chances of assuming the presidency one day. Im keeping with his motto, Zambia was going to be saved and what had been a remote possibility was now within reach.

In appointing Nevers Mumba – President Mwanawasa was very optimistic. “I have appointed you”, Mwanawasa told Nevers, “because you and me share a common dream for a corrupt free Zambia.” If there were any doubts about the other reasons why Nevers had been appointed – his itinerary in his first 90 days would show. Nevers travelled to meet the Bemba chiefs and addressed their misgivings about the insults that had been attributed to President Mwanawasa. With Nevers as vice-president, Mwanawasa had a Bemba confidante who could buttress any tribal accusations against government. A preacher with a likeable and handsome personality meant that Nevers was going to be the public face of President Mwanawasa’s government. And indeed it took only a few months for Nevers’ star to rise and for President Mwanawasa to realize that the Nevers he had appointed was actually far more ambitious than he had initially thought.

Those close to Mwanawasa would whisper to him about the ambitions of Nevers Mumba. To resolve these difficulties, Finance Minister Ng’andu Magande and Home Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwashya would be Mwanawasa’s kitchen cabinet while Nevers was left enough rope to politically hang. Nevers’ inexperience was proving a liability to him. He became politically reckless in amassing lots of political support from the grassroots MMD branches at the expense of his aloof boss. As a likeable person, it was far much easier for ordinary MMD members across the country to meet Nevers than it was for them to meet President Mwanawasa. Perhaps the greatest asset Nevers had from his background as a preacher was his way with people. The star of Nevers had started to rise and the MMD was now perfectly in his control. With a president Mwanawasa that is struggling with health issues – it is Nevers who became the defacto leader of the MMD.

But not for long, for that rope had now drawn close to suffocate Nevers politically. And the crowd was gathering to watch him hit the ground.

It was around September 2004. Nevers had been vice-president for about 15 months. The main opposition party that was threatening the MMD was Michael Sata’s Patriotic Front. Using the levers of power that had remained intact within government and on the grassroots – the PF was growing in popularity by the day. The prosecution of President Chiluba had gathered steam. President Sata saw Chiluba’s prosecution as a general strategy by Mwanawasa to weaken the Bemba-speaking political aristocracy. Indeed, MMD structures in Luapula and Northern Province had started to crumble. Frederick Chiluba had made his political opinions clear – he was in support of Michael Sata, the man he had dribbled in 2001. Patriotic Front cadres would provide escorts to Chiluba each time he appeared in court. At one time after returning from a South African hospital, Chiluba greeted the gathered PF cadres with the “Donchi Kubeba” salute.

MMD branches in Ndola had organized a “Meet the Vice-President Dinner” to raise funds for the party. That September, Mwanawasa had travelled to New York for a UN summit. At home it was Nevers in charge. Mr. Mukutulu Sinyani, the director of the Drug Enforcement Commission had gathered some information that Katanga businessman Moise Katumbi was channeling money through the Congolese border to fund political activities of an opposition party. It did not take rocket science to know that it was President Chiluba, Michael Sata and the Patriotic Front who were the beneficiaries of these monies. That evening, Sinyani briefed the acting president about that information. More than anything else, what Nevers did with this information spelt immediate political doom for him. It set off events that would eventually lead to his dismissal.

Zambia shares thousands of kilometer borders with the Congo DR. It is a porous border to say the least. You can smuggle nearly anything along this long border. From the time Zambia got its independence juggling security for the nation in view of Congolese instability has been a delicate balancing act for any president. The reports Nevers got that evening from Sinyani are by no means isolated. Each president has had to deal with security issues arising from the Congo DR. As such, any issue that comes from Congo DR deserves wisdom and diplomacy to resolve. This is the wisdom and diplomacy Nevers had lacked that September.

At the MMD dinner dance held at Savoy Hotel, acting President Nevers Mumba made some usual political statements aimed at the opposition and then he added:

“Government has information that a particular opposition party is receiving dollars through the Congolese border.”

This statement started a flurry of events so fierce that Nevers could not control them. As Nevers finished speaking to the MMD, it was morning in New York, and President Mwanawasa was about to meet President Joseph Kabila to discuss issues of mutual importance. President Mwanawasa was supposed to meet Kabila at 13:00 Eastern Time.

In Zambia that evening, Congolese Ambassador Dikanga Kazadi reacts swiftly to Nevers Mumba’s accusations. Kazadi’s message is channeled to President Kabila in New York. The Zambian government is accusing the Congo DR of meddling in its internal affairs. Mwanawasa gets the information too that morning. This was going to create a diplomatic standoff.

“The Congo DR having itself been a victim of foreign military interference cannot interfere in Zambia’s internal affairs,” screamed Ambassador Kazadi.

Nevers’ words had exposed his lack of diplomatic skills. His recklessness towards the Congo was going to be his downfall.

In New York, President Mwanawasa gathers his team and comes up with a strategy. An apology to President Kabila would be in order and the two presidents should continue to commit themselves to dialogue on issues of mutual importance. Mwanawasa had redeemed the recklessness of his vice-president. Nevertheless, back home in Zambia, security services are on high alert and Ambassador Kazadi found an opportunity to speak even more. Those baying for Nevers’ blood within government had something to work on. With this weakness they could make Mwanawasa fire Nevers Mumba – but the problem was that Nevers had done a good grassroots organization. The MMD grassroots was firmly in his charge.

While Mwanawasa is still in New York, Vice-President Mumba does something unusual. He summons the press and cabinet to his Government House. On the agenda are the preparations for the 40th Independence Anniversary. Those close to the workings of government notice how unusual it is that a Veep should address the nation when the president is away. Nevers was not going to takeover the government, he was simply announcing preparations for the independence celebration. Mwanawasa while away is informed of this, and his inner circle wonder why Nevers had gone this far.

In Nevers’ mind, government should continue to function even in the absence of the president. As such, since he is part of the government he saw no reason why he could not brief the nation about independence celebrations that would be held in a few weeks time. Except that, Nevers was not going to be part of that celebration. Not as vice-president anyway, because by then he would be fired.

The same month of September – a few days’ latter Mwanawasa returns back to Zambia. At Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Nevers Mumba is on hand to receive President Mwanawasa. Nevers is looking flamboyant wearing dark eyeglasses.

Mwanawasa’s first words off that plane were to address the litany of diplomatic missteps his Vice-Presidents had made. The words of the vice-president were regrettable, Mwanawasa said. He also mentioned that he had to personally apologize to President Kabila over that misunderstanding. With dark shaded glasses Vice-President Mumba looks down as he listens to the president berate him. A few minutes latter he sees off President Mwanawasa and returns to his Mercedes Benz car waiting for him.

Nevers had been leader of the Christian movement in Zambia. He was the boss for a long time. He was the one to berate his juniors. But as vice-president, he had a very temperamental boss in Mwanawasa. And protocol demanded that he had to defer to his principal. But on that day, a journalist asked Nevers about his reaction towards President Mwanawasa’s sentiments. Whether Mumba had misunderstood the question or not, we may never know. This is how he answered it nevertheless.

“I am not embarrassed by this, the only embarrassment might have been for the other side.”

The “other side” here might only mean the parliamentary opposition of the Patriotic Front.

The next day, this answer made headline news in the Post Newspaper. Realizing that he had been misunderstood and probably misquoted in the report, Nevers wrote his boss apologizing for the misconception. But it was too late.

Mwanawasa had already found an unassuming Augustine Festus Lupando Mwape Katoloshi to be Nevers’ replacement. Lupando Mwape had been fired as a cabinet minister a few months into the Mwanawasa presidency. He was one of those Bemba leaders Mwanawasa thought had maintained allegiance to President Chiluba. This time that he was appointing Lupando Mwape as vice-president he had just reinstated him to a junior position of Provincial Minister.

And yes! Mwanawasa had done another miracle. He had gone for another political non-entity to be vice-president. The reign of Nevers Mumba as Zambia’s vice-president had come to an end.

But the temptation of Nevers Sekwila Mumba continued. Discussions of the next segments in Nevers’ life deserve another analysis.

The Temptation of Nevers Sekwila Mumba (Part III): Keeping the Ambition Alive

By Elias Munshya wa Munshya

Dr. Nevers Sekwila Mumba believes that political parties are not the centre of the political process, people are. As such, he sees nothing wrong with changing parties, starting new ones, disbanding others and going back to the parties that disowned him. Political parties for Nevers are tools that a person can use to aspire for leadership. As such, loyalty to a political party comes second on Nevers Sekwila Mumba’s radar. The adage that there are no permanent enemies in politics except for permanent interests, comes even truer in the political life of

Nevers Mumba

Dr. Nevers Mumba

Nevers Mumba after he was fired as Vice-President of Zambia.

In the previous article, I had mentioned how that after President Mwanawasa’s return from New York in September 2004, it took only 24 hours for Vice-President Nevers Mumba to be fired. The firing itself came as a shock to Nevers Mumba. What is even worse is that President Mwanawasa felt so aggrieved at Nevers that he even paraded Nevers’ letter of apology that he had written in connection with the reports The Post had carried about the airport event the day earlier. Most interestingly, President Mwanawasa even mentioned that he had regretted appointing Nevers as Vice-President.

After he was fired, a brood of the Mwanawasa camp within government and party was excited that Nevers had been fired. The perceived threat that Nevers presented to all those that were aspiring to succeed Mwanawasa had now been taken of. In the opinion of some, the MMD would now move on and keep the Nevers Mumba factor behind them. Not so fast though, the Nevers Mumba factor was alive and well and in the next few months he was to strike back and strike back real hard.

After the September firing, Nevers left government house, his official residence within days. Typically, a former vice-president is expected to stay in the official residence for a few weeks to allow for him to look for decent accommodation elsewhere. He left the country for the USA and a few other countries to perhaps recuperate. After this firing, he mentioned of how he tried the sport of golf and also found solace in taking a few courses at Regent University in Virginia. He had earlier enrolled there in a Master of Public Policy program.

Upon return to Zambia, a few months latter, Nevers discovered that the support he had garnered within the MMD branches across the country was quite unshaken. In fact, even within the MMD NEC itself, it seemed Nevers had some sizeable support. In a party that had grown to dislike Mwanawasa’s hardline style of leadership, most within the MMD party had taken Mumba to be a safe alternative.

The MMD was about to go to the convention that year. Now that it was just November, the arrangements for the convention were delayed until the next year 2005. MMD members who had seen Nevers as an alternative to Mwanawasa had to move quickly to assure Nevers of their support. Even MMD stalwarts like Sikota Wina and his wife were reported to be among those supporting Nevers Mumba to take over as MMD president.

As Nevers’ presidential candidature was gaining momentum, he enlisted the support of President Frederick Chiluba. Nevers knew that openly accepting Chiluba’s endorsement would be a political gaffe. And so he had to be very careful. Chiluba on his part had made it clear that he would support anyone who wishes to challenge Mwanawasa. When asked about this endorsement, Nevers Mumba’s answer was clever and yet subtle:

“I have heard that President Chiluba has endorsed me for MMD president, there is very little I can do about that since I cannot go into his mind and change it.”

Implicitly then, Nevers had accepted Chiluba’s endorsement. And if Nevers had considered Chiluba to be a thief – now that he was running for president of the MMD he could do with as much support as he could get. It did not matter that when in government Nevers did push for Chiluba’s prosecution. An enemy had become a friend – politics par excellence.

And then came the announcement. Nevers was featured on Anthony Mukwita’s Let the People Talk. It is from there that he announced that he was going to run for MMD president and challenge President Levy Mwanawasa at the upcoming MMD convention. Mwanawasa on the other hand gathered enough intelligence both within the party and indeed the nation to know that Nevers was going to be a viable candidate against him. He was told there is a revolt in the MMD branches and Nevers had real support.

With these reports, Mwanawasa had to move very fast. The only way out was to change the MMD’s electoral college. To help Mwanawasa do this was going to be the newly installed MMD Secretary Vernon Mwaanga. It only took weeks for Vernon to announce that the NEC had changed the electoral college of the upcoming MMD convention. It is the NEC that was going to choose delegates to the convention and not district or branch organs. The provincial MMD branches were also stripped of this power. Additionally, Vernon announced that the MMD was going to commence disciplinary action against Nevers Mumba. Among the charges Nevers was facing are gross indiscipline and disloyalty to the party.

The dissatisfaction that the MMD members and branches had against Mwanawasa was so deep rooted that even after changing the Electoral College, most of Mwanawasa’s preferred candidates did not win at the convention in 2005. Most notably, Vernon Mwaanga lost the position of National Secretary from an electoral college, which he himself had handpicked. But we will come back to that later.

After weeks of wrangling, the NEC finally decided. Nevers had been expelled effectively ending his ambition to be president of the MMD. Vernon Mwaanga had also ensured that the electoral college was cleansed of all the supporters of Nevers Mumba. One by one, so called MMD branch officials would appear on national television renouncing Nevers and emphasizing in no flattering language that the disgraced former priest would not come near to tasting the republican presidency.

Politics change and change very quickly. It is one thing to have support within the MMD and quite another to transform that support into a new political party. Even if Nevers was quite outstanding when compared to Mwanawasa he was no Michael Sata. Starting a new political party was going to perhaps be the most controversial decisions of Nevers’ political career.

Enlisting the services of a shadowy figure known as John Ziba, Nevers Mumba established and registered a new political party to be known as the Reform Party. With an emblem of a charging bull, the party symbol was going to show everything that Nevers stood for – tenacity, strength and power. The Reform Party had for its slogan, a phrase taken from the national anthem – strong and free. This party was not going to last long. Nevers did not manage to garner any significant support for it, and before long, the Reform Party remained a party on paper.

Perhaps, Nevers’ decision to start his own party after his expulsion from the MMD might have been motivated by the desire to emulate Michael Sata’s decision to start his Patriotic Front years earlier. However, like I mentioned above – Nevers was no Michael Sata. What Sata represented in the minds of Zambians was far much more real than what Nevers did. And so if Nevers had thought that his new party was going to succeed he was in for a rude shock. The Reform Party made no real inroads into the political scene.

After Nevers was expelled, the Bemba-speaking section within the MMD had lost their political symbol and with it they had lost their influence. This group now wanted to get back its lost power. Mwanawasa knew of this influence and in fact it had been one reason why he had earlier appointed Nevers in the first place – to appease them. For Mwanawasa to keep the Bembas happy within the MMD he appointed another Bemba from Kasama – Lupando Mwape to be Nevers’ replacement. But the Bemba group was still was unsatisfied. Lupando Mwape was not a safe bet.

Meanwhile, as the MMD is recovering from Nevers’ expulsion, a group of six Bemba candidates were lining up and campaigning for the position of party vice-president. Austin Chewe, Lupando Mwape, and Bwalya Chiti were among the leading contenders. Knowing the consequence of such a bloodbath, Mwanawasa came up with a solution, suspend all campaigns for the party vice-presidency but keep Mwape as republican vice-president. But that decision was going to be a costly one for the party.

At the convention, the Bemba group resurfaced again. The same group that was unsatisfied with the expulsion of Nevers Mumba regrouped and the influence was deafening. They influenced the MMD convention to vote for Bemba-speaking Katele Kalumba as MMD National Secretary. This shocked Mwanawasa. But at least it made him realize that in politics friends could be enemies and enemies could turn out to be friends. Katele Kalumba is one of those individuals being prosecuted for corruption and theft by the Mwanawasa government.

This MMD convention and the way it voted in Katele Kalumba made Nevers Mumba to exclaim that Mwanawasa had betrayed the fight against corruption.

To bolster his chances in politics, Nevers knew that the Reform Party was headed nowhere. As such, he sought an opposition alliance with Michael Sata’s Patriotic Front for the 2006 elections. The terms were that Nevers was going to support Sata while he is given the opportunity to stand on PF ticket for parliament. A few weeks before the 2006 elections Nevers Mumba travelled to Chinsali with a certificate of adoption from PF Secretary General Guy Scott.

There was a small problem, however. PF Secretary General Guy Scott had issued a similar certificate of adoption to another candidate Mulenga. Mulenga coincidentally is nephew to Nevers Mumba. He had campaigned hard in Chinsali and had bolstered his popularity in Chinsali. In the battle of the 2 adoption certificates, it was Mulenga’s that won. A family meeting in Chinsali had persuaded the uncle to defer to the nephew and drop out of the race for Chinsali.

Nevers had failed.

The 2006 elections came and Nevers never again appeared with Michael Sata. He never openly campaigned for him. His Reform Party was not prepared enough to even field a single candidate. It seemed like dejavu for Nevers.

In the 2006 election, Mwanawasa finally prevailed. But the MMD’s popularity was further eroded. After having lost popularity in urban areas, the MMD had now lost to the Patriotic Front in both Luapula and Northern Provinces. The Bemba-speaking areas of Zambia had disowned Mwanawasa and the MMD. In fact, even Mwanawasa’s vice-president Lupando Mwape lost to a little known lawyer in a contest for a seat in Kasama.

With the Reform Party now basically extinct Nevers started making gestures to Mwanawasa for an appointment into the diplomatic service. His efforts at going to Canada kept being rebuffed by Mwanawasa and his loyalists. There was no room for Nevers Mumba. His sin had been too much. And his temptations were unforgivable.

Two years after the 2006 elections, President Levy Mwanawasa died. Fresh elections were to be called within 90 days of the burial. The MMD found its candidate in the republic vice-president Rupiah Banda. Knowing that the MMD was basically non-existent in the Bemba-speaking regions of Luapula and Northern Provinces, candidate Rupiah Banda turned to both President Chiluba and to Nevers Mumba. The 2009 presidential by-election would pit Michael Sata against Rupiah Banda. Sata’s friend Frederick Chiluba was no longer supporting the PF. He had changed back to the MMD because Rupiah Banda was more hospitable to him than Mwanawasa had been.

In countless campaign stops, Nevers appeared with Rupiah Banda in Mansa, Chinsali and several others places. Campaigning for Rupiah Banda meant almost instantaneously that Nevers was still going to be game.

After Rupiah Banda won the elections – Nevers’ dream of going to Canada as High Commissioner would come true. The turbulent priest, turbulent vice-president and controversial politician was now on his way to Ottawa to become the country’s ambassador. Upon hitting the ground in Ottawa, Nevers became a hit. He learnt the art of diplomacy quickly and got loved almost instantaneously by his diplomatic colleagues. In 2010 he was appointed dean of the diplomatic corps of Canada. Apart from Canada he was also ambassador to several Caribbean nations such as Bermuda, Jamaica and The Bahamas.

Within the business community, Nevers connected very well. Barrick Gold had just come to Zambia and were making huge investments into Lumwana. President Banda was happy to have Nevers in Ottawa. Since Nevers’ ambition knew no boundaries, Rupiah Banda did well to keep Nevers as far as possible. But even from the far flung areas of Canada, there were still whispers in the corridors of power, that Nevers’ political ambition had not ended. His time in Ottawa was going to be but a preparation time for something bigger.

What else could be bigger than being Ambassador or being vice-president?

Nevers’ sights for State House were never altered. Being Ambassadors was just one of those steps to take to help him reach the goal. However, MMD members and indeed many MMD insiders were still watching Nevers from afar and given the right circumstances they could give him another chance.

And that chance came in 2012. It came very fast and shockingly brutal.

In the 2011 elections, Rupiah Banda had lost the election to Michael Sata. Ambassador Nevers Mumba in Ottawa got the shocking news and knew there will be changes soon in Ottawa. Hours after Sata was sworn in, Nevers sent his congratulations but knew that his time as Ambassador had come to an end. He started gathering his goods and putting his house in order. Zambia had called. Foreign Affairs Minister Chishimba Kabwili recalled Nevers Mumba with immediate effect. To this recall, Nevers responded:

“I will come back to Zambia after the 3 months expires in accordance with my contract.”

This three months would give Nevers the necessary time to bid farewell to the contacts he had gathered in Ottawa. It would also give him the time to reflect on his next move. The opinion within the MMD NEC had been quite categorical – they needed him back to head the MMD.

Rupiah Banda tried to hold on to the MMD presidency for a few more months. But in December 2011 – he resigned as MMD president giving chance to the MMD NEC to find a new president.

In a convention, the MMD electoral college comprising branch, district, provincial and national delegates cast their votes. The first ballot had no convincing winner. It was the second ballot that assured Nevers Mumba of victory.

That morning, Nevers Mumba had been elected president of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy. President Michael Sata was not too happy with this outcome. From State House, President Sata castigated Nevers Mumba as a bogus and fake pastor who had stolen money in Canada and could not be trusted for leadership. “Nevers Mumba”, President Sata said, “abandoned his flock to join politics.” These words left no doubt that Nevers Mumba was going to face more temptations and trials under the leadership of President Sata.

The Temptation of Nevers Sekwila Mumba (Part I): Politics of Personal Sacrifice

By E. Munshya wa Munshya

It is Frank Talk time on prime time television in the early 1990s. One evening, the whole nation is listening in as journalist Frank Mutubila introduces his guest on ZNBC TV. Pastor Nevers Mumba sits confidently in his chair. Next to him is his wife. They are appearing on a program that follows and features news personalities. In the middle of the interview, smart Frank Mutubila probes Nevers about whether he would consider running for public office.“I am a preacher”, Nevers exclaims. And continues, “any involvement in politics would be a demotion.” Those words would become the most memorable lines of that Frank Talk interview.

When NeverNevers Sekwila Mumbas is saying that politics would be demotion. It really means just that. His name had become a household name in Zambia. He was an international preacher attracting the very best of international charismatic preachers. In a Christian nation, Nevers had access to State House at any time. Among his closest friends were President Frederick Chiluba and his Vice-President Godfrey Miyanda. Nevers Mumba was for all reasons a man with a lot of influence, the influence that came as a result of his faith commitment and leadership within the charismatic Pentecostal movement. His yearly Victory conferences became pilgrimages for Zambian Pentecostals.

Nevers’ influence did not just involve the MMD regime, however. President Kenneth Kaunda counted among many admirers of Nevers. In the dwindling days of his presidency, Kenneth Kaunda, a Chinsali native had turned to Nevers, another Chinsali native for counsel. The meeting at State House that Nevers had with Kaunda occupied several pages in Nevers’ book Integrity With Fire. According to Nevers and using Pentecostal language – President Kenneth Kaunda had given his life to the Lord after meeting Nevers at State House around 1990.

After winning the 1991 elections, President Frederick Chiluba’s government policy was to recognise and respect church leaders. Ignored for a long time under the leadership of Kaunda, Chiluba was going to give more visibility to Pentecostal leaders. He lavished them with recognition and Nevers Mumba was among those Chiluba honored with Zambian diplomatic passports. The reason for this honor was simple: “Christian preachers were envoys of the Christian nation of Zambia.”

On television, The Zambia Shall be Saved program was featured weekly, and sometimes appeared twice a week. In that program, Pastor Nevers Mumba became a firebrand of what it meant for Zambia to be a Christian nation. He would preach about faith, about prosperity, about international exposure. He would also preach about black consciousness. In those programs Nevers would testify about his wealth, his vision and the plans for his church and consequently for Zambia. Things were going well it seems. Zambia was going to be saved, and indeed it was getting saved.

Nevers was an alumnus of Hillcrest Technical School in Livingstone. After completing high school he interned for a few months in the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines. But this was not going to last long. He was to meet Evangelist Reinhard Bonkke in the early 1980s. When Bonkke met Nevers it was like at first sight. Nevers was going to be Bonkke’s Bemba interpreter and before long a scholarship had been arranged for him to study in the USA.

Upon return from the USA around 1983, Nevers registered a ministry under the Companies Act. In those days, Kenneth Kaunda had banned registration of new religious movements. The only recourse for beginners like Nevers was to use the Companies Act. Victory Ministries Inc. was born and with it came the influence, the splendor and the pomp. The poor boy from Chinsali had finally broken into the big league. For Nevers, what Kaunda had said about Zambia being free in 1962, he was going to tweak it and call rebrand it as “Zambia shall be saved.” This was going to be his mantra for life.

That splendor characterized Nevers’ life is an understatement. Ministry supporters of his had given him a mansion in Riverside, Kitwe. Victory Ministries was a staple all over the country. Crusades were held across the nation. Nevers Mumba was that embodiment of those rich American preachers. If any one could say there is money in Christian ministry, Nevers had broken that ceiling. He was swimming in money, in power and in influence. Given that influence, it is true; becoming a politician would truly be a demotion.

And then something happened.

It was in 1997, in Kabwe. Nevers had somewhat a change of heart or mind. We may never know. Or may be he had another born again experience. He announced that he had formed an organization to push for political reforms in Zambia. The National Christian Coalition was going to take on President Chiluba’s government.

When Nevers is making the decision to challenge Chiluba in this manner. He knew that this move would come at great personal and ministry risk. Indeed, if Nevers had cared about his own welfare he knew that challenging the Chiluba government would be a risky move. And it is this move that many analysts of Nevers never pay attention to. By breaking with the Chiluba government, Nevers had demonstrated tremendous courage. He knew he was going to lose all the honor, splendor and respect the Chiluba government had accorded him. In fact, he knew that the words he had spoken to Frank Mutubila earlier would come back to bite him.

But for Nevers, the nation was at stake. Chiluba had become corrupt. The promise of a Christian nation was not leading to a more moral nation. In that context, Nevers felt he could do something about it. He risked it all. And indeed the response from those in power was swift fierce.

After the NCC announcement, Vice-President Miyanda went to ZNBC. He berated Nevers Mumba. The war of words had now become the war between two of the countries’ foremost Pentecostal firebrands: Nevers in one corner and General Miyanda in another. Clearly, Nevers had fallen out of the league. With those words from General Miyanda, Nevers’ world started to shrink. And it shrunk faster than Nevers had expected. The sacrifice he had envisioned for his people was going to demand more than he could handle. If he had been tested and tried many times while preaching, the new political frontier was a temptation on steroids.

Nevers’ fellow preachers were next to call him out. He was a traitor, some of them screamed. He was challenging his fellow brother in Christ, some exclaimed. Some of his detractors accused him of leaving the “calling”, a treasonous crime within the Pentecostal fraternity. The words he had used to Frank Mutubila were replayed over and over again. Some even suggested that he was selfish just wanting to get into politics for more power, splendor and influence. Any one who has watched Nevers knows that he has far given more to politics than he had taken out. And if there was any doubt about that – challenging Chiluba’s corruption was the first step.

Chiluba’s machinery continued to respond swiftly. The NCC’s status as a society was threatened. Nevers had to quickly transform it into a political party and rename it the National Citizens Coalition. Chiluba summoned the Zambia Revenue Authority to audit the Victory Ministries Inc., which had for all these years operated as a non-profit company. Nevers was going to pay back back-taxes in millions of Kwachas. All the privileges Nevers had were to be withdrawn. The diplomatic passport was withdrawn too. Nevers might have bargained for too much. And he had bitten a bigger chunk he could not swallow.

But when he started speaking about his journey towards politics, Nevers was loved by the opposition and by civil society. As a close preacher to Chiluba he had noticed the abuse and corruption going on with Chiluba. Nevers had noticed how the government was working against the Zambians instead of working for the Zambians. Chiluba’s closest confidante, Michael Sata, was also on hand to berate the “disgraced preacher”. It was Nevers against Chiluba, Miyanda and Sata. It was Nevers against the machines of power and the testing and trails were only going to get fiercer.

That mansion in Kitwe was going to be subject of litigation. Victory Ministries faced closure. The Zambia Shall be Saved program on TV was only saved by court intervention. The temptation of Nevers Mumba had only started to intensify.

Pentecostal political theology is still in its infancy as an academic subject. Many observers of Pentecostal political theology especially in Africa do characterize it as one that attempts to maintain the status quo. At best, most analysts see Pentecostals as perpetrators of the status quo. As such, Nevers Mumba’s decision to challenge the status quo was a bit unusual and a departure from what is expected of a Pentecostal preacher. In this regard then, Nevers becomes an embodiment of that spirit of resistance against corruption and abuse of power. After noticing that Zambia was going the wrong direction, Nevers bucked his own Pentecostal movement to challenge the excesses of his brother in Christ, Frederick Chiluba. This Nevers did at great cost to his own life and in fact, to his own integrity.

Pentecostalism is for many reasons predicated on an understanding of God who can do anything. As a faith that lacks a central authority, it is by nature quite chaotic and dynamic. In Pentecostalism God speaks directly, but more than that, God continues to speak daily to his people. As such, when Nevers says he could not join politics that is what God could have told him in 1992, but by progressive revelation may be God told Nevers something else by 1997. He had to abandon the church in order to challenge the corruption he saw in the Chiluba government.

This contrasts Nevers and President Michael Sata. Both of them were close to the Chiluba axis of power. But when he noticed corruption, Nevers broke with Chiluba at great personal and family cost. Sata on the other hand stayed with Chiluba in the middle of the worst corruption Zambia has ever seen. In fact, Michael Sata only left Chiluba after it was apparent that Chiluba had dribbled him on succession. Nevers’ decision to leave Chiluba’s MMD was a decision for others, for Zambia. Sata’s decision to leave, however, was based on personal ambition – the desire to be President and only leave corruption when he gets disappointed from being adopted as MMD candidate.

By the time Nevers was campaigning to be president of Zambia for the 2001 elections, he had been reduced to a pauper. The levers of power had worked their way into Nevers’ life. He had lost everything. The only thing he was left with was that Pentecostal confidence in the God who can “do anything.” Nevers had lost his house, his reputation stained, and his friends had run away from him. He had not committed any crimes, or may be the only crime was to cry out against the shoes, the designers Bombasa, and theft he saw in the Chiluba administration. And for doing that, he suffered for it. Politics for Nevers had been a demotion, but a demotion he fully believed was for the good of the nation.

By the end of the 1990s, Nevers’ children had just become teenagers. They needed a father who would provide for them. Having lost the income, the influence, the power, Nevers had paid a huge price for politics. His passion for the ordinary Zambia led him to make these sacrifices. He had some solace in a few friends outside of Zambia who would invite him to preach. Having lost the Kitwe home – Nevers had become a destitute. Politics and a passion for his people and his nation had not made him richer but poorer. And daily, he had to agonize about what happens to his children, and to his family. The days of splendor and glory are over. With a simple stroke of a microphone he could have returned to preaching full time. And as usual, there was going to be more people to welcome back the prodigal preacher.

The temptation of Nevers was too great to bear. The man who could advice presidents was now living in a guest wing at his in-laws. Cruel life. But for a good cause. The cause of his nation.

And then the call came.

Nevers Mumba’s one of his eleven challengers in the 2001 elections had now been president for almost a year. Levy Mwanawasa had been handpicked by President Frederick Chiluba to succeed him. When Levy won the elections, he adopted the fight against corruption as the motto of his presidency. Levy Mwanawasa started proceedings to have Chiluba prosecuted for corruption and theft. Nevers Mumba’s fight against Chiluba’s corruption had now been confirmed that Chiluba was no longer in power. President Chiluba, a man of the people had by the end of his second term faced serious accusation of theft and corruption.

When Mwanawasa made the moves to prosecute Chiluba, Nevers Mumba was among the first to support the decision. The Post Newspapers carried Nevers Mumba’s reaction to President Mwanawasa’s efforts. “It was an answer to God’s justice”, Pastor Nevers Mumba had said. May be, as he is saying this, he has in mind the injustice he had suffered at the hand of President Frederick Chiluba. For now, it was just early 2002 and President Mwanawasa had noticed, a Chinsali born Bemba, and former preacher who shared his ideals against corruption.

Levy Mwanawasa’s crack at the presidency proved difficult. Chiluba’s influence within the levers of power was so endemic. If he had to prosecute Chiluba, Mwanawasa needed partners. But partners within the MMD government proved difficult to keep. And so he had to look elsewhere.

Within the MMD, almost all of the senior leaders had been soiled by the Chiluba corruption. Vice-President Kavindele himself had won the MMD vice-presidency under very controversial circumstances at the 2001 convention. By 2003, the Bemba speaking faction in the MMD had been dissatisfied with Mwanawasa. President Mwanawasa was going to find a perfect fit to help him win the Bemba hearts and to fortify his fight against corruption.

It was early 2003. In an evening broadcast, President Mwanawasa had made a choice of a new Vice-President. Nevers Sekwila Mumba from the living room of his in-laws went through the formalities of appointment. He had become Zambia’s Vice-President. Becoming the first preacher to become Vice-President and the second Chinsalian to become Vice-President after Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe in 1967.

President Mwanawasa had found a partner in the fight. President Mwanawasa had also found a well-spoken preacher to help him deal with the public relations issues facing his government. Nevers was swift, flamboyant and hard working. His personality made him likeable. The image of a clean, handsome man coming into office enthralled many.

But this honeymoon was never to last long.

In 2004, Nevers’ crack at executive privilege had been curtailed. President Mwanawasa had fired him. And with his firing – Nevers’ trials and temptations continued.

Is Stella Shooting at Shadows?: Hichilema, Police IG Libongani & “Amayendele”

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

In our democracy, there should be no reason why the police command should be wasting taxpayers’ bullets and teargas to chase Hakainde Hichilema (HH) out of the Eastern Province. Bullets and teargas should be for criminals and not ordinary citizens. Reports that Inspector-General (IG) Stella Libongani had sent a battalion of police and soldiers to hound HH out of Chipata are very disturbing. What is even more worrying is the fact that the honorable Inspector General issued a statement in which she proudly detailed this fact. This is regrettable. However, we must not be tired to remind each other frequently, of the sacrosanct liberties we have decided to enjoy as a people. Power corrupts. And I see the reason why Bo Stella could be using her position and her power to persecute citizens of our country. It is certainly tempting to be in Lusaka and with the click of a finger be able to mobilize paramilitaries to frighten villagers in Mungwi or Malambo. We must be clear from the outset that eroding our constitutional liberties as citizens of our beloved country is a serious issue that we as a people should condemn with the contempt it deserves.

This nation was formed with a clear goal in mind: to be a free people united under the banner of One Zambia One Nation. The slogan of “amayendele muno Zambia” was the battle cry at independence. What this means is that any citizen of our country does have the liberty to travel anywhere across the length and breadth of our homeland. Amayendele means HH can go where he wishes to go. He cannot get lost. It is his country. Amayendele means Chipata is Hakainde’s Zambia just like Mazabuka is his. Amayendele means a native of Milenge can freely roam in Mwinilunga. Amayendele means we do not need police permits and passes to go and pay homage to Mpezeni, Chitimukulu or Gawa-Undi. Unless HH is restricted by a court of law, there is no way that Bo Stella should be sending armed police to tear gas a citizen away from Chipata. Hakainde is not a mouse that needs to be smoked out of a hole. He is certainly not a rabid dog that needs to be quarantined to his Kabulonga home. It makes absolute no sense that the Zambia Police should take pride in restricting the constitutional liberties enjoyed by a free people.

The United Party for National Development (UPND) is one of the leading political players in our country. In a democratic nation, political participants should have the liberty to compete for political ideas in the electoral marketplace. It does not matter that HH is politically annoying to President Sata. In fact, I find some of HH’s statements against Sata to be self-indulgent and occasionally silly. But that is, within reason, a lawful liberty that is and should be constitutionally protected. Anyway, State House itself does return HH’s fire for fire. And HH’s political candor has been met squarely by the greater vulgarity pasted on State House letterheads.

Stella Libongani

Stella Libongani

Nevertheless, political silliness is not one of the reasons why citizens should be denied their “Amayendele liberties.” Subsequently, as a citizen of this country HH has the freedom to hold and promote his political opinions. He should be free to air those opinions. It is up to the people of Chipata to decide whether they will believe HH or not. It is not up to Libongani to decide for us what the people of Mutenguleni want. Certainly, it is not up to the Police High Command to determine for the people of Malambo which candidate is to be believed. That being the case, it is concerning that the Police would so imprudently decide to interfere in what should be left for the people to determine. Zambians decided to vote for Michael Sata in 2011. They needed no help from bullets or teargas. And Zambians certainly need no bullets to determine for them the person they will vote for in 2016. We are Zambians and bullets have never been our way of resolving our political differences. And I hope Bo Stella will keep it that way by exercising restraint in the way she uses teargas to deal with unarmed political players. Indeed if she is trigger happy, she could exercise her shooting skills on ducks, chickens and cockroaches, but not on the Zambian human like HH.

Ordinary folks are the primary defenders of democracy. Regardless of how strong or weak institutions of democracy are, it takes the will and resolve of a people to strengthen their stake in democracy. Zambians fought for democracy in 1964. Zambians fought for democracy in 1991. When faced with the prospect of a Third Term, Zambians hooped together again and fought for democracy in 2001. President Sata should never make the mistake of assuming that Zambians will give up on democracy in 2014. We have stated in this column, and we do restate it: Zambians have tasted the beautiful fruit begotten by the tree of democracy. Having found it to be so sweet, Zambians are unwilling to revert back to the ruthlessness and senselessness of the rotten shrub of dictatorship.

Hakainde Hichilema

Hakainde Hichilema

Libongani is indeed in a very precarious situation. She could be thinking that by being cruel to HH she is somehow winning some favour from her boss. But what she might need reminding is the fact that, her boss also has some bosses: the people of Zambia. The people of Zambia elected President Sata and it is the people of Zambia that will decide his fate come 2016. That being the case, Libongani should hold allegiance to the government of the day, only as the custodians of the administrative state delegated to them by the people. It is true that politicians supervise Libongani. Our system of government is such that elected officials supervise, within the confines of the law, both the civil service and the security apparatus. This is done so that there may be law and order in our country. This is also done so that these security officials may at the command of politicians protect Zambia from internal and external enemies. It is ridiculous to stop HH as if he were an enemy of the State. We need soldiers and armies not to harass citizens but to protect citizens. Libongani should be sending police to facilitate HH’s safety in Chipata instead of sending armed paramilitaries to smoke him out of Chipata.

Trigger happy?

Trigger happy?

The Inspector General does have a choice in the matter. She has the choice to do right when democratic liberties are at stake. She should be impartial in the discharge of her functions. We like it that she is presiding over a sophisticated security apparatus. But she must know that she is doing it to protect our people and enhance democratic liberties. It is not worth it for her to erode liberties. Instead of focusing so much on HH, President Sata should concentrate on putting measures in place to control inflation and strengthen the value of the Zambian Kwacha, which could reach K7, 000 to a dollar in a few days. However, if President Sata fails to resolve these problems, Zambians will have no choice but to smoke HH out of his Kabulonga home and make him president in 2016. But until then “mayendele muno Zambia”. And as the people of Milenge would put it: umukashana wa mabele talangwa nshila!

A Nation on “Tamanga”: Zambia’s Curse of Futile Quick Fixes

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

We are a nation of “tamanga.” We are the generation epitomising the notion of “ifintu ni bwangu”. In everything we do, “musanga musanga” has come to define who we are and where we stand. “Tamanga” can mean many things. On the street, it has come to mean a people who have to hustle for survival. It could also mean a busy people. And this is one of the problems we face as a nation. Ever on the move but getting nowhere. Ever talking and yet no one is listening. We are busy with lots of stuff and yet development lags behind. This has been the case since independence. We are quick at talking. Actually, we are fast talkers. We are “punkas” as they call it at Katondo Street. Our actions show a lot of activity without real progress. It is time our nation came to a stop. And reflect. We need to relook at this culture that has spiraled out of control: the culture of tamanga.

The 90-day promise from politicians was born from this tamanga pretext. Even if there was no way that anyone could deliver development in 90 days, our people nevertheless believed it. In “tamanga” we trusted. While in opposition, and in fact even after winning the elections, President Sata held on to a discreditable promise of delivering a “people driven constitution within 90 days”. In the spirit of tamanga, some Zambians believed him. That faith is itself problematic. After tamanga has failed, President Sata’s police are now threatening to arrest hurriedly anyone who dare question the tamanga promises over the constitution. On Youth Day, the police arrested children demanding for a new constitution. Indeed, as President Sata’s actions are proving, tamanga does not work in the long run.

Plastered everywhere in the corners of our cities are invitations to the tamanga gospel. Preachers are the new witchdoctors. They are advertising along the same lines as the Ng’anga Association of Zambia. “Come to our meetings”, they are proclaiming, “for instant elevation”. Ifintu ni bwangu is the new good news and all it requires is a little water drawn from the River Jordan and all the problems will be over. Musanga musanga, the gospel has now become. And there are so many of our people buying into this tamanga theology. This is a sad state of affairs.

A nation on tamanga

A nation on tamanga

The MMD government worked hard for the development we now see. Wheels of commerce have been spinning very fast since 1991. Chiluba, Mwanawasa and Rupiah Banda led Zambia to unprecedented economic prosperity. Only Michael Sata’s don’t kubeba government is threatening this economic growth. However, in spite of the growth, infrastructure has not kept pace with this economic prosperity. We have more vehicles on the road than the roads could possible carry. In spite of this, we are driving faster than ever. Our passion for tamanga is now murdering our people along the Great North Road and along the Ndola-Kitwe-Chingola road. Tamanga has become a curse. We need to slow down on those roads. We can do with a missed appointment, but we can’t do with people dying due to over-speeding. The Zambian driver should slow down on the road. The Zambian driver should arrive alive. What good is it to drive so fast and never arrive? Our roads do not need more prayers, than they need a little less speed.

With the growth of the Zambian middle class has brought newly found prosperity among a huge section of Zambians. This means that there is more money circulating among journalists, engineers, accountants, teachers, lawyers and other professionals. This increased prosperity has brought a problem of its own – busyness. It has brought the spirit of tamanga. This Zambian generation is the busiest it has been since independence. We are always on the move. For these newly prospering individuals, the spirit of tamanga is not leading them to more balanced lives, but to more restlessness and inner chaos. Tamanga leads to imbalanced and unfocussed lives. We must do something to redeem our nation from this.

In a nation of tamanga, the Kwacha has now developed swifter feet. On tamanga, it is now K6, 000 against the dollar. In this culture, life comes easy to those who are constantly connected with the “apa mwambas”. Shortcuts become the order of the day. You know you are in trouble as a nation, when a bank branch manager within a day gets to become a Deputy Governor of the Bank of Zambia. How on earth could we ever expect the Kwacha to perform well when its primary managers have never written a single paper in economics? We need redemption as a nation from the spirit of ifintu ni bwangu.

In marriage and family, tamanga claims to resolve problems without the patience of endurance and the sacrifice of perseverance. Who needs foreplay and emotional connection if concoctions on the roadside are promising hard rock erections within seconds? And that is a problem. Families are getting wrecked because when spouses are busy, they will not invest the needed sacrifice and emotions in family improvement. They will replace selfless relational connection with the saga of tainted Viagra, now selling more than Panado across Lusaka. That would bring a spiral of problems of its own. Zambia needs redemption from tamanga.

We can condemn Christopher Katongo for what he said about young players. And many soccer fans have a reason to be suspicious of the captain. May be Katongo is right. We should not sacrifice experience at the altar of tamanga. Why is it that other national teams in Africa have more experienced players than the Zambian team? Is it that we rush for tamanga more than experience? I will leave that up to your judgment and consideration.

In order for us to resolve this problem of tamanga, each one of us should make a conscious decision to slow down. Next time you are driving to Ndola, please take your time. Start early for the journey and leave a lot of time and space, it could save your life and that of others. There is no need to speed a Marcopolo Bus only to die at Chibombo. Praying we must do, but after that prayer is done, God expects and demands from us to drive with utmost care once we are behind the wheel. We could also decide to reject the tamanga idea out-rightly. The rising workers in the middleclass should be able to say no over time hours only to appease their bosses while leaving their spouses in tears.

To defeat the spirit of tamanga, we could all just begin to pay attention to those and the things around us. Life becomes more fulfilling when we begin to live and to pay attention. Next time, you are rushed; look at ways you can take it a little slowly. Listen more to others. Look at creation. Look at the grass and the trees. Enjoy the beauty of nature. If it rains, watch the drops of the rains. Smell the morning dew. Refuse to be rushed and enjoy the beauty that is in an unhurried life. Let us for once and for all undermine and maim the tamanga culture. We must refuse the temptation to steal from government. Some are poor in 2011 but by 2014, they have built mansions in Chalala. Without the sacrifice of patience, they have become rich through ill-gotten gains. Politics has become a way to steal and this tamanga is leading to unbridled corruption and theft of public resources.

In tamanga we all should not trust.

Aleisa, Aleisa: Challenges and Opportunities for Hakainde Hichilema

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), Mdiv.

Aleisa, Aleisa

Aleisa, Aleisa

We make no error by stating, unequivocally, that Hakainde Hichilema was the big winner from the by-elections held in February. Things are looking pretty good for HH. The United Party for National Development (UPND) did exceptionally well. It is becoming eloquently clear that the winds of political fortune are gusting their way. For how long, though, will the UPND hold on to this political swelling? Additionally, what challenges or opportunities do the victories in Chililabombwe and in Katuba present to Zambia’s political landscape? We try to provide an analysis here.

There are many challenges that UPND will face after Katuba. However, in facing these challenges, they should never underestimate the political skills of Michael Chilufya Sata. With things as bad as they are for the Patriotic Front, President Sata still remains reasonably popular within his traditionally strong areas. These areas include urban areas and Luapula-Northern corridor. The UPND should not leave any stone unturned or become complacent. If they want to provide a real alternative to Sata they should be willing to confront him and his political abilities. They should take the fight right to Sata’s doorsteps. Last week, the PF won overwhelmingly in a Kitwe ward. This is further testimony to the fact that in spite of urban discontent with the PF, defeating it will not come on a silver platter in 2016.

The UPND’s other challenge concerns its bad performance in the Bemba-speaking areas. We have talked about this several times. In spite of having been on the political scene for such a long time – for almost two-decades – it is desolate that the UPND has not made any real progress with the Bemba-speaking vote in Northern or Luapula Provinces. This is a serious issue that the UPND should resolve. For once, HH should come up with a strategy that would resonate with the people of this Bemba-speaking world. We are satisfied that HH recognizes this and he has promised to travel to these places in the near future to hold meetings there. Doing so will be a step in the right direction. We do not believe that the UPND is anymore tribal than the PF. But they should come up with a more workable strategy to show that they are serious about issues affecting all Zambians regardless of tribe or class.

As such, more than just holding meetings in the Bemba-speaking areas, HH should begin attracting real opinion formers and political noisemakers that are well known in the Luapula-Northern corridor. It is quite concerning that to-date, HH and his UPND still do not have a politically influential Bemba within their ranks. If HH is to be a serious contender in 2016 he must deal with this anomaly. He could also learn something from Michael Sata. What made Sata president are not only the Bemba vote or the urban vote, but also the Lozi vote. Sata would not have won the 2011 elections had it not been for the Lozi vote. It was very significant. Sata crafted a message for Mongu. And the people of Mongu bought into it. HH should do better for the people of Mansa and Kasama.

For one thing, the issue of Chitimukulu is not a politically potent issue for HH to use in winning the Bemba vote. In fact, Sata continues to mess with the Chitimukulu issue because he knows that it is of no political consequence to him.  Those who think that the Chitimukulu saga would sink Sata among Bemba-proper peoples either do not know history or having known history, they have chosen to ignore it completely. HH should be careful in the way he jumps on the Sosala saga. It is not big enough an issue to help him address the Northern-Luapula deficit. The Chitimukulu story should be situated within a particular context. It is a chieftaincy dispute that has to do with complicated family and royal quarrels that are confusing to everyone. Such disputes would not provide good-enough political ammunition for HH. Umuto wa lupwa tawitika. After Sata has quarreled with the Bemba royalists they will, in no time, make up and it will be business as usual. With that in mind, HH should be one step ahead and deal with issues that are truly concerning to the rural people of Luapula and Northern provinces: issues such as farming inputs and infrastructure development.

Opportunities abound for HH. With the win in a Chililabombwe ward, the people of the Copperbelt might have started to have another good look at him. It would be better for HH and his UPND to begin sending a popular message to the people of the Copperbelt and Lusaka. Urban voters will prove significant. Considering that much of Southern, Western, Northwestern and rural Copperbelt is warming up well to HH, he would need just a little more votes in the urban areas to win in 2016. But he must have a message for the urban areas. He should make his message simple. He should deal with bread and butter issues that are the most pressing in Lusaka and the Copperbelt. With a slight uptick along the line of rail, HH would be the candidate to watch in 2016.

HH also now has the opportunity to set the agenda for the opposition parties. He is in a position to negotiate for a prominent place within the opposition gala. He has the break to shape how the opposition will take on the don’t kubeba machinery come 2016. For sure, HH should not be afraid to try and foster an alliance with either Nevers Mumba or even Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM). If he continues on the same path of popularity, we see no reason why either of these gentlemen would be reluctant to align with him. Regardless of how one looks at it, an opposition alliance led by Hakainde Hichilema and deputised by Nevers Mumba or GBM will beat the Patriotic “Kaloba” Front very easily. But the question remains: is HH ready to use the newly found political capital to foster this alliance?

MMD is dead - Munshya

MMD is dead – Munshya

Nevers Mumba’s Movement for Multiparty Democracy is dead. In fact, it died before Nevers took over. It died a long time ago. It was only perpetuated by the little power in had as a ruling party during Mwanawasa’s tenure. Bo Mumba inherited a damaged brand and there is very little he can do to resuscitate it. The MMD as it stands now, will not win any seat in the 2016 elections. And this is not due to Mumba’s fault or any of the current leaders’. The demise of the MMD was consummated in 2001 by the very people who were influential in its founding in 1991. By their political engineering, both MMD long-time Secretary Michael Sata and his boss president Chiluba sowed the seeds of the demise of the MMD long before Mumba took over. While there is still some time left, it would be wise for Mumba to face reality and ask his colleagues to have the MMD form an alliance with the UPND with Nevers as the secondary partner of that alliance.

If there is anything we can learn from Katuba as we sprint towards 2016, it is the fact the UPND is on the rise, the MMD is dying and President Sata remains somewhat well-liked in his traditional areas. Will Hakainde Hichilema use this newly founded political capital to his advantage in the coming months? We will all watch and see.

For now, aleisa aleisa.

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Politics of Chigololo: President Sata, HH and the slurring of fatherless children

 By E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

Instead of being a father to the fatherless, President Sata has become a scoffer of the fatherless. Instead of being a father of the nation, President Sata has chosen to ridicule those among citizens who have lived without knowing their fathers. Quite extraordinarily, it takes a lot of steel for a man to condemn others for the same thing he does. Pointing a finger at others, when four are pointing back at you should be enough to warn you of your own decadence. It is bizarre to disparage Hakainde Hichilema as a child “born out of fornication” when you yourself have a chain of children born out wedlock. When President Sata first chanted the famous bana ba mufigololo stanza, in July 2013, to refer to both Father Frank Bwalya and Hakainde Hichilema, I gave him a benefit of doubt. He is only human and may be he just had a slip of a tongue. I rationalized that may be he had such an intense campaign for Lameck Mangani that he, in the heat of the moment, thoughtlessly brought in the cigololo analogy. In English, it does sound lighter. But used in CiNyanja these words are graver and even more uncouth.

Fatherhood is a privilege, but President Sata should not be slurring fatherless children.

Fatherhood is a privilege, but President Sata should not be slurring fatherless children. (Munshya with son Mwitumwa)

As if it was not enough that he had used these uncouth words in Chipata last year. President Sata has repeated the same slur. Campaigning in Katuba Constituency, last week (in February 2014) he used the same disparaging remarks referring to HH as a man “who cannot name his father.” President Sata, who is 76, went on to name his own father and challenged HH to do the same. By implication, President Sata does seem to be suggesting that HH is unworthy of the presidency because he was allegedly born out of wedlock. It is clear that President Sata does seem to have some issues he needs to settle in his own mind concerning “abana ba mufigololo”.

Mucigololo

President Sata’s “cigololo” insults are unacceptable – Munshya wa Munshya

Our constitution does attribute a lot of dignity to the person occupying the office of president. This is the reason why such an individual gets immunity from both civil and criminal suits while they serve. In fact, the Supreme Court has made it clear, that the Presidency is a high office that must be “honoured and respected”. According to Chief Justice Matthew Ngulube, in the case of Mmembe and others v. the People (1996), the presidency, as an institution, does deserve protection from, among other things, libel and defamation. For Ngulube the constitution makes the president to be “not equal” to everyone else. In reprimanding Spectator Kalaki’s Mfuwe article, the Supreme Court in Roy Clarke v. Attorney General, held that characterizing Mwanawasa and his cabinet as animals was in bad taste and was inconsistent with Zambian values. According to Chief Justice Ernest Sakala, “a Zambian President deserves respect”. Most recently, in the case of Mutuna & Others v. Attorney General (2013), Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda’s majority opinion did seem to have evoked both Justice Ngulube and Justice Sakala by claiming that the presidency is such a high office that is “authority on everything.” Indeed, our laws do seem to impute a lot of dignity, decorum and deference to the president. But the law has not quite addressed the question of how we citizens should handle a president who uses immunity as a cover to insult and disparage others.

Supreme Court precedence does seem to have worked presidential dignity backwards. It imputes respect and reasonableness on a president and then from there assumes that the president will act in fairness, reverence and dignity towards others (See Mutuna & Others). But what are we to do when citizens get the brunt of insults from a sitting Head of State? This is the question and the dilemma we face as a people today.

President Sata’s words should be taken for what they are: plain insults. It is not respectful for a person in authority to characterize some citizens as “abana ba mufigololo.” We might at this moment borrow some wisdom from President Frederick Chiluba who famously declared: imfumu taituka bantu, abantu ebatuka imfumu. Loosely translated, a good leader does not use his or her position of authority as a cover to slur subordinates. However, ever since the don’t kubeba government took office the reverse has happened: imfumu iletuka abantu! The PF government is a specialist in reverse gears. The latest casualty of their reverse gear is the falling Kwacha. But I will leave that for another day.

Presidential immunity should not be used as a way to insult, but rather as a way for a president to have the leverage and freedom to consult with others in national development. President Sata should look at others that went before him. Kenneth Kaunda was a “wamuyaya”, but where is he today? It was a custom of his to refer to citizens and some opponents as “stupid idiots”. But when the time came, he was kicked out of office. Then came Frederick Chiluba. Even if he never insulted his opponents, after leaving power in 2002, the Zambian parliament stripped him of his immunity. Mere suspicions of theft were enough to strip Chiluba of his bombasa. Rupiah Banda also has had his bombasa stripped. This should serve as a lesson to President Sata also. He should use the privilege of immunity to serve and not to abuse others. Immunity is quite an unreliable shield.

President Sata as Head of State is supposed to be inspiring confidence in a number of children born out of wedlock every day. It is not his job to disparage mothers giving birth to fatherless children. Indeed, this president is supposed to be president for all Zambians including those born out of wedlock. His continued ridiculing of HH only goes to perpetuate stigma against children in Zambia who have lived without knowing their father. In fact, daily in our primary schools, children without fathers are being subjected to bullying. They are being mocked for something that is not their fault. And yet, instead of receiving support from the leadership of our country, they receive innuendo that casts doubt on their personal value. What are these children supposed to do?

Hakainde Hichilema may have survived a fatherless childhood. He has made good out of himself. He is one of the richest guys in the whole country. He has been to school and his degrees are an envy of many. He is leader of one of the biggest political parties. He is a father himself, or perhaps, a grandfather. It is all these reasons that make President Sata’s remarks even more absurd.

As Zambians, we all know that many times, it is not biological parents who raise children. It takes a village to raise a child. For a man like HH to be where he is today, he received lots of support and nurture from many people in his community. It is these people – men and women – who were HH’s fathers and mothers. And just look at the finesse of a gentleman that he is. There is absolutely no reason why HH should be at the receiving brunt of these insults. If the constitution will not protect the fatherless innocents from a hasty president, we might as well rely on customary wisdom: Ubufumu bucindika umwine.