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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.

Is Stella Shooting at Shadows?: Hichilema, Police IG Libongani & “Amayendele”

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

In our democracy, there should be no reason why the police command should be wasting taxpayers’ bullets and teargas to chase Hakainde Hichilema (HH) out of the Eastern Province. Bullets and teargas should be for criminals and not ordinary citizens. Reports that Inspector-General (IG) Stella Libongani had sent a battalion of police and soldiers to hound HH out of Chipata are very disturbing. What is even more worrying is the fact that the honorable Inspector General issued a statement in which she proudly detailed this fact. This is regrettable. However, we must not be tired to remind each other frequently, of the sacrosanct liberties we have decided to enjoy as a people. Power corrupts. And I see the reason why Bo Stella could be using her position and her power to persecute citizens of our country. It is certainly tempting to be in Lusaka and with the click of a finger be able to mobilize paramilitaries to frighten villagers in Mungwi or Malambo. We must be clear from the outset that eroding our constitutional liberties as citizens of our beloved country is a serious issue that we as a people should condemn with the contempt it deserves.

This nation was formed with a clear goal in mind: to be a free people united under the banner of One Zambia One Nation. The slogan of “amayendele muno Zambia” was the battle cry at independence. What this means is that any citizen of our country does have the liberty to travel anywhere across the length and breadth of our homeland. Amayendele means HH can go where he wishes to go. He cannot get lost. It is his country. Amayendele means Chipata is Hakainde’s Zambia just like Mazabuka is his. Amayendele means a native of Milenge can freely roam in Mwinilunga. Amayendele means we do not need police permits and passes to go and pay homage to Mpezeni, Chitimukulu or Gawa-Undi. Unless HH is restricted by a court of law, there is no way that Bo Stella should be sending armed police to tear gas a citizen away from Chipata. Hakainde is not a mouse that needs to be smoked out of a hole. He is certainly not a rabid dog that needs to be quarantined to his Kabulonga home. It makes absolute no sense that the Zambia Police should take pride in restricting the constitutional liberties enjoyed by a free people.

The United Party for National Development (UPND) is one of the leading political players in our country. In a democratic nation, political participants should have the liberty to compete for political ideas in the electoral marketplace. It does not matter that HH is politically annoying to President Sata. In fact, I find some of HH’s statements against Sata to be self-indulgent and occasionally silly. But that is, within reason, a lawful liberty that is and should be constitutionally protected. Anyway, State House itself does return HH’s fire for fire. And HH’s political candor has been met squarely by the greater vulgarity pasted on State House letterheads.

Stella Libongani

Stella Libongani

Nevertheless, political silliness is not one of the reasons why citizens should be denied their “Amayendele liberties.” Subsequently, as a citizen of this country HH has the freedom to hold and promote his political opinions. He should be free to air those opinions. It is up to the people of Chipata to decide whether they will believe HH or not. It is not up to Libongani to decide for us what the people of Mutenguleni want. Certainly, it is not up to the Police High Command to determine for the people of Malambo which candidate is to be believed. That being the case, it is concerning that the Police would so imprudently decide to interfere in what should be left for the people to determine. Zambians decided to vote for Michael Sata in 2011. They needed no help from bullets or teargas. And Zambians certainly need no bullets to determine for them the person they will vote for in 2016. We are Zambians and bullets have never been our way of resolving our political differences. And I hope Bo Stella will keep it that way by exercising restraint in the way she uses teargas to deal with unarmed political players. Indeed if she is trigger happy, she could exercise her shooting skills on ducks, chickens and cockroaches, but not on the Zambian human like HH.

Ordinary folks are the primary defenders of democracy. Regardless of how strong or weak institutions of democracy are, it takes the will and resolve of a people to strengthen their stake in democracy. Zambians fought for democracy in 1964. Zambians fought for democracy in 1991. When faced with the prospect of a Third Term, Zambians hooped together again and fought for democracy in 2001. President Sata should never make the mistake of assuming that Zambians will give up on democracy in 2014. We have stated in this column, and we do restate it: Zambians have tasted the beautiful fruit begotten by the tree of democracy. Having found it to be so sweet, Zambians are unwilling to revert back to the ruthlessness and senselessness of the rotten shrub of dictatorship.

Hakainde Hichilema

Hakainde Hichilema

Libongani is indeed in a very precarious situation. She could be thinking that by being cruel to HH she is somehow winning some favour from her boss. But what she might need reminding is the fact that, her boss also has some bosses: the people of Zambia. The people of Zambia elected President Sata and it is the people of Zambia that will decide his fate come 2016. That being the case, Libongani should hold allegiance to the government of the day, only as the custodians of the administrative state delegated to them by the people. It is true that politicians supervise Libongani. Our system of government is such that elected officials supervise, within the confines of the law, both the civil service and the security apparatus. This is done so that there may be law and order in our country. This is also done so that these security officials may at the command of politicians protect Zambia from internal and external enemies. It is ridiculous to stop HH as if he were an enemy of the State. We need soldiers and armies not to harass citizens but to protect citizens. Libongani should be sending police to facilitate HH’s safety in Chipata instead of sending armed paramilitaries to smoke him out of Chipata.

Trigger happy?

Trigger happy?

The Inspector General does have a choice in the matter. She has the choice to do right when democratic liberties are at stake. She should be impartial in the discharge of her functions. We like it that she is presiding over a sophisticated security apparatus. But she must know that she is doing it to protect our people and enhance democratic liberties. It is not worth it for her to erode liberties. Instead of focusing so much on HH, President Sata should concentrate on putting measures in place to control inflation and strengthen the value of the Zambian Kwacha, which could reach K7, 000 to a dollar in a few days. However, if President Sata fails to resolve these problems, Zambians will have no choice but to smoke HH out of his Kabulonga home and make him president in 2016. But until then “mayendele muno Zambia”. And as the people of Milenge would put it: umukashana wa mabele talangwa nshila!

One Zambia One Kandolo: Mwanawasa, Cabbages and the Politics of Insults

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), MA, MDiv.

One Zambia, One Kandolo

One Zambia, One Kandolo – Munshya

President Levy Mwanawasa (Zambian President from 2002 to 2008) was a controversial figure. Without doubt he has gone into history as one of the most contentious presidents. Several things about Mwanawasa are contentious. Just how he was called from political retirement to become Chiluba’s preferred MMD presidential candidate ruffled a lot of feathers within the MMD in 2001. Legend has it that Mwanawasa was actually woken up from sleep to go and accept his candidacy at an MMD meeting at State House. Without effort, Levy would be king. Chiluba had famously dribbled several people in the MMD to push the Mwanawasa candidacy through. Ironically, one of those dribbled candidates was a potent MMD Secretary known as Michael Chilufya Sata. Ten years later, this MMD strongman is now president of the republic. For some reason, he has decided to dissociate himself from the MMD he served and led. But we will leave that mboholi for another day.

Mwanawasa also proved to be contentious by the way he won the 2001 elections. Held during the December holiday season, the 2001 elections were contested by a record eleven candidates including Michael Sata, Nevers Mumba and Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika. What made the 2001 electoral result even more bizarre was how Mwanawasa beat Anderson Mazoka, by a single percentage point. Some political observers claim that Mwanawasa’s victory was stolen right from Mazoka’s nose. We, of course, do not have any evidence for all these allegations. For their part, the Supreme Court exonerated Mwanawasa from any electoral malpractice in the 2001 electoral petition.

Mwanawasa was also controversial in the way he chose to prosecute and with it persecute his own benefactor President Chiluba and his close collaborators. There was no one who escaped Mwanawasa’s wrath. Beginning from Chiluba’s political collaborators such as Michael Sata to civil servants such as State House senior staff, Mwanawasa made sure that they all faced police cells. Sata’s alleged crime was theft of a motor vehicle. This was a non-bailable crime at that time. For Chiluba himself, it was theft of about half a million dollars. Had Mwanawasa had the way, he would have probably locked up some people for being like kandolo.

With all these controversies, however, there is something for which we should all commend Mwanawasa. The way he handled, perhaps, the most vicious of insults any person can ever face: his mental wellbeing. Shortly after the 1991 elections, Mwanawasa was involved in a very nasty accident where he almost died. He was hospitalized in South Africa for many months. His own recovery was nothing short of a miracle. According to biographer Amos Malupenga, some of Mwanawasa’s closest associates and even Levy himself did link this accident with his short-temperedness and slurred speech. In his own home, Mwanawasa had a nickname: the tiger. His children and his wife learnt over the years how to handle his temper.

The most vicious of insults, however, concerned the idea that Mwanawasa was a cabbage. The term cabbage meant that Levy had basically been so affected by the 1991 accident as to leave him without normal human faculties. He had basically become a vegetable – a cabbage. The idea that Levy was a useless cabbage became the punchline for opposition Zambian leaders. In one of the many protests against Mwanawasa, protesters would be seen hoisting cabbages in the air, sending a clear insult to Levy that he was but a vegetable. In fact, opposition leaders Edith Nawakwi and Dipak Patel even faced a brief prosecution over the “cabbage” remarks. No doubt, calling Levy Mwanawasa a cabbage was an insult. And as such, the law that proscribes presidential defamation covered it.

The way Mwanawasa handled this cabbage episode, however, teaches us a few lessons in leadership and indeed in the way leaders should handle insults. Before political leaders resort to using the courts or the police to resolve issues of insults, it would be better for them to have recourse to some specific tools that could counteract those insults. Mwanawasa had a choice. He could have started to arrest all the people who called him a cabbage. He could have banned cabbages too. Additionally, he could have sent soldiers to arrest UNZA students who frequently hoisted cabbages when protesting. Instead of reacting in retribution, this is how Mwanawasa handled the insult. He simply rebutted it by claiming quite famously that:

“I am not a cabbage, I am a piece of steak”.

With these few but powerful words, Mwanawasa added hilarity to a very difficult insult. He knew that he could not fight all the people calling him a cabbage. It would be difficult to do a tit-for-tat with everyone bent on annoying him. And he realized that he had a choice in the matter. And that choice was humor. When you react to insult with humour you pre-empt the enemy’s venom. From Mwanawasa we learn that even a cabbage can survive the Cobra’s venom by using laughter. From Mwanawasa we learn that while a cobra’s venom cannot hurt a cabbage, humour can transform a cobra into a potato. It may take a few years, but certainly the time always comes when a cobra suddenly becomes a sweet potato. And it appears in all probability that going by what BBC and AP had reported on Tuesday, there was a serious issue of “Kachamba” happening in Kasama this week.

"I am not a cabbage, I'm a piece of steak" - Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

“I am not a cabbage, I’m a piece of steak” – Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

There is a saying in Bemba, which states that “imfumu taituka bantu, abantu ebatuka imfumu”. This can be loosely translated: a leader should be able to tolerate insults from those he is leading. This wit was widely used by President Chiluba (1991-2001) to divert criticism and insults from various political opponents. President Levy Mwanawasa also used the same wisdom to tolerate the deplorable insults coming from various opposition leaders. The pain of being likened to a cabbage was what people in the nation could do against Mwanawasa, but he knew that he had to react better since he was president of the republic. Tolerance is important for several reasons.

First, it helps a leader to focus on providing leadership instead of focusing on useless and unproductive battles. A leader has a lot issues weighing heavily on her. These things include umutengo wa bunga, a people driven constitution and lack of nurses at UTH. And so to give due attention to these worthy causes, it is necessary that a leader be not moved by petty and senseless squabbles. Second, tolerance is important because it helps to foster an atmosphere of democratic liberty. Zambians should have the liberty to both state and miss-state Lozi language sayings such as Ngulu Musholi, a deliberate adulteration of a Bemba saying Chumbu Munshololwa. Indeed, after Bembas have been robed of the opportunity to choose their own Sosala as Chief Chitimukulu, no one should limit their liberty to use their expression connected to Kandolo.

Chumbu Munshololwa

Chumbu Munshololwa

If we are to learn anything from Mwanawasa, it is the way he handled this cabbage insult. I just hope that from him we can all learn to be more tolerant and allow Chingovwa to be what it is: a good delicacy that does not bend. But if it were Mwanawasa we called Mboholi, he was going to tell us in no uncertain terms, “I am not Chimbwali, I am a piece of steak”. And it is this humour that Zambia lacks today: One Zambia, One Kandolo.

In the Name of the Clan: Is Bemba-Supremacy Behind GBM’s Resignation?

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

September 2009 on Radio Mano 

It is September 2009. In a few weeks, the people of Kasama Central are supposed to be voting in a by-election. The key candidates in this election are Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (PF) and Burton Mugala (MMD). Mwamba comes from the ruling family of Kasama. Mugala, on the other hand, is a Namwanga. His home village is in Northern Province but is outside of the town of Kasama. Kasama is the capital of Northern Province. Northern Province is home to over 20 of Zambia’s 73 tribes. While most of the tribes are Bemba-speaking (Bisa, Lungu, Tabwa), there are some like the Namwangas and the Mambwes who are not Bemba-speaking and do in fact follow a patrilineal system.

Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba

Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba

Appearing on radio Mano that September morning, guest GBM makes some remarks that perhaps gives us an idea of who he is and the philosophy of his leadership. GBM remarked that the people of Kasama should vote for him in that by-election because Kasama, in particular, and Northern Province in general belonged to the Bembas. Casting his MMD opponent in terms such as “foreigner”, GBM made it clear that as a Namwanga, Mugala had no place in the political future of Kasama. This statement from GBM was seriously problematic.

I do commend GBM for having resigned from PF’s cabinet in 2013. But without him addressing what he said in 2009, I find his move to be extremely grim. In this article, I wish to interpret GBM’s resignation from the PF cabinet and cast it in light of his remarks in 2009. I do this for the following reasons. First, I do this to highlight the guiding attitude of Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba. Second, I want to have GBM to quickly address this so that he can perhaps atone for this cancer. With penitence, I think GBM can form a formidable antidote to the careless leadership of Michael Sata and his Patriotic Front. Third, I want to reiterate the ideal that should be important in our subsistence as a nation. These values invite all peoples of Zambia on a journey to create a common destiny. While our excitement is fresh with the courage of GBM’s resignation, we must hurriedly invite him towards redemption so that Zambia as a whole could benefit.

Mugala, GBM & Mambwe/Namwanga Rivalry

When GBM remarks that Mugala is a foreigner he is playing into the common stereotypes and historical rivalries that have existed between the Namwanga/Mambwe peoples and the Bemba-proper. In history, the Bemba-proper people through their chiefs had dominated the Namwanga/Mambwe people. According to historian Rotberg (1964) what actually saved the Namwanga/Mambwe peoples was their quick conversion to Christianity. Christian missionaries helped to keep the Namwanga/Mambwe safe from Bemba interference and skirmishes. However, closely connected to this, is the general distrust between these peoples which has unfortunately survived to the present generation.

However, Kasama has now grown into a modern town. That being the case, it was bizarre to have a person aspiring for a parliamentary seat to use tribe as the reason why Mugala should not be elected for the Kasama seat. Indeed in that by-election, Mugala lost to GBM by a wide margin.

Munshya wa Munshya

“President Sata can’t win the fight against the Bashilubemba” – Munshya

I have written on the absurdity of President Sata’s interference with the Bashilubemba’s decision to elect Chanda Sosala as their Chitimukulu. In the article, When a Cobra Spits at Crocodiles: Why President Sata Shouldn’t Fight the “Bashi Lubemba published in the Zambia Daily Nation and currently featured on www.eliasmunshya.org, I had explained that it is the Bashilubemba who have the power and authority to determine the ritual fitness of any one to serve as Chitimukulu as determined by Justice  Silomba’s court. This is not President Sata’s job. I have advised in that article that President Sata’s fight with the Bashilubemba is not necessary. In fact, I put it very bluntly: President Sata cannot win the fight with the Bashilubemba.

The Effect of the  Sosala Dispute On Sata’s Popularity

However, in view of GBM’s resignation, I have read of several insinuations from various sections of our society, that in fact, GBM’s resignation might affect Sata’s popularity in the Bemba-speaking areas. Some are in fact, predicting that Sata’s quarrel with the Abena Ng’andu Clan and the Bashilubemba could sink the PF in the Northern and Muchinga Provinces.

If this is what GBM had in mind when he was resigning from the Cabinet then he could be in a rude shock. From his 2009, statement, GBM might be laboring under a very mistaken burden that the Bemba-proper are the defacto owners of Northern (and now Muchinga) province. This is a huge mistake he could be making.

A distinction should be made here. When Sata fights with the Bemba-proper, this battle is not a battle with all the Bemba-speaking peoples of Northern and Muchinga provinces. In fact, some Bemba-speaking peoples such as the Bisa, the Lungu or the Tabwa might not be affected a bit by Sata’s skirmishes. In those areas, Sata could in fact maintain the support he already has. Additionally, with the non-Bemba speaking peoples, Sata’s support might not be negatively affected either. I do not think that the Namwanga or the Mambwe who support Sata will suddenly stop supporting him simply because Sata wants to impose a different Chitimukulu in Kasama.

Defending the Crocodiles

This, therefore, brings us to GBM’s so called resignation. According to GBM he resigned because he is a family member to the current Abena Ng’andu who are the rulers of the Bemba-proper. Sata on the other hand does seem to desire that a different clan, Abena Ngoshe Mukote should take their turn in ruling the Bemba-proper. This proposition is a far stretch. I do not see it happening. President Sata cannot bypass a hundred years of history that favours Abena Ng’andu with the Abena Ngoshe Mukulu nonsense.

However, this is where the subtlety remains: if this fight is between the two clans claiming leadership to the Bemba-proper throne, then it should be characterized as such. While President Sata’s interference is uncalled for, chieftainship disputes are not new in Zambia. In fact, not very long ago, there were issues in Mongu when Lubosi Imwiko became Litunga. The Mbikusita-Lewanika families were not well pleased. To date, there are reports that the Mbikusita-Lewanika royal branch does not have a great rapport with the current ruling family of the Imwikos. But these internal politics of the Lozi ruling dynamics never affected other tribes within the Lozi commonwealth.

Why then should a dispute between Abena Ng’andu and Abena Ngoshe Mukote become an issue that consumes the whole nation? How did we even begin to believe that actually, Chitimukulu dispute would affect all Bemba-speaking peoples? This is not the first time that Sata is quarreling with Abena Ng’andu. Shortly before the 2011 elections Sata is reported to have uttered some words taken as insulting to the Chitimukulu. The Bashilubemba summoned Sata. He refused to go. He claimed that he was a subject of Chief Chikwanda and not Chitimukulu. In that 2011 election, the Bemba-proper gave Sata almost a 100% vote in spite of his alleged disrespect to Chitimukulu.

If GBM’s decision to resign from Sata’s cabinet is about maintaining the supremacy of the Abena Ng’andu, it sits within his own philosophy of tribal superiority that made him to regard Mugala as an outsider to Kasama. It is the same dynamics at play here. If GBM really did not like Sata that much, shouldn’t he have resigned without making it appear like a tribal or clan issue?

There are better reasons why the whole cabinet should resign from Sata’s clueless PF leadership. Ubunga nabudula. Wynter Kabimba is becoming a small despot. There is a huge debt owed by President Sata’s close confidantes. Zambia is accumulating kaloba at unprecedented levels. These are more legitimate reasons why someone should resign from the PF government.

An Invitation

If GBM is serious about what he is doing, he must consciously challenge this tribal picture. He must distance his resignation from internal Bemba-proper ruling dynamics and show us that he has a passion for the whole country. The idea that it is “family that makes him leave cabinet” only goes to play into what I believe is his weakness as a political leader: the elevation of tribe and family above national interest.

Wynter Kabimba might not have been completely off the mark when he suspected that GBM could be an alleged tribalist. There is 2009 tribe issue reinforced clearly by 2013. I still remain unconvinced that GBM means well in this resignation. To convince me otherwise, he should retract his remarks against the Namwangas and invite them to a table of common destiny in their country!

Let us continue conversation on twitter.

The End of Pan-Africanism: Post-Africanism and the Re-imagination of the African Myth

 Munshya wa Munshya

The era of pan-Africanism is over. Pan-Africanism has flopped. And it has flopped very miserably. It needs to be replaced, as it is no longer appropriate. Whatever is still alive in the beast of pan-Africanism should be exterminated. Africans must give up this dream and replace it with a vision that is more compatible with African realities. The ideology of pan-Africanism, as a template, has failed to help spur the imagination of Africans. It has also failed to realize even the most basic ideals of our people. In earnest, Africa must begin its transition from a pan-African view of society to that inspired by better ideals found in what I would call “post-Africanism”.

Pan-Africanism is that ideology attributed to Kwame Nkrumah (1909 – 1972), which basically states that Africa is one unit and must unite politically and economically to create a world powerhouse. This ideology has found itself recently in the ideals and tenets of the so-called African Union headquartered in Ethiopia. Interestingly, some of the leaders that promote this abstract idea have the worst human rights record. The capital of the African Union itself is host to one of the world’s worst repressive regimes imprisoning journalists and other activists.

Post-Africanism on the other hand is a reimagination of pan-Africanism. Through post-Africanism we question the major premises upon which pan-Africanism is founded. Post-Africanism deconstructs both “Africa” and “Pan-Africanism” to assert that these two concepts have the same colonial source. To realize the dreams of Africans, the individual, the African must form the basic unit of any hopes or ideals of the continent. Specifically, the following are some elements comprising post-Africanism.

First, post-Africanism assumes that the best gift that Africans have, is the gift of the African being – the reality of the African human. This is not to say that the African is different from other humans, but a mere recognition that the African is a human being. And as a human being, the African must be given the chance and opportunity to be just that – human. This assumption is important as it helps the African to be under no pressure to conceptualize herself as more or less than other human beings. This, in many ways delivers the African from the delusion of attempted superiority or inferiority. In this new conceptualization, the notion of Ubuntu expands from the emphasis of only the good virtues to a more realistic assessment embracing the whole compass of the African human – both the good and the bad. In our reassessment, we must not be guilty of the same mistakes committed by colonialists who held to their own version of racial superiority. The African should not overcompensate her emphasis on goodness in order to eradicate historical racial injustices.

Second, to be an African being should also entail a guarantee of basic “humanness.” Unless every power structure anywhere, in Africa and beyond, is able to guarantee basic human value, any collective vision of Africans will only remain but a pipedream, a daydream, or perhaps a fantasy. Recognizing the humanity of Africans means that the people should drive any political change within any African political organization. It is the individuals, the people, who should own the African processes of statehood and its antithesis. It also means that political leaders should desist from treating Africans like animals. You cannot preach independence from Britain in 1964, only to imprison innocents in 2013 for possessing Vermox. You cannot claim to be free from Britain in 1964 when in 2013 the don’t kubeba apparatus continues to intimidate Zambian journalists. In the same week Nelson Mandela died, the Zambian regime found it appropriate to intimidate journalists at the Daily Nation Newspaper for doing their job.

Third, in post-Africanism we claim that the current African tendency to promote a united Africa is disturbing. How did we even come to learn that for us to be a force to be reckoned with, we must transform this continent into a united country? The Pan-Africanist dream of a united Africa is itself a concept that was never born within the unique position of the African reality. When Nkrumah set out attempts to unite Africans as one people, he was merely mimicking the colonial dream. The first pan-Africanists were, in fact, never Africans themselves. And from the time that the colonialists dreamed of a united Africa, African political leaders have been trying to chase this dream that unfortunately should never have been theirs in the first place. The first person to want to unite Africa from Cape to Cairo was British businessman Cecil Rhodes (1853 – 1902). To Rhodes, the saying divide and rule quickly gave way to unite and rule. He knew that to colonize an expansive and massive land such as Africa, unity was far more appropriate to achieve this purpose than division. Hence, he initiated the Rhodesian dream of uniting this virgin continent into one big orchard for the amusement of European voyeuristic conquest. Cecil Rhodes’ royal colleague King Leopold II (1835 – 1909) of Belgium also subscribed to this same dream of a united Africa. Leopold wasted no time in uniting disparate tribes in Central Africa to create his personal massive plantation he bizarrely named the Congo Free State. To this day, in trying to live within the ghost of Leopold this massive Congolese orchard tries to cover-up some of its atrocities by hiding behind curried nomenclature. It is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is even if it is not democratic, not a republic and just which Congo it is nobody knows. African political leaders have carried on both the Leopoldian and the Rhodesian templates of a big and united Africa without asking themselves whether this dream is indeed worth the effort. What is even more worrying is that many ordinary Africans have bought into this hype. And I see views from imminent Africans recycling the Leopoldian ghost that Africa’s rise is deeply buried in its unity.

"The era of Pan-Africanism is over."

“The era of Pan-Africanism is over.”

Fourth, in post-Africanism we seek to deconstruct the modern African nation-state. This deconstruction does not mean that these states should be dismantled, but rather that the African must redefine the birth defects that prevailed at the founding of these states. The African, must desist from looking at the nation-state as the cause of the African being, but rather that it is the African being that creates the nation-state. The African must also deal with the possibility that we need new myths to create cohesion within these nations. We must acknowledge the flawed logic upon which nation-states were formed in Africa. Once this is done, it will become far much easier for Africans to then replace these flawed myths with newer myths. I have listened to many of my people who praise the Zambian nation, and yet have never paused to ask themselves just how we became Zambia and for whom? To answer this question, we might need to be invited on a journey beyond pan-Africanism to post-Africanism.

(c) Elias Munshya & Munshya wa Munshya, 2013

 

 

 

Hakainde Hichilema, Luapula Province and the Politics of Tribal Perception

 Munshya wa Munshya

 It was certain that the Patriotic Front party was going to win the Mansa by-election. We all expected the PF to win. Luapula is their stronghold after all. And no doubt, the people of Mansa Central showed that they have not changed a bit in their unwavering support for the don’t kubeba party and its leader Michael Chilufya Sata. The fact that nearly 8 out of 10 voters went for PF cannot be dismissed lightly. What is significant though about the Mansa by-election is not necessarily its winners, but its losers and the meaning of their loss. The MMD is a compromised brand in Luapula. Come 2016, I have no hope that the MMD will even retain the Milenge parliamentary seat. Undoubtedly, the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) pulled a surprise to come out second in Mansa. This FDD performance is trifling and I am surprised at how president Nawakwi is overplaying this win.

Politics of Tribal Perception

Politics of Tribal Perception

The party that needs attention as far as Mansa, and beyond, is concerned is the United Party for National Development (UPND). This is due to its formidable growth outside Bemba-speaking regions and its serious position as a contender to the 2016 presidency. However, if there was any doubt that Luapula Province was impenetrable by the UPND, well the writing is now eloquently on the wall. The year 2016 would be a difficult for the UPND to infiltrate Luapula. In view of this, Hakainde Hichilema should alter his strategy. In this article, I wish to discuss some strategic moves HH could make in view of the Mansa loss.

Hakainde Hichilema should begin to do better in the way he manages the flawed tribal perception that dogs his UPND. It is sure that HH suffers from a serious perception problem that he and his party are tribal. However, once this perception is subjected to empirical test, one finds that it is indeed a falsehood that cannot stand scrutiny. With regard to regionalism and tribalism, the PF is more tribal and regional than the UPND. For his part, Bo Michael Sata is daily appointing his relatives and tribesmen into government positions at a rate unparalleled in the 50-year history of our republic. In spite of this reality, however, perceptions persist that it is the UPND, which is tribal. It is a notorious fact that both the UPND and the PF do have specific regional support that is unswerving. But since politics is a science of the management of public perceptions, Hakainde Hichilema should begin to invest in perception management. As a good pragmatic manager, HH has tried to fight the wrong tribal perception by countering it with facts. But facts are insufficient alone to ascertain political truth. Rumors are quite powerful in politics. Occasionally, HH uses facts to speak against PF tribalism. After the 2011 elections he is reported to have commented that a regional block voted for the PF. In reality, HH was right. But as a political move, it was obtuse and those that prey on Tonga tribalism quickly jumped on the bandwagon to condemn him as a vicious tribalist.

How then can HH manage to change this perception? It does seem that in so far as the tribal polemics and apologetics are concerned HH fights alone. Going forward, this must change. What he needs is to find influential Bemba-speaking politicians who can vouch for him. It is they who should be defending his impeccable credentials as a true Zambian patriot. For his part, HH has tried to diversify the tribal composition of the leadership of his party. However, the fact that he has not managed to attract some talkative Bemba politicians who can vouch for him has exposed him to continued irrational ridicule that he is in fact anti-Bemba.

HH’s strategic missteps can also be seen in the recent hiring of his top team. He engaged Mutale Nalumango as UPND chair. This is the same Nalumango who opposition leader Michael Sata and PF decampaigned in Kaputa on tribal basis. HH earlier poached Dr. Canissius Banda from the MMD to join him as UPND vice-president. I do not doubt HH’s political acumen. However, for any political observer, it would be difficult to tell what political value Dr. Banda has added to the UPND. At a time that HH is fighting anti-Bemba perception it was unusual that he could not instead poach a Bemba for a vice-president. If not for vice-president, HH could also try to find a Bemba speaking party spokesman. I believe such a move would help deal with the perceptions. This is by no means a magic bullet to solving HH’s perception problems, but it certainly would be a good move.

This then should bring me to the next point. The people of Luapula and Northern should have another look at HH. It seems that HH by far has the numbers currently to provide real challenge to Michael Sata’s PF. The people of Luapula and Northern might care to know that even without their support, HH stands on solid ground to win in 2016. That being the case, the Bemba-speaking regions will do well to see this and provide HH with the support he needs. So far, Hakainde Hichilema is doing very well in Western, Northwestern, Central, Southern and Copperbelt rural. With this support, all he needs is a slight urban revolt against the PF and he could win the presidency. The Bemba regions should as well know that the 2016 winds are blowing in Hakainde’s direction. The idea that the people of Luapula will continue to vote for PF due to tribe should be forever laid to rest.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

The Patriotic Front should be judged not so much by how much it is winning in Luapula, but by how much it is losing in the non-Bemba areas. As things stand now, the Barotse Province would be difficult for the PF to win. They have created lots of enemies there. In fact, their Mongu Central seat hangs in a balance. The PF cannot be guaranteed the urban vote too. There is just too much dissatisfaction among the urban population for the PF to pull another majority in town areas. With the MMD as a ruined brand, only the UPND stands to gain. These are some of the factors that are at the forefront of the winds blowing in HH’s favour. And only HH is able to manage this to his benefit. But the question is, will he? It seems like the so-called under-five politician still has more muscles to fight. And as such, let us wait and see.

“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.

Beyond President Sata’s Tantrums: My Passion For Zambia’s Economic Future

 Munshya wa Munshya

When a leader lacks a clear vision of what he exactly wants to accomplish, he spends his energy chasing shadows. Without a clear articulated economic vision for Zambia, President Sata and his PF government will continue punching in the dark. In Zambia, our greatest problem is not KCM or companies like that. Our biggest problem, especially right now, is that a bunch that has no plans and certainly no vision for Zambian economic recovery is leading us. And when you have no vision, it shows. To say that this is a chimbwi no plan government is, in fact, an understatement. This is a government that rules through tantrums. To be more specific, Sata is ruling through frenzies and outbursts. Before the PF further destroys the economy of our country, we must provide some remedies in the hope that they will reform and quickly change their ways.

Finance Minister Chikwanda does not seem to know what he wants out of the Zambian economy. So he does not know what to do exactly to bring about the desired change. The only thing he seems to be doing better is to contract one kaloba after another. By the time the old man is done with us, our debt levels will be much higher than the pre-HIPC times. At this rate, we will be $10 Billion in debt by 2016. It seems that this lack of economic foresight does not even bother President Sata. It is daily becoming clearer that it is not economic competence that Sata is looking for, but rather a tribalistic consanguinity in his collaboration with this Minister of Finance. Chikwanda cannot compare to economic visionaries such as Magande or Musokotwane. I should agree with FDD, Chikwanda might do us good by peacefully resigning. One wonders though, what Chikwanda’s resignation could accomplish for us, knowing that the buck stops at His Excellency himself.

To put Zambia back to economic revival, we must first face the truth. The way we have been mining copper since 1964 is seriously problematic. It is unsustainable in the long run. Just a few days into office, it is Hon Chikwanda himself who lamented that the cost of production for copper is just too high for the mining companies. It seems that when he came into office, he suddenly realized just how expensive it was. However, instead of acting strategically about this, the PF government has taken no identifiable steps to cushion the impact that might ensue as a result of mechanization of the mining industry. KCM is arguing that it costs less to produce copper using machines than using people. Now this is the reality world-over. It is the reality that in our global economy, machines will begin overtaking humans in production efficiency. Instead of interacting with this inevitable reality, Sata has chosen to play the kind of populist demagoguery fit for Katondo Street and not Nkwazi House. A visionary government, therefore, should begin a process of retraining the workforce so that it could be ready for changes. But instead of being proactive, the PF government has resorted to being reactive. And certainly it is trying to patch where there is no wound.

An economy that completely depends upon copper is unsustainable in the long run. This is the trap that we face as a nation. It is time to move away from copper dependency to economic diversification. But how then can we diversify this economy? We should tap into the resources and opportunities provided by a global economy. We should open up our country to foreign investment in manufacturing and agriculture. And the greatest asset we should be leveraging is labour and the peace we enjoy. This also implies that we need a sane government that would not be just operating on impulse. It should be the duty of a president to be methodic and diplomatic when dealing with investment. There should be rules and some assurances that foreign investment will be protected in this country. A president should not just be waking-up one morning and begin threatening to grab ZANACO or KCM. A president should not use short-term political consideration to shortchange a broader and long-term economic vision. Zambia has only one product to sell, the product of consistency and peace. But if our way of resolving disputes were through tactics fit for the Stone Age then we would lag behind. China is where it is today, because in spite of its communism, you will never hear the Chinese government threatening to repossess American or European companies doing business in China. China has prospered because these foreign companies have found it economically stable to invest. If Zambia wants to emulate the Chinese growth then we must put a stop to this nabukila ku left governance.

The recent outbursts from President Sata concerning KCM are very concerning. Sata cannot make up through outbursts what he has failed to provide for through sound planning. If this government had a plan, KCM would be very easy to deal with and jobs would be protected. Sata is being paid all these huge salaries so that he can engage sanely with companies and find wise solutions to problems. Not through mountaintop ifishobo and imiponto.

This then should take us to the issue of economic priorities. The Sata government came up with a 10% charge on raw copper exports. This was absurd. When Chikwanda and his officials realized their mistake, they used SI-89 to reverse it. I think the reversal was in order. Since copper production is so expensive in Zambia, it is ridiculous to lump more charges on production. The idea that this was a good tax for Zambia makes populist sense but once evaluated closely, it has very little economic impact. The issue with mines in Zambia right now is not about how many pointless taxes you lump on these so-called raw materials. The problem is with how the final goods get sold and how you account for them. This government has no clue about how much copper production costs and equally has no clue about how much it is selling for in London. Unfortunately, the 10% tax would not resolve these problems.

May be the 10% was going to make sense if indeed we had the capacity to process all the copper in Zambia. Had President Sata been serious about raising the capacity to process copper in Zambia, he was going to be more intentional in promoting relevant infrastructure. Obviously, instead of building this strategic capacity, Sata is busy building expensive soccer stadia and the so-called universities all over the place. It shows the shallowness of his priorities.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

If he wanted to process the copper here in Zambia, why didn’t he then invest in a copper processing plant? In fact, except for the Chinese owned Chambishi plant, all other smelters on the Copperbelt are so dysfunctional that they are more famous for transmitting respiratory pollution than anything else. From Butondo to Nchanga chemicals from these plants are daily rioting the nostrils of innocents. And Sata does not care for a moment as long as his retirement house is being built. There is some good news out of this, however. The year 2016 is fast approaching. And in that year, we could at least start afresh and retire this so called A-Team, in national interest!