Tag Archives: Michael Sata

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

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

Guy Lindsay Scott

Guy Lindsay Scott

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

Sata and Scott

Sata and Scott

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

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

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

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

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

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

When a Vice-President works in the dark: Guy Scott and the vacuum from Tel Aviv

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

Guy Lindsay Scott

Guy Lindsay Scott

Never in the short history of our republic have we had a vice-president who is as marginalised as Guy Lindsay Scott. Effectively, this Patriotic Front government has managed to reduce the vice-president of our republic to a non-entity. As if it is not enough that Scott has no clue of much of the stuff happening in a government in which he is number two, the Speaker of our parliament ordered him to release a statement about the whereabouts of President Sata. The people of Milenge would call this “uku tumfya”. Kutumfya to ask Scott to release a statement when the gentleman is in the dark, as always. The statement Scott released to parliament is notoriously honest, scandalously ironic and goes to prove just how out of the loop Scott has been. That Scott has not resigned in spite of this rampant snubbing deserves an analysis of its own. But it certainly takes a lot of steel to be a Veep in a cabinet, which shamefully ostracises you.

Scott supplemented his parliamentary statement with a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) interview he had on Wednesday June 25 2014. In this interview he accused a “small tribe in the south of Zambia” as the source of lies, innuendo and rumours about President Sata’s health and controversial visit to Tel Aviv. Without, dwelling too much on the demerits of his insult of this “small tribe”, it seems that Dr. Scott seems to project his own insignificance in the Patriotic Front on to others.

Guy Scott, in spite of having the Zambian constitution on his side, has never acted as president. Foremost, the job of any vice-president is to act as president in the absence of a president. Additionally, a Veep is supposed to manage an executive transition in the event of a vacancy in the office of president. As an acting president, a Veep is supposed to call for fresh elections within ninety days. It is quite fascinating though that Scott has never, at any time, fulfilled his constitutional job description. Sata always leaves power in the hands of Dr. Scott’s unelected juniors. This should hurt. An explanation has been cooked up, that tries to justify this disregard of procedure by stating that Scott cannot act as president because he is a muzungu. I have searched the constitution of our republic, and it does not bar a Whiteman from acting as president. The decision to sideline Scott within the realms of the don’t kubeba power structure does seem to me that it is informed by racism or tribalism. What else could explain this clear preference for black Zambians over a white one? The irony is that this very tribalism that victimizes Guy Scott is the same one he is projecting on to others when he characterises those wanting information about his boss as a “small tribe” from the south of Zambia. This is the problem of racism and tribalism: it turns its victims into vicious tribalists themselves. The only way to help Dr. Scott, perhaps, is for the PF government to stop its policy of a racist embargo on Scott solely because of the colour of his skin.

It was on Sunday, June 22 that Hon Mwansa Kapeya released a government statement explaining that President Sata had arrived in Israel at “the invitation of President Shimon Peres.” This was surprising because the trip had not been previously announced. In fact, Kapeya seemed to have released the statement only after rumours had surfaced about the whereabouts of President Sata. Kapeya stated that Sata left Zambia on Friday June 20. So between Friday and Sunday, there was no word from the government about Sata’s whereabouts. This was a serious lapse in the judgment of presidential handlers. An invitation of our president by the president of Israel should never be a secret.

Kapeya also stated that Zambia’s Honorary Consular-General Ms. Ronit Hershkovitz received President Sata. This should make this trip quite official and it buttresses the reasons why the Zambian public should have been informed of it in the first place. After this statement from Kapeya, social media went into overdrive particularly when it became apparent that Peres would in fact be in Washington, DC and not Tel Aviv to host Sata. The response from Kapeya was to threaten jail for those doubting Thomases. Kapeya enjoys jailing, it seems.

And then parliament intervened. It was a Member of Parliament from Southern Province who raised a point of order requesting the Speaker to direct the PF government to clarify this Sunday statement. This honour fell on the leader of government business in the house – the vice-president. Unsurprisingly, Dr Scott’s statement seems to have contradicted Kapeya’s central assertion:

Unfortunately, it is also asserted that he is doing this at the invitation of the Israeli President Mr Shimon Peres. This is misleading because President Sata is not there on a State Visit but on a Private Working Holiday…Sata will be combining sight-seeing, relaxation and business meetings.

Scott then concluded by stating that this is all he could say without entering “into the fantasy world of the Zambian social media and its necrophiliac correspondents and editors.” Obviously, Scott is very ruthless with words. He is of British heritage after all. It is sarcastic that he could label social media in these insulting words when his boss runs a very popular Facebook page that has nevertheless not been updated for weeks. Sata’s Facebook page came with a lot of cimwela and was a reliable source of ZNBC main news. Surprise, surprise, Guy Scott today calls social media “necrophiliac”.

After this statement in parliament BBC asked him about whether President Sata has cancer. He answered, “I can’t know because I am not his wife”. Asked further about the rumours about Sata’s health, Scott answered it is only a small tribe in the south stoking these rumours.

It makes no sense to discriminate against Guy Scott - Munshya

It makes no sense to discriminate against Guy Scott – Munshya

Guy Scott could be right, he has no idea about President Sata’s health. In fact, he has no idea about many things going on in government. The reason is not really because he is not Sata’s wife. But rather that, in spite of being a vice-president, he has been erroneously marginalised based on the colour of his skin. While Scott salutes his unelected subordinate Kabimba as acting president in Lusaka, I hope Scott’s boss enjoys his time in the Jewish state “sight-seeing, relaxing and having business meetings”. The Jewish state has confirmed that President Sata is in Israel at the invitation of President Peres. This is a welcome reprieve coming half a week later. Nevertheless, while all this is going on, I hope Scott will not think that the health status of President Sata is a manufactured rumour by a small tribe. If that were the case, all of us, will then be that small tribe. Scott should make no mistake, if this small tribe decide otherwise come 2016; he and his boss will never go sightseeing in Tel Aviv at taxpayers’ expenses. Never again.

When a smuggler acts as President: Wynter Kabimba and his men from Kenya

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

Personal sabotage should know its constraints. But just when you think that stuff cannot get any worse, that is when it usually does. It is one thing to make a small mistake, or perhaps, to misspeak once in a while. We are all human after all. But when you are part of a cabinet handling 13 million Zambians, you must be more careful and more measured, with the class of words you spit out of your mouth. It is no secret that the Patriotic Front (PF) government lacks basic diplomatic skill. Never in the history of our republic have we had such horrendous leaders in charge of our foreign diplomacy and national security. A foreign policy disaster is just being averted by some good leadership skills exhibited by the new minister of foreign affairs. He is trying his best. Harry Kalaba seems to have brought a little bit more stability and better class to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, just when you think we are now having a good handle of foreign policy, someone just manages to sabotage the little effort being done. The story of Kabimba smuggling into Zambia, “Kenyans through Nakonde border” is so diplomatically obtuse that no one in their right mind could ever make such a reckless assertion implicating a foreign country in matters so sensitive.

It could not have come at a more difficult time for Kenya and her people. Kenya is facing multiple problems at the moment. Al-Shabaab is threatening to kill them. In Mpeketoni armed men stormed peaceful football fans and killed several. In the intelligence briefs that Sata should be receiving, he has probably been informed of the Kenyan situation. Kabimba should also be intelligent enough to know that Kenya currently is battling a barrage of both local and cross-border terrorism. We should all sympathise with the good people of Kenya during this difficult time.

President Sata and Secretary General  Kabimba

President Sata and Secretary General Kabimba

From such a background, it is strange, that Wynter Kabimba would growl about how he smuggled Kenyans into Zambia to do Parallel Voter Tabulation (PVT). No mention of another country by a senior cabinet member ever goes without diplomatic consequences. Kabimba’s statement is wrong, confusing and surprising to say the least. I have already explained that this testimony is diplomatically imprudent. How can our Minister of Justice implicate citizens of a sister nation, that he had smuggled them into Zambia to illegally participate in Zambian elections? Who says that? Who in their right mind would even string a sentence together that contains such diseased implications? To make matters worse, Kabimba even mentions that had Rupiah Banda won those elections, he would have sent him to jail as a result of this illegal activity.

Several politicians have jumped on this and are now claiming that Wynter probably did in fact use the Kenyans to manipulate elections to favour the Patriotic Front. For this, the opposition wants Wynter jailed. Opposition parties have a reason to read what they want from Wynter’s statement. But I doubt the veracity of Wynter’s statement. Kabimba seems to be a deeply troubled man coveting absolute power at all costs. Jail should be spared for people more talented than this.

When a smuggler acts as President

When a smuggler acts as President

It is a notorious fact that Wynter is fighting bruising succession battles within his party. He is trying to threaten those who do not want him at the helm of PF. In fact, some PF members are anti-Kabimba because they know him to be unpatriotic and wearisome. In the Eastern Province, a camp identified with Lameck Mangani, seems to have had little regard for Kabimba. For his part, Kabimba, made no qualms about what he really did feel about Mangani. Shortly after 2011 elections, Kabimba claimed quite audaciously that Mangani was not a member of the PF, but was just an impostor. Strangely enough, he went to anoint this impostor as parliamentary candidate, not once, but twice. After the fights, Mangani has now been fired.

It is during these succession wars and meetings in Chipata that Kabimba pulled a stunt only appropriate for primary school. He knows he lacks legitimacy in the eyes of many PF members. For some reason, he is not just registering as a good guy to replace Sata, either before or after 2016. There is just something that is putting Zambians off about Kabimba. It is to convince one of these doubting groups that Kabimba announced this infamous Kenyan connection.

In paraphrase he stated: “don’t mess with me”. “I am a very senior member of this party”. “ I single handedly made this party to win.” And then he goes offside, “I, in fact, hired Kenyans and smuggled them through Nakonde to do PVT and we won the elections.”

It appears like Kabimba will do anything to try and buy his own legitimacy. He will say anything. He will claim anything. He is willing to do anything. He does not seem to care about the implications of what he is saying, as long as it raises his own bruised profile within the PF. Anyone would know that Kabimba cannot and did not rig the 2011 elections. Certainly, no Kenyan ever rigged the 2011 elections on behalf of Kabimba. Neither Kabimba nor his Kenyan fictitious people have the capability to do so.

In case, Kabimba has forgotten. We need to remind him. The people of Zambia voted for one Michael Sata. Zambians from Limulunga to Milenge chose and gave Sata a strong mandate. Zambians thought that Sata would do them good. He would give them a constitution. They thought he would chase the Chinese invaders. They thought he would make the Kwacha stronger. They thought he would truly be in charge. To their surprise, they are having what in business we call “buyer’s remorse”. You buy something you wanted so badly, and then after you take it home, it disappoints. You then look back and think, “I should not have bought it in the first place”. This is where we are as a country with regard to Bo Chilufya Katongo.

In this buyer’s remorse, Kabimba should not mock Zambians by claiming that it is his Kenyans that brought us Michael Sata. We brought Sata on our own. And we do have a way to get rid of him in the 2016 election. In so doing, we do not need Kabimba’s fabrication. The only Kenyans I have seen, with some real capability over some Zambian men, wear traditional Maasai gear and stand on corners of Lusaka hawking stuff they promise will help, not with elections, but erections. Come 2016, they will be there to sell even more stuff to Zambian men and perhaps women. However, what they will not do is to rig any elections.

Zambians are experiencing buyer's remorse - Munshya

Zambians are experiencing buyer’s remorse – Munshya

One Zambia, Many Vultures: Towards a More Humane Politics During Presidential Illness

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

The question is not really about whether President Sata is sick or not. The question is about how the nation and its political players should conduct themselves in moments of alleged presidential illness. When a president falls ill, or rather when allegations of presidential illness become apparent, we as a people have some choices. Some of these choices are terribly hideous. The first choice is to use the illness of the president as an opportunity for political posturing or partisan cannibalism. The second choice is to deny and deny. And then deny some more. There is a better choice, however. A choice far better than these two choices: a more humane way of doing politics. The rivers of national sanity and morality have never dried up as to deny us the opportunity to be civil when reacting to the misfortunes of our fellow humans. There is a healthier manner of how we should handle difficult issues adjoining a presidential temporal incapacitation through illness.

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

Political posturing is never in the best interest of the nation. In fact, political posturing during rumoured presidential illnesses, has in the past, led to bitterness, angering hatred and obscene disappointment. For example, during the many illnesses of Levy Patrick Mwanawasa (president from 2002 to 2008), a very verbose leader of the opposition at that time wasted no seconds in using Mwanawasa’s alleged illnesses as a ticket to scorn Levy’s government and leadership. That same opposition leader mustered enough vigour to claim, quite undiplomatically, that when Mwanawasa was examined by doctors in India, “they found that there was no coordination between his brain and his mouth.” These were very harsh and discourteous words to come out of the mouth of an important leader of Zambia’s opposition at that time. What such sentiments went to prove was the unfortunate fact that taking such stances when a president is ill demolishes the good human spirit that should be resident in all of us during the misfortunes of others. Now that there are plausible rumours of the current president being ill, it is incumbent upon us not to treat President Sata, the way a sick Mwanawasa was treated. As the saying goes, “two wrongs never make a right.” We can never triumph over evil using evil.

The best we all could offer during this very difficult time are the finest wishes, extravagant prayers and resilient hope for the full recuperation of President Sata so that he could find the strength he needs and the fortitude he requires to fix the many problems that our country is facing. Zambia currently has a currency that is dropping in value like a ball stumbling from Lebron James’ huge hands. The Kwacha has hit K7 000 (in real money) to the US dollar. Students at the Copperbelt University (CBU) have downed their brains until their meal allowances are increased by at least 45%. They are asking for Ba John Phiri to address them. Roads that were built linking Ndola to Kitwe have developed severe potholes days after the contractors handed over the keys to Hon. Yamfwa Mukanga. Rupiah Banda’s flagship project stadium originally named “disaster stadium” by Ba Chishimba Kambwili is falling apart even before it is officially commissioned. It is still not known when this official commissioning will take place considering that both Kambwili and his boss missed the Sunday expected launch day. Old and finished ZAF aircraft are now murdering our soldiers like roaches. Defence Minister Edgar Lungu spends more time mourning soldiers killed during peace than during war. Our national debt, being managed by Bo Alexander Chikwanda, is rapidly dashing towards pre-HIPC points. PF contracted Kaloba currently stands at $4.5 Billion. Honestly, it will require the steady fortitude of a very fit president to preside over the recovery of this country. That being the case, we all do very well to hope and pray that His Excellency recovers quickly, for great is his work and enormous are his challenges. Some of these economic challenges he created them himself. Fya kuiletelela fye.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

The other choice of handling the alleged illness of a president does not inspire confidence at all. Even when it is so notoriously obvious that vintu sivili bwino, it is sad that the PF government’s default response to citizens’ concerns over the health of the president is that of don’t kubeba. This is sad. But knowing the vulturistic nature of our politics, PF government is denying it because somehow they feel like the political vultures are already circling. That should not be the case. During this time, the government should genuinely share, with the citizens, the state of the health of the president. And from there, ask the nation to pray and hope for a quick recovery. Stating that the president has malaria or pneumonia should not be taboo for any government. It should not be a taboo topic, definitely, not in our times. In fact, even if the illness were very serious, it would still be in order for a government to inform the nation so that goodwill and prayers are offered in return. Our country has excellent doctors in all hospitals to help when called upon. Great Zambian hospitals such as UTH, Chainama, Ndola Central and Levy Mwanawasa can always send their best physicians to help. Denials are hardly the best policy. Denials become even more ridiculous when evidence, as seen on TV, pictures and face-to-face, shows a complete different story. There is a saying, that “she who hides her illness risks embarrassment in death”. A government should be proactive in communicating such hardships instead of being mischievously secretive.

We should pray for Michael Sata

We should pray for Michael Sata

Zambia is a democracy. We cannot really completely eradicate the politics of opportunism during a trying moment like this one. Already, vultures in the ruling party are positioning themselves for a depraved feast at the slab of misfortune. A wake of vultures is ready. We have heard them in Mpulungu. They are loud and clear in Mufulira. The vultures have started to gather in committees. The wind is growing dark, and the energy is beginning to plunge. There at, perhaps, the allegations of the last breath, the queenmakers are rearranging their ugly seats casting lots and perhaps spreading bones. While we should not be surprised at this behaviour, we should nevertheless hope and pray that they do so in a humane form. There is still a way to transform vultures into doves. There is a way to redeem our politics from that of depravity to that of humanity.

The government of Zambia should be forthcoming with information. This is the best way to lead and to keep vultures at bay. The people of Zambia should also be clear about showing their true humanity. This is the best way to be citizens. The constitution of Zambia should be respected and Cabinet should only act when there is clear evidence of incapacity. But for now, all of us should keep praying and hoping that our problems and the many challenges we face are taken care of in the most humane way. Pafwa abantu, pashala bantu.

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You are welcome to use this material for academic purposes. Here is the suggested citation. Suggested citation:

Munshya, E., ‘One Zambia, Many Vultures: Towards a more humane politics during presidential illness’ Elias Munshya Blog (30th May 2014) (available at http://www.eliasmunshya.org)

 

 

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

By E. Munshya wa Munshya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Elias Munshya wa Munshya

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

Nevers Mumba

Dr. Nevers Mumba

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nevers had failed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By E. Munshya wa Munshya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then something happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then the call came.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But this honeymoon was never to last long.

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