Tag Archives: Zambia

Should Zambian MPs get a salary increase?

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

Some Members of Parliament (MPs) are demanding for a pay increase. And our people are quite justified in their outrage. This is even sincerer since there is an assumption among our people that MPs are well compensated already. It is controversial to justify a salary hike for MPs at this time when there is apparently a wage freeze for all public workers. At least, that is the position of the Zambia Congress for Trade Unions (ZCTU). The economic difficulties brought by the no-clue government of Michael Sata affects all Zambians equally. That being the case, it is problematic to insist that MPs salaries should be increased without recourse to all other workers countrywide. There is wisdom in the idea that if MPs want their salaries increased, they should equally fight for all other public workers.

Hon. Catherine Namugala (MMD, Mafinga) believes that the current salary levels for MPs are too inadequate. Zambia’s popular online publication, the Zambian Watchdog, has issued an opinion supporting the salary increase. On the other hand, leader of Zambia’s biggest political party, the MMD, has expressed reservations about this salary increase. While the cost of living has gone up, Dr. Nevers Mumba nevertheless believes that this particular salary demand has come at the wrong time. There are many who agree with him.

There is obviously a legitimate philosophical discussion to be had about salaries, wages and related matters. How much is enough? We could debate for millennia on this. I wish to ague, though, that MPs should be compensated at the same level as cabinet ministers. Harmonising MPs salaries with that of ministers will help remove the incentive that seems to attract MPs towards the carrots dangled from the Executive. In our system of government, it is easy for an executive President to swing candies of ministerial privilege on unsuspecting MPs so as to lure them to her side. If this incentive is removed we would be closer to assuring a truly vibrant parliament. Consequently, harmonisation will create some level of egalitarianism within the august house. It seems, quite unsurprisingly, that some MPs demand for higher salaries because they see that their colleagues in government do seem to have better privileges than they do. As such, viewed from an economic comparative perspective, the floor of the house becomes not just about the political affiliation; it often turns out to be a divided trajectory between the privileged executive members and the ordinary backbenchers that are paid less. There is some sense in addressing this in the interest of democracy.

Hon. Catherine Namugala is asking for money in her pockets

Hon. Catherine Namugala (MMD) is asking for more money in her pockets

A harmonised salary structure is good for our democracy due to its attractional character as well. The quality of our parliament is dependent upon the quality of the MPs it can attract. If we want to attract more vibrant citizens, we should be able to pay a just wage for those we wish to attract. There is some argument by some of our people that only those financially successful in life should be able to aspire for parliament. This thinking is abhorrent to democratic principles. Parliament should not only be a place for the filthy rich. It should be a place for the ordinary citizen. Restricting leadership only to the rich has the consequence of confiscating governance from the ambits of ordinary citizens into the hands of the privileged few. In order for parliament to be a place for vibrant young professionals, it should be able to compete in the marketplace for that talent. While it is true that there is some level of personal sacrifice that goes into aspiring for parliamentary leadership, we should not make it more difficult for younger women and men to want to aspire for parliament due to an archaic and unworkable salary structure.

Harmonising salaries in parliament means that the current MPs will consequently get slightly higher salaries than they do now. But that will only be a smaller concern in a bigger picture: the picture of raising the profile of an MP to that of cabinet minister, at least in the salary and wages sense. Consequently, instead of thinking of such a salary hike as being a burden, we should look at good pay for MPs as the needed investment in our democracy. We cannot afford to have MPs’ independence sacrificed by sectarian interests falling from the dangled carrots of the executive. Most of the opposition MPs who crossed to the executive branch could not have done so, had they not had the financial incentive to do so. To reform parliament, we must be willing to think outside of the box. Salary harmonisation is such thinking.

Salaries for Zambian MPs need to be harmonized with that of Ministers - Munshya

Salaries for Zambian MPs need to be harmonized with that of cabinet ministers – Munshya

Harmonising MPs pay with that of ministers is good for its impact on the hospitality expected from MPs. In a nation like ours, MPs are not only political representatives; they are also expected to provide financially for some of their constituents. This is perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of the role performed by MPs. And when MPs try to explain this reality, we should listen to them and dialogue instead of dismissing it.

Traditionally, tribal leaders such as chiefs and village heads, provided hospitality from the resources gathered from their subjects. So the quality of hospitality was dependent upon the goodwill and generosity of the public. In our modern society, however, the reverse seems to have happened with regard to political leaders such as MPs. Some members of the public expect the MPs to leave some financial help each time they visit their constituencies. This help can range from basic assistance of the vulnerable to helping out at funerals. And many are the funerals among our people. We are a suffering nation and we must all sympathise with each other. Members of Parliament who are not responsive to these needs are usually labelled as selfish, even if they have no personal resources to help. Most of these MPs do not simply have sufficient resources from which to assist all the needs in their constituencies. Until our society changes the narrative of the roles MPs should play in the constituencies, we have a duty as a people to listen to MPs like Namugala who try to explain how difficult it is for MPs to be able to provide for so many of our people. I believe most MPs want to help from their own personal funds, but can’t afford to do so. While there is no way that our government can make all MPs afford to help as much as they would like to, we should sympathise with those MPs who try to explain their plight. Harmonisation, in my opinion, while not being the magic bullet to resolve this financial problem, would go along way in helping our democracy.

While I am not too sure about how much is really enough for an MP’s pay, I am very sure that harmonising their salaries with that of cabinet ministers will be a good idea for our democracy.

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Suggested citation: Munshya, E., ‘Should Zambian MPs get a salary increase? Elias Munshya Blog (July 28, 2014) (available at http://www.eliasmunshya.org)

 

 

 

Mumba Malila: A Supreme Court Justice for our time

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

At the age of 50, newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Mumba Malila is one of the youngest Zambians to have ascended to the apex of our courts. We should heartily congratulate him for this feat. Called to the Zambian bar in 1989, Malila’s twenty-plus years of experience as a lawyer place him in a very rare class. There could have been no one better qualified to take up this position than this gentleman. We should commend President Sata and all those concerned for having made this selection. With a swift ratification through parliament, there seems to have been consensus that Malila was the right person for the job of Supreme Court judge. I find several things that stand out with the choice of Malila.

Supreme Court of Zambia

Supreme Court of Zambia

Mumba Malila still has about 15 years to contribute to the life of the Supreme Court before he can consider obligatory retirement. In fact, while Zambian judges are constitutionally supposed to retire at 65 (Article 98[2]), the same constitution provides for a presidential retainment of a judge beyond retirement age. Since most Supreme Court judges do stay on after reaching the retirement age, Malila could possibly have more time at the court beyond 2030. This might help provide the stability for a court that sees far too many changes in judicial personnel. There is no doubt that the Zambian Supreme Court needs some stability. And this stability can best be achieved by hiring much younger and more vibrant persons. This relative young age also means that Malila begins his job with some level of the necessary independence and certain security of tenure. Since he will not be a subject of a judicial contract at least until after he reaches 65, he could serve far much more independently than his colleagues most of whom have already reached retirement age. The Zambian legal fraternity should expect no less independence from Malila. He takes on a huge role. He has huge expectations hoisted upon him.

Justice Mumba Malila SC

Justice Mumba Malila SC

As a Supreme Court judge, Malila should have the freedom and the necessary independence to promulgate human-rights friendly values in the developing jurisprudence of our nation. His most crucial contribution to our nation was when he served as the second-ever chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Zambia (HRC). President Levy Mwanawasa appointed him to this role in 2004 replacing Justice Lombe Chibesakunda who was the inaugural chairperson (1997 to 2004). Previously, Malila had served mostly in commercial law areas. He also had a stint at the University of Zambia’s prestigious school of law. Malila handled his new 2004 role of defending Zambians’ human rights very well. His stint at HRC saw him get elected to become a vice-chairperson of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (serving from 2006 to 2011). He was, undoubtedly, a great advocate for the poor of Zambia. It is therefore, not surprising that President Mwanawasa later promoted Malila from chairperson of HRC, to becoming Attorney General of Zambia (AG) just a couple of years later. It was somewhat our expectation that Malila was going to take his human rights inspired worldview to his new role as Attorney General. But understandably, we all got disappointed.

It did appear like Malila had abandoned his faithfulness to protection of human rights. He started to defend even the most despicable of violations from the Government of Zambia (GRZ). As Attorney General, his major client had become the Government of Zambia and its executive. In fact, as AG he became an ex-officio member of the Zambian cabinet. The Malila who stood for human rights, had become, in my opinion, a part of successive governments which were oppressive of those rights.

We never hesitated to criticize Malila's service as Attorney General - Munshya

We never hesitated to criticize Malila’s service as Attorney General – Munshya

In our writings, both in the Zambia Daily Nation newspaper and on the www.eliasmunshya.org blog, we did express concern at some positions Malila had taken as Attorney General of Zambia. I felt that he had abandoned ordinary and basic human rights in his desire to defend his client, the GRZ, at all cost. For example, we expressed our concerns over his justification for the Public Order Act under the Michael Sata presidency. We expressed our uneasiness over his arguments in supporting the retention of Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda, even after the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) had expressed their discontent. We disagreed with the position he took in trivializing the genuine concerns that Dora Siliya and others had when a support staffer of the judiciary, called Terry Musonda, purported to issue a judicial judgment. We sharply criticized Malila’s court submissions on this matter. We differed with Malila on many points related to the above-enumerated items. In one of our articles, we had stated that Malila could easily make one of the worst Attorneys General Zambia has ever had. We offer no apologies for so holding at that time. Our criticism was a product of its time. Now however, we must have a relook at Mumba Malila.

Now that he has been appointed as Supreme Court judge, I believe that he will be able to exercise the necessary judicial and institutional freedom necessary for him to return to a more humane consciousness in our jurisprudence. In this new role, he would now be able to retain the independence previously unknown to him due to the precarious nature of his role as AG. His appointment to the Supreme Court provides for him some form of opportunity for penance. Additionally, as a judge, Malila can now freely practice what he wrote in the African Human Rights Law Journal (AHRLJ, 2012). In that journal, he provided a legal commentary on the case of Stanley Kangaipe and Another v Attorney General (2010). What is particularly interesting is the following quotation from his writing:

“…The judicial officer should not be tied to the strict letter of a legislative provision where matters canvassed before him concern important questions of human rights. This is particularly so where the law is manifestly unjust. The judge is urged to approach the provision purposively to place it in comport with the recognised human rights norms and standards. It is only then that the law can remain relevant to new challenges.”

Malila’s position here is consistent with eminent scholar, Professor Muna Ndulo’s argument that “the literal rule of legal interpretation should accede to the purposive rule where matters of human rights and the constitution are involved.”

As such, the greatest hope I have in Malila’s court appointment does not rest on his performance as Attorney General; rather it rests on what he could potentially bring to a Supreme Court deeply buried in jurisprudence less favorable to human rights. We await the emergence of human rights influenced jurisprudence from Mumba Malila, a new judge for a modern Zambia.

This article also appeared in the print version of the Zambia Daily Nation. Munshya wa Munshya column appears there every Friday.

This article also appeared in the print version of the Zambia Daily Nation. It appeared on Friday, 11 July 2014 Munshya wa Munshya column features there every Friday.

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

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

Guy Lindsay Scott

Guy Lindsay Scott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It makes no sense to discriminate against Guy Scott - Munshya

It makes no sense to discriminate against Guy Scott – Munshya

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

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

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

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

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

President Sata and Secretary General  Kabimba

President Sata and Secretary General Kabimba

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

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

When a smuggler acts as President

When a smuggler acts as President

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zambians are experiencing buyer's remorse - Munshya

Zambians are experiencing buyer’s remorse – Munshya

Michael Sata’s Government of “Katwishi”

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

The nights and days are very cold this month of June. But in spite of this, the leaders of this country did not spare our people in Mindolo another brunt exercise of power. The people of Mindolo woke up, one night, to a colossal noise of bulldozers and graders tearing through the walls of what had made their homes. There was no mercy. There was no pity. And the misery was ruthless. It does seem, as expected, that the government cared less about the plight of our now homeless citizens. These citizens now have nowhere to lay their heads and no place to acquire the comfort of a warm roof. Days after this unfortunate incident, the ruling Patriotic Front, through its Copperbelt leadership, expressed comprehensive ignorance about what happened to the over 300 families of Mindolo. They claim “ta twaishibe” until the minute bulldozers were on the ground grinding down the brittle hedges around fragile homes of our people. We would be more concerned if this were an isolated incident. But unfortunately, denial has become the order of the day in both the ruling party and the government it is claiming to lead. From police brutality to the economy, President Sata’s government has most surely become a government of “katwishi”. Ask them any important question, and their answer comes from a choice of synonyms whose meaning is repugnant to human politesse: don’t kubeba, katwishi and nshishibe.

A few months ago, President Sata’s minister of agriculture had no idea that since his party came into power the price of ubunga had gone up by almost 100%. Typical of a reckless administration, the response from the honorable minister was that of total surprise and unsurprising surly indifference. He had no idea that the cost of ubunga is beyond the reach of many Zambians. One then wonders how this group of so called cabinet claim to be running a nation when they are not in touch with basic realities of how much Zambians are paying for staple food. I would be curious to find out what the minister cooks in his house, since he has no idea how much a bag of roller meal costs. May be he has an incessant supply of chicken and chips beautifully delivered at taxpayers expense. As if that was not enough, when the same gentleman visited cotton growers, he again expressed total surprise at the plight of cotton growers. He claimed “nshishibe”, “nshaishibe” or stuff related to that. Zambia must demand that leaders desist from this katwishi culture.

The leadership of “katwishi” has led us and is leading us into serious economic doldrums. The essence of katwishi finds itself manifested in a government, which has no idea, of how much money the mining sector generates each year. For example, the honorable minister of finance has no inkling of how much money KCM, First Quantum or Mopani make each year. With this obliviousness, the PF government cannot effectively assist the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to tax these companies. When citizens like Pamela Chisanga take up these issues and demand that Mopani pays, the government not infrequently pleads the “katwishi” doctrine. They claim to not know. Sadly, it seems, we have entrusted government to a bunch of persons who are so reckless as to fail to account for the income generated by our supreme natural resources. We need a cure from this “katwishi” syndrome.

Failing to effectively tax the mining conglomerates, cabinet secretary has this week, nevertheless, found an easy way out of this predicament by asking for “nchekelako” from all public universities and colleges. These colleges will now have to remit 60% of their school fee earnings to the ministry of finance. When it comes to mines, the PF gives a katwishi answer, but when it comes to helpless public colleges, it abruptly arouses to suck the littlest blood trickling from the veins of broke public colleges. Zambians should be unanimous to demand better planning from the PF government.

Government of Katwishi

Government of Katwishi

Another manifestation of katwishi concerns the soon-to-be established government airline. Honourable Yamfwa Mukanga has been quite consistent on this one. He claims that the PF government will not rest until a new government-run airline is established. He has since proclaimed that it will be launched on June 30th2014. Our government has run an airline before. It was called Zambia Airways (QZ). The reason why this airline went into liquidation was that it was a loss-making venture. It had become a personal carrier for Kenneth Kaunda and his UNIP benefactors. Without reasonable profits, Zambia Airways started to extricate taxpayers’ money to keep it in the air. In spite of this overwhelming evidence with regard to the failure of QZ, Mukanga in 2014 wants to add another expense for the taxpayers. I wonder what we shall call this airline. May be Katwishi Airline would be an appropriate name to memorialize President Sata’s popular reference of his cabinet as “useless”. The Zambian treasury is broke. Our kwacha is losing value. We basically have no money in the treasury. The government of katwishi has now mercilessly squandered the little dollars Dr. Rupiah Banda and Bo Situmbeko Musokotwane had left in the Zambian coffers. If we are to follow up on how Sata spent Rupiah Banda’s billions, we would get a hazy answer: katwishi. Since we are broke as a country, it does not make sense that we should be spending billions we do not have to buy planes for a loss-making venture.

Besides, the last time Hon. Mukanga was called upon to appoint a genuine board for a parastatal company, he appointed PF cadres to Zambia Railways. We have been there before. There is no assurance that Mukanga will handle this airline any differently from the way he has mishandled Zambia Railways. He will go on to appoint unqualified PF cadres to run Katwishi Airways and further squeeze the taxpayers. Nothing demonstrates economic folly than going back to the very practices and policies responsible for burying us in the sand of economic stagnation.

Isn’t it ridiculous that when Ms. Mutale Nalumango visited Isoka, and the police abused their power by hounding her out of there, the answer from the police command was “katwishi”? They claimed total ignorance of this abuse of power. Similarly, Nevers Mumba goes to Eastern Province, and the first thing the police do is conceitedly escort him out of Nyimba. When challenged to stop this thoughtless abuse of power, the police command pleaded total ignorance. They said “katwishi.”

Our country can do better. But in order to do so, we might need to deal with the katwishi syndrome. We can challenge this attitude now, and if that fails, we have a good shot at stopping it once and for all in 2016. The katwishi PF-government could think that they are getting away with this for now. But very soon, the Zambian people will show them who is boss. And when that day comes, the Zambian people will be decisive and flawless in rebuffing “katwishi” and all of its pretentious cousins.

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

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

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

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

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

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

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

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

We should pray for Michael Sata

We should pray for Michael Sata

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

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

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

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

 

 

Proof and Punishment: Evidence Law in “General” Kanene’s Conviction

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

Several judges of the High Court of Zambia have been quite consistent and clear with regard to the evidence the prosecution needs to provide when proving the age of a minor in defilement cases. In following the 1973 legal precedence of the case of Phiri (Macheka) v. The People most judges have gone to hold that “age should be proven by one of the parents or by whatever other best evidence is available.” This case has formed an integral part of Zambia’s evidence law.

In a criminal case, the State has the burden of proving, beyond reasonable doubt, all the elements of a case. Main elements of most criminal cases hinge on at least two components: the prohibited act (called actus reus) and the required mental element (called mens rea) that goes with it. In the case of child defilement, the prosecution must prove that an accused had sexual intercourse (the act) with a child and did this intentionally (the mental element). As mentioned earlier, the prosecution that must prove that (1) sex took place, (2) it was with a minor, and (3) the accused did this intentionally (s.138 of the Zambia Penal Code). It would be beyond the scope of this article to analyse each of these elements in detail. I should leave that to a university course in Criminal Law or Evidence Law. However, I just wish to deal with one element involved in this section: proof as to age of a victim.

The Law of Evidence deals with how a party can prove its case before an impartial tribunal. There are several sources of Zambian evidence law. I will mention only those relevant to this article. The first one is statute law. For example, CAP 43 of the Laws of Zambia (The Evidence Law Act) contains some guidelines with regard to evidence law. Second, most of the penal code provisions do come with some guidelines of how a particular offence can be proven. The third source of Zambian evidence law is the common law. By this we mean the law that has come to us through the history of precedence as interpreted by the judges. In fact, a bulk of what constitutes evidence law today comes from this area of law. It comes from what judges have ruled about what can be admitted and what cannot be admitted in court. The fourth source of evidence law is the trial judge or magistrate who is expected to use discretion to admit or reject some evidence if they will be prejudicial, or if the evidence will put the administration of justice into disrepute.

With specific reference to defilement cases, it is settled law, through the 1973 precedence that in proving the age of a victim, the testimony given by a parent in court “is conclusive unless evidence to the contrary is adduced” (Justice Siavwapain Tembo v. The People [2011]). It cannot help an accused to simply dispute the testimony given by a parent of a victim while failing to adduce contrary evidence. When a parent to a victim of defilement testifies in an open court that a child is indeed a minor, any one wanting to challenge this testimony must, through cross-examination, discredit this testimony, or should provide contrary evidence. Failure to do so, unfortunately, could lead to a conviction.

While I cannot deal with the specific issue regarding the conviction and appeal of Mr. C. Dimba, who has been slapped with 18 years for defilement, it would be interesting to see how the judges will handle this appeal. As widely reported in the press, the convict is appealing on the basis that the prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence with regard to the age of the alleged victim. At the centre of this appeal is the denial, by the appellant that the victim is actually not a minor. The convict does not seem to deny that sex took place. Second, he does not deny that he did it intentionally. What he denies concerns the exact age of the victim. Without doubt, age is an essential ingredient of the offence of defilement (Mulonda v. The People, 2004). As such, what is at issue in this appeal is what weight if any, the trial court should have given to the testimony rendered by the parents of the victim in an open court. Again, this issue could hinge on how the Supreme Court will relate facts of this case with precedence already in place. Basing this appeal only on the reliability of a parent’s testimony is a very difficult proposition.

There have been comments about how that, in order to convict Dimba, the court must have been provided with “documentary” evidence about the age of a victim. Some are even suggesting that a medical or scientific proof should be provided to substantiate the age of a victim. This is where we need to differentiate reality from the fiction we find in Hollywood dramas such as “Criminal Minds” and stuff like that. In my opinion, all this obsession with scientific evidence is not as reliable as that provided by a parent of a victim. The viva voce (word of mouth) testimony given in a court of law is more like the golden standard of evidence. The word of mouth testimony given by a witness (the parent) in open court about what they observed with their senses is very difficult to dislodge. In this case, the parents had testified before the trial magistrate that this child was below the age of sixteen at the time this offence took place. You have to have a very strong case to be successful on appeal.

Convicted Musician "General" Kanene

Convicted Musician “General” Kanene

The 2005 reforms to s.138 of the Penal Code expunged the defence of “reasonable belief” from the offence of child defilement. In 2011, however, this defence was reinstated. Parliament did well to reinstate this defence. A person who otherwise is guilty of child defilement could use this defence. It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under s.138 to show that they had “reasonable cause to believe, and did in fact believe,” that the child was not a minor. I think this defence takes care of some grey areas so that only those who are truly culpable should go to jail. However, it is interesting that Justice Mchenga did allude to this when he mentioned in his sentencing that the convict did seem to know that the girl was a minor by asking her “not to come in uniform, but come in plain clothes.” This is a very persuasive finding of fact that could prove critical going forward. I doubt whether this defence could be available to someone who knew very well that a girl was a minor! The more you know, the less likely that you could be successful in raising this defence.

For proof, the testimony of a parent seems appropriate. For punishment, the judges are meting out stiff penalties. For the careless, s.138 should be taken seriously. If they are below 16 years of age and you have sex with them, then you will go in for 15 years and above. That’s the law!

Dennis Liwewe: A Full Zambian Life

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

We have lost a legend. A legend among us has left. A true Zambian icon has passed away. A great man has gone ahead of us. He was 78. He has gone to rest in eternal peace. For these three days, we have mourned together as one nation and we will continue to do so. The man who helped bring us together through the passion he had for Zambia and for football has united us, once again, as one people in mourning him. It is such a huge loss for our country. Our generation will dearly miss one of the greatest sons of this country. What made Dennis Liwewe great is not so much about his voice, but his passion. As a child growing up in the late eighties and early nineties, my mind is forever etched with his passion that blurted each time the Zambia national team played football. That passion was infectious. That passion expanded the imagination of young and old alike.

I grew up at a time when we had no Internet and certainly, no twitter. Televisions were also difficult to come by. The only reliable media we had, at home, was my father’s yellow ITT radio held together by a blend of tired wires. On that radio, we found a way to follow the Zambian national team each time they played at Independence Stadium. Dennis Liwewe brought those matches alive to my young ears. With him on the radio, I felt like I was right there in the stadium watching the game with him. That is perhaps one of the things by which I will remember him.

Dennis Liwewe Picture source: postzambia.com

Dennis Liwewe
Picture source: postzambia.com

A legend, like Dennis Liwewe, lives on in the memories of those people he touched while on earth. He lives on through those who knew him at a more personal and intimate level. In writing this today, I should honour the way those close to him are remembering him. I should honour the way his family are remembering him. However, in addition to the fact that Dennis Liwewe was a family man: a father, an uncle and a grandfather, he was a legend too. Those of us who never even got to meet him personally still do have our own memories and unique ways in which we experienced his legend. And it is these varied and diverse memories that make the man a true Zambian legend. Mr. Liwewe will live on through the memories of those people who never met him, but nevertheless got impacted by the passion of his life.

From Dennis Liwewe’s life we learn several things. First, we learn that regardless of one’s station in life, passion is an important element in living. It has been mentioned above that Mr. Liwewe was passionate. And he lived his passion. His passion was infectious. We saw it. We felt it. We heard it. He made us to live his passion. He made us to experience his passion. Building this nation, calls for a people that are more passionate for their country. Additionally, passion means that one puts the interests of the nation ahead of anything else. Nothing demonstrates passion more clearly than what someone does with his or her time. For Liwewe, it was time well spent doing something he had always loved.

Second, Mr. Liwewe’s life teaches us that one can make a huge contribution to a cause without necessarily being the central player in that cause. Liwewe loved football but he was not a great football player himself. And neither did he need to be. He never played for the national team. Yet, he still inspired many in the national team to play their best. He was a great source of pride and inspiration. Over his career as a commentator, he was the mentor of several young players. He was not that kind of mentor who went to the dressing rooms with the players. He was not their coach. His presence and his passion were enough to inspire greatness in the young players. Zambia is better and greater due to the inspiration so many of us got from the life of Dennis Liwewe. This nation will do better if it continues to draw inspiration from the life and times of Liwewe.

Third, Mr. Liwewe helps us to realize that life is not just about politics. At a time when our country has become too politicised, it is refreshing to note that someone could be a symbol of unity across party political lines. I do not know about others, but speaking for myself, I never heard Liwewe take a partisan political stance on any subject. We can learn from Dennis Liwewe that we can all be passionate about our country without necessarily throwing ourselves into the frenzy of political divisiveness. There is a life without politics, just as there is still life after politics. Perhaps, the cadres who are busy fighting each other and killing each other could learn from the life of Liwewe that we are, in fact, just one people in a country that is in love with its football.

Pafwa abantu, pashala bantu is a saying that expresses the important duty that each departed person leaves for others to do. Dennis Liwewe did his part and played his role. He lived passionately among us. He showed us the way. Nevertheless, after he passes on, it now falls upon those still living to carry on with his good work. This good work does not necessarily mean we all must become radio commentators, but rather that we should do our best to be that true expression of humanity. We should embrace others as well as embrace the unique gift endowed by our Creator. When all is said and done, it is that which is done for the good of others that will truly matter.

May Dennis Liwewe’s soul rest in eternal peace.

 

Has Hon. Mulusa Become Unlucky?

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

Our republic can have no better politicians than the promise epitomised by young and educated leaders such as Hon. Lucky Mulusa. We are better and we will better as a nation if people of Mulusa’s calibre are encouraged to participate in politics. They bring a breath of fresh air to the political scene. When dinosaurs, that have no idea of modern economics, represent a generation of politics it is vibrant people like Mulusa that the nation can fall back on. However, in order to help Mulusa live up to his potential greatness we all have seen in him, it becomes important, actually critical to ask ourselves, has he become unlucky. This question is necessary now, especially in view of the unnecessary squabbles currently prevailing in the MMD. I am of the opinion that Mulusa is likely to emerge damaged after this debacle. He must quickly reevaluate his role in the confusion. Otherwise, he could lose the little respect he currently has in the minds and hearts of some Zambians. I say so for several reasons.

The people Mulusa seems to have joined in fighting Nevers Mumba have played him. I seem to get Mulusa’s argument. He believes in the potential and greatness of the MMD. He believes that the party can do better but cannot do so as long as Nevers Mumba continues to be at its helm. However, this message of his love for the MMD now has been overshadowed by the fact that the other rebels are alleged to have had secret meetings with State House and with senior Patriotic Front leaders. In fact, Hon. Chituwo has confirmed that he had such meetings and so has Hon. Kaingu. We are not privileged to know the motive for these meetings, and the gist of these meetings could be removed from the problems in the MMD. However, these meetings create a reasonable apprehension in the minds of some Zambians and some MMD members that the Patriotic Front is actually sponsoring the people fighting Nevers. The real casualty of such perceptions is actually Mulusa himself. I doubt whether he knew of these meetings. If he did know about them, but nevertheless, went ahead to scheme with Siliya, Kaingu, and Chituwo then I would doubt his judgment. However, if he had no idea that the PF leaders were meeting his colleagues then I would doubt his political competency. Dora and her colleagues have played Mulusa and his message has now been so mired in quagmire that it will take some more work for him to redeem himself. He could be running out of luck.

The timing is not right for Hon. Mulusa to lead a rebellion against Nevers Mumba. This is barely 2 years after the MMD lost power in 2011. Having the MMD begin fighting now will only weaken it further and make the death of the MMD inevitable. Lucky Mulusa does seem to still have some more fighting to do, but beginning them this early will only finish him.

Hon. Lucky Mulusa

Hon. Lucky Mulusa

Hon Mulusa does seem to be making several enemies at the wrong time in his political life. In times like this, he needed to be a little bit more strategic. He has now aroused the Nevers Mumba group. He has equally roused the UPND. In addition to that I understand that online, he has raised the ire of the zambianwatchdog.com website. These are too many battles to be fighting for any one man. You cannot take on so many people at the same time and expect to come out alive politically. For his part, he has also taken issues with Muhabi Lungu. Fighting Muhabi is bad strategically for Mulusa. Muhabi has several things going well for him. First, he has been public and political life longer than Mulusa. Zambians got introduced to Muhabi at a time when he was a sharp talking defender of the then UNIP President Kenneth Kaunda in the mid-1990s. Second, Muhabi being Easterner comes from the only province proving to be the stronghold for the MMD. And for the MMD to survive they need a regional base just like PF and UPND do have regional bases. For any political party in Zambia to become a national party, it must first be able to command an unwavering regional support. PF have their Northern-Luapula corridor and the UPND have their Southern region. The MMD must have the Eastern Province. Otherwise, they are toast. Third, Muhabi Lungu has actually worked for both Rupiah and Mwanawasa governments crafting the very policies that Mulusa is claiming made the MMD great. Fourth, Muhabi has taken on a different approach to the MMD problems. Every one with half a brain knows that the MMD has declined and is likely to decline further. However, the solution to these problems does not lie with fighting Nevers Mumba but with working with Nevers Mumba. Any MMD member who wishes to see the MMD rise again should try to work with Nevers and supplement his weaknesses. This is exactly what Muhabi is doing. To see Mulusa begin fighting Muhabi does not make sense. Some Zambians could as well ask, Muhabi we know, what about this new guy? Is he “a John come lately”

Nevers Sekwila Mumba

Nevers Sekwila Mumba

Hon Mulusa is not making sense politically when he claims that Nevers is irrelevant to the MMD because he caused the party to lose a ward election in Mpulungu in February. According to Mulusa, he believes that the MMD should be able to do well in the North because Nevers comes from there. The problem with the MMD is that they have a very popular opponent in the PF’s Michael Sata. Sata, in spite, of the economic failure in Zambia still remains a very formidable and personally popular candidate in the North. Currently, there is no politician who can dislodge Sata from the North. This is not Nevers’ problem. Additionally, Mulusa alleges that since Nevers is not that popular in the North this should be the reason to leave the MMD presidency. I doubt this kind of reasoning. Nevers Mumba is MMD president because he went to the convention and overwhelmingly beat his rivals. Those elections matter just like any other elections do matter. To claim that Nevers has never won an election when the guy had just beaten five other contestants in 2012 does not help Mulusa with his argument at all.

If Hon Mulusa believes that only parliamentary elections are the real elections, may be this is the time to doubt then whether Mulusa himself has lost relevance since the last time he ran for parliament, his seat was nullified due to electoral corruption. There is a lot Mulusa can offer Zambia. But this route he has taken will only lead to his political demise. My advice? Mulusa should cool down. Take it easy and fight for the people of Zambia instead of fighting Nevers Mumba. Mulusa has already done some remarkable things in both parliament and outside it. These are the kind of fights; they want him to continue championing.

Many Zambians do not believe that Nevers Mumba is the greatest of their problems. The greatest problems for Zambia are things such as the value of the Kwacha, out of control inflation, the stolen constitution and corruption perpetrated by the party in power. That being the case, the perception that it is the Patriotic Front sponsoring the anti-Nevers campaign in the MMD does not augur well at all. Nevers and the MMD needed an enemy to fight, and they have just been given that punching bag – the so-called anti-Nevers group. They will now use these anti-Nevers individuals as whipping boys (and girl) for the broader campaign to highlight the misdeeds of the Patriotic Front. This message might resonate with Zambians and entrench Nevers in the minds of many Zambians even deeper. Hon Mulusa’s star should shine, but if he continues on this path, he might just run out of political luck. Or may be Lucky Mulusa has already become unlucky!

Good Guy, Bad Skin: Is President Sata discriminating against a “muzungu” Vice-President?

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

Agony is having someone serve as your vice-president and yet never give him the opportunity to act as president when you are not around. It is quite absurd that President Sata would have a vice-president distrusted to serve. When the PF government came into power in 2011, we welcomed the idea of an African country with a Whiteman as its vice-president. Indeed, President Sata has himself bragged to foreign dignitaries that only two countries in the world have a Blackman for president and Whiteman for vice-president: USA and Zambia. But what lies beneath all this chatter, is a glaring reality: President Sata has never left this Whiteman to act as president of Zambia. This oversight on the president’s part, in my opinion, is an anomaly that could trigger a grave but avoidable crisis.

Guy Lindsay Scott - Vice-President of the Republic of  Zambia (2011 - )

Guy Lindsay Scott – Vice-President of the Republic of Zambia (2011 – )

President Sata does seem to be operating under the assumption that he could do anything he wants with the office of the vice-president. This is a serious misapplication of the law and the constitution. Unlike positions of cabinet minister, the office of vice-president is a constitutionally provided and protected office. It is the constitution that both limits and delimits the powers and structure of a vice-president (Article 45). Whereas the president does have a lot of discretion with how he configures the offices falling in Cabinet and their functions, the Zambian constitution does not give the president the sole discretion to configure the office of vice-president. Very little is left to presidential wishes. If a president selects a person to serve as vice-president then that appointment should confer upon such person all constitutional duties and privileges.

Article 45 (4) acknowledges that the primary functions of the vice-president are those imposed upon her or him, first and foremost, by the constitution itself and then secondarily by the president’s delegation. This is how Art 45 (4) is phrased:

In addition to the powers and functions of the Vice-President specified in this Constitution or under any other law, the Vice-President shall perform such functions as shall be assigned to him by the President.

So from this article, the president may assign the vice-president some functions, but these functions are “in addition” to the powers specified for the vice-president from the constitution. That being the case, the president cannot use Article 45 (4) to vary constitutional powers conferred upon a vice-president. It does not matter that the vice-president is just an appointee of a president.

The most significant function of a republican vice-president is to be a “transitory” executive office. According to Article 38 the vice-president runs the affairs of the state in an acting capacity when there is a vacancy in the presidency. This involves arranging for fresh elections and presiding over the affairs of the state. This transitory period is up to 90 days and could subsist until the next president takes the oath of office. It is only when the vice-president is “absent” or “sick” or “incapacitated” that cabinet is then authorized to appoint someone else.

Is President Sata discriminating against a white vice-president?

Is President Sata discriminating against a white vice-president?

In addition to being a transitory office, the vice-president also becomes a repository of executive power when parliament is dissolved. The Zambian courts have held very consistently that the vice-president and the president are the only members of the executive who remain in office after the dissolution of parliament. This is what Justice Wood stated in the case of Wynter Kabimba v. Attorney General and George Kunda (2011). It is the intent of our constitution that while the vice-president is indeed a member of parliament, he or she does not lose the office when parliament gets dissolved. Here is how this interpretation would apply to the Guy Scott issue. When President Sata dissolves parliament sometime in 2016 for elections, Hon Chikwanda and his cabinet colleagues will cease to be MPs. They will also cease to be cabinet members. Under those circumstances Chikwanda will not and cannot act as president. Vice-President Guy Scott, however, would continue to occupy the office of vice-president until a new president is sworn in. If President Sata continues with the current practice of leaving power only to Chikwanda, he could potentially create a crisis prior to 2016 elections when there will be no Chikwanda and no parliament. President Sata should begin giving the constitutional reins that Guy Scott already possesses by virtue of his office as vice-president. Levers of power should begin getting used to saluting legitimate office bearers regardless of their creed or colour. By stating this, I am not in any way insinuating that Guy Scott is a great political leader. Far from it. I am merely asking that Scott be treated equally like any other citizen of our republic.

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Good Guy, but bad skin?

Does the constitution preclude Scott from acting as president due to his skin? Arguing that the constitution has precluded a Whiteman from Zambian presidency is plain racism. In fact, it is nonsense. And if that is what is going on in the don’t kubeba government, then we should pity both the Head of State and the cadre of his legal advisors. Isn’t it absurd that the president would go ahead to appoint a vice-president who does not meet presidential eligibility? If a Veep can’t act as president, why then does he even occupy that office? However, I find no legal or constitutional basis why a Whiteman such as Guy Scott should be precluded from acting as president of Zambia. Article 34 as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Lewanika & Others v. Chiluba does suggest that any Zambian fitting Guy Scott’s situation could in fact satisfy the eligibility requirements, including the “parentage clause”. Interestingly, the “parentage clause” was passed when Mr. Sata was the country’s third most powerful politician. I wonder whether the contextual discrimination of 1996 is having an impact on the way President Sata is treating Scott today. In Chiluba, The Supreme Court went on to state that the 1996 constitution in Article 34 created problems for the future. Nevertheless, constitutionally absurd rules should be interpreted liberally. You cannot use kangaroo rules to deny a birthright to Zambians simply because they are of the wrong skin!

It is nonsense to claim that the Zambian constitution discriminates against Guy Scott - Munshya

It is nonsense to claim that the Zambian constitution discriminates against Guy Scott – Munshya

Some have stated that there is precedence that presidents have left power in the hands of their preferred cabinet members. Some point to Chiluba occasionally leaving power to his close ministers and not his Veep. In fact, there is speculation that President Mwanawasa left symbols of power with Defense Minister Mpombo and not Vice-President Rupiah Banda in 2008. For administrative convenience, a president could leave his preferred chaps to act in his absence. But this should be for governmental expediency and should happen once in a while. Administrative convenience does not mean, racial convenience. Scott is not “absent” or “sick” or “incapacitated” for President Sata to continually sideline him for a presidential salute. Or may be he is indeed “incapacitated”. But I am left to wonder whether it is the colour of his skin that makes him incapacitated. It certainly appears so. Only the president can correct this anomaly and do right.

Scott has received some very demeaning remarks from some opposition leaders. That should not be the case. However, President Sata can help prevent these slurs by giving to Scott the privilege of nationality constitutionally accorded to vice-presidents, white or black. Then only will it make sense that Zambia indeed has a black president and a white vice-president. Our Zambia belongs equally to all: Bembas, Tongas, and, of course, bazungus like Guy Lindsay Scott.

Note: This article deals with general matters of the law from a public interest perspective. Those needing specific legal counsel on some of these questions should consult members of the Zambian bar.