Tag Archives: Zambia

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.

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.

In The Name of God: Should The Zambian Government Ban Randy Clergy?

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

Registrar of Societies Kakoma Kanganja has proscribed a Lusaka pastor from ministry. This pastor, as widely reported in the media, was accused of among other things, practicing Satanism, sexual misconduct and several doctrinal hullabaloos. Kanganja appears to be more deliberative in his decision making process. In this article, I wish to explore at least two points. I will highlight the rise of the prophetism phenomenon. After this, I will then explore the role, if any, that government can play in controlling some controversial practices.

There are so many people claiming to be prophets that it is difficult to tell one from the other. Some are performing bizarre practices. For the prophet in question, his practices allegedly involved asking members to shave all the hair on their bodies and taking pilgrimage into the bush. Others have alleged sexual misconduct on the part of the prophet.

The prophetism phenomenon calls for serious discernment. It is the duty of all citizens to be able to question and reassess what these prophets are teaching. It should not be difficult for anyone to figure out that any prophet who demands huge sums of cash, as a prerequisite for a miracle, should be doubted. Additionally, it should be clear that any prophet who asks for sex as a way to exorcise spirits is most probably a charlatan. There is no wonder working power in any pastor’s penis. In so saying, I am not in any way suggesting that any form of sexual indiscretion by clergy is a sign that they are false prophets. Indeed, it would be ridiculous for me to claim that. What I am suggesting is that any one who uses religion, as a way to habitually manipulate followers into immoral behaviour is most probably a false prophet. And the people of Zambia should be the best judge of such behaviors.

"Nine Pastor Changwe njiswila ko" - PK Chishala

“Nine Pastor Changwe njiswila ko” – PK Chishala

If we are to learn from PK Chishala’s hit song Pastor Changwe, we see that some controversial pastors can use scripture to justify transgressions. In PK’s song, Pastor Changwe even goes to misquote the Bible as a way to justify his desire to sleep with his deacon’s wife. “Ati wakana ine ninshi wakana Paulo”. Pastor Changwe went on to claim, “Yesu alikwete Maria Magdalena, Paulo nao ali na Phoebe, Petelo alikwete Dorcas”. Clearly, this is twist of scripture. Having supposed that, PK Chishala is not in any way suggesting that Pastor Changwe is committing a crime or an offence. We must create a distinction between conduct that is morally reprehensible and that which is illegal. We should not impute illegality on conduct that might be immoral but not necessarily illegal. I will come back to this later.

Should government ban randy pastors?

Should government ban randy pastors?

Having regard to the reality of deceitful prophets among us, the next question should be, how could we control them? Some members of the said pastor’s church went to the Registrar of Societies and after investigations and to his credit Kanganja decided to ban this pastor. I am alive to the fact that Kanganja did his due diligence. However, even if he had done his due diligence, the decision to ban this pastor does seem to have been an overreach of his powers. It would be a terrible Zambia where we allow a government officer to chose for us who should and who should not be worthy to lead a religious organization. The government should have no role in determining for its citizen the ritual, moral or spiritual fitness of its religious leaders. Even if that pastor were alleged to have been involved in all those activities, the Registrar of Societies does not have the powers and neither should he have the powers to proscribe any citizen from leading a religious organization. Just as government has no powers to determine ritual fitness of Sosala to be Chitimukulu so doesn’t government have powers to determine the ritual fitness of any pastor.

The problem with allowing Kanganja’s conduct to continue is the chilling effect it will have on religious liberty. Today, he might be justified in stopping this rowdy pastor, but tomorrow who knows what Kanganja might be up to? It should be left to the members of a religious organization to determine how they will handle the affairs of their churches. Indeed, a government officer should be blind to internal squabbles that border on religious doctrine. If we allowed government to interfere then there is nothing that would stop Kanganja from entering any independent church and “discipline” randy pastors. In fact, Kanganja’s predecessor, wanted to overzealously ban the bus station pastors. This guy seemed to have had no clue that having the power to register societies in Zambia did not necessarily give him the duty to regulate religious expression, regardless of how annoying it gets.

I take notice of the seriousness of the allegations leveled against the banned Lusaka pastor. But even if these practices are morally questionable and in fact could be unbiblical, they are not in themselves illegal. If a group of citizens decide to shave their hair as a way of their religious ritual, it should be within their right to do so. If a pastor commits sexual immorality, it is immoral obviously but that should not, by itself, make government to disqualify such a pastor. Again, it is not government’s job to do so.

The sexual immorality thing does seem to be quite a petulant subject at the moment. If a religious leader rapes women, then he must be arrested and the law should take its course. If there is no rape, and the leader has consensual sex with consenting adults, while such conduct falls below expected moral standards, it should not by itself lead to government interference in religious matters. If indeed, we allowed government to do so, then even the Mother Church herself would have long closed its doors. Contrary to some perceptions, the problems of sexual immorality are not unique to one social institution or one church. They are prevalent in mainline churches as well as newer religious movements. If Kanganja has to defrock immoral clergy, we might have to suggest that he starts with the Mother Church herself – Ekklesia Katolika. And so, if he has no guts to defrock Catholic clergy, where on earth does he get the authority to defrock an independent church?

It is quite telling that rumors of Satanism have been circulated against even more orthodox Christian organizations. I know a church situated near John Laing and Misisi compounds. This church has the reputation of being “satanic” simply by the many cars that park there each Sunday. Rumors of Satanism have unjustifiably been circulated against organizations such as the Mormon Church and other organizations in Zambia. In fact, on at least two occasions, the Zambian government banned the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) alleging that the church was practicing Satanism. In both of these instances, the Zambian courts took exception to government of overreach and made it clear that religious freedom is sacrosanct. You cannot proscribe a religion simply because of rumors.

This brings me to the consultation Kanganja did with the chairman of ICOMZ – David Masupa. There is this mistaken and irritating belief by some of our people that the mother church bodies are the de-facto regulators of religious expression in Zambia. This idea is neither biblical and neither is it legal. Citizens have the right and freedom to express their religious liberties without recourse to a “church mother body”.

The best adjudicators of any religion are the ordinary people. Government should only interfere if a church or a pastor is committing crimes or corrupting public morals. It should not be the duty of government to intercede on a matter of how some pastor decides to shave his pubic hair as a way of his own religious ritual. Reprehensive as it may seem, it is within the confines of human liberty. Government should stay out of the Church, including the most reprehensive of the churches.

More Pollution in Our Pockets: Absurdity of an Open-Pit Mine in the Lower Zambezi

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

Many have undertaken to write on the appropriateness and inappropriateness of Hon Harry Kalaba’s decision to overrule Zambia’s environmental body. Kalaba has permitted a foreign company strangely known as “Zambezi Resources Limited” to develop an open pit mine in the middle of the Lower Zambezi National Park. Ignoring advice from environmental experts from the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), Hon Kalaba has used his statutory powers and invoked public policy objects in granting this license. I understand that this matter is now in court. There are reports that the aliens in charge of Zambezi Resources have refuted the reality of any injunction against them. As far as they are concerned they are ready to begin the plunder of the Zambezi River Basin. I will leave the legal arguments to the competent lawyers and the High Court. In this article, however, I will dwell only on the other arguments advanced by Kalaba and his government peers in justifying this environmental sacrilege.

Pollution in Mufulira, Zambia

Pollution in Mufulira, Zambia

Harry Kalaba is in many senses a very reasonable gentleman. He is a rising star in the PF government. As a native of Luapula, I have no doubt that Kalaba brings to public office the grace, gallantry and great wisdom domiciled in our people. It is young Luapulans like Kalaba who daily keep alive the hopes and dreams of our republic. Zambia will be better and greater with ministers like Kalaba. In humble patriotism, however, we must call upon even gifted people like Kalaba to reevaluate the way they are governing the country. We must put aside personal familiarities and common kinship in pursuit of higher ideals for our national healing. And for the stance he has taken on the issue of mining in the Lower Zambezi National Park, I must differ with him and the policies of his colleagues in the Don’t Kubeba government.

Lower Zambezi National Park

Lower Zambezi National Park

The Don’t Kubeba government is arguing that this foreign firm, “Zambezi Resources” does have the technology necessary to keep the game park in pristine condition while excavating an open pit mine. This is nonsense. Kalaba and his colleagues have failed to put in place any measures to protect the people of Mufulira who are currently being slaughtered daily by sulphur gases discharging from Butondo. How then will they have the technology to do better in Zambezi? Why can’t they start to show us their “modern technology” by cleaning up Mufulira and Chingola before these companies go on to turn the whole country into a huge pile of torrential chemicals? Indeed, it is simple logic. That which has failed to work for Chingola and Mufulira will most certainly fail to work for the Lower Zambezi. Zambezi Resources does not have the technology to mine in the Zambezi any safer than other mining companies are currently doing on the Copperbelt. And as the people of Nchanga know, a mine is a mine. An open pit mine is an open pit mine. There is no technology that can ever replace soils dug out of the ground to make room for this open pit mine. Digging in the Lower Zambezi does have consequences on the land, the animals and the people of the Lower Zambezi.

The Don’t Kubeba government is also arguing that they have permitted mining in the Lower Zambezi so as to create jobs for Zambians. Sometimes President Sata’s ministers speak in a way that defies modest sense. When they talk about jobs, they speak as if they do have job creation as an important element in their government. One cannot avoid but notice that this government’s policies have killed more jobs than any other government in the Third Republic. It is, therefore, strange that they would use job creation as the excuse for desecrating the Lower Zambezi National Park. Indeed, there are better ways to create jobs. The first way to create jobs in an economy like Zambia is to first protect the jobs that already exist in the economy. It is rather absurd that Sata’s government has fired close to 500 nurses countrywide and yet turns back and claims to be creating jobs in the Lower Zambezi. This government is not serious about job creation for Zambians. It is only serious about job creation for the party and its family. If they really want to provide jobs to Zambians they should immediately reinstate the nurses and not just smear us with more “bufi” about Zambezi.

The PF government moved with a lot of zeal to impose taxes and duty on vehicles used by churches and NGOs in their poverty alleviation programs. The imposition of this duty and tax means that NGOs will hire fewer workers. Fewer workers will further complicate Zambia’s job creation outlook. It is the poor that will suffer further because churches and NGOs will not be able to drive into the interior without suitable equipment. It is, therefore, surprising that the same government that acted at impulse to punish NGOs would today claim to sell the Zambezi on the pretext that it wants to create jobs. We can know the direction of a government by the way it treats small men and women. It has failed to collect enough tax from mines and yet it wants to kill the NGO sector, which is one of the biggest employment sectors in the country. The 3 years of PF rule is awash with examples of how it has failed to adequately tax mining companies. And yet it finds it easy to terrorize powerless NGOs. Approving more mines in the national park will not solve the tax problem created by the PF’s lack of economic competency. To mine tax, I must now turn.

Harry Kalaba's government specializes in guesswork - Munshya wa Munshya

Harry Kalaba’s government specializes in guesswork – Munshya wa Munshya

PF ministers are arguing that Zambezi Resources will bring in lots of revenue into government coffers. This is not only laughable but also pitiful. We must pity the don’t kubeba government. Inspite of having a seat on the boards of copper mines pillaging our copper, the PF government has no idea of how much these copper mines are actually generating. It is all guess work. That being the case, it makes no sense that they now want to add more companies to this list of their ineptitude. In any case, the winners in the Lower Zambezi will not be the Zambians; it will be the same foreign companies and their investors in Berlin, New York, Toronto and Brisbane. Moreover, the PF government will not collect a ngwee from this company because it has neither the capacity nor the backbone to collect tax from companies.  As mentioned above, the only tax it knows to collect is that taken from the churches and NGOs. A few years from now, the Lower Zambezi, will become just another town ravaged by foreign multinational companies leaving sulphur dioxide in their wake. This company will bring more misery to the country’s mining sector.

We appeal to the Hon Kalaba to reverse his decision. We appeal to the PF government to clean up the mess in Mufulira first and foremost. We also appeal to the government to leave the Lower Zambezi National Park free from further exploitation by foreign miners. The returns are not just worth losing our pristine land. It would be terrible to have another Mufulira pollution disaster happen among the Goba of the Lower Zambezi river basin.

(c) 2014, E. Munshya. This article appeared in Zambia’s leading independent newspaper the Daily Nation on Friday 6 February 2014. Munshya wa Munshya Column appears  every Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond “House, Money, Car”: Why Ms. Kay Figo Deserved Compensation

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

Zambia should change laws that unfairly disadvantage women - Munshya

Zambia should change laws that unfairly disadvantage women – Munshya

The facts of the 2012 case of one Ms. Kay Figo and her lover Mr. Van are very well defined. Around 2007 a 55 year-old Mr. Van  met a 21-year Ms. Kay Figo at a Kabwata nightclub. Due to love at first sight, Mr. Van that night invited Ms Kay to his Makeni home.  They  lived together for a period of 5 years. The relationship had broken down for at least two years of those five years. Noting that the relationship had broken down, Ms. Kay sued Mr. Van before the Lusaka Local Court. Ms. Kay’s argument was that she deserved compensation from Mr. Van for lost time while “dating” him. She wanted the court to recognise her time with Mr. Van as deserving some level of legal or equitable recognition. Some reports suggest that Ms. Figo had actually wanted this 5-year cohabitation to be recognized as a common law or some form of customary marriage. Mr. Van argued that, to the contrary, he did not need to compensate her because as far as he was concerned he was not married to her. It was also Mr. Van’s argument that during the 5 years he had lived with Ms. Kay he had tried repeatedly to reach her family so that he could get her to marry him. Reaching family suggest that Mr. Van might have wanted to marry her through customary law and practice. He argues further that she was not willing to introduce him to her family. As such she refused his proposal for marriage. That having been the case, he argued that she was un-deserving of any compensation.

This matter has received lots of media attention. Some in the media have characterized Kay as an “untaught” girl and as a gold digger just out to get Mr. Van for his money. Indeed that Kay was quite specific about the amount of compensation she wanted from her former lover, only went to stoke the suspicions in many that she was an opportunist going for a “house, money and car”.

The Lusaka Local Court reached its decision in October 2012. The local court justices dismissed Ms. Kay’s action declaring that since she had not been married to Mr. Van, she had no recourse to any compensation. The courts declared that there was no valid marriage contract upon which compensation can be ordered. As such, Ms. Kay was unsuccessful in this claim.

I find the decision of the court to be unfair. I wish to paint this decision within a wider framework of both law and tradition to argue that there is need for Zambia to change its legal framework as to recognise compensation in cases such as the one under consideration.

Ms. Kay Figo

Ms. Kay Figo

In Zambia today, there are principally two ways by which marriage can be contracted. The first is marriage under the Act and the second one is the marriage under Zambian traditions and customs. Marriage under the Act is primarily modelled after European system (sometimes misusing the Bible as justification). In this marriage, two people can contract a marriage and have it solemnized by the registrar of marriage or a gazetted minister of religion. The marriages contracted under Zambian laws and tradition is valid only after definite steps are taken. Legal jurisprudence right now as it stands in the Supreme Court precedence is that a marriage under customary law can only be valid if the man has paid some form of dowry or “lobola” to the family of the woman.

The consequence of the law as it stands right now is that regardless of how long a man has lived with a woman, that union cannot be recognized as a marriage unless he has “reached” the woman’s family and some form of dowry has been paid to the woman’s family. It is not my intention to change the way our traditions or the law defines what a marriage is. I would leave that up to the traditionalists and to the Zambian parliament.

My argument is that there has to be some form of legal or customary recognition of some unions contracted in the manner similar to Ms. Kay and Mr. Van’s. My argument is that leaving the law as it is would disadvantage women who are at the receiving end of unbalanced power within society. Indeed, in much of the English Common law jurisdictions, the law has moved on to where it imposes a “marriage” upon any couple that has cohabited for a specific period of time. In Canada for example, the “marriage under common law” is imposed upon any couple that has lived together for at least 12 continuous months. Privileges for such recognition vary from one Canadian jurisdiction to another.

In the case of Zambia, a couple should either be married or if not then it is cohabiting with the later receiving no legal or equitable protection at all. There is no middle ground. Marriage receives both legal and equitable protection while cohabitation does not. I do not wish to encourage cohabitation. Indeed, a marriage is far much better than two people just cohabiting. But there comes a time where women are disadvantaged due to the unfair balances of power after the cohabitation is over. Indeed, in the case of Ms. Kay and Mr. Van, the man took this young girl from a bar and lived with her for 5 years. That they were cohabiting without being married is clear for all to see. But in the event that the relationship comes to an end it would be unconscionable for the woman to walk out of that relationship without some amount of consideration.

She was a de-facto spouse to Mr. Van while she lived with him. She cleaned his house and took out his garbage every night or probably once a week. She worked hard for him. She provided him with the love and affection he needed. This love and affection made him work well and work hard in his businesses. For at least a majority of those five years, she was there for him. Honestly, that after these years she deserved some form of a “house, money or car” from him. He must not be allowed to dismiss her that easily.

Many commentators have discussed how a “gold-digger” Ms. Kay is. In fact, many have questioned her moral values as “ a girl picked from a bar.” Indeed, I find such criticisms very unfair. Why aren’t the same people condemning the 55-year-old Mr. Van who pounced on this innocent girl? Why is it that when it comes to such matters, the woman gets the most condemnation while the man goes scot-free? In fact, Mr. Van has been left off the hook such that there are reports that he has now started another “cohabitation” with another young woman.

If indeed, Ms. Kay is a bar girl, that criticism should also be leveled against Mr. Van who took her from the bar and within the same night took her to his house in Makeni. He loved her and lived with her for five solid years. Honestly, after having enjoyed her youth and her innocence, Mr. Van cannot and should not get away so easily. He must at least offer reasonable compensation to her. It is just the right thing to do.

She has lost the case. Probably, as a controversial musician, she will even sell more records after this episode. However, she will bear the brunt of this saga while Mr. Van goes scot free to begin pouncing on another girl at a shabeen in Shang’ombo.

Only that next time, we must make Mr. Van realize that once he picks another girl, he would not discard her so easily. The “not married to you” nonsense should not be tolerated. If you cannot marry the girl then do not cohabit with her. But if you so wish to cohabit with her then you should be able to offer any compensation that would normally fall on a marriage of similar length. Here is a number from Ms. Figo.

(c) E. Munshya, LLB, M.Div. (2012). This article was originally published on this website on 5 October 2012. It is republished here in 2014. All rights reserved.

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.

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.