Category Archives: Zambian Political Theology

Answering Misheck Shulumanda on the question of Guy Scott and treason

A gentleman by the name of Micheck Shulumanda has asked a few questions over the propriety of Guy Scott acting as president. He is challenging the use of Article 38 instead of Article 39 when deciding who should act as president. I wish to provide some answers.

  1. If the President appointed Minister of Defense and Justice, and PF Secretary General Hon Edgar Lungu to act under Article 39 (1), on what basis did the Attorney General advice Cabinet that Dr. Guy Scott is the rightful person to Act?

Article 39 operates when a President is alive. Article 38 operates when a President is “dead” and there is a vacancy in the presidency. The death of Michael Chilufya Sata triggered the operation of Article 38 as a vacancy due to death arose.

  1. Why did the Attorney General only rely on Article 38 which deals with vacancy in the office of the Presidency without addressing himself to Article 39 (1) under which Hon. Lungu should have been appointed since the President left the country for medical purposes?

There was no need to address himself to Article 39 because President Sata died. When a President dies, a vacancy in the presidency is declared and that triggers sections of the constitution that deals with a “vacancy”. One such section is Article 38.

  1. Why is it that President Sata never allowed Vice President Guy Scott to act as President if not for the reasons that he was incapable to perform functions of the office of President? Why should he act now that he is dead?

I do not know why President Sata never allowed Scott to act. Guy Scott can act now that President Sata is dead, because as you have said it, he is dead. President Sata and his actions or inactions are never a source of constitutional law in Zambia. The source of Zambia’s constitutional law are as follows: (1) the text of the constitution, (2) the judgements from the Supreme Court and the High Court, (3) unwritten conventions from our English Common law heritage, (4) Acts of parliament. His Excellency President Michael Sata or any president are not a source of Zambia’s constitutional law. Guy Scott is acting now, because there is a vacancy in the presidency on account of the death of an incumbent.

  1. Was President Sata on the wrong side of the law when he asked others to act even when the Vice President was verily available in the country?

This question has no relevance to the matter at hand. The question is not about whether Sata was right or wrong, but rather what should happen in the event that there is a vacancy in the presidency. According to our constitution, the repository of Executive power in the event of a vacancy in Zambia is the Vice-President.

So has, Attorney General Musa Mwenye committed treason? Not a bit.

The Cobra Who Charmed a Nation: The Life and Times of Michael Chilufya Sata

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

President Sata with President Kenneth Kaunda

President Sata with President Kenneth Kaunda

Michael Chilufya did not have one life. He had many lives. His relatively long life, by Zambian standards, where life expectancy is around 45, mean that there is a huge span from which one could chose his story. Like many of his contemporaries, very little is known of his childhood. Born in 1937, there is very little known about the young Sata except that he was born in Mpika and went to primary school there. Around 1964 during the fight for the country’s independence some accounts situate the young Sata as a constable in the colonial police force. There are some accounts that he spent some years in the United Kingdom after serving as a colonial police officer in the 1960s.

Sata rose to national fame and notoriety when in the late 1970 and early 1980s he emerged as a talkative member of the United National Independence Party (UNIP). This political recklessness did wonders for him. He quickly caught the eye of the then President Kenneth Kaunda who appointed him District Governor of Lusaka and later as Local Government and Rural Development Minister. In many ways, Sata was different from most of his political contemporaries. Most of his colleagues were mostly educated and had stints in the Foreign Service. Sata never had the luxury of the two. He never served in the Foreign Service and his education level remained humble. Nevertheless, in spite of that, he still managed to catch the attention of the nation and that of Kenneth Kaunda. As Lusaka Governor, the tough talking and pragmatic Sata embarked on a modernization program for the city. He presided over the building of the flyover bridges over the town-centre and established a quasi-private company to take care of the water reticulation system in Lusaka. That company has continued to this day.

The Late Michael Chilufya Sata

The Late Michael Chilufya Sata

When in 1991, the dawn of multi-party democracy rose over Zambia, Sata was among some UNIP loyalists who crossed over to the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) late. As a politically cunning and calculating tactician, Sata chose to remain in UNIP until late so as to perhaps get the best of both worlds. When he joined the MMD, he became an instant hit. At the MMD convention of April 1991 Sata was elected chairman of local government. He pledged his total support for President Chiluba and the two became political confidantes. To be clear, Sata had the political clout of his own within the MMD. In Chiluba’s government Sata served various portfolios. He worked as a Local Government Minister. During his tenure in this portfolio, allegations of corruption surfaced. But was cleared by both his boss and the Anti-Corruption Commission. He also served as Health Minister. Chiluba’s choice of Sata for the health portfolio surprised many because some thought that Sata was not intellectually sophisticated to lead a portfolio that had medical doctors and nurses. But Sata excelled in this ministry. Hospitals became cleaner. Morale among health workers was revamped. The straight talking Sata encouraged nursing schools to admit Enrolled Nurses so that they could become Registered Nurses. Under his watch, he changed nurses’ uniforms to include the wearing of pants. Sata also served in several other portfolios such as Labor and as Minister-Without-Portfolio.

Sata’s politics, however, during the first term of the MMD did have enemies. The most vicious of the fights was between himself and the then Vice-President Levy Mwanawasa. After realizing that he could not break the bond between Sata and Chiluba, Mwanawasa resigned from the vice-presidency citing irreconcilable differences with Michael Sata. For his part, Sata claimed that Mwanawasa was a political novice whose skills were only good for the practice of law and not politics. The resignation of Mwanawasa would see Sata being elevated to more visible status within the party and the government. Indeed, after the 1996 convention, Sata became National Secretary of the MMD. As Chief Executive of the MMD he became the architect of the Chiluba political engineering.

Michael Sata with Hakainde Hichilema

Michael Sata with Hakainde Hichilema

After the 1996 elections, Sata mostly served as a minister-without-portfolio in Chiluba’s cabinet and as the MMD’s Chief Executive. Throughout all this political career, the down-to-earth man of the people image made Sata very popular on the street. He was a lovable character. When speaking to the people, he would use the common language that citizens on the street could understand. He was a constant feature in the media. He was a story maker. Towards the end of Chiluba’s second term, rumours started swirling that Chiluba was interested in going for the third term. For his part, Sata appeared to have been the main architect of this initiative. He advised Chiluba to appoint District Administrators to bring “government close to the people”. Nevertheless it was clear that this initiative was really about the Third Term.

In 2001 when it became clear that Zambians would not support Chiluba’s Third Term bid, Sata had some hope that it was he that the party was going to adopt to succeed Chiluba. Shortly before that, Sata as National Secretary presided over the expulsion of over 50 senior members of the MMD including the country’s vice-president then, Christone Tembo. If there was anyone who was playing his cards well, it was Sata. But Chiluba had other plans. At a party meeting at State House, Chiluba influenced the MMD to pick Levy Mwanawasa out of political retirement to become the party’s candidate. This infuriated Sata. There was no way Sata was going to support his nemesis Mwanawasa as presidential candidate for his MMD. In 2001, Sata broke off from Chiluba, left the government house and formed his own party, naming it the Patriotic Front after Mugabe’s party in Zimbabwe.

Chiluba and Sata - as MMD leaders 1991 to 2002

Chiluba and Sata – as MMD leaders 1991 to 2002

After leaving the MMD, Sata became a fierce critic of both the MMD party and its new president Levy Patrick Mwanawasa. It seems like the old enmity had resurfaced. The politics was brutal. For Sata, Mwanawasa was a cabbage. In his campaign messages, Sata claimed that Mwanawasa was so sick that his mind and his mouth had stopped coordinating. With these attacks against Mwanawasa and the MMD, Sata’s political star started to rise. His anti-capitalist and anti-Chinese messages found a home among the urbanites. His Patriotic Front party started to pick seats in the by-elections the first one being from the Copperbelt. Yamfwa Mukanga won Kantanshi seat with the support of the Cobra. Something happened however, that seemed to have changed the Cobra’s attitude towards Mwanawasa. Having been a strong critic of Mwanawasa, Sata changed after he himself got a heart attack only to be evacuated at midnight by Mwanawasa. When Sata returned to Zambia, he had the change of heart. He met Mwanawasa at State House and from that meeting the two became friends. Sata’s illness and Mwanawasa’s reaction to it had helped these political leaders come to some agreement and cooperation.

When Mwanawasa died in 2008, Sata joined the nation in mourning his friend. However, he quickly found another enemy, the vice-president Rupiah Banda. In the presidential by-election of that year, Sata was brutally defeated. But by this time, it was clear that his political star had only gotten brighter and it was just a matter of time before he would win the presidency. And sure enough, three years later, Michael Chilufya Sata delivered a blistering defeat to incumbent Rupiah Banda becoming Zambia’s fifth president.

There were a lot of expectations on the shoulder of the new leader. But within the first week of winning, Sata went beyond the limit of how many people he could nominate to parliament. He presented ten names instead of eight. He was forced to retract. He appointed a cabinet full of his relatives and fellow tribes mates. What had been an election of hope quickly gave to despair. To invest in infrastructure development, he borrowed heavily from the Eurobonds. And then one year into power, his physical and mental health started to deteriorate. His close confidantes denied that there was any problem. In fact, they said that he was working very hard behind the scenes.

Sata leaves behind a divided party and nation - Munshya

Sata leaves behind a divided party and nation – Munshya

To his credit, in spite of his invisibility, the business of government continued being carried out. The loyalty he commanded seemed surreal both within the party and the government. Reports of his death emerged on several occasions but each time it was rumoured he had died, he would emerge looking stronger than before. On 20th October 2014, he was flown to London for what officials said was going to be a medical review. He died in London on October 28 2014. He was 78. He leaves behind several children. And for sure, he leaves behind a divided party and nation. However, one thing can never be denied of Michael Chilufya Sata: he was the cobra who charmed a nation.

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Suggested citation: Munshya, E. (2014). The Cobra Who Charmed a Nation: The Life and Times of Michael Chilufya Sata. Elias Munshya Blog (found at http://www.eliasmunshya.org) (29 October 2014)

After the Cobra: What does the law say about Vice-President Guy Scott?

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

Guy Lindsay Scott

Guy Lindsay Scott

The President of the Republic of Zambia, Michael Chilufya Sata has died. He died in a London hospital on 28 October 2014. Sata died the same week that the nation was celebrating 50 years of independence from Great Britain. The question grappling the nation right now is whether the nation’s Vice-President Guy Lindsay Scott satisfies the constitution to be an Acting President for 90-days before calling a special election to replace Michael Sata. The complication with Guy Scott is that his father and mother are Scottish. In fact, Guy Scott is perhaps the only white Vice-President across the African continent. According to the Zambian constitution, one can only satisfy the constitutional requirements to be a presidential candidate if both parents of the candidate are “Zambian by birth or descent”. There are two sides to this issue: those who argue that Scott does not satisfy this requirement and those who argue that he does. In order to shade light on this issue, I must begin with some boring yet important stuff.

Sata and Scott

Sata and Scott

According to both the written and unwritten principles of the Zambian constitution, the Supreme Court and the High Court of Zambia are the primary interpreters of the constitution of Zambia. This means that if there is any ambiguity in the constitution we should look to the court’s interpretation for guidance. In this constitutional set-up, the written constitution of Zambia and the ruling of the courts of law, together comprise what we should refer to as “constitutional law”. Constitutional law seldom refers to the text of the constitution alone. In most cases, the constitution is sometimes vague and some concepts such as “parent” or “Zambia” need further illumination and explanation. According to stare decisis, courts are supposed to follow the precedence set by the higher court in a hierarchy. Of principal importance in our judicial system is the idea that the courts of law do in fact play a huge role in interpreting the law and their rulings become binding. In stare decisis, if the ratio decidendi of one case can sufficiently be applied to another case, we have the obligation to follow the ruling of the precedent. With these boring principles in mind we can now turn back to the Guy Scott issue.

The constitution of Zambia is clear. For one to be a presidential candidate in Zambia, his or her parents must be Zambian by “birth or descent”. The question is what does this mean? It could mean many different things to different people. However, if the Supreme Court answers the question of what this means, it should settle the matter. This is because this is the system we have chosen for ourselves. It is our rule of law. It is the way we handle contentious issues. We take it to court and the courts give us an interpretation. In 1998, the Supreme Court answered this same question. In Lewanika and Others v Chiluba, the court was asked to disqualify Chiluba from the presidency because his father was “not a Zambian by birth or descent”. The petitioners presented several versions with regard to Chiluba’s father. There was a Zairian Chabala Kafupi and the Mozambican Jim Zahare. Chiluba the defendant offered an alternative version of his parentage and claimed that his father was actually from either Kawambwa or Mwense. But that is beside the point. The Supreme Court assumed the facts as avowed by the petitioners and ruled that even if Chiluba’s father were a Zairian or a Mozambican; Chiluba would still satisfy the constitutional requirement of having parents being “Zambian by birth or descent”. The ratio decidendi, or the reason for the ruling is based on several principles. First, the Supreme Court erected a wall of citizenship and held that the republic of Zambia was actually created on 24 October 1964. Having been so created on this date, those who were ordinarily resident in Zambia on this day became citizens of Zambia. For such people, there is no need to inquire into the citizenship of their parentage, as none of their parents would qualify as “Zambians” because there was no nation called “Zambia” before that. Second, the Supreme Court ruled that the requirement for “Zambian citizenship” might make sense later in the history of Zambia. But even then, it would still create problems for the future of Zambia. Third, the court then dealt with racial issues. They made it clear that an assumption that the constitution deliberately discriminates against whites or Chinese does not make sense. In order for such an assumption to be made, the constitution should explicitly state that. Having explicitly not isolated one tribe or one colour, the court could find no justification in upholding this discriminatory part of the constitution especially as far as presidential eligibility is concerned. Fourth, having been cognizant of the political rhetoric that accompanied the “parentage clause” enactment into the constitution, the court relied on the actual text of the constitution, embraced its absurdities and offered an explanation that was consistent with Zambian history and principles of fairness and justice.

After the ruling in Lewanika and others v Chiluba, the question is whether the ratio decidendi of the case can be sufficiently applied to Guy Scott’s situation. Guy Scott was born in the then Northern Rhodesia, and acquired Zambian citizenship at independence in 1964. Having so acquired that citizenship, there is a legal wall that makes the citizenship of his parents invisible and inconsequential to his legal status as a founding citizen of Zambia. Additionally, even if his parents continued being citizens of Britain, it should not affect his own satisfaction of the Zambian constitution since the “Zambian by birth or descent” requirement does not apply to him and to many others who became citizens of Zambia when the nation was created in 1964. Following the Chiluba case, it is clear that just like Chiluba satisfied the constitution in spite of the possibility of a Mozambican or a Zairian father, Scott would also satisfy the constitution in spite of his British father. The Guy Scott case has facts, which can meet the ratio decidendi of the Chiluba case.

Having offered this legal explanation. I must confess that there is more to life than just law. While Zambia remains a nation ruled by law rather than men, it is incumbent upon the leaders and the people to find a political solution to some contentious issues. Those who do not want Scott to lead a transition should do so without unnecessarily abusing the law as justification. The law is definitely on the side of Guy Scott. I am not too sure though whether the politics are on Scott’s side. I have tried to answer the legal question. I will leave it up to the cabinet and the people of Zambia to answer the political question. At the end of the day, our nation should stand as one during this time of transition. May the soul of Michael Chilufya Sata rest in eternal peace.

Note: Those seeking specific legal advice should consult members of the Zambian bar. I am not a member of the Zambian bar. I am in the process of applying for a student-at-law status in the jurisdiction of Alberta, Canada. I hold an LLB (Honours) from England and have completed all coursework towards the award of an LLM degree from Northwestern University (Chicago, IL).

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Suggested citation: Munshya, E. (2014). After the cobra: what does the law say about Vice-President Guy Scott? Elias Munshya Blog. (found at http://www.eliasmunshya.org) (28 October 2014).

One Zambia One Nation: The need for a new narrative

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

President Kenneth Kaunda and King Mwanawina III

President Kenneth Kaunda and King Mwanawina III

After 50 years of independence there is need for Zambians to begin reimagining the myth of their nation. The story of our nation needs to be told in a fresh and new light. Each time a nation or indeed an individual celebrates an anniversary; there is a great temptation and pressure to focus only on the past rather than on the future. This is the temptation we risk falling for, this 24th October 2014. From 1964, there is a possibility that we will begin looking back over the years and let nostalgia pervert our ability to imagine a future ahead of us. We could spend all of the time and effort at seeking to recover the fossils hoping to get inspiration from our past. Regardless of how glorious the past has been the people of Zambia should use the past as a springboard to a new imagination of a future. This is not to mean that we should dishonor the past, but rather that we must use the past only as a backdrop of inspiration for tomorrow. The nation that was not has now been, for 50 years. It cannot return to the past, but it can only spring to its future. To do so, we will need courageous imagination to foster a unity needed to face the challenges of tomorrow rather than the ambiance of yesterday.

We need to reimagine our education system. For any nation to prosper, it needs an educated citizenry. This education must be in areas that our economy needs most: science and technology. The government and the business sectors should begin investing in those educational programs that offer a promise for the future. No doubt, we have had a proliferation of universities in the past ten years. This is only but a beginning. Government now needs to put in place a qualifications framework of some sort so that quality is assured. Zambia right now is not facing a university problem more than it is facing a university “quality” problem. Regardless of how many new universities we build in Chinsali, without quality we would only be digressing and not progressing. Fifty years after independence, it becomes necessary to establish a national qualifications framework that could both accredit and regulate the universities around the country. Additionally, it is no secret that most of the universities have gone into the humanities. I have no problems with humanities. I have read humanities at both universities and seminaries. I love humanities. But Zambia also needs sciences and technology. Government and the private sector can invest in higher education that produces suitable graduates in the sciences and technology. It is unacceptable that fifty years after independence we still cannot design a single “fosholo” to help mine copper in Kansanshi. With a new imagination and new incentives, I have no doubt that a future Zambia can create the higher educational framework for the good of our common tomorrow.

We also need to reimagine and reevaluate our dependence on copper. It is rather shocking that fifty years after our so called independence our country still depends upon copper for its economic survival. Now copper is a finite resource, it is a diminishing resource. The problem with such dependence is that our economy oscillates according to the performance of copper in Beijing and London. We must face the honest assessment that, Zambia has no economic future without economic diversification. Regardless of how glorious the past of copper has been, we have to reimagine a future of Zambia that is less dependent upon copper. With fertile land that is the envy of millions and water so abundant as to quench the thirst of billions, we have no justifiable excuse to fail in agriculture. We need a fresh imagination that takes our minds off copper to other things such as agriculture to develop our country.

In terms of politics, we have made giant steps since 1964. We have had five presidents. We have done mature transitions from one leader to another. We have a judiciary that is relatively independent. We have a somewhat workable constitution. And in the little areas it is not working, we are making effort at changing that which needs to change in this 1991 constitution. We are a talking people, and we do not take kindly to governments that want to desecrate our liberty to speak and to assemble. That being the case, we must continue in the same spirit to safeguard our democracy. The greatest defenders of any democracy are the ordinary men and women around the country. Democracy belongs to the people. As such, the people of Milenge as well as Mwinilunga should continue participating in the democratic process. We should continue to vote and make our voices heard. It is our democracy. It is our country and we have a duty to hold leaders accountable. We must build on our democratic success over the last fifty years to build a more robust democracy for the next fifty years and beyond.

On the eve of Zambia's Independence - 23 October 1964

On the eve of Zambia’s Independence – 23 October 1964

Zambia is not necessarily our heritage more than it is our destiny. Heritage connects you to the past, but destiny connects you to the future. Our republic should connect us not only to our past, but also to our future. Zambia should be a collection of people united in their imagination of the future rather than a morgue of people united only by a common past. A past is limited, while a future has unlimited. Together, we are creating a destiny called Zambia. Each day is an opportunity to build a nation and to help imagine that place we desire for ourselves and for our children. Destiny looks at other Zambians and collaborates with them in building a future for the people of Nakonde as well as Chirundu. It is not enough to share a common past, what we need now is a commitment to share a common future. This has implications. Tribalism can easily be defeated if we all decided to focus more on the destiny we are trying to create rather than on the heritage whose past we may not all share. To create a future for Zambia means we have to go beyond the limits of our own tribes to capture out of other tribes a common dream for Zambia. Destiny means we should find it repugnant for a cabinet to feature only one tribe or region. Destiny is welcome of others and this is the welcome we need for Zambia and her future. A Zambia at fifty should be accepting of a Vice-President Guy Scott not just by the colour of his skin, but rather by the content of his passion for our nation. When we condemn tribalism, we should also condemn racism and the evil that comes with it. Zambia belongs to all. It belongs to the Bantu, the Ng’uni, the Luba-Lunda migrants, the Mfecane raiders, the Bantu Botatwe, the Makololo invaders as well as the descendants of the Europeans. It belongs to all.

To a nation committed to a bright future, we should all say happy 50th Anniversary, Zambia.

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

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

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

King Mwanawina III

King Mwanawina III

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

President Kenneth Kaunda and King Mwanawina III

President Kenneth Kaunda and King Mwanawina III

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

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

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

The story of Zambia is incomplete without Mwanawina III - Munshya

The story of Zambia is incomplete without Mwanawina III – Munshya

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

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Suggested citation:

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

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

E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

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

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

United National Independence Party (UNIP)

United National Independence Party (UNIP)

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

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

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

President Kenneth Kaunda

President Kenneth Kaunda

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

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

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

Kenneth Kaunda

Kenneth Kaunda

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

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

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

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

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Suggested Citation:

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

Sacking Wynter Kabimba: Implications for Sata’s presidency

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

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

Kabimba and Sata - the good days

Kabimba and Sata – the good days

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

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

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

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

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

President Sata should resign - Munshya

President Sata should resign – Munshya

 

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