Tag Archives: Zambia

The King of Zambia: Mwanawina III and the making of a new nation

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

This republic we now call Zambia is a product of several currents. As we celebrate 50 years of its existence we must look at all the stories that could help us navigate through these currents so that we can learn from history and not repeat mistakes from that history. Fifty years after our independence, there is no issue that could potentially divide our nation more than the contentious Barotseland Agreement of 1964 (BA 64). Nevertheless, as contentious as it may be, we would be doing a great disservice to ourselves if we do not confront this story. The BA 64 and the role of King Mwanawina III in the formation of our nation are important Zambian stories. Discussions on the BA 64 have dwelt on its formation in 1964 and its abrogation months after independence. However, in order for us to understand the role, if any, it played in the making of our nation, we must situate it within its own context and milieu.

King Mwanawina III

King Mwanawina III

The Supreme Court in the case of Lewanika and Others v Chiluba (1998) paid some cursory attention to the fact that the homeland we now call Zambia pooled several territories administered by the British prior to 1924. Northwestern Rhodesia, Barotseland and Northeastern Rhodesia combined to form the British Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia administered by the British Colonial Office. In the treaty-making system, the British South African Company (BSAC) identified powerful chiefs, signed agreements with them and then used those treaties as the basis for colonialism. By far, one of the most powerful empires in what would become Zambia was Lewanika, whose Lozi Empire covered parts of present Namibia, Angola and Zambia prior to 1924. As such, it was quite natural that the BSAC’s desire to legitimize its colonial crusade involved signing some kind of a treaty with Lewanika. By the time the British Crown commenced its direct rule over Northern Rhodesia in 1924, Lewanika’s Kingdom was somewhat definable. During the struggle for independence, Mwanawina III was the Litunga of Barotseland. He reigned from 1948 to 1968.

President Kenneth Kaunda and King Mwanawina III

President Kenneth Kaunda and King Mwanawina III

Both before and after 1924, when the British ruled over a unified Northern Rhodesia, the Litunga maintained some level of autonomy. This autonomy, however, was a two-edged sword. A Litunga would be influential only to the extent that the British permitted him to. As such, the Litunga’s power was simply an extension of British rule. Even though the British had early treaties with the Litunga, the only thing that seems to matter for them was that they had a dominant king whom they were “protecting”. The subtlest effect of this “protection”, however, had to do with how the British extended this protection to the rest of the Rhodesian territories. While the less powerful kings and traditional rulers still exerted some moderate influence over their areas, Litunga was more formidable over his areas due to the direct consent of the British. This became the dominant political perception of Litungas and the times they lived in. It was certainly so, for Mwanawina III who reigned during the difficult time of the dawn of independence. Barotseland subjects, had by the 1950s come to perceive and begrudge their king not as a liberator but as a collaborator with the British. At one time, the White settlers of Southern Rhodesia were even considering a federation of sorts involving Rhodesia, Barotseland and Katanga. Rumours of such maneuvers were damaging to the standing of Mwanawina III among his people. This became one issue Kenneth Kaunda exploited during the 1964 elections.

Sensing the changing tide for independence in what would later be called the Republic of Zambia, the British decided to side-step King Mwanawina III and gave in to popular demands for native direct rule for all territories in Northern Rhodesia including Barotseland. By the 1950s when Kaunda led the splinter group away from the ANC, there was clear consensus that it was he and his more radical group that would best epitomise and actualise the dream of freedom for all blacks in Northern Rhodesia. Indeed, in the elections of the Barotse National Council itself, Kaunda’s UNIP soundly defeated political parties that were aligned to the ruling aristocracy of the Barotse nation.

However, the greatest historical mistake Kaunda ever committed was misinterpreting the meaning of this win in Barotseland. The reason why the BA 64 will continue to haunt Zambia is closely connected to the way UNIP’s win was taken both by the British and by Kaunda himself. For sure, Kaunda interpreted his win in Barotseland as a sign that the people were solidly behind him to push through an independent nation while ignoring Litunga Mwanawina III. The British too, fearful of UNIP and its mandate were reluctant to side with Mwanawina. Indeed, the king of the once great Lozi Empire was now in a corner. He had no political capital and his British backers had abandoned him. It seems Kaunda had the support of the people of Barotseland, but Mwanawina III still had the throne. A compromise had to be forced. It is this compromise, which would continue to haunt the new nation 50 years after its independence.

The story of Zambia is incomplete without Mwanawina III - Munshya

The story of Zambia is incomplete without Mwanawina III – Munshya

What can we learn from the context surrounding the Barotse negotiations? First, Kaunda should have treated Mwanawina III more like a partner than as a minor. Truly, Kaunda had the people, but it was naïve of him to push through some changes without having recourse to Mwanawina III’s genuine concerns. Second, KK should have known that winning elections in the Barotse National Council did not mean that the people of Barotseland had decided to do away with their king or their customs. Third, KK should have been more humble after winning and he should have used that leverage to come up with an agreement that was more acceptable to the Litunga and through him, the people of Barotseland. Perhaps KK should have been open to the idea of either federalising or even prevailing upon the British to grant Mwanawina III some boosted autonomy. It has been 50 years since the BA 64 and yet the question of Barotseland still haunts our young nation. Nevertheless, King Mwanawina III remains one of the important figures in Zambia’s history. He was a king, in Zambia.

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Suggested citation:

Munshya, Elias (2014). The King of Zambia: Mwanawina III and the making of a new nation. Elias Munshya blog (www.eliasmunshya.org) (October 12 2014).

Sacking Wynter Kabimba: Implications for Sata’s presidency

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

When Wynter Kabimba got implicated in the oil scandal in 2012, we called upon President Sata to suspend him so that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) could freely investigate the matter. Sata said no! In 2013, when Wynter stated that the PF would rule for over 100 years, we expressed our concerns at the dictatorial and undemocratic tendencies that started to develop in him. Sata looked the other way. When Wynter stated that Zambians wanted to return to a one party state we gave our opinion. We stated that Wynter was getting it wrong on democracy. We again called upon Sata to fire him. But Sata instead, promoted Wynter and left him to act as President. When in June 2014, Wynter claimed that he had smuggled Kenyans through Nakonde to rig the 2011 elections in Sata’s favour, we said his statement was a falsehood and absolute nonsense. By this time, Sata was nowhere to be seen. He had gone AWOL. We said what we said and we still do believe that Wynter Kabimba’s politics were repugnant to democracy. We stand by what we said about Wynter, but there is more that must be added: Wynter was only but a minute symptom of a grander disease. Firing him does not heal the disease; it only postpones it to another day.

Kabimba and Sata - the good days

Kabimba and Sata – the good days

Kabimba has been fired not as a way to stump out corruption in Sata’s crooked government, but rather to entrench corruption. Ever since President Sata assumed power, he has never acted, not even once, to stump-out corruption. Instead, Sata has both tolerated and exacerbated corruption. Sata has not acted on several allegations of corruption involving his officials. A publication has shown us evidence of questionable deposits into the bank account of one of Sata’s many sons. Sata has not acted to stop the rampant corrupt dealings involving the Road Development Agency (RDA) that operates from State House. Several ruling party stalwarts have illicit RDA contracts. GBM is alleged to have been a principal supplier of goods and services to the Ministry of Defence, the same ministry he served as minister. In 2011, at the onset of the don’t kubeba government, Apollo Enterprises, a company belonging to Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda was, without tender, given the contract to rehabilitate State House. Chikwanda never declared interest. Chikwanda is also alleged to have shares in a company supplying Zambian mines in 2014. While these allegations have not been proven in court, it is prudent to have police investigate them. Nevertheless, when the allegations were revealed about Chikwanda’s involvement in these illicit contracts, the result was a witch-hunt that led to the dismissal of Kabimba. Sata acted against Kabimba to protect the corruption of one against that of the other corrupt. This makes the sacking of Kabimba to be an activity of the corrupt against the other corrupt. It is not a fight between good and evil but rather a fight between one set of evil against another set of evil.

President Sata must resign for the same reasons that he has fired Wynter Kabimba. The problem with Wynter is not his alone. President Sata himself created them. What is even more painful is that in firing Kabimba the president has not moved to change the corrupt system that breeds the Kabimbas of this world. The president has gone on to unilaterally choose a new Secretary-General in a way that is repugnant to democracy. Wynter has gone the same way that he came. Without changing the system, we have no guarantee that Edgar Lungu will do anything different from what Wynter did. President Sata has changed the personnel, but he has not changed the system that is responsible for breeding the mayhem. I cannot celebrate the dismissal of Wynter simply because, his replacement comes with the same platform and template that gives way for undemocratic tendencies. The firing of Wynter removes a person called Wynter but retains the same corrupt template in its place.

Sata should resign because, in neglecting to give reasons why he fired Wynter, he has created an avenue for gossip and wanton political recklessness. Under the Sata presidency, State House has been reduced to an orgy of gossip, misinformation and “chilande lande” with no one seeming to be in control. I am surprised that the President chose to fire Wynter through a press statement without caring to let the nation know reasons why he was fired in the first place. Wynter was the Chief Executive of the ruling party. He was a senior cabinet member. He has acted as President of our republic. Surely, for a person of such stature, the president owes a duty to explain to the nation why he decided to drop him. President Sata should not be running our country as if it is his own village or household. He needs to know that Zambians want to get answers from him. He needs to talk to us. He needs to answer questions from the press. He cannot just wake up one day, fire Wynter through a press statement and hibernate back into oblivion.

After the fall of Wynter several ruling party cadres are now claiming that life will be better for them. Some in Kaoma are even saying that it was Wynter that led to their poverty. GBM led a march in Kasama to celebrate the dismissal of Wynter and pledged unwavering support to President Michael Sata. What a reversal! Isn’t this the same gentleman who in 2013 claimed to have fallen out with Sata based not on Wynter but on Chitimukulu Kanyanta-Manga?

By the actions of the Patriotic Front cadres, it does seem as if Wynter was the President who made all the decisions. If indeed, even a portion of all these power-allegations against Wynter were true, then they are a damaging indictment against the judgment and leadership of President Sata. How is it that President Sata allowed an unelected Kabimba to have so much sway over what is constitutionally supposed to be done by a president? Surely, it cannot be Wynter’s problem alone. Could it be that the president is unfit to rule? From the Post editorials, it appears like they are willing to unleash the truth about the state of President Sata’s perceived “weaknesses and failings”. But Zambians of course know that there is something fundamentally problematic with the health and wellbeing of the President. Firing Wynter does not solve the problem of President Sata’s own inefficiency and unsuitability to hold office. Firing Wynter has not resolved any problem. That which is a problem with Sata cannot be resolved by firing a person other than Sata. Sata has failed Zambia, and Wynter was only a symptom of the wider failing of the leadership of Zambia’s fifth president.

President Sata should resign - Munshya

President Sata should resign – Munshya

 

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Suggested Citation: Munshya, Elias (2014). “Sacking Wynter Kabimba: Implications for Sata’s presidency”. Elias Munshya Blog (www.eliasmunshya.org) (1 September 2014)

 

 

Limps of hope: Hon. Chilangwa, stigma and hope for Zambians living with disabilities

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

There is no evidence to suggest that Nevers Mumba had, two weeks ago, approved of the action by MMD party cadres to sing lyrics mocking the disability of Hon. Nickson Chilangwa. In this article, I make no such allegation against Mumba. However, that unfortunate event provides us with an opportunity to address such issues. Chilangwa has lived with a slight physical disability since childhood. He limps in one of his legs. Mumba was addressing a political rally in Luapula Province when this happened. Chilangwa is a Member of Parliament and senior PF party leader in Luapula.

In responding to the cadres’ behaviour, Chilangwa expressed regret that Mumba could allow such terrible scorn at a political meeting. He also mentioned that he has learned to overcome stigma associated with his disability. This week, MMD Secretary Muhabi Lungu exonerated his boss, stating that Mumba is of such good character that he could not possibly have mocked a Zambian based on their disability. I believe him. However, the fact that a few rogue cadres could use Chilangwa’s disability as a mocking point deeply disturbs me. Our nation needs to move beyond stigma of the disabled. Zambia is one nation. In this nation we have people living with different challenges and yet they are all part of the tree that keeps the roots of our nation vibrant.

Academia refers to this kind of stigma as “Ableism”. According to Carmelita and others (2010) ableism is -

“an all-encompassing system of discrimination and exclusion of people who live with developmental, medical, neurological, physical, and psychological disabilities”.

Schwarzbaum & Thomas (2008) defined ableism as a “negative judgment about the characteristics and capabilities of an individual with a disability.” According to J. Mung’omba (2008), Zambia is home to over 256,000 people living with some form of a disability. About 5% of these live with mental disabilities.

Hon. Nickson Chilangwa, MP

Hon. Nickson Chilangwa, MP

Ableism could be attributed to our traditional worldview, which regards suffering in general and disability in particular as bad omens. Such suffering is usually blamed on the spiritual world. It is, therefore, not surprising that a Zambian would seek to “establish communication with the spirit world” to manipulate it in order to “bring security in a dangerous world” (Turaki 2006). Both Gray (1990) and Kunhiyop (2008) acknowledge that Africans’ conception of evil takes it as that which destroyed life, health, strength, fertility and prosperity. Suffering at both personal and community level was believed to be evil, and was mostly attributed to lack of adherence to taboos and rituals. It was believed across tribes that non-adherence to strict religious ritual would naturally invite the wrath of the gods and, therefore, cause untold suffering. The consequence of such a worldview translates into “ableism”. Unfortunately, each time a person living with a disability is mocked; we give credence to such ideas, which belong to a generation more barbaric than ours.

Ableism could also be attributed to scarcity of economic resources. Zambia has a population of 14 million living in an area of approximately 750,000 kms2. The gross domestic product of Zambia stands at $20 billion. Following the 3-years of gross economic mismanagement by President Sata and his crew, we could be talking of lower figures by next year. With so many people chasing so few resources it is clear that those living with disabilities become the casualties of this stampede for resources.

Zambians need to address some disturbing beliefs that perpetrate ableism. Some of these beliefs are a combination of tradition and plain nonsense. For example, albinos just on the basis of their skin disability are quite mistakenly considered to have some extra-spiritual powers. In neighbouring Tanzania, ritual killers, believing that albino body parts can be used to make someone rich, have murdered albinos. Even though this situation has not reached this level in Zambia, it is clear that there is a general stigma attached to albinos perpetrated by myths that don’t make sense.

"We will build Zambia together as one people, regardless of our physical abilities" - Munshya

“We will build Zambia together as one people, regardless of our physical abilities or disabilities” – Munshya

Hon. Chilangwa as a person living with a slight physical disability has done well for himself. He is a faithful member of the United Church of Zambia. He also runs successful businesses. He is living his great potential as a member of parliament. Nevertheless, our parliament should continue advocating for legal reform in this area. J. Mung’omba (2008) does cite the Persons with Disabilities Act (1996) as one of the most forward-looking legislation. However, we must not stop there, we should also work towards reforming laws such as Article 65 (1) (b) of the Constitution which disqualifies a candidate who is “under any law in force in Zambia, adjudged or otherwise declared to be of unsound mind”. While the constitution does not define “unsound mind”, this phrase could be used against some people faced with even mild mental illness.

The impact of ableism is obvious. Just like other forms of prejudice, ableism discriminates against citizens. It makes the majority feel that they are superior. It leads to all forms of unfair treatment of the “other”. Zambia is celebrating 50 years of political freedom. But what value is this political freedom if, 50 years after independence, we would still be mocking some among us simply because they do not share the same physical abilities as we do?

Ableism causes the nation to not use the full potential of its citizens. People who live with a disability are as gifted, in so many ways, as anybody else is. The consequence of discrimination is that the society would not benefit from their talents and abilities.

Ableism also leads to discrimination in education sector. In spite of poverty, most children in Zambia do get into grade one. However, many of these grade one spaces are designed for able-bodied students. In addition to the fact that there are no suitable facilities for use by the people living with disabilities, there are not enough spaces in schools that would be more geared towards teaching children living or born with disabilities (Nabuzoka & Rønning 1997). Failure in the special education sector means that young children are left without an education, critical to their service to the country. Once you add stigma to this mix, schoolyard bullying becomes even more lethal. We must end stigma against our people.

Chilangwa is 45 years old now. He is a senior leader of our country. He has overcome the stigma in many ways. Mocking him should not be justified in our society. He is an inspiration to all young people. If we are to build Zambia, we will build it together as one people, regardless of our physical abilities. It is one Zambia, many abilities!

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Suggested Citation: Munshya, Elias (2014), “Limps of hope: Hon. Chilangwa, stigma and hope for Zambians living with disabilities”, Elias Munshya blog  (8 August 2014) (www.eliasmunshya.org)

Assault on liberty: Why Immigration Zambia was wrong to raid churches

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

 The Zambian state has a legitimate interest in enforcing the law. The state is well within its powers to try and apply immigration laws. Those who are in our country illegally should be made to account for their abuse of the law. I do support the Zambian state in its desire to bring some sanity to our borders and ensure that those who visit Zambia do so in compliance with our statutes. However, in enforcing the law, it is important that the state acts fairly, proportionally and reasonably. Those who exercise power have a duty, both fiduciary and constitutional, to be sensible. A democratic state, like ours, that chooses to enforce laws must do so within constitutional boundaries. The state has an obligation to pay attention to the rule of law each time it conducts an operation of such magnitude as the one conducted by police and immigration this past weekend. Statutory powers should not be taken as a license for mischievousness on the part of those who wear state uniforms and carry machine guns.

Police and immigration officers went to two churches in Lusaka and conducted what they claimed was an operation aimed at arresting “illegal immigrants”. The two churches raided were having regular worship services on a Sunday. The first church is located in Chibolya and the other one is located in Kabwata. According to the Immigration Department spokesperson, they conducted this operation in churches because “churches are harbouring ‘illegal immigrants’”. Notwithstanding, their official duty as law enforcement agents, I find their action of raiding churches to not only be ridiculous but actually absolute nonsense. There is no justifiable reason why the immigration department should raid worship services in Lusaka on the pretext of arresting illegal immigrants. It does not make any sense. The action by police and immigration was excessive and lacked any constitutional justification.

This action by police is a violation of the freedom of worship. The fact that armed paramilitaries decided to enter sacred spaces of a people worshipping God is a serious assault on the liberties of our people. It is drivel to claim that the state can send soldiers to the churches just because those congregations have some illegal immigrants worshipping. There are other ways through which police and immigration could arrest illegal aliens. They could arrest them on the streets, in the markets and in many other places. Police could just go to Soweto Market and find numerous illegal Chinese aliens selling tomatoes, chickens and “chibwabwa”. However, police breaking into churches in order to commit this sacrilege is morally wrong.

President Michael Sata of Zambia

President Michael Sata of Zambia

It is telling that, police raided churches of the poor of Kabwata and Chibolya. From the names of these congregations, it does appear that they are independent churches. They do not belong to the mainline traditions. There have been insinuations by some Zambian government officials threatening to close these churches. The idea that smaller churches mushrooming in our compounds should be banned and closed, is itself a serious violation of the liberties that our people have to worship God in the churches they choose. I find it unacceptable for the state to use its power to order citizens which church they need to attend. We do not need government to tell us which church is better than the other. Government has no role whatsoever in adjudicating competing religious doctrine. It does appear that these armed officers chose these small churches simply because they could get away with it. They targeted the poor. There is no way they were going to enter a Roman Catholic parish and do what they did. I appeal to the PF government to guarantee liberties for our people. If indeed, there is any problem with some doctrines being taught in these new churches, it should not be the government’s role to decide for Zambians which doctrines they should embrace. The pretext that they are going to be closing churches and banning ministries belongs to the old and tired times more barbaric than ours. Kaunda effectuated an embargo on the registration of new churches. We all know the kind of government Kaunda led. It was a dictatorship whose philosophy has no place in our modern democracy. We refuse for the PF government to return this country to the days of “by air” militias.

If some of the members of these churches have committed a crime, please arrest them. You can arrest them in their homes, on the street, or at their work places. Please do not go and disrupt a church services and check NRCs of those in attendance. This is not the Zambia we expect.

Raiding churches is an assault on liberty - Munshya wa Munshya

Raiding churches is an assault on liberty – Munshya wa Munshya

Immigration action over the weekend will send chilling effects to church leaders. It will also arouse suspicion among church members. Pastors, elders, deacons and ushers in the churches should not be checking for passports before they receive new members. Pastors should not be immigration officers. The accusation that the church is harboring illegal immigrants is equally absurd. How can these two churches that in fact meet in rented community halls “harbor” illegal immigrants? Where do they harbor these immigrants? Is it on Sundays for 3 hours? How does having immigrants in church on Sunday, in a rented community hall, amount to harboring “illegal immigrants”? Police and Immigration should not be accusing the church of this serious crime, especially, not under these circumstances.

Churches in our country should continue to receive people in their services. Grace Ministries Mission International should continue breaking bread with all believers without the fear that soldiers will break-in to intimidate innocent worshippers. The pastors of Pentecostal Assemblies of God (Zambia) assemblies should not be asking members about their nationality or whether members have an NRC or not. The ushers of St. Paul’s or St. Peter’s churches should not have to check someone’s passport before they let them take Holy Communion at the altar. Equally, those churches in our compounds, mushrooming as they are, should have the liberty on Sundays to meet and dance with others without being suspicious of each other’s origins and nationality. There is already enough suspicion between Guy Scott and Mulenga Sata over the nationality of Mulenga’s mother. We refuse that the PF should spread this umulomo to the churches. In the church, we kneel and dance together as one people redeemed by Christ. If immigration officers want to arrest someone, they can do so, somewhere else, and not in the church.

I urge the so-called church mother bodies to stand up for religious liberty. She who assaults liberties of these small churches will one day also assault liberties of the so-called big churches. Injustice to the little among us should be regarded as injustice to all. It is in this respect that we should all condemn the action of the police and immigration officers.

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Suggested citation: Munshya, E., ‘Assault on liberty: Why Immigration Zambia was wrong to raid churches Elias Munshya Blog (August 1, 2014) (available at http://www.eliasmunshya.org)

Should Zambian MPs get a salary increase?

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

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

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

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

Hon. Catherine Namugala is asking for money in her pockets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Mumba Malila: A Supreme Court Justice for our time

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

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

Supreme Court of Zambia

Supreme Court of Zambia

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

Justice Mumba Malila SC

Justice Mumba Malila SC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guy Lindsay Scott

Guy Lindsay Scott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It makes no sense to discriminate against Guy Scott - Munshya

It makes no sense to discriminate against Guy Scott – Munshya

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