Category Archives: Zambian Political Theology

A Great Man Who Died “Empty”: Tribute to Dr. Myles Munroe (1954-2014)

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

The news came as a shock to me. Like most deaths, the passing of Dr. Myles Munroe was completely unexpected. He was flying to a meeting he was hosting in The Bahamas when his private plane hit a crane and disintegrated. All the nine passengers including Dr. Munroe’s wife Ruth died on the spot on November 9 2014. The Prime Minister of Bahamas, Perry Christie, remarked that the passing of Dr. Munroe was a huge loss to the island. Indisputably, Dr. Munroe had risen to be the most internationally influential preacher the commonwealth of Bahamas has ever produced. On many levels, the passing of Dr. Munroe has been a loss to his family, his church, his international followers and indeed to his native country. Munroe held three bachelor’s degrees, a Master of Arts degree and an honorary doctorate degree. He was a lecturer, advisor, pastor, and best-selling author.

I had the privilege of being introduced to the books and tapes of Dr. Munroe very young in my life. I started listening to Dr. Myles Munroe in my teenage years. My friends and I found the teachings from Dr. Munroe to be quite spiritually stimulating, emotionally vigorous and intellectually challenging. In the early nineties, a deacon in my home church in Chingola, the Grace Fellowship Family Church, lent me a book by Dr. Myles Munroe. I was only sixteen. But the book “In Pursuit of Purpose” changed my life. Henry Charles Sichone was a very dedicated church leader in Bishop Mumba Kalusenga’s congregation. He now provides leadership to a ministry called “Praise Ministries”. He had a home library where we could borrow books. It so happened that while he was sorting his books, I saw him tack away the book “In Pursuit of Purpose”. When I asked if he could lend it to me, he cautiously gave it to me with strict instructions that I return it in good condition. I had no idea just how much of an impact that book would have on my life. I am really glad that I came across that material. Dr. Myles Munroe helped shape my life through that book.

The Word of Faith Movement has received a lot of criticism. However, I find that some criticism to be quite unfair. While it is true that some within the faith movement only taught the idea that in order to make it in life you have to just “claim it”, there were other teachers who taught hard work, self-discipline and perseverance. Dr. Munroe belonged to the latter. There are several principles I learnt through the life and ministry of Dr. Myles Munroe.

First, Munroe taught about personal purpose. He taught that one’s fulfillment in life depends on them doing and becoming what they were born to be and do. This statement is quite liberating. I remember as a teenager reading through this statement and determining from then on that my fulfillment was not dependent on what my parents told me but on what I felt was God’s purpose for my life. It was this sense of personal purpose that led me to enroll in a theological college immediately after High School in Chingola. I have tried to pursue my personal purpose since then.

Second, Munroe taught about excellence. It was not enough to just know one’s purpose. Each person must work on excellence. The whole reason why we have a purpose to fulfill in life is because purpose brings something we can excel at. This is perhaps one of the most fundamental principles. The purpose of life is not to be rich or to be powerful, but rather to satisfy the primary reason why you exist. It is not about trying to be someone else, but it is about being an original. For some personal excellence might mean having to integrate several facets of life. Munroe was a preacher, lecturer and leadership consultant. It took excellence to integrate all these roles.

Dr. Myles Munroe

Dr. Myles Munroe

Third, Dr. Munroe taught about death. According to him, the grave is the richest place on earth because in it is buried great dreams that were never fulfilled. To motivate people, Dr. Munroe came up with a plan. The plan was about disappointing the grave. Instead of dying with a lot of potential, Munroe encouraged people to die “empty”. For him, a good death meant dying after you have fulfilled your purpose and emptied each and every piece of ideas or thoughts for the good humanity. Two weeks before his death, Munroe encouraged a TV audience to die like he was planning to die “empty”. The thought of human mortality does besiege each one of us. Existential questions abound in our minds. However, we should concentrate on ensuring that each day we live is spent emptying ourselves for the good of humanity. Indeed, after many lessons from Munroe, I am determined now more than ever to not only live purposefully, but also aspire to die “empty.”

Like many of us, Dr. Myles Munroe did have critics and detractors. He too had some debatable teachings. I am familiar with some of the controversial teachings later in his ministry. However, these controversies were never grave enough to warrant the criticism he received from some quarters. As a dispenser of concepts and ideas, Dr. Munroe did get into trouble. One of the most controversial aspects of his teachings has to do with his “Kingdom Theology”, which did seem to justify colonialism. Additionally, his teaching that “Christ” could be distinguished from “Jesus” was also quite controversial. For sure, the orthodox view is that, the man Jesus is actually the Christ. The humanity of Christ cannot be separated from the divinity of Christ. The human Jesus is the divine Christ. Weaknesses sometimes do show that we are all just human after all. Even the unimpeachable life of a great man like Myles Munroe could have some blemishes here and there. That is the hallmark of our own fallible humanity.

"A great man who died empty"

“A great man who died empty”

Years after I first encountered the teachings of Dr. Myles Munroe, I got to listen to him personally at a leadership conference in Swaziland. It was around the year 2000. The first meeting was at Lugogo Sun Hotel where he taught about leadership. The second meeting took place in Manzini where he spoke about the principles of purpose. It is these same principles that I had read about in his book “In Pursuit of Purpose.” I was just so glad that I could listen to him live. He appeared to be a very courteous fellow. After the Manzini meeting, I rushed to the stage, handed him a paper and he autographed it for me and for a hundred others that had jostled for the front. I have always had in my mind a desire to visit his home base in the Bahamas. But he died before I could travel to listen to him there. For sure, he died a great man. But he also died empty. He fulfilled his purpose and I just hope that each one of us will live to fulfill our own purpose and then die “empty”.

Rupiah Banda should form his own party and stop “ubuloshi”

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

Nevers Sekwila Mumba

Nevers Sekwila Mumba

If RB wants to stand, it would be great for the likes of Mulusa and RB to form the Movement for Bwezani and Mulusa (MBM) so that they can field RB. They should leave the MMD so that the party functions under the leadership of its elected president. What RB is doing to MMD, is not leadership but treachery. This is not how an elder statesman behaves, this is the way a spoiled child behaves. In other words and indeed for a lack of a better term what Rupiah Banda is doing can be called “Ubuloshi.”

No one should ever defile Rupiah Banda’s right to aspire for the presidency. He is a very old man, but he is a citizen nevertheless with full constitutional rights to stand for the presidency. Our constitution gives rights to babies as well as very old men and women. However, what is really offensive and unacceptable is corruption, theft, treachery, nepotism, and “ubu loshi”. You might ask me what is “ubuloshi”? I do not mean that RB ni ndoshi, here is my definition of political “ubuloshi”. Going behind the back of an elected leader and engineering a “political comeback” by poisoning the minds and hearts of the very people that were responsible for the failure of the MMD in the first place.

Handing the torch of leadership to the young is not easy. It requires great discipline from the old. It is remarkable that Mandela did it. Banda has the right to contest on his party which he and Mulusa will form, but he should not bring this confusion and tumult to the MMD. Why should these UNIPIsts be allowed to kill the MMD just like they killed UNIP? Nevers Mumba could not have come up with any magic to change the declining fortunes of the MMD within 3 or 5 years. It would take time and sacrifice and discipline. Evidence is there to prove that parties usually decline when they have a transition in the presidency. The same happened to UPND, but UPND is on the upswing, do you know why? It is because, they kept the young HH even when everything was showing that he was losing it, and now the UPND is being rewarded.

The same should happen to the MMD. Give Mumba a chance. A chance to make mistakes. A chance to be himself. A chance to reinvent the MMD. A chance to work on himself as a leader. A chance to be a true political candidate. But even before he could even cough, Rupiah the poisoner Banda wants to come back through the back door.

So what happened then to the speech RB gave in 2011. What happened to all those lectures he gave at Boston University ? This is the problem when a leader hires speech writers to do speeches for him. RB is not committed to any thing he read because the speech was just written for him. My advise to RB is to go back to his lectures at Boston and to reread the speech his consultants wrote for him in 2011.

As for Mulusa and all the young like him, it is disappointing, very disappointing to say the least. For now, we await the formation of a party of Mulusa, Muhabi Lungu and RB because Nevers Mumba is likely to win the court case.

If the MMD is not happy with Nevers, wait for the general conference and vote him out fairly. Not this game. If Nevers is being disrespected because he is a former pastor, then we all who are connected to churches should be very concerned. You killed MMD. You stole using MMD. You did all sorts of wrong using the name of the party, and now that you wanted someone to lead you you went begging to Nevers and you elected him overwhelmingly. It is shocking that you want to kick him out and bring back the very guy who made MMD to lose in 2011. Ninshi? Sata afwa and Rupiah Banda feels like he can bounce back?

I do love Rupiah Banda. He is a very kind old man. He looks to be very humorous. He is a statesman. He has respect all over the world. But this treachery is unacceptable. My advice to him is ” Bo Bwezani, form your own party and leave MMD alone.”

An Open Letter to Dr. Christine Mwelwa Kaseba

 

Kuli ba Mama Kaseba:

Intanshi mutende!

Before I proceed any further, let me state out-rightly what this letter is not about. As a person who strongly believes in women’s rights, I must commend your decision to stand as presidential candidate within days of burying your spouse. Indeed, every woman must aspire to provide leadership to this great country. Your ambition therefore should be encouraged. I also should assure you that your decision to stand has somehow provided that needed courage for all women all over Zambia. Indeed, there is no minimum time required for mourning. There is no one-way of mourning our beloved ones. Usually, traditions have been used to shackle good women, especially after the death of their spouses. Your bravery to provide your candidacy for consideration, therefore, should be commended. I therefore do not condemn you for taking this courageous step. You have done well. I want to live in a Zambia where women will indeed have the liberty to make decisions based on what they feel is right. The time should come when women should stand against traditions that have the potential to subjugate. As a spouse, you have a say in the way you want to mourn or not mourn the departed. While it is true that it has only been a week since your spouse was put to rest, we should commend you for wanting to carry on the legacy that he left behind. And in your own way you have chosen to continue the legacy. And that Ba Mfumu is where I find the problem.

Kanabesa, the reign of your late husband was controversial for our country.  Your spouse presided over a nation that has emerged more tribal and more nepotistic than any other president that has ruled our country. In three years we have accumulated more kaloba in billions of dollars. If this were the legacy you want to carry on, I would ask you to re-examine your heart and think again. Zambians are not naïve; we have seen how that the Zambian diplomatic corps now comprise your relatives and those of your late husband. Surprisingly, there are a number of diplomats whose only credential is that there were at one time very close personal friends of your spouse. I believe that part of the diplomatic corps should be scared now that you are aspiring to replace President Sata. But there is another cadre of diplomats that your candidacy will protect – your relatives and those of President Sata. If you say that this is the legacy you want to carry on, I should be the first one to state that please Ba Mfumu reexamine your decision.

Dr. Christine Mwelwa Kaseba

Dr. Christine Mwelwa Kaseba

From the civil service to the army, and parastatal organs, your relatives have greatly benefited from you being First Lady. Ba Mfumu your actions while First Lady in looking out only for the interest of your family creates reasonable suspicion in my heart that you do not mean well for the future of our country. Do not get me wrong. You do seem to be a great woman. You are educated. You do have a great experience as a medical doctor serving the needs of our poor at the University Teaching Hospital. But when we look at the government and see how many of your bululus are in office, it darkens our hearts and makes us wonder whether your reign will be any different from that of your late husband. As Laura Miti has rightly put it: “I just don’t want anyone from the Sata family. We need to dismantle the nepotistic edifice built in the state by the Sata presidency.”

Michael Chilufya Sata

Michael Chilufya Sata

When your husband was ill, we all saw that he had lost weight and that he was not alert at all. He was visibly sick, very sick. We meant well when we asked that your family consider withdrawing him from power so that he could concentrate on getting better. Who knows? May be he could have lived a little longer had he been away from the pressures of the State office. But our advice was met by repeated injury from yourself and those in his government. Even when he was addressing parliament, as frail as he was, the images of your beaming smile has despoiled our memory. We knew there was something wrong. But your smile tried to cover it all. You should not be blamed for the actions of your spouse, but it certainly creates questions in some of us to wonder what really was going on. As a spouse, were you complacent in keeping your husband going even when he had no capacity to provide leadership to our country? Now that you are aspiring to lead our country, it is in good conscience that we should ask these questions.

I am Ushi from Milenge, and as a people from the pedicle, we all know how widows become the first suspects after their spouses have died. That tradition is deplorable and we must condemn it. We should preside upon families to treat widows with all dignity and respect. As the Glorious Band sang in “Isambo Lya Mfwa”, it is unfair to heap the blame on the widows. That being the case, ba mfumu, we have a few questions that need answering considering that you are putting your name forward.

Obviously, we cannot insist on traditions now, when during illness our calls for humanity and Ubuntu were rebuffed. We cannot insist on a period of mourning now, when even at the time that Michael Chilufya Sata was visibly sick and incapacitated, all we saw was a cadre of people wanting to continue profiteering from the palms of a sick man.

I do not have confidence in your candidature. Your desire is to continue with the same legacy of corruption, nepotism and tribalism started by your spouse. You do not provide anything new and your time at State House as a spouse of President Sata inspires little confidence. You are a woman nevertheless and in a country that has been destroyed by men in power, it might be a source of relief to have a woman in power. But I really doubt if this woman should be you.

For now, I wish you well and hope that all goes well with you and yours. But please if you get elected to the presidency stop nepotism and tribalism and please help Zambia reduce on its appetite for “kaloba”.

Napwa Niine,

Munshya

MMD Adopts Nevers Mumba for upcoming presidential by-election

This is a statement issued by the MMD Secretariat and Media Team today, November 16 2014

Nevers Sekwila Mumba

Nevers Sekwila Mumba

The Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) has unanimously adopted MMD President Dr Nevers Sekwila Mumba as its candidate for the upcoming presidential by-election. After a lengthy meeting that started in the late afternoon on Sunday the 16th of November 2014 and ended almost at midnight, the MMD National Executive Committee (NEC) resolved that Dr Mumba was the duly elected MMD president and as such is the automatic candidate for any presidential election.

The NEC had met to consider this matter among other items that included the MMD’s participation in the upcoming by-election, resource mobilization and the possibility of making alliances with other opposition political parties. The NEC has given a full mandate to the president to investigate possible election alliances and to consider what role former president Rupiah Banda would be best suited for in the run up to the by-election.

The MMD constitution does not provide for another election during the time there is a sitting president, nor does it allow the NEC to overturn the decision of the MMD National Convention which was last held in May 2012 and saw Dr Mumba elected by 70% of the vote in the second round of an election that used the 50%+1 system.

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).