Tag Archives: Zambia Jubilee Celebration

People and Events That Will Shape Zambia’s 2014

By E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), MA, MDiv.

The New Year is finally here. We should all be relieved that the year 2013 has come to an end. Each New Year brings to us a fresh perspective on life. And for Zambia, we all should expect a renewed look at what would make our nation better and greater. The shape of any nation is continually fashioned by people and events. In this New Year 2014 there are several events and people I see shaping the way the fabric of our nation shall unfold.

The Year of GBM 

Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) is likely to affect the political field more than any other person this year. GBM’s high profile end-of-year resignation from President Sata’s cabinet has created some perception that he is a courageous politician. In this fresh perception, it does not matter that GBM’s resignation might have been caused by his loss of influence within the PF (Team A v Team B). All that seem to matter to his supporters is that he has shown some courage by quitting and standing up to his former boss. GBM will do well to leverage this momentum. It therefore matters how he will handle himself especially in the coming few weeks.

GBM will shape Zambia's political landscape in 2014

GBM will shape Zambia’s political landscape in 2014

To benefit from this momentum, GBM could choose to launch a political party of his own. But that would be a serious mistake. Launching a new party would only go to crowd an already over-bloated opposition scene. What he needs to do is to be more calculating. The two choices that come to mind are either the MMD or the UPND. Going to MMD has some risk involved. The MMD is a compromised brand. Having another powerful Bemba in MMD, after Nevers Mumba, would prove problematic for GBM. The most formidable step GBM can take is to collaborate with the UPND. This choice would almost certainly be mutually beneficial for both GBM and Hakainde Hichilema. Such a move would make the UPND strong enough to be a serious contender to power in 2016. If GBM were to join the UPND, he could become its Vice-President. In this arrangement, the goal is not to get the Bemba vote to UPND, but to bring the urban vote gravitas to the UPND. As it stands now, GBM cannot dislodge the PF’s stronghold in Bemba-speaking areas in the Luapula-Muchinga corridor. But most certainly, GBM does have the aura in the urban areas to dissuade Lusaka and Copperbelt from continuing with the PF.

In 2014, the political front is not likely to bring any surprises. In the seats that have been nullified, we expect the PF to win in its traditional areas and the opposition to win in their respective areas. It is quite unlikely that the PF will perform well in these by-elections. The MMD is likely to lose some seats to the UPND especially in areas such as Northwestern Province and Barotseland. As far as the Eastern Province is concerned, Nevers Mumba’s MMD is likely to win all the by-elections held there.

The Year of Justice Chibesakunda & Chikopa

Munshya wa Munshya

“2014 – Will be a significant year for Zambia” – Elias Munshya

The Supreme Court will be determining important cases this year. One case that is likely to return to the bench is the Mutuna case, which is being handled by Ndola High Court Judge Siavwapa. I have named this case Mutuna II to differentiate it from the first Mutuna case, which the Supreme Court has already dealt with. What is unusual with Mutuna II is that Judge Siavwapa has maintained that what Mutuna and others are looking for in Mutuna II is quite different from what they wanted in Mutuna I. By distinguishing issues, Siavwapa does seem to have rejected the idea that he is bound by the stare decisis in Mutuna I. We should all closely watch this court case. It will be one of the most significant cases of the year. The fact that this Mutuna II case has stayed the Chikopa Tribunal is also significant. It is quite interesting that 2 years after Chikopa, this tribunal is yet to begin sitting.

The Supreme Court is also likely to hear the case against Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda. In this case, the Law Association of Zambia is challenging Chibesakunda’s occupation of office of Chief Justice. This case is likely to divide the court and in turn is likely to divide the members of the Zambian bar themselves. With about thirty lawyers involved in this court case, it will be one of the greatest cases in the nation’s history. In view of this, Justice Chibesakunda could decide to resign before the hearing. She could also decide to stay and fight it out. If she stays to fight it out, the fights might themselves create a perception among citizens that the judiciary is alienated. For an already mistrusted court, this is the last thing they would want associated with them.

Year of Nullifications

Nullifications of parliamentary seats are likely to continue this year. I do not think that the Supreme Court is nullifying these seats due to some ulterior motive. But I think there is fundamental misinterpretation of the law on the judges’ part. It seems like all the judges do seem to be following a clear pattern. They find an irregularity and this irregularity leads to automatic nullification. This has been the case in almost each of the cases heard by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court does seem to misunderstand the real purpose behind electoral laws. And this is a common misconception that any court can make. In my opinion, for a seat to be nullified at least three questions should be answered in the affirmative.

First, was there a malpractice or electoral irregularity? The second question should be; “was the malpractice or the irregularity so grave as to affect the electoral outcome”? The third question should be, taking into account public policy and interest should the election be nullified? Answering all these in the affirmative should lead to nullification.

It would be a serious mistake if any malpractice or irregularity will automatically lead to nullification, as is the case now. Again, I think the Supreme Court judges have done a great disservice to the nation in the way they continue to interpret and implement the Electoral Act. That being the case, I do not think that they are nullifying seats due to some hidden conspiracy.

The Year of More Kaloba

In terms of economics, things are not looking very bright. If the don’t kubeba government continues along this path, Zambia is likely to continue on its path of accumulating kaloba at unprecedented levels. This year is likely to be the year of more kaloba. Finance Minister Chikwanda’s last act of the last year was to sign a 20-year kaloba in millions of dollars with the Chinese. It is not good for our country to accumulate pre-HIPC debt loads. It is unacceptable. The thing is, Chikwanda’s coffers are dry and in order for him to deliver the so many extreme promises the PF have made he has to resort to borrowing.

50 Years Jubilee

Zambia will be 50 years old this year. This calls for celebration. However, the true celebration should be with the way President Sata decides to rule the nation. He must backtrack on debts. He must also improve his human rights record. At 50, the police should not be detaining people simply for possessing Vermox. Several journalists will be in court in a few days time. They are facing charges connected to their work. In this year, we should all apply the necessary pressure upon government to desist from abrogating press freedom.

Kenneth Kaunda Will be 90!

On a good note, this year Kenneth David Kaunda will be turning 90. And at this age, Kenneth Kaunda will be one of those that will shape Zambia in 2014. It will matter how Kaunda celebrates his 90 years. I just hope that he will not spend it as a partisan demagogue, but as a true compatriot of the people of Zambia. Kaunda belongs to all Zambians. He does not belong to the PF alone and the sooner he realizes that, the better.

Happy New Year Zambia.

Zambia At 49: Reimagining the Myths of Our Nation

 Munshya wa Munshya

400px-Coat_of_Arms_of_Zambia

Reimagining The Myths of Our Nation

Myths are powerful. Not only do they create nations, but they also perpetuate them. No nation can last, for a day, without some story justifying its existence as a nation or as a group of nations. Human genius knows no better partner than the myth of national storytelling. Through myths, we tell stories of our nation. Through myths, we philosophize our nationhood. Through myths, we define the perimeters of patriotism and demarcate the fields of vision and national purpose. It, therefore, goes without saying that while myths might provide ammunition to run a nation; they can in the same vein ruin a nation.

Forty-nine years of our independence call for deeper reflection of those myths and stories told to us about our country. With the 49th Independence Anniversary comes the activity of mythmaking and story telling. The problem with these myths is that once repeatedly told the same way, they stop making sense. They become stale. They cease to inspire. Cast in this tired light, the independence narrative becomes a burden. When this happens, we must awaken ourselves to seek a renewal and a reawakening of national mythmaking.

Forty-nine years after independence, most of our people still live in abject poverty. May be Hakainde Hichilema is right: it is not enough just to celebrate independence; we must have something to show for it. However, within the context of disappointments, it is easy for the population to give way to despondency and hopelessness. In the face of failed fruits of independence we must, actually we should, recast the independence story in ways that are relevant to our times. Independence Day should not just be a day where we gather and listen to the same old and drowsy story of how we fought the Europeans. It should be more than that. Each Zambian should see themselves within the context of a continuous story.

The reimagined Zambian myth should begin by challenging and questioning the popular assumptions of what it really means to be Zambian. In spite of evidence to the contrary, Zambia at the turn of independence became a victim of a citizenship formulation that was, at most, a lie. This formulation envisaged a nation with “pure Zambian citizens.” This primordial paradigm, unfortunately, has continued unchallenged almost 50 years after independence. Kaunda at independence demanded for pure Zambians, and so did Chiluba with the 1996 amendments to the constitution. The current sidelining of Guy Scott by Michael Sata also shows that the puristic views of Zambian identity are still prevalent.

The 1964 explanation of what it meant to be a citizen made people like Kaunda to live in absurdities. For his part, Kaunda tried to cure this absurdity by writing to the Malawian government so as to renounce his Malawian citizenship. That 1973 letter goes to show the inadequacy and utter drivel of one-dimensional outlook of citizenship. In an African country like ours, it should not have been required of Kaunda to renounce his Malawian connections. He should have been allowed to be both Zambian and Malawian. Indeed, in the modern Zambia, many of our people are realizing and abandoning the purist one-dimensional view of what it means to be Zambian. As a nation, Zambia will comprise of peoples transecting varied demographics, religions, and persuasions. Whites, blacks, Indian and mixed race peoples are uniting and claiming a share in the process of mythmaking. People like Guy Scott and Dipak Patel should be given the full rights and recognition of citizenship. There should, therefore, be no justifiable reason why Guy Scott should not act as President of Zambia. In a reimagined myth of Zambia, we do not discriminate based on origin or based on the past. Rather, we unite those minds among us who share a common destiny. In this reimagination, Zambia becomes to us a destiny more than a heritage. A heritage connects us to the past, but a destiny connects us to the future. When we say we are Zambian, it is not to the past that we are seeking an identity, but rather it is to the future.

The reimagination of Zambian nationhood should also embrace the many Zambians who now live outside of the country. The present government should give a hearing to the many demands from the diaspora to recognise dual nationality. It is absurd that in the face of globalization, Zambians can become global citizens while being denied the legal protection of citizenship in their own country of origin.

A reimagination of nationhood might also involve a confrontation of our identity as a Christian nation. It goes without saying that most Zambians are Christian. In fact, beginning from independence, even Kaunda recognized Zambia as a Christian nation. By declaring Zambia as a Christian nation in 1991, President Chiluba was merely affirming a reality consistent with what Kaunda and others believed about Zambia. The fact that the Christian nation declaration forms part of the preamble to our republican constitution goes to show the significance of Christianity to our people. But the Christian nation identity of our country should be reimagined and recast in ways that, nevertheless, recognise the religious diversity of our country. Even if we have minority religions in Zambia, people who adhere to those religions must be accorded the same constitutional protections accorded to Christianity. In spite of being a Christian nation, Zambia is not a church and certainly not a parish. Our country is made up of a diverse cadre of adherents to various religions. This religious diversity should be recognised and respected. Our government should not run affairs of this nation in ways that deny constitutional liberties to citizens. As such, the Declaration should not be taken as a tool to oppress non-Christians. It is in this vein, therefore, that it worries me for Information Permanent Secretary Emmanuel Mwamba to cancel radio licenses to Muslims for the fact that they are Muslim. Tyranny against one group is tyranny against all groups.

Elias Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Reimagining the myth of nationhood also means that we must relook at the meaning we assign to mottos such as “One Zambia One Nation”.  One Zambia One Nation motto is perhaps one of the founding myths of our republic from which many in Zambia derive a great sense of unity and patriotism. But there are areas in which this motto has been so interpreted not as a tool of liberty, but as a tool of tyranny. The aspirational value of One Zambia One Nation means that, it is the various sects and tribes and peoples of Zambia that are contributing equally to the creation of a modern state. This motto should make each sect in our nation to be more humble towards others. It means that the majority should never think they are the only ones making Zambia, but rather that Zambia, like a human body, survives and subsists through the contribution and sacrifice of even the smallest parts. In practice, it means that we will not let this motto to delegitimize our tribes, but rather that this motto will legitimate our tribes while assigning a new aspirational vision.

There are many ways we could begin the process of reimagination of the myths that make our nation. I offer only but a few hoping that as we all participate in our nation building, we will find ways and opportunities to build. The Zambian myth is no greater than the people making it. At 49, we are presented with a rare opportunity for imagination and reimagination.