Tag Archives: Frederick Chiluba

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.

Fallen To Rise Again? Emmanuel Mwamba & His Future In Zambian Democracy

Munshya wa Munshya


Frederick Jacob Titus CHILUBA

From the instant that little known Emmanuel Mwamba was appointed President Frederick Chiluba’s personal assistant he became an instant sensation. The man would be seen defending and in many cases travailing for his boss. Chiluba had so much confidence in Mwamba that on several occasions, Chiluba deferred to Mwamba in many press appearances. Nothing should prepare a person for the growing burdens of leadership than serving a boss like Chiluba who was facing serious anguish from the barrage of prosecutions from the Mwanawasa government. Emmanuel Mwamba was ever in the company of Chiluba. He became a known staple at the magistrate’s court complex. In those instances when Chiluba was evacuated to South Africa for medical treatment, it was he by his side. In many ways, Chiluba’s problems became Emmanuel’s.

When in 2005, Chiluba became a sympathizer of the opposition Patriotic Front, Mwamba changed with him. In fact, with him in toll, Chiluba arrived at the Lusaka Airport from one of his many medical trips abroad and raised the fist in the air, in clear support of Sata. It all seemed certain that the 2001 dribbling had been laid aside. Chiluba and Sata had made up. And for the 2006 elections, Chiluba had made no qualms about whom he was going to back. Where Chiluba went, Emmanuel Mwamba would go also. Perhaps it was at this time, that the Patriotic Front party and Sata might have noticed the brilliance and loyalty of one Mwamba. It was only after Sata had won the 2011 elections that he would bring Emmanuel closer and appoint him Permanent Secretary.

It was this appointment Emmanuel had embraced with vigor. In Kasama, Emmanuel Mwamba hit the ground hard and started to work for his new boss, Michael Sata. If there were any doubts about where he stood, it was all settled. He was a supporter of the agenda of the PF government. He would use the name recognition and whatever little politics he learnt from the time he served Frederick Chiluba. Pressure was no problem: he had endured more difficult times serving an ever persecuted and prosecuted Chiluba. Before, he is finally fired; Emmanuel Mwamba would serve as Permanent Secretary in about 4 other ministries. But it is his last stint at the Information Ministry that raised issues. This stint exposed both his immaturity and lack of judgment. But it also exposed an opportunity for him. And for that he has been punished quite severely for it. But Emmanuel still has a lot going for him, and in many instances he could still rise again. The thing is, he has to learn from what went on and then he must quickly recast and redefine this disappointment in ways that help him and the nation he obviously loves.

Emmanuel made some mistakes at Information. Instead of deferring politics to his principal and superior, Mwansa Kapeya, Mwamba started to champion political battles that are beyond the scope of his duties. He made decisions that are for the most part absurd. A permanent secretary should never make these decisions. Realizing that there was corruption at the Ministry, Mwamba went on to expose it and in fact went ahead to report his predecessor to the investigative agencies. There is nothing wrong with the fight against corruption. In fact, I would support Mwamba anytime he wants to fight it. The problem with the approach he took is that without political support from his principal and indeed from President Sata, there was nothing much Mwamba could achieve. His passion became his snare. He had laid for himself a trap that was just waiting to clamp once it had caught its prey. And the prey was Emmanuel himself. Let Zambia make no mistake. The fight against corruption cannot be imitated in any factory from China. In fact, regardless of how many Permanent Secretaries we have, if Michael Sata is not committed to fighting corruption, there is nothing mere secretaries could do on a global scale. As evidenced this week, corruption in the PF runs very deep. It infects the browning grounds of State House down to the core of the very structures that have made this mammoth monster we now call the ruling party.

Mwamba then got involved in an unnecessary political battle between GBM and Wynter Kabimba. It should never be the duty of any civil servant to be involved in political battles in this manner. Kabimba, as a minister in the PF government, was a defacto superior and supervisor of Mwamba. It was very unwise for Mwamba to appear to publicly undermine Kabimba. In the Zambian system of governance, the civil service is supervised and is amenable to the policies of politicians. Civil servants should not grow brains to begin undermining politicians. Politicians play a very important role in our governance and this is the reason why we vote for them. And in fact, this is the reason why it is our responsibility to remove them through political means. A civil servant like Mwamba had no power to join political nemesis who wanted Wynter removed. Now make no mistake about it. Wynter needed to go. But this was the decision that was supposed to be taken by the people through political means such as the use of cadres to do peaceful protests. This was not going to be done in a boardroom of a Permanent Secretary under taxpayers’ funding. In Zambia ordinary citizens hire and fire politicians. And in this role, we require no direct and unambiguous help from civil servants.

It is not that Mwamba achieved nothing at Information Ministry. In fact he achieved a lot. Within weeks, the ministry was headed the right direction except for a few mishaps as explained above. But clearly, President Sata went into a tantrum on Monday and the rest is history. With a leader in State House who throws a party of tantrums like what the nation saw on Monday, Zambia has a long way to go. Sata has failed to govern. And when you fail to govern throwing tantrums becomes a setting you default to. Such behaviour is dishonorable to say the least. It seems like; Sata is his presidency’s worst enemy. And Emmanuel had to just face the blunt of an out control emotive presidential tantrums. Many mistakes Emmanuel made, but firing he did not deserve.

That being the case, Emmanuel is no more in the PF government. President Sata has bizarrely called it “retirement in national interest.” Having made these mistakes, Emmanuel can redeem himself yet again. He is a hardworking man and we have all seen that.

Mwamba must now reflect deeply, learn from mistakes and move on. Since it is politics he seems to be interested in, it is to politics he should go. For his part, Sata said he is ready to meet Mwamba in politics. And the UPND could be the best place to start from. Hichilema needs a person like Mwamba in his party. Mwamba is experienced, is young and can help deal with public relations adversity in the UPND. And of course should be added one quality: Mwamba is Bemba. A kind of chatty Bemba that Hichilema might need to further supplement the current UPND firebrand.

As we put it in Milenge, ica kukonka ulubilo, nobe ucikonke ulubilo. I am very sure this is not the last time we have heard of Mwamba. And I just hope that the next time he speaks; it will be for Hichilema and the growing political fortunes of the UPND.


Of Cohorts, Cherries & General Miyanda: I Stand By What I Had Written

 By Munshya wa Munshya

Brigadier General Godfrey Kenneth Miyanda has objected very strongly to this paragraph in my article of 20 September 2013 in the Daily Nation Newspaper. This same article is also published on www.eliasmunshya.org. This is what I wrote:

When Chiluba and his cohorts – Michael Sata and Miyanda to be exact – found great solace in the barbaric use of the Public Order Act, it is gallant judges who held that some sections of this law should be ruled as unconstitutional (see cases of Mulundika & Resident Doctors). Further, when Chiluba, Sata and Miyanda amended the 1996 constitution to exclude the likes of Kaunda based on the “parentage” clause; again our Supreme Court came back and provided a more sensible interpretation of what it meant to have Zambian parents (see Lewanika & Others v. Chiluba). It has been my position, following guidance from the Lewanika case, that even a Zambian like Guy Scott does satisfy the requirements of the “parentage clause”.

Specifically, General Miyanda has taken strong exception to my description of him as a “cohort” to Chiluba and Sata in the “barbaric use of the Public Order Act”. General Miyanda has also objected to my opinion that he with Chiluba and Sata “amended the 1996 constitution” to exclude the likes of Kaunda.

I had responded to his objections in my article entitled “When a General Cherry-Picks History”. In his response, Brigadier General Miyanda wasted no time to accuse me of all sorts of things. Additionally, he accused me of having an agenda to stigmatize him. Further General Miyanda cited me for forgery. One would then wonder where this stigmatization is based in my article as I only mentioned the trio’s political activities to this our country. Addressing the forgery I have been cited for, I still don’t know what he meant by that.

I do stand by what I had written in its entirety. Further, I wish to not respond any further to his insinuations. Indeed spending lots of time answering General Miyanda could take me away from the nobler task of adding our democratic visibility to those who currently serve in the “Donchi Kubeba” government. These individuals will soon join General Miyanda in the ranks of former this or former that. It is to these individuals like Guy Scott, Wynter Kabimba and even Bo Chilufya Sata that we must expend our energies in offering the needed political criticism. I do thank General Miyanda for his distinguished service to our people. He is a gallant soldier of democracy. But what I have written about his role during the Chiluba Era still remains my opinion and I would not for a second regret  authoring such.


I do this with a clear and sincere hope that the greatness of our nation lies ahead of us. I also do believe that in this little way, we could help to bequeath to our children a better democracy and with that a better republic.

Follow the conversation on twitter: @munshyamunshya

Zambia and The Living Tree of Democracy

 By Munshya wa Munshya

 Elias MunshyaNothing shows the character of a president, or any person for that matter, than the battles she chooses to fight. The saying that action speaks louder than words becomes even more real for a nation, in the type of undertakings that a president decides to employ. There can be no doubt that both action and inaction could show us without doubt where a president’s vision for the country lay. This is even more serious in our country. Faced with bitter division within his own ruling party, the President has decided to cast a blind eye on those divisions and instead, has concentrated on victimizing citizens. These citizens’ only crime is the decision to stand up for the country and exercise their democratic liberties. Just the other day, President Sata, to the embarrassment of our intelligence community, issued a written statement in which he claimed that the intelligence has infiltrated Hakainde Hichilema. We may never know the extent of that infiltration, but following the Chief Jumbe precedence, it could include “sikiriti ku bed.” This is Michael Sata’s priority and we get it.

In President Sata’s threatening phone call to Joy FM, we are further introduced to the priorities of this president. In that phone call we are shown what this president regards as national security priorities: the political death of Nevers Mumba. The fighting between GBM and Kabimba by far poses the greatest threat to our national security and to our democracy. GBM is no ordinary character; he is the country’s minister of defense. He is the third most powerful of cabinet peers. His public spats with Kabimba cannot be trivial matters. In fact, Nevers Mumba’s vociferations on radio pale in comparison with the security implications brought by the “cipaye no lamwina” going on in the PF. And the president’s inaction over GBM and Kabimba while making the greatest noise against HH and Mumba goes to just show that the cobra has marked its victims.

That being the case, the older I grow, the more I realize that us mortals may never know what transpires to champions of democracy once they acquire power and begin breathing the air supplied only to the chosen five at Plot One. To what could we attribute the complete transformation that our presidents go through immediately after they are ushered into the Nkwazi House? What happened to KK after independence? Which virus eats up the democratic decency of people like Dr. Frederick Chiluba who after fathering our democracy ten years later wanted to suffocate it? And now in 2013, when our nation is confronted with the infighting within the ruling Patriotic Front, our president decides to look the other way and to bury his head in the sands of Lealui hoping that after 90 days, it will all go away. Instead of confronting the evil in PF, the president decides to attack democracy.

However, once a people have had the opportunity to get their taste buds tantalized by the beautiful aroma coming from the fruits yielded by a tree of democracy, they do everything they can to defend that tree. The fabric of our republic changed fundamentally in 1991. The people of Zambia resolved to replace a dictatorship that once was styled “one-party participatory democracy” with a democracy allowing plural politics and with it plural views and opinions. After having tasted this beauty and after having touched this greatness, Zambians are willing to defend this democracy to the bitter end. Pafwa abantu, pashala bantu.

As stated above, in 2001 Chiluba got almost corrupted by the same dictatorship he had risen to fight. It is the ordinary Zambians who stopped what could have been a resurgence of tyranny. In that year, Zambians from all walks of life came together and demanded that Chiluba and his lieutenant Michael Sata stop the ridiculous bid to run for a third term. Amazingly, at a rally in Lusaka even the vice-president of our nation joined expelled Members of Parliament and members of the civil society to demand that Chiluba does not asphyxiate democracy.

In 2011, again the people of Zambia exercised their freedoms. Lozis, Bembas, urban dwellers as well as the general workers in our country came together and formed perhaps one of the most significant political coalitions to usher in the presidency of one Michael Chilufya Sata. Through the “Don’t Kubeba” coalition Sata became only the second to Chiluba to beat an incumbent. This is no small feat. It is a significant event. But the true heroes of the 2011 story are ordinary Zambians, both the educated elite of Omelo Mumba Road and the poor street kids that sleep under the pavements of Rhodes Park. Ordinary Zambians put a stop to what they perceived to have been an unproductive presidency of Rupiah Banda.

However, like many governments before it, a bout of political dementia and historical psychosis has suddenly afflicted the PF government. Frequently, gentlemen like Wynter Kabimba are now standing on a podium to proclaim, quite thoughtlessly I must say, that the PF is going to rule for decades to come, for a 100 years minimum. Kabimba has even got the bravery, people of Zambia, to claim that your country is now on its way back to a one-party system. I should be the last person to fault the honorable comrade for so thinking. However, I should be humble to acknowledge that many things are unlawful, but political silliness is not one of them. Quite to the shock and awe of the honorable comrade it is only the sober people of Kafulafuta and Msanzala who had to remind him that his wishes were just that: wishes of a very capable gentleman intoxicated by the Kachasu of political power. And indeed, due to the tyrannical nature of the PF party itself, the cadres are making the honorable comrade’s continued stay as Secretary untenable. Kabimba has lost in both ways: the people of Katete rejected his philosophy and now even his own cadres have armed themselves with pangas against him. It is difficult to imagine how quickly 100 years in power can change to an ultimatum to leave the Patriotic Front.

Kabimba aside, it should be concerning correspondingly that President Sata last week called Joy FM radio to ask the presenter to cancel a radio at which opposition leader Nevers Mumba was guest. His Excellency too needs to be reminded. Zambians have drunk the cup of democracy. They have found it to be too sweet. And having found this democracy too sweet, they are refusing to let go. They are saying quite eloquently, democracy yali lowa!

Nevers Mumba might have used many colorful words he wanted to use during that radio broadcast. But that is the beauty of our democracy: to be able to hold Michael Sata accountable and let the people of Zambia know that some of the promises Sata made were, borrowing from Zagaze and Pilato, “bufi”. And of course, our people do not go begging at State House for a handout of freedoms. If Sata wants to take this path, then he will have to top-up on talk time and get ready to make many calls: Zambia’s tree of democracy is alive and well.

The Rule of Riffraffs: Why GBM is Right About the PF Government

 By E. Munshya wa Munshya

It is common knowledge that the battles of succession for Patriotic Front leader President Michael Sata are now being fought openly. The vultures are not trying to hide anymore. They have come out in full force, making their intentions known. They are also trying to amass as much a following as they can get. The most significant episode in all this kerfuffle has been an acknowledgment by Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba that there are Riffraffs within the Patriotic Front that are fighting very hard to win these battles of succession.

GBM could be right. Indeed a rule by riffraffs is the greatest injustice any country can endure. However, in as much as what GBM has said is right, he has misstated where the problem is. Indeed, Zambia should be concerned not that riffraffs are trying to succeed President Sata, but rather that riffraffs are actually ruling with President Sata now. As such, our greatest concern should not be that they would rule tomorrow, but rather that these riffraffs are ruling today. The challenge for all Zambians is to ensure that these riffraffs do not destroy our country.

Intra-political battles are not uncommon. In fact, going by our history, Zambian ruling parties do face bitter intra-party battles within two years of acquiring power. In fact, the reality that the PF has not even had a splinter group in the 2 years it has been in power is itself quite unusual.

Going back to 1964, after Kenneth Kaunda’s United National Independence Party (UNIP) had obliterated its opponents in the January elections, there was some satisfaction among many UNIPists that the time had arrived for them. In fact, Kaunda’s success in Barotseland bolstered his position in negotiating for the Barotseland Agreement of May 1964. Had Kaunda or UNIP lost in Barotseland, that agreement would not have probably materialized and Barotseland could have in fact, negotiated a more politically amicable settlement than what Kaunda offered them. However, within 2 years of power, UNIP faced so many power struggles that it all came as a shock to Kaunda. The fact that some agitators were in fact, his close friends was quite unusual. UNIP faced problems with Kaunda’s legitimacy – many of his friends still felt that he was a Malawian charlatan ruling over a country that was not his. Some UNIP stalwarts were further concerned that Kaunda preferred to appoint his fellow Malawians to positions in government. The fact that he had gone ahead to appoint Reuben Kamanga as the first vice-president of an independent Zambia did not help matters either. The other problems that faced UNIP were tribal. Kaunda later learned that the “One Zambia One Nation” slogan he had slammed down the throat of Barotseland was not going to work. UNIP members of parliament and other Barotse senior UNIP leaders had chosen to side with Barotse regional interests. Within 2 years of power, the formidable UNIP was losing the plot. It had to take serious dictatorial tendencies for Kaunda to keep UNIP together. He expelled several Lozis from UNIP and one time sent his closest collaborator, Sikota Wina, to the Lozi king to warn him that the UNIP government was going to rule over Mongu and sideline him by force.

UNIP’s succession and intra-party fighting continued until 1973 when at the recommendation of the Chona Commission, Kaunda disbanded all political parties and entrenched UNIP as the sole political party. After, 1973 every one had to be a forced member of UNIP. Those who thought they could succeed Kaunda faced serious backlash. These included Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe. Kapwepwe was a non-conformist who resisted UNIP’s one-party state until his death at the hand of UNIP vigilantes in 1980.

After the Movement for Multiparty Democracy’s successful routing of UNIP in 1991, it did not take long for internal divisions to emerge within the ranks and file of the MMD. While, Chiluba had shown himself to be an effective leader, he too began developing some dictatorial tendencies inherited from his predecessor at State House. This coupled with the fact that other powerful figures also wanted a share of that power further led to the destabilization of the MMD. Months into power, figures like Mulemba and Wina were not happy with the direction the nation and the party were taking. Even vice-president Levy Mwanawasa was concerned that power was getting too concentrated on Frederick Chiluba and his closest collaborators such as Michael Sata. It was Mwanawasa’s opinion that, in actual fact, his Cabinet junior and party inferior Michael Sata was exercising more power than him. The breaking up of the MMD was inevitable.

By 1993, a faction had left MMD. Emmanuel Kasonde, a senior MMD leader had also left the MMD. The Lewanika duo – Akashambatwa and Inonge had also left. The new party to fight the MMD was almost regarded as a more sectarian and regional party. It had to take the highhandedness of MMD Secretary Michael Sata to curtail the further spread of the National Party beyond Southern and Western Provinces. When Kasonde stood on National Party ticket in Kasama in the ensuing bye-election, the message from Sata was clear – Kasonde had sold out what should be a Bemba political hegemony to Nkumbula’s National Party. Kasonde was soundly defeated in that bye-election.

The MMD had been fractured and beyond 1993 the internal squabbles had taken its toll. Just like UNIP before it, the first two years of political power led to unprecedented internal divisions and “succession battles.”

In the case of the intra-Patriotic Front battles, however, several things are quite unusual. The case of the internal divisions within the PF does differ significantly from the UNIP and UNIP cases. First, President Sata does not seem to be in effective control of his party or his government. It does appear like the succession battles are a result of this lack of control more than anything else. In the perceived lack of adequate control it is like every one is doing as they please. It is now difficult to figure out who exactly is speaking for Sata. GBM for his part has made it categorically clear, that he is speaking for President Sata and that the actions of those battling for actions are “hurtful to President Sata.” Each time succession battles emerged in our history, the president was perceived as a central player within those battles. In the case of the Patriotic Front, however, the absence of President Sata is the defining element of these battles. This is quite unusual.

The second issue with the Patriotic Front is that it is a problematic union of people united only by perceived personal interests and greed. It is quite unusual that President Sata has managed to assemble a team that could not see eye to eye on many issues before September 2011. Isn’t it surprising that President Sata has given no official acknowledgment to President Frederick Chiluba and yet the first acts of power included promoting Chiluba’s assistant to become a Permanent Secretary in the PF government. It also quite surprising that former intelligence boss Xavier Chungu is a part of the same team now, as Fred Membe and Mutembo Nchito. President Sata’s team is a team of contradictions and absurdities. Assembling a team like this whose players seem to be so philosophically dissimilar is a prerequisite for disaster. The battles for succession will only grow bigger and fiercer– there are too many vested interests and egos.

The third issue going on within this succession debacle is just how the issue of tribe is working out. Wynter Kabimba’s hopes for success within the Patriotic Front lay with him finding a multi-ethnic bloc within. GBM on the other hand does not need that. The Patriotic Front is a Bemba party already, and so GBM does not need to do as much fighting as Kabimba. That being the case, President Sata has shown Kabimba that he would side with GBM no matter what Kabimba thinks of GBM. At the same time that Kabimba was persecuting Given Lubinda, the same tactics never worked on GBM. In fact, GBM emerged even stronger after he survived the Kabimba onslaught. GBM survived because when it comes to the real issues of power, President Sata would side with a Bemba relative more than the man from Shibuyunji. This is not strange. In fact, from our history, ruling parties have had a share of their tribal politics and the PF government now would be no exception.

Since GBM has endorsed President Sata for 2016, it is quite unusual to see the kind of condemnation he has received from the likes of Kabimba and even Guy Scott. In a quite dramatic move, even Matero Member of Parliament Miles Sampa stated that there was no need to make any endorsements for 2016. I find these criticisms to be misplaced. I think GBM is only being condemned because he has started to do something that his opponents would have wanted to do themselves. GBM has beaten them to this game. Instead of condemning him, they should just join in and do it. They are mostly riffraffs after all.

Conversely, the fact that we have riffraffs in the Patriotic Front is a no brainer. It is a party of riffraffs. And that should the concern of all. If I were to be concerned about what GBM said, and as I have stated above, I am more concerned about the riffraffs ruling now, than those who are hoping to rule after President Sata. As such, the battle for Zambia should not be left to the riffraffs in PF to duck it out, each Zambian should be involved by making it clear that Zambians will vote in 2016 and the vote should just be for a party more civil and more elegant than the riffraffs we have subjected ourselves to since 2011.

In riffraffs, we do not trust.

A Short Man Who Walked Tall: The Life and Times of Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba (1943—2011)

By E. Munshya wa Munshya


Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba


The Birth of The Man

Biographers differ about where and when Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba was born. Even his names have raised controversy. Chiluba’s background had been such a thorny issue, that in the 1996 case of Lewanika and others v. Frederick Chiluba the Supreme Court of Zambia was invited to make a ruling on who was Chiluba’s father and where Chiluba himself was born. Before the court were three possible fathers: a Mr. Chabala Kafupi (a Zambian who claimed Congolese descent), a Mr Zahare (a Mozambican), or a Mr. Chiluba Nkonde (from Kawambwa) whom President Frederick Chiluba himself statutorily declared to have been his father.

As for his place of birth, the court heard several conflicting accounts. According to Dr. John Mwanakatwe, Chiluba was born at Musangu Village in Luapula Province. Another account declared that he was born at Wusakili in Kitwe. Some petitioners in the case of Lewanika and Others even claimed that Frederick Chiluba may have been born at Chibambo CMML Mission Hospital in what was then the Belgian Congo. When called to testify about Chiluba’s background in the same court case, William Takere Banda told the court that Frederick Chiluba who was then known as simply Titus Mpundu lived in Mufulira and spoke a Congolese dialect of Lingala.

The court dismissed William Banda’s testimony and ruled in this case that regardless of who was Chiluba’s father, or where he was born, Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba was still a legitimate Head of State and was a citizen of the Republic of Zambia.

This background is necessary in this article to point out how, a man without a clear family history rose up to become President of the Republic of Zambia. And in mourning him, we should all remember, that there are some qualities that made him stand out and made him gain the confidence of the Zambian people to elect him to the presidency in 1991. If there is anything that the life of Frederick Chiluba should teach us is the fact that regardless of our background and our limitations, destiny does not delude those who work hard. The story of FJT Chiluba is a story of how a man in our time lived to overcome his limitations and soared to lead the nation from dictatorship to a democracy.

Clearly as shown above, Chiluba had no rich family history. In death, his father still remains as mysterious as when he was alive. His place of birth is still subject to speculation. The fact that as a young boy he was expelled from a Kawambwa School also shows the kind of limitations that the young Chiluba faced growing up. In a society that looks down upon short statured people, it is clear that his height too could have one of those drawbacks. But the story of Chiluba is a story of inspiration in spite of limitations.

Here a man without High School education worked hard as a bus conductor to read a few A Level courses which he later admitted to have flanked. Additionally, not to be outdone by his many challenges, Chiluba went as far as Tanzania looking for opportunities. When he came back to Zambia in his twenties, he translated the knowledge he acquired while working in the Tanzanian Sisal industry into good use. He used his courageousness and his fearlessness to become a defender of his fellow workers. Through the trade union, a diminutive Chiluba had found an opportunity to talk and walk the tallest.

Chiluba walked tall - Munshya wa Munshya

Chiluba walked tall – Munshya wa Munshya

When Kenneth Kaunda legislated that all trade unions would be amalgamated and controlled from one umbrella body, little did he know that one of the leaders that would use this umbrella body to oust him was Frederick Chiluba. Indeed Chiluba used and enjoyed the visibility that his stature gave him. And as an outspoken member of the unions, it was just natural that the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions would appoint him its leader. The leadership position he held until 1991 when he was elected president of the Republic.

During Chiluba’s tenure at ZCTU Kaunda made several overtures to have Chiluba appointed into Cabinet. However, to his credit Chiluba refused. A man from a poor background was not quick to jump into the opportunities of richness. He did not want to abandon his fight for the workers in order to eat ignoble bread at Kaunda’s table. Chiluba, a figure of modest history demonstrated to Kaunda that he was a man of steel, and not even Kaunda could bend him. In 1990, Kaunda wanted to exploit Chiluba’s history. He claimed that Chiluba’s history is questionable. To this Chiluba simply responded:

“I am surprised that President Kaunda claims that he does not know me…I am surprised that Kaunda claims that I have a questionable background…I am the one whom he wanted to make Minister of Labour, but I said no, Sir!”

With these words, Frederick Chiluba demonstrated to Zambians that he had not been dented by Kaunda’s corruption and therefore was ready to lead the Third Republic.

Becoming Leader of the MMD

In 1990, choosing a leader for the MMD was not an easy feat. But all sections of the MMD united around Frederick Chiluba. Even many academics in the movement acknowledged the intelligence and brilliance of Chiluba.

Chiluba acquired this brilliance, neither in the walls of the classroom nor in the decors of laboratories but rather on the street. It is this courage, this education, and this street wisdom that made Frederick Chiluba fit to lead Zambia’s new political party.

Church and State

And in consistency with his predecessor, one of the first acts of the presidency was Christian commitment. For Kaunda, three months in power in January 1965, he launched the United Church of Zambia, calling it a “national edifice.”

For Chiluba, three months in power he addressed a prayer meeting at State House where he renounced corruption and witchcraft and declared Zambia as a Christian nation. This 1991 declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation is perhaps one of the most far reaching decisions that would long linger in history.

The Union Leader

Chiluba was a fighter for worker’s rights as a union leader. He was incorruptible. He refused several of Kaunda’s overtures at corruption. He stood for principles. But history will ponder when he started entertaining excesses. The fact that, after his presidency in 2001, he was found to have had hundreds and hundreds of custom made suits, shoes, and underwear stands contrary to a Chiluba of the 1980s.

In death, Zambia should continue to reflect on what may have gone wrong and on how a champion of the poor became so excessive.

Political Engineer

If Chiluba defined himself as a political engineer, this was true in practice as it was in theory. A man who failed A’ Levels could still make it in academia. It was Warwick University that saw the potential in Frederick Chiluba and gave him a chance to enrol for a Master of Philosophy Degree. In his dissertation entitled “Democracy: The Challenge of Change” Chiluba explained political theory and committed himself to leave the presidency after he had served 2 terms. He was critical of the “President for Life” syndrome.

But a few years before his second term was to expire, it appeared that he too was falling prey to the African disease and a Third Term started to infect a few of his close associates including his party secretary Michael Chilufya Sata.

To his credit however, Chiluba kept his word and left office after ten years. His political geniusness led him to sidestep his popular former vice-presidents Godfrey Miyanda, Christon Tembo, and national secretary Sata to appoint a political nemesis Levy Mwanawasa as his successor. This decision would haunt him for years to come.

The Fall of a Democrat?

Chiluba, a 1980s champion of workers’ rights and a 1990s champion of liberal democracy was under the Mwanawasa administration answering charges of theft. His six-year trial is as much part of his legacy as his other years. No doubt that some Zambians will remember Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba for the charges of corruption he faced more than for the good things he did while in office.

The pain of those charges and the embarrassment they brought against his personal integrity has been discussed by many.


Chiluba’s only redemption came in 2008, after the death of President Levy Mwanawasa. Mwanawasa’s successor, Rupiah Banda refused to call Chiluba a thief such that when the courts of law acquitted Chiluba of theft, Banda called him “a damn good president.” The Post Newspapers felt insulted by Banda’s words and continued to call Chiluba all sorts of names.

In death, however, Zambians should put their political differences aside and unite to mourn the passing of an extraordinary man. A diminutive man who walked among us with extraordinary courage: Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba.

In this video, Frederick Chiluba proclaiming Zambia a Christian nation:

“The Declaration of Zambia as a Christian Nation: Blessing or Curse”: What Gershom Ndhlovu Misses About Pentecostals

By E. Munshya wa Munshya

The book The Declaration of Zambia as a Christian Nation: Blessing or Curse is Gershom Ndhlovu’s debut book. It is available at amazon.com in kindle edition. It is a book for the modern person in many ways, first, as a publication utilizing modern technologies. And second, by how much it makes use of the Internet and social media for its resources.

For about $12.00, the book simultaneously downloaded to my kindle on all my three devices. The wonders of modern technology had fused with the awes of creative writing employed by Mr. Ndhlovu. I swiftly commenced my reading, switching between devices as time and opportunity allowed.

The publication of this book in kindle format has implications for Zambia. It is limiting to the extent that only those with Internet and a credit card could probably purchase it. This drastically restricts the reach of an otherwise good historical book. Second, this publication goes to show that the leaps towards modern technologies are here to stay. Zambian authors can therefore publish their books in the most inexpensive manner using such devices as amazon’s kindle. As such, Ndhlovu’s work is a mixture, both a blessing and curse.

Mr. Ndhlovu explains the purpose of his book in the last pages. He states that he was motivated to write this book because pastors and politicians who had been abusing the Christian faith to advance their personal agendas had disillusioned him. These pastors and politicians actually sidelined people, obviously like him, who “wanted a secular system of governance”. He then continues to state that he hopes that “the objective of promoting the separation of church and government would have been met by the facts presented” in his book. After reading the book, I have doubts whether Mr. Ndhlovu actually discharges this objective.

I think the book is good in presenting some political history of Zambia. However, even then, the history Ndhlovu presents is not necessarily new. He has repeated much of the same history written by other authors. Where he stands out, however, is when he addressed the story of Anderson Mazoka and the issue of Zambia’s struggle with homosexual rights. For a young nation like ours – the challenge for equality for our homosexual citizens remains a very important matter and Ndhlovu does very well to give this matter some visibility.

My critical review of this book therefore will centre on Ndhlovu’s treatment of the Pentecostal faith. This book on the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation is undoubtedly a book about Zambian politics as much as it is about the Pentecostals as important players in the declaration drama.

First, when Ndhlovu mentions that pastors disillusion him – he has explained clearly which pastors he has in mind: the Pentecostal pastors. As such, in his attempt at perhaps questioning these pastors he mischaracterizes the history and doctrines of Pentecostals. For example, he mentions that Pentecostals seem to have grown in Zambia because people flocked there to identify themselves with the president. As a result, “some clergy became some the wealthiest people in the land through tithes that congregants had to pay and other connections they forged with the government.”

While I am sympathetic with Mr. Ndhlovu’s loath for Pentecostals, I find it rather surprising that he could actually misdirect Pentecostal history in this manner. It is open knowledge that Pentecostalism has grown exponentially in Zambia. But this growth cannot just be attributed to a Pentecostal president. In fact, Pentecostalism was on the increase from the early 80s. It is during KK’s tenure that Pentecostalism saw its most substantial development. Chiluba only brought visibility to Pentecostals, something that never existed under the dictatorial rule of Kenneth Kaunda.

It is common knowledge that there are very few rich pastors within Pentecostalism, especially in Lusaka. However, most Pentecostal pastors remain very poor – as poor as their congregants. Three rich pastors in Lusaka cannot be the standard to measure Pentecostals just as the rich Catholic Bishops should not be used as a standard for all other Catholics.

Second, Ndhlovu does not seem to appreciate the grievances that Zambians had with Kenneth Kaunda’s involvement with Eastern Mysticism. It is not for me to debate the merits or demerits of Zambians’ aversion for Eastern Mysticism. My duty is just to acknowledge this reality. In Zambia, Eastern Mysticism has been associated with religions foreign to Zambia. When Kenneth Kaunda started to experiment with these religions – most Zambians (Catholic and protestant alike) were uncomfortable with Kaunda. This was not just the case of overzealous Pentecostals misunderstanding Kaunda. Kaunda in his own book “Letters to my children” expressed how that he had abandoned his father’s Christian beliefs in favour of a more syncretic worldview. Meeting the Catholic leaders in the 1980s Kaunda even intimated to Archbishop Mazombwe that he had met an Indian spiritualist that had helped him understand God better.

And contrary to Ndhlovu’s characterization, when Kaunda hired the Indian mystics to be his spiritual advisors he fired all Christian advisors. This was most probably very offensive to Zambians and that is why it formed part of the many reasons responsible for Kaunda’s removal. In this case, it was not only the Pentecostals that de-campaigned Kaunda – even his own UCZ pastors were at the forefront in Kitwe in denouncing Kaunda’s sacrifice of the nation’s soul to Eastern religions.

Third, Ndhlovu then goes into theology. He discusses the merits and demerits of the “born again” concept and uses scripture and tradition to explain that evangelicals are probably mistaken in their view of being born again. When writing a book like this, probably Ndhlovu should have kept himself away from engaging in theological disputes. Church practices never make sense. They are not meant to make sense. If he holds that traditional churches are more biblical in requiring “catechism” which the Pentecostals don’t, that argument should be left to theology rather than history. Traditional churches also have doctrines and practices that they hold on to which in many cases don’t make biblical sense. Could we go on to the dogma of Immaculate Conception? Or the dogma of Papal Infallibility? Or even then of other doctrines held by historical denominations. When making arguments for or against the Church’s involvement in politics it is hardly a good strategy to discredit other denominations based on theology. Theology is an uncertain discipline to prove anything.

I must mention though that as a theologian, I found Ndhlovu’s love and treatment of Scriptures to be quite refreshing. His own writing does seem to confirm the idea that many Zambians take Christianity very seriously. It is no doubt that Ndhlovu relies heavily on the Bible to prove his points. Ndhlovu’s love for the Bible and his use of the Bible also fortifies the general view that Zambians are thoroughly Christian and would rely on the Bible to prove anything. If Ndhlovu feels that politicians have abused the Bible – he could also count himself among them. He has clearly relied on the Bible heavily to push his own agenda.

Fourthly, Ndhlovu mischaracterizes history when he claims that Pentecostal churches mostly welcomed the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation without support from other denominations. Eight days after the declaration all the three church mother bodies issued a joint pastoral statement supporting President Chiluba’s decision. The EFZ, ECZ, and CCZ all took the declaration as a step in the right direction. The idea that the mainline denominations were opposed to the Declaration belongs to later revisions of history and not to the events surrounding the original declaration in 1991. Unfortunately, Ndhlovu takes the bait and documents a revisionist narration.

Fifth, Pentecostal churches have been shown in Ndhlovu’s book as being very supportive of Chiluba and of following him blindly. But a critical look at Pentecostals would show that Pentecostals are not a unified body and neither is it desirable that they should be so. To take a few voices and impose them on all Pentecostals is not fair analysis. In any case, it is from the Pentecostal fraternity that Chiluba got one of the greatest opposition. Pastor Nevers Mumba, at a time when it was not fashionable to do so, abandoned the pulpit and directly challenged President Chiluba’s corruption. Had Ndhlovu wanted to present a more balanced view of Pentecostal response to the excesses of President Chiluba he would have also mentioned Nevers as an opponent of Chiluba’s.

A few facts might be in order. Even if Chiluba was of the Pentecostal faith, most in his cabinet were actually non-Pentecostal. Indeed, the Post Newspaper when criticizing Father Chilinda noticed that it is actually St. Ignatius Catholic Church that had produced the most corrupt government officers under president Chiluba. What this demonstrates is that corruption and government excesses should not be portrayed as a preserve of one church or one faith.

Sixth, it is quite disquieting that Ndhlovu does seem to suggest that Pentecostals never supported Michael Sata’s ascension to power. Pentecostals were among the most ardent supporters of the Patriotic Front and many continue to support President Michael Sata today. Like most Zambians, the voting pattern of Pentecostals is very complex and they do not just vote based on faith. Had this been the case, Nevers Mumba would have enjoyed their vote since 1998.

Pentecostals are citizens like everyone else and they do support politicians not only based on faith but also based on their stomachs. They supported Michael Sata because they believed that he would help bring change to Zambia. In fact, one Pentecostal congregation produced 3 councilors for PF in the 2006 elections in Lusaka. Among these was the mayor of Lusaka. In fact, Lusaka at one time had two successive PF mayors of the pentecostal faith.

A book like Ndhlovu’s is a good start for history. It has lots of positives. But the Pentecostal story needed a response and I hope my critique above will help strengthen the very ideals that Ndhlovu wanted to promote. I highly recommend Ndhlovu’s book and look forward to further dialogue with him on some of these matters.

Toxic Roots: Why Zambians of Congolese Origin Hide their Heritage

By E. Munshya wa Munshya

To treat a topic of this nature, a definition of terms is in order. Being of Congolese origin or heritage is a complex notion. However, in this article I use it to describe Zambian citizens with sufficient Congolese connections such as culture, tribe, family, and origins. I do not wish to use this term to describe the Luba-Lunda migrations, but to latter migrations of peoples at least after the 1950s.

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

Two of Zambia’s neighbours have left an indelible mark on Zambian culture and national identity. These two countries are Malawi and Congo DR. In an earlier article, I had already pointed out the influence that Malawi and her diaspora has had on Zambian political and cultural life. It is time, therefore, for me to turn to the Congo. The Congo DR shares a 2000-kilometer border with Zambia. None of the other eight (or nine) neighbours comes close to this length. Additionally, over half of Zambia’s urban towns are within 200 kilometers of the Congolese border. Zambia shares more tribes with the Congo than any other neighbouring country. The ethnic groups that are found on both sides of the border stretch from Mwinilunga to Mwansabombwe. Among these ethnic groups are the Lunda, Luvale, Kaonde, Lamba, Lala, Ushi, and the Lunda (Kazembe). The Bemba language, spoken in more provinces of Zambia, is the staple language for much of the Congo’s Katanga province. In fact, Katanga’s major city “Lubumbashi wa Ntanshi” is a Bemba term. Historically, many Zambian tribes claim Congolese origin. That is most of them are descended from an ancient Luba-Lunda Kingdom. These tribes are as sparse as the Bemba in Northern Province to some Lozi speaking peoples within Western Province.

However, in spite of all these realities, it is quite surprising that not many people in Zambia publicly admit to Congolese heritage, origin or connections. I will begin by taking politicians as an example.

Frederick Jacob Titus CHILUBA

Frederick Jacob Titus CHILUBA

When President Frederick Chiluba was running for the presidency in 1990, he was asked whether he had any Congolese connections. His answer was to the effect that his only Congolese connection was that of ancient African history, in which his people, the Chishinga migrated from the Luba-Lunda empire to their current location along the river Luapula. By giving this answer, Chiluba refused any modern Congolese connections. He instead used the same ancient argument that his only connections to the Congo belonged to the 1800s. Notwithstanding this position, however, any person who has been to Musangu or to Mwense cannot be surprised at just how close these places are to the Congolese border. And indeed, any serious student of history will discover that Chiluba’s refusal to be connected to the Congo is a serious inconsistency. Chiluba did have the Congolese connection which he refused to admit to. But why did he? This article seeks to provide part of that answer.

President Levy Mwanawasa was born of a Lenje father and a Lamba mother (Mama Miriam Mokola). For many Zambians, they may need reminding that the Lamba people exist in both Zambia and the Congo. In fact, the Congo has more Lamba speaking peoples than Zambia. The Lambas occupy much of the Congolese pedicle and they stretch from Lubumbashi down through the pedicle to Sakania. In Zambia, the Lamba are mainly on the Copperbelt.

In Amos Malupenga’s biography of President Levy Mwanawasa, he neglects to mention any Congolese connections that Mama Miriam Mokola had. The only Congolese reference that Malupenga alludes to in his book is that the young Levy was flown to Kinshasa for medical attention after a burning accident he suffered as a child. However, throughout his life, Levy Mwanawasa refused any Congolese connections. But I should here provide a few hints that may indicate that Mwanawasa too had clear connections to the Congo, which he refused to admit to.

Mwanawasa’s mother lived in the Congo after she got divorced from Levy’s father. And he, as a student at Chiwala, did visit her on the other side of the border. Malupenga mentioned nearly all the places Mama Mokola lived in, except for one place. According to Malupenga, Mama Mokola lived in Ndola, Mufulira, Ndola rural and “another village which now has ceased to exist.” It is a village without a name. Malupenga conveniently, left out the name of this village, either because he was not told about it (it was hidden from him), or knew about it and chose not to mention it for some reason. I submit that this village has disappeared from Malupenga’s book because in reality it is on the other side of the border-it is in the Congo. This village should in all probability be between Mokambo and Sakania across the border.

The reason why Malupenga did not mention the Congo is because the Congo is a toxic heritage. Many Zambians of Congolese origin simply refuse to be connected to the Congo. That is they do not want to admit to this heritage publicly.

Additionally, the fact that the young Levy was flown to Kinshasa gives the idea that his family should have been connected to the Congo more than we are made to believe. No Zambian, without sufficient connections to Kinshasa would send their child to seek medical attention in Kinshasa in 1960. As such, Levy Mwanawasa did have sufficient Congolese connections.

In the 2006 elections, the MMD featured two very interesting candidates. One is Jerry Mukonkela for Chingola and the other is Goodward Mulubwa for Matero. Mukonkela was more forthcoming about his “Congolese” accent. A Lunda with strong Congolese heritage, Mukonkela spent some time defending his “Swahili” accent and refusing any connections to the Congo. Goodward Mulubwa also faced the same situation. A successful businessman, he addressed the Congolese suspicions by refusing any link to the Congo. From his name, you could tell he is Ushi from Luapula Province. The above-mentioned denials typical of politicians are also true for many Zambians from different strata of society. But why do Zambians of Congolese origin or connections refuse Congolese identity. The answer is steeped in history and in the Kaunda Era demonization of everything Congolese. The following paragraphs provide part of the answer.

The first reason is with the way imperialists partitioned Africa and the identity they fostered upon Africans. Armed with a stencil and a ruler, junior Belgian and British civil servants drew a map of Africa, and then demarcated it according to their wishes. They divided up families and did not care about how the new borders would impact on a nephew east of the Luapula River. In the modern geo-political states, this demarcation has caused a false sense of citizenship that has frequently led to African tribes perceiving their own tribesmen as foreigners simply because Queen Victoria and her counterpart King Leopold II decided so. This matter requires further exploration latter.

The second reason has to do with what happened at independence. Zambia’s independence came at a time that the Congo was at war. Congo DR got her independence from Belgium in 1960. However, just months into her independence the Southern Province of Katanga seceded from the mainland, and declared independence. Katanga Governor Moise Tshombe’s military and political prowess provided a serious conundrum for Northern Rhodesian Prime Minister Kenneth Kaunda.

Kaunda believed that Tshombe had recruited his soldiers from tribes that would constitute a future nation of Zambia. If left unchecked, this would bring instability for a newly independent Zambia. Additionally, Whites in Southern Rhodesia wanted to create a federation of three countries: Southern Rhodesia, Katanga and Barotseland. Kaunda was already dealing with the Barotseland crisis and did not want any further complications. Cleary in such a political set-up there was no way Kaunda was going to be friendly to Tshombe and his Katangese agenda. These political issues would create serious suspicions on Kaunda’s part for everything Katangese or Congolese. He became suspicious of his northern neighbour such that after Zambia’s independence, Kaunda’s government would treat the Congo as enemy number one.

The third reason came as a consequence of Kaunda’s policy towards the Congo. He would treat the nation itself as an enemy. Ironically, he never extended this enmity to Malawi. Could it be that he was kinder to Malawi because they were his kith and kin? What should surprise most historians is that while KK was maintaining such animosity towards Congo, his Malawian counterpart was partnering with Apartheid South Africa. In spite of this partnership between Kamuzu Banda and the South African regime, not once did Kaunda treat Kamuzu or Malawi as an enemy.

In promoting anti-Congo policies, Kaunda ostracised many Zambians of Congolese origin. Following the enactment of the 1966 National Registration Act, many Zambians of Malawian origin easily acquired green National Registration Cards. However, this was not the case for those Zambians with Congolese heritage. Additionally, Kaunda deployed an active army on the Congolese border. There were more soldiers at Konkola, Mokambo and Chembe than those stationed at Chirundu to fight Ian Smith’s incursions into Zambia.

The National Registration Act of 1966 and its implications upon Zambians’ self-identity of citizenship should be the focus of another study. Suffice here to state that the Act itself got so misunderstood that even those who qualified to be citizens of Zambia could not do so because of this misconstruction. Zambians of Congolese heritage were the biggest casualties of this Act. It is therefore interesting to note that the Supreme Court used Chabala Kafupi’s testimony in the Lewanika v Chiluba to clarify the Act. In essence a Congolese born Chabala Kafupi who claimed to be Chiluba’s father qualified for Zambian citizenship not because of acquiring an NRC, but on the basis of his being present in Zambia at independence. It is quite unusual that Mr. Chabala Kafupi of clear Congolese heritage mustered enough strength to state this fact in the Supreme Court. But he is the exception.

The fourth reason was that Kaunda enacted an economic embargo against the Congo and consequently against the Lambas, the Ushis, the Lalas and the Lundas and their relatives across the border. Instead of encouraging trade and commerce between the Congo and Zambia, Kaunda banned the export of goods to Lubumbashi. The only, way out for Zambians to profit from lucrative business between Congo and Zambia was by “smuggling through Bilanga.” This was a dangerous way of doing business as many Zambians got killed by Kaunda’s soldiers. It is for economists to calculate how much money Zambia could have made out of trade with Congo. It is only now that government is exploiting the Congo’s business potential.

Fifth, Kaunda deployed a severe academic embargo upon Zambians. Children in Zambian schools were taught very little about Congo DR. In fact, some Zambians were shocked to learn in 1986 that some Congolese are Bemba speaking. This was when Zambia played Congo in a football match in which one of the Congo players was named Kasongo Kabwe – a typical Bemba name. It is no doubt that to date very few in Zambia know that Bemba is one of the Congo’s widely spoken local languages. In fact, only two radio stations in Africa broadcast in the Bemba language – ZNBC and Radio Congo.

Kaunda’s academic embargo also manifested itself in William Banda’s testimony against Chiluba in the famous Lewanika and others v Chiluba case. Chiluba’s connection to the Congo may have been undeniable, but then Banda went for the overkill in the testimony. Banda told the Supreme Court that he had known Chiluba as a young man who hailed from Congo and spoke the Lingala language. Banda’s testimony was probably both true and false. He might have been right that Chiluba may have had sufficient Congolese connections, but by claiming that Chiluba then spoke Lingala, he fed into a false assumption that all Congolese speak Lingala or that all Congolese are “Kasais”. Indeed if Chiluba had those Congolese connections, they could have been derived from the Bemba speaking region of Katanga near the Luapula River and not anywhere near Kinshasa where Lingala is the staple language.

But William Takere Banda is not alone in this misconception of everything Congolese. Here are some facts that might be helpful. The Bemba language is one of the widely spoken languages in Katanga. Bemba speaking peoples, however, have experienced serious problems in terms of political or cultural progression in the Congo. To date Lunda Bululu is the only Bemba speaking person to have ascended to the position of Prime Minister for the Congolese republic. In Katanga itself, Moise Katumbi is the first Bemba to be governor. Before, Katumbi, Bemba-speaking Kunda Kisenga Milundu served as Katanga deputy-governor in a power sharing government after the death of Laurent Kabila. It is now becoming a possibility that Katumbi might as well be the first Bemba-speaking President of the Congo DR.

The sixth reason why Zambians of Congolese origins deny their heritage is purely as a result of prejudice and delusions. Some in Zambia characterize all Congolese as “Kasais”. Just how Bemba speaking or Lunda speaking Congolese came to be understood as Kasais in Zambia should deserve another historical analysis. However, it should be sufficient to note here that while in Zambia, some people mistake all Congolese as Kasais, Kasais in Katanga find it difficult to integrate among the Bemba and other Katangese tribes.

Indeed, some Katangese people regard the Kasais as enemies and vultures. This idea is definitely repugnant. The anti-Kasai sentiments culminated in the 1990s when Katanga governor Kyungu wa Kumwanza, enacted the “Kubatelemusha” doctrine where the Kasais were ordered deported back to Kananga and Mbuji-Mayi. Many Kasai women and children lost their lives during this ethnic cleansing. Wa Kumwanza has to-date not answered for this crime. Some of the Katanga tribes with strong anti-Kasai sentiments are Bemba speaking.

However, while some Bemba-speaking tribes are prejudiced against the Kasais in Katanga, when the same Bemba-speaking Congolese cross the border into Zambia, some Zambians do not differentiate between them and the Kasais. As such, the prejudice against the Kasai has been exported to Zambia, except that in Zambia, every one with sufficient Congolese had been for many years characterised as “Kasai”. It is this anti-Kasai sentiment from Katanga that got fed into Zambia. This characteristically led to Bemba speaking Zambians of Congolese origin to deny any Congolese heritage so that they are not characterized as “Kasai.”

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Let me digress here to address the issue of anti-Kasai sentiments in Katanga. Obviously, the Kasai people have strong ethnic patriotism. Even in Katanga they still look to their Kasai regions with nostalgia. Of all the tribes in Congo, the Luba-Kasai are the most travelled both within and outside the Congo. The Ba Yuda du Congo singing group paints the Kasai region as “the blessed land subdued with good rain.” The singing group also casts, in the Luba (Kasai) language, the Luba-Kasai as the “bantu ba bulayo”. Which means a people of promise. The extent to which this patriotism leads to anti-Kasai sentiments in Katanga deserves another analysis. However, it is interesting to note that in spite of the Congo’s instability, no Luba-Kasai has taken to arms to rebel against the government in Kinshasa. As such, the peaceful nature of the Kasai shouldn’t be doubted. Interestingly, of all the Congo’s warlords none is a Kasai. In fact, even when they had the numbers and the infrastructure to lead a successful rebellion in Kinshasa, no Luba-Kasai has ever exploited this channel. In the recent elections, the Kasai Ettiene Tshisekedi lost an unfair election to Joseph Kabila, and yet Tshisekedi never agitated for war or violence against Kabila.

The challenge therefore for the Bemba speaking Congolese is to begin changing their attitudes towards their Kasai counterparts. As these attitudes in Katanga change for the better, this will get fed into Zambia as well. The people of Katanga shouldn’t give into the Wa Kumwanza ideology, not now and not ever.

Back to Kaunda’s attitudes towards the Congo, by the time he had realised that he was too ruthless against the Congo it was too late. Zambians had lost faith in him. But in spite of the general negative against the Kasai, Zambians loved the music done by one of the Kasai’s most famous sons – Luambo Makiadi (aka Franco). It was in the waning years of his rule that Kaunda invited Luambo Makiadi to come and visit Zambia so that KK can benefit from Franco’s popularity. For his part, Luambo Makiadi did not disappoint. His dancing queens and princes penned a song for Kaunda in Swahili, asking Zambians to vote for KK. Franco sung, “President Kaunda, papa wa oliya” – the father of peace.

After Kaunda left the presidency, President Frederick Chiluba succeeded him. Chiluba’s sufficient Congolese connections are obvious as testified to by a Mr. Kafupi (and by Mr. William Takere Banda. Mr. Kafupi claimed to have been Chiluba’s father and his resemblance with Chiluba was unusually striking. With this heritage, one would have expected a change in attitude towards the Congo. But Chiluba, in spite of his clear Congolese connections, refused to normalise relations with the Congo. It was still a toxic heritage.

Psychologically then, Chiluba had internalised Kaunda’s aversion for the Congo such that he too started acting like Kaunda. First, Chiluba refused to admit to have ever been to the Congo. Second, he even rejected a Mr. Chabala Kafupi a Zambian of Congolese heritage who claimed to have been his father. Third, in spite of his village being just a few hundred meters from the Luapula River and consequently from the Congolese border, Chiluba refused to have ever seen or grown up in the Congo. Fourthly, Chiluba cleared the few Zambians of Congolese heritage still serving in Kaunda’s government.

Chiluba, however, softened latter in his presidency towards the Congo. Moreover, the fact that he openly embraced current Katanga governor Moise Katumbi and granted him both asylum and a Zambian diplomatic passport goes to show that Chiluba was tired of hiding his Congolese heritage. The choice of Mwanawasa could have also played in this redeemed attitude. Chiluba as president had information about the full heritage of candidate Mwanawasa. He chose to go with it because Congolese heritage should not be despised any more.

In the age of T.P. Mazembe Football Club and in the days of open business between Lubumbashi and Lusaka, attitudes towards the Congo are changing. Zambians of Congolese origin, who had been living in shadows and fear, have started to openly embrace their heritage. Indeed this is good for Zambia and for the identity of perhaps a million of her citizens. It shouldn’t hurt to be a Zambian of Congolese heritage. It has definitely stopped to hurt for a Zambian citizen to openly embrace those family members separated from her simply because King Leopold and Queen Victoria had so decided. Zambians can do nothing about the past, but for the future they are hurriedly affirming: toxic no more.