Tag Archives: Frederick Chiluba

Preliminary Ruling Procedure under EU Law and the Lessons for the African Union

By Elias Munshya, LLB (Hons), LLM, M.Div.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the sole interpreter of the treaties and acts of the institutions of the European Union (EU). The African Union (AU) has not adopted a court similar to the role provided by the ECJ to the EU. Nevertheless, if and when the AU establishes such a court, it would be important for the AU court to learn from its EU counterpart and consider how it could better serve the needs of its peoples.

Elias Munshya, LLM, M.A., MBA, M.Div.

Elias Munshya, LLM, M.A., MBA, M.Div.

According to Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the “preliminary rulings procedure” refers to the process by which national courts can refer legal questions to the ECJ. The major objective of the preliminary ruling procedure is to provide a uniform interpretation and application of EU law across all the member states. With the EU membership now standing at 28 nations, the preliminary rulings procedure as it stands currently would need serious reform. According to the ECJ’s own statistics the average waiting time for a preliminary ruling is about 20 months. In some cases it can be as long as two years. It is a legal principle that justice delayed is justice denied. With a ruling taking as much as 20 months to be given, this is clearly unacceptable and more injustice can be done by such delays. However, there are several ways through which the preliminary ruling procedure should be reformed so as to avoid these unnecessary delays.

The ECJ should appoint more judges. Currently, there are 28 judges in the General Court as well as the Court of Justice itself. Each member state contributes one judge to both the Court of Justice and the General Court. This number is too small. The ECJ presides over the Union comprising 28 nations with a population of over 500 million people. This makes the EU to be the third largest population after China and India. Just from these population statistics it is clear that 54 judges would not just be enough to resolve all the complex cases that such a population would generate.

Some academics dismiss the significance of having more judges for the ECJ. As stated by Professor Arnull, “the larger the court, the less effective it is at delivering prompt and intellectually judgments”. But the point that these critics miss is the fact that you can never have efficiency without numbers, especially if the workload of the ECJ is actually responsible for the delays in the preliminary ruling procedure. There is just no way out. Reforms aimed at the preliminary ruling procedure should at least address the issue of the fact that the court itself is widely under staffed.

The ECJ can let the General Court take up more cases. Currently, the General Court’s jurisdiction is restricted to competition law and some judicial review cases from the specialized courts. However, if the preliminary rulings waiting time is to be further reduced, it would be necessary that the General Court is granted more authority and more power to take up some cases that would normally be handled by the Court of Justice itself. In fact, the General Court should be given the power to be the court of first instance that rules on all matters and would only refer to the Court of Justice itself matters that it feels are of major legal significance.

Doubts on whether giving more power to the General Court would help ease the preliminary rulings delays have been well pronounced. For example, the reform proposed at the Treaty of Nice in 2001, which sought to give more specific areas to the General Court have still not been adopted. Member states have not agreed on which specific areas to assign to the General Court. Additionally, the question of whether the General Court would help ease the workload of the Court of Justice remains to be answered considering that giving more powers to the General Court may just create another layer of bureaucracy which could overburden the Court of Justice itself.

One of the things that contribute to the delays in the preliminary rulings procedure as noted by the Due Report is the issue of language and the need of translations. The EU must address itself to the issue of language very quickly; otherwise it will be unworkable and expensive to run in the long term. With 28 members and 23 official languages, there is just no way that the system can run efficiently while at the same time expecting that judgments, court procedures and other auxiliary matters be translated in so many languages. The ECJ should restrict itself to two to four languages that would become the lingua franca of the courts in all matters. These languages could be English, German, Spanish and French. At least fewer languages can help the ECJ become more efficient.

Language is a very emotive issue. But the EU must address it very frankly. There is no union that can last without some form of uniform language. The earlier the 28 members come to an agreement the better. Otherwise the success of the EU itself and indeed the preliminary ruling procedure may rise or fall on the issue of language.

While being mindful of the fact that the major objective for the preliminary ruling procedure is the uniform application of Union law, it would be necessary for the courts to have additional judges, who would be schooled in the lingua franca, and who would then serve on some regional divisions of the ECJ. These regional divisions would have the power to rule on preliminary rulings, but would have to refer to the Court of Justice significant legal questions. This would indeed help to reduce the waiting time, since these regional courts would be able to take off some workload from the Court of Justice. With all these lessons from the EU, an AU court should be able to do well learning from what has worked and what has not worked with the EU.


Citation: Munshya, E. (2015) Preliminary Ruling Procedure under EU Law and the Lessons for the African Union. Elias Munshya Blog (www.eliasmunshya.org) (24 September 2015)

Damaging Zambia: Why parliamentary floor-crossing dents our democracy

By Elias Munshya, LLM, M.Div., M.A., LLB, B.A.

 Multi-party participatory democracy is deeply weaved in the very fabric of Zambian democracy. It should be an offence under the penalty of treason to undermine our democratic foundations fortified by the concrete beams of multipartyism. Zambians fought Kenneth Kaunda’s one-party participatory democracy because we knew the benefit that lay in having parties freely compete for support in the market place of democracy. Weak and sometimes inefficient as they are, political parties provide a primary platform to debate ideas and policies that strengthen our nation. In our constitution, presidential candidates must be members or should be sponsored by a political party. In parliament, our constitution recognizes the role that political parties play by crafting our democratic instructions in terms of the ruling party, the opposition party and other political parties.

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

Parties are important for several reasons. First, they provide a platform to test political ideas and persuasions. Second, parties provide a platform to assess leaders, at least in theory. Third, parties provide checks and balances. If political leaders go against party policy, the party that sponsored them can always attempt to bring them into line. Fourth, political parties provide the restraint desirable in political players. Left on their own, MPs can grow brains and get into serious mischief. Fifth, political parties are smaller models of what national governance should look like. We should be able to look at how someone runs their political party to judge how effective or ineffective their leadership could be. Sixth, and most importantly, political parties provide a stage for political organisation, civic association and electoral mobilization.

Our constitution protects our multi-party system by putting in place mechanisms by which the party political system must be respected. A member of parliament, who resigns from the party that sponsored her to parliament, must relinquish her parliamentary seat (Article 71[2]). This is a reasonable system to ensure that political parties have a voice in the governance of the nation. Additionally, if an MP is not conforming to party policy, the party has the right to suspend or expel that MP. Party leaders should have the power to intervene, suspend and expel their erring MPs. That is the nature of our system.

The idea that MPs who go to parliament should be beyond the reach of party discipline is repugnant to me and certainly distasteful to our democratic system. Multi-partyism is the system we have chosen for our selves and we had better make good use of it. I know some people who hate political parties. Well, here is some news to such characters; the Zambian system is a party political system. We do partisan politics. We are a partisan nation. And that is well within the nature of our democracy.

It is in this vein that we must interpret the recent remarks by Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM). On Wednesday 22 July 2015, GBM got appointed to the position of Vice-President of the United Party for National Development (UPND). However, he refused to step down as the Patriotic Front (PF) Kasama Member of Parliament (MP). Essentially, GBM wants to do a double tobela. He wants to be a Vice-President of the UPND while at the same time serving as a member of parliament for a different political party. The Zambian constitution forbids what GBM claims he is doing. By joining the UPND, he has lost the parliamentary seat, which he acquired as a member of the Patriotic Front.

Double tobela

Double tobela

Both UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and GBM know that they cannot hold on to a PF seat. I think though, that their words are some kind of a protest at the way President Lungu and his predecessors have wantonly ignored the sacredness of our party political system. Beginning with Levy Mwanawasa, presidents have unashamedly poached opposition MPs by appointing them to cabinet and then using them for partisan interests of the ruling party. In the case of Edgar Lungu, he has poached several UPND MPs, and in spite of legitimate protests from the UPND leadership and membership, Lungu has not relented in using these UPND MPs for Patriotic Front partisan business. Perhaps the most bizarre of these machinations was when Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) MP Vincent Mwale served as campaign manager for a PF parliamentary candidate in the recent by-elections in which the MMD, which sent him to parliament, was supposed to participate. The idea that Vincent Mwale is beyond the reach of his principal Nevers Mumba is an affront to democracy. Equally, the idea that Greyford Monde should be beyond the reach of UPND discipline when it is the UPND that sponsored him to parliament is ridiculous. In fact, it is as ridiculous as GBM defiantly grandstanding that he has a right to be a PF MP when he has clearly joined the UPND.

Zambia United

Zambia United

Apparently, President Levy Mwanawasa started this deplorable practice. According to Levy, since the constitution says the President can appoint a cabinet from parliament, the president could appoint to parliament any MP she wants. Levy was both right and wrong. He was right that a president could appoint any MP, but Levy was wrong to preach that the president could ignore opposition political party leaders by poaching MPs without sanction of the sponsoring party. The constitution should never be interpreted in ways that undermine multipartyism and pluralism. A president who wants to work with opposition MPs should first get permission from the particular party. Under this arrangement, both the president’s party and the concerned opposition party will then have some kind of an alliance (or coalition) to rule together. Brazenly poaching MPs from parties does not advance our democratic ideals it undermines it.

President Lungu should forthwith reconsider his appointment of opposition MPs and have these MPs amenable to the discipline of their political parties. Lungu cannot justify his actions simply because Levy did it. “Levy did it”, is not justification enough to break, damage, and then undermine a fundamental character of our democratic system. If Lungu really likes Levy, he should copy the good things Levy did and not copy Levy’s bad manners. Levy helped Zambia reduce kaloba, he invested wisely in infrastructure, the kwacha was under control and he fought corruption. Those are the good things to copy.

For now, I am almost certain that there will be a by-election in Kasama. GBM cannot sustain the claim to a PF seat. As the by-election approaches, I am sure the UPND will make huge gains. GBM’s move to the UPND is certainly a game changer. God bless our partisan republic.

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

Cuundu Chaitwa: Leveraging the power of regional politics in Zambia

E. Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

Regions are vital ingredients of our democracy. Without regional power and peculiarities, Zambian democracy would have long perished. The best way for Zambia is a heterogeneous political polity and a diverse confluence of various regional patterns and preferences. Instead of castigating regionalism, we must now, more than ever, embrace it and leverage it for national development. The issue should never be about destruction of tribes and regions, but rather equal respect for all and by all. And that includes respecting “cuundu chaitwa”.

Elias Munshya

Elias Munshya

While we were all intoxicated by the charm of Frederick Chiluba and his team of magicians in the 1991 elections, there was one region that stood firm against the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD): the Eastern province. The Easterners did a “wako ni wako” and decided to stick with Kaunda’s UNIP. Those 25 seats held by UNIP in the east saved Zambian democracy. Those seats assured checks and balances in parliament. They provided a cushion. Had Frederick Chiluba won all the seats in parliament, we would have lost our democracy. In 1991, and years after that, Zambian democracy was saved because a region decided not to follow the whole country in the sweeping of change.

Shortly after the 1991 defeat, Kenneth Kaunda retired from active politics. However, he still had interest in the presidency and this interest became a great source of instability in UNIP. Kaunda finally returned to the helm of the ruling party. What ensued was a bitter political fight between Chiluba and Kaunda. The fallout was acrimonious. Kaunda decided to lead UNIP into the boycott of the 1996 elections. And with that boycott Chiluba accomplished what he had failed in 1991 – total control over all the constituencies and all the regions. The MMD’s control of almost all seats in parliament after the 1996 elections led to its natural consequence: Chiluba was going to be “wamuyaya”. He was now commander of the entire republic and as such, his lieutenants in the MMD started promoting a Third Term. He had reason to do that because he had the requisite numbers in parliament and there was no region and no party to hold him accountable. But then another region emerged.

After the 1996 elections, it is the rise of the United Party for National Development (UPND) that would help refurbish our democracy. In the ensuing by-elections between 1996 and 2001, the UPND swept all of them in Southern Province. With those wins in the south, Anderson Mazoka’s party was going to develop into a real national party. By the 2001 elections, it was the UPND which had become the biggest opposition party. It had a loyal region in the south and it has been so for many years. After the disappointing fall of UNIP after 1996, there was virtually no opposition of consequence until the emergence of Mazoka.

Cuundu Chaitwa

Cuundu Chaitwa

Having one party win all the seats in parliament, has not worked very well for Zambia. When Chiluba had almost all the seats after the 1996 elections, he began to contemplate the “wamuyaya” doctrine. When Sata’s Patriotic Front (PF) swept to power in 2011, the Secretary of the PF, Wynter Kabimba would be heard boasting that Sata and the PF should become the sole party. Kabimba saw the PF’s victory in 2011 as indicative of the fact that Zambians now wanted to have the PF as the sole political party. Kabimba’s one-party project flopped because, there was clearly one region that was not going to tolerate his nonsense: the Southern Province. Had the south not been an opposition stronghold it would have been easier for the ruling party to try and push through some undemocratic “wamuyaya” changes. Currently, Davies Chama the new Secretary of the Patriotic Front has also been heard stating that the Patriotic Front might as well be Zambia’s sole party. Indeed, it does appear like the PF is sweeping the East and if they make gains in the Northwest and Western, they are likely to command unhealthily large sections of parliament. The only real antidote to their venom is the faithfulness of the south to the opposition UPND.

In the Third Republic, the south has been a great blessing to our democracy without which we would have long gone back to the Kaunda days. So instead of feasting on our condemnation of the political behavior of the south, we all must be grateful that the south has remained a stronghold of the UPND. The UPND’s message is now seemingly resonating across the country and very soon the party might as well grow to become a ruling party one-day. I just hope that if and when it rules, there will be a region that will stand up and say no to the UPND so that we maintain great checks and balances. For now, the UPND and the south should continue holding the PF accountable. Doing so is a great service to the people of Zambia.

Zambia comprises regions, and tribes and a dose of diversity. We cannot have any one party dictate how all this diversity must behave politically. So instead of using the One Zambia One Nation as a tool of pretense and hypocrisy, we had better say thank you to regions that have not tolled that UNIPist line and have instead decided to exercise their democratic right differently.

Politician and businessman Hakainde Hichilema

Politician and businessman Hakainde Hichilema

Regionalism in Zambian politics will almost certainly bring political players to the table. It will ensure that no one party dominates the entire political process and take us to the abyss. Regionalism will help our country to truly devolve power to the regions and districts. Regionalism will prevent the people of Milenge from voting for a party on a promise that the party will build a bridge in Malambo. Regionalism will help us ask the question: if you need a vote from my region, what will you do for Milenge? It is not enough to get votes in Milenge and then disappear to take development to Mandevu in Lusaka. Lusaka is a region in Zambia but so are Mongu and Kazungula. One Zambia, many regions.

Ntambalukuta, Please Pray For Us: An open letter to Kenneth David Kaunda

E. Munshya, LLM, M.Div.

Kuli ba Kaunda, Intanshi mutende!

Kenneth David Kaunda

Kenneth David Kaunda

Thank you for the speech you gave on Africa Freedom Day, 25 May 2015. On that day, the president of our republic, Edgar Chagwa Lungu decided, for some reason to give you an honour and recognition of “Founding Father of Zambia”. I am still not too clear about what that means exactly. I have always thought that you are the father of Zambia, to some extent. You helped lead this Northern Rhodesia to independence, combined it with Barotseland and named the territory Zambia. For that, I thought you needed no formal recognition since history itself will always recognize you as deserving of that honour. I am also reminded that it is actually the MMD’s Levy Patrick Mwanawasa who honoured you with the highest honour in our land by conferring upon you the distinction of Grand Commander of the Eagle of Zambia, First Division. In that regard you stand in a class of your own.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Many received your May 25 speech with a lot of joy and gladness. For those of us who hold African traditions dearly, we interpreted your speech as a way to bless your children. We took it as a way to bless your grandchildren and speak well of their future. Literally, at 91, Ntambalukuta you belong to the top 0.1% of our population. God has been good to you. For some evangelicals, your speech was also intercessory. You stood in the gap for Zambia to release “its people and the presidency from every negative forces made against Zambia.” You also submitted “souls now living and those that will be born later to the salvation and Lordship of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Father.” These are very deep words. They are very powerful. To me you sounded like you have now returned to the faith of your father, David, who was one of the first African missionaries to evangelize the modern day Zambia. Even if you claimed in your 1973 book, Letter to my Children, that you found your fathers’ faith not as satisfying, it seems from the 2015 Africa Day speech that you have wholly returned. And for that, I must thank you for making the deep personal recommitment to the God of David Kaunda, that great Malawian evangelist. You, Ntambalukuta, have preached just like David Kaunda would have preached.

The Faith of David Kaunda

The Faith of David Kaunda

Ntambalukuta, perhaps with the awareness of our common mortality, I notice in your speech that you declared, “Zambia shall forever enjoy tranquility and remain a united and peaceful people under the motto: One Zambia, One Nation”. These words are also deep. Well done. You see, perhaps, that the greatest legacy you want to leave for Zambians is that legacy of a “One Zambia, One Nation” motto. Beyond, this declaration though, it is important that you try to help the nation settle the Barotseland issue. Do not just make spiritual declarations; it would be good for you to facilitate a peaceful discussion with some of our citizens who believe that you gave them a raw deal in 1965 and beyond.

Without burdening you further, Kanabesa, I would like to ask that you continue to pray for us. I have a few prayer requests to present to you. It is your wish that this nation continues subsisting in peace. You have also prayed that our country remains under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Your speech is very similar to the discourse your successor Frederick Chiluba made when he declared Zambia as a Christian nation two months after defeating you in the 1991 elections. In fact, I am wondering whether you had a little help from Chiluba’s speechwriters.

As a father who fought for independence and ruled our country, your prayers have more gravitas than those done by the many foreign prophets who are ever so eager to drop a few lines about Zambia. So please, Ntambalukuta, pray for us.

  • Pray for us so that we are delivered from the spirit of kaloba. Kanabesa, as things stand now, the destiny of this country is being mortgaged at a rate we have never known before. Very soon we are likely to be a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) again, if we continue this senseless nkongole. Please help us pray for our nation so that we get delivered from the spirit of shylocks.
  • Pray for us so that we stop leaders from stealing. Our country has never lacked prayer warriors. We have plenty of them. In fact, by use of television satellites we have preachers beaming live prophecies meant for the president and his cabinet. More than just these prayers, Kanabesa we need deliverance from theft and corruption. Help us pray that President Lungu will not steal money from the treasury. Please help us pray that President Lungu, his cabinet and their children will not help themselves freely from the sweat of taxpayers. Kenneth Kaunda, pray for us.
  • Ntambalukuta, you have declared great unity and freedom for Zambians. There is a demon we need deliverance from that is closely connected to your wishes. It is known as the “Public Order Act”. Kanabesa, I do not need to preach to you about it, because this is a spirit you know very well. In fact, you inherited it from the colonialists. You used it very well through your time as president. Your successor, Chiluba, also used it against you. The current president, and your son, Bo Lungu is still using it greatly to curtail the free exercise of constitutional liberties. Bo Hichilema, another of your sons, cannot visit Milenge or Kanyama without a police permit from Bo Libongani. Please pray for us, as this is unacceptable. I hope you too will realise how unjust it is for Zambians to get permits to visit Bauleni.
  • During the 2015 Good Friday weekend, police futilely invaded church services in Lusaka searching for “illegal” immigrants. We protested against this action. Please pray for us that President Lungu will respect constitutional liberties, particularly the freedom to worship the Lord to whom you have dedicated this country. Arresting illegal immigrants while they are worshipping is an abuse of state power.

I have a lot of prayer requests, Kanabesa. But for now, let me end here and continue working for the great future of this country you founded. In a little way, by asking the presidency to adhere to the rule of law, I feel like I will be making real your wishes and your prayers for a greater Zambia. Ntambalukuta, pray for us.

Naleka nine,

Munshya wa Munshya



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,


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.

“Stupid Idiots”: Presidential Insults From Kenneth David Kaunda to Michael Chilufya Sata

 Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

“To insult or not to insult.” That has been the question we have had to contend with from our presidents since 1964. Zambia’s history with presidential foul language and insults is not new. We, in fact, started having presidential foul language as soon as our nation was born. In this article, I draw upon the history of the Zambian presidency to discuss the presidential use of insults from 1964 to the present “don’t kubeba” government. Each of the presidents is discussed in turn.

According to authors Rotberg, Gifford & Morris, Kenneth Kaunda started off as a kind, Christian gentleman in the run-up to independence. He was widely admired by friends and foes alike. Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe at independence had lots of praise for KK. Additionally, Princess Nakatindi Wina remarked in 1964 that KK was like the Prophet Moses sent by God to deliver Zambians out of “Egyptian bondage.”

However, with the growing opposition to his rule from within his party UNIP and from an array of Zambians—in the army and in the trade unions—KK started to change the tone of his language. In press conferences he became famous for calling his opponents, “stupid idiots”. He would also frequently call opponents “frightened little men.” By this, he was implying that only he was that courageous big man. Not to be outwitted by his past, Kaunda’s “stupid idiot” comment has made headlines again in 2013. He used the same insult to refer to some members of President Sata’s government. I think Sata’s cabinet is perhaps the most insulted cabinet since 1964. What is unusual, as we will see below, is the source of the insults. It is not necessarily ordinary people seemingly insulting this cabinet, but rather President Sata himself and his master Kenneth Kaunda.

I cannot recall any report of Dr. Frederick Chiluba insulting anybody. Ironically, when he faced the fiercest opposition bordering on insults, Chiluba would famously say: “infumu taituka bantu, abantu ebatuke imfumu.” This Bemba adage basically means that while the general population may have reasons to insult a leader, a leader should not insult his people. With this attitude, Chiluba avoided use of foul language. The only moment, that stands as the exception with regard to Chiluba was at his rally in 2001 in Kitwe when he was introducing presidential candidate Levy Mwanawasa. At that rally Chiluba famously used a Copperbelt street idiom “ujeni”. He then quickly added, “I am not insulting because I have not called any particular person or insulted any particular person”. He further mentioned that only “catile cobe” would qualify as an insult.

That being the case, President Chiluba, mostly, was not the type that used strong or bad language. Indeed, there was a lot that President Mwanawasa needed to learn from the way Chiluba handled opposition. President Sata could also learn a lot from the way Chiluba handled opposition. It is rather interesting to see the kind of letters Sata is signing off at State House. They are often in bad taste and honestly they are full of condescension, especially for one Hakainde Hichilema.

According to biographer Amos Malupenga, President Levy Mwanawasa was seen to have been a man of very sober manners. In 2005, at a rally in Southern Province when MMD National Secretary Katele Kalumba tried to intimate that Levy was a handsome man whom ladies could truly fall for. Levy was quick to correct Kalumba and remind the rally that he was a happily married man. When it comes to drinking, it is reported that he was not a habitual drinker. The only time he sipped some alcohol, after a long time, was when the Supreme Court ruled the presidential petition in his favor.

But even if he had so much going well for him, Mwanawasa could not dodge the accusation that he had insulted some Zambians. He became a victim of a serious allegation that he had insulted the Bemba speaking peoples while visiting Ndola. To the question of why most of the people he had been prosecuting were mostly Bemba speaking, he is reported to have said how much he hated corruption. He then added just how “stinking” corruption was. This set off serious political tsunami that could only be assuaged by appointing a Bemba as his Vice-President. And one of the first duties for Dr. Nevers Mumba was to go to the Bemba chiefs and calm the storms of the “stinking” insult. Undoubtedly, Michael Sata, while in opposition, condemned Mwanawasa’s insult and used this alleged insult to his political advantage.

After the 2006 elections, Mwanawasa had to find a replacement for Vice-President Augustine Festus Lupando Mwape. He needed to find a person who could bring some maturity and stability to the Vice-Presidency. This person, in Mwanawasa’s judgment, was going to be a retired 67-year-old farmer, Rupiah Banda. And maturity, I assume here, may include being a person of sober words and a mature tongue. That was not to be, however. Banda maintained his tongue only as long as Levy was living. And only as long as he stayed as Vice-President. But when Banda became president, insults and rumors of insults besieged him as well. His closest insulting focus became opposition leaders Michael Sata and Hakainde Hichilema. With youthful vigor and a moderate tempter HH responded tit-for-tat to each of Banda’s insults. HH sometimes called Banda, “sleepy”, and a “man of small brains”. For his part Sata and Banda’s major area of insult was about whom, between them, was more handsome than the other. It was as if the old men were now competing for a beauty pageant. In one of those insulting episodes, President Banda called opposition leader Michael Sata as, “cisilu ca zoona”. Sata reciprocated this affront very swiftly too.

After becoming Zambia’s fifth president, Michael Sata has his own share of accusations of using insulting language. And therein lies the difference. All the other presidents are perceived to have been insulting their political enemies. Kaunda’s “stupid idiots” comment was aimed to the troublesome UNIP rebels. Banda’s issue with both Hichilema and Sata was because the duo was opposition. But with Sata currently, however, he seems to be berating and in fact insulting his own allies. It is quite strange that he would tell his inferiors in Kitwe that “bushe mulicipuba imwe”? This was rather strong a language to use especially that he was using it against his own associates from the Patriotic Front party. President Sata’s reaction in Kitwe was in bad taste at most. It was completely uncalled for.

The Men of Words

The Men of Words

At a time that the Patriotic Front is facing serious violence and “pangamonium” it is quite telling that the president has chosen to concentrate his energy on the state of his house in Kitwe. The president in very limited circumstances uses that State Lodge in Kitwe. In fact, he has only been to Kitwe once or twice ever since he won the presidency. It is strange therefore, that he would be so worked up about renovations that should go on in that house. Even if he were indeed indignant, he could do so, without mixing it with utter disrespect and disdain for his juniors. If indeed Sata is a no nonsense guy, it would be much better for him to demonstrate that through the way he disciplines Wynter Kabimba or GBM. It is like Sata was trying to make up for his inefficiency in dealing with the pangamonium in Lusaka by creating pandemonium in Kitwe.

That being the case, I think we will have to contend with presidential insults for sometime to come. I just hope that while doing his own round of insults, President Sata will also spend some time to actually govern our country. Insulting opponents and ministers is not the best way to run a country like Zambia.