Monthly Archives: May 2010

Believing you are Black: Why Dr. Rand Paul’s Civil Rights Views Are Wrong

The Kentucky Republicans have chosen Dr. Rand Paul as their candidate for Senate in the November 2010 elections. Paul beat his establishment challenger handsomely. However, Paul’s stance on civil rights is receiving lots of attention a few days after winning the Republican nomination. In this article I wish to argue why Dr. Paul’s views are erroneous.

To understand his views, it is important first of all to understand what Paul’s political persuasion—Libertarianism—stands for. Libertarians believe in basic human goodness. They believe that the solution to the world’s or America’s problem today is as a result of big government. Their principles hinge on small government and fiscal discipline. They also believe that the central government should have lesser powers. The biggest enemy to American progress according to libertarians is the government. They also believe in the literal application of the constitution as it was originally given.

All these Libertarian principles sound very good. But Dr. Paul’s controversy begins when he now applies these principles to civil right laws. He believes that the 1964 Civil Rights Law is good in its totality, but he has reservations with particularly Title (Chapter) Two of the Law. Basically, the civil rights law ended discrimination of any kind against ethnic and other minorities. It was primarily made law through the hard work of people like Martin Luther King, and as a consequence of the Civil Rights Act, segregation against Black was made illegal. However, Dr. Paul holds the view that while forcing public bodies to end racial discrimination was in order, he doubts whether forcing private businesses to do the same is in order. He holds the view that private businesses should retain the right to discriminate against others, based on the color of their skin. As such, a privately owned cafe, for example, may under Dr. Paul’s views, refuse to sell coffee to any person they so wish—based on race. He feels that such a private business should have the constitutional right to do as they wish. He therefore, takes issues with the fact that the Civil Rights Act did force both private and public bodies not to discriminate.

While Dr. Paul himself does not believe in racial discrimination, he nevertheless in keeping with libertarian principles believes that private individuals and private businesses could do so. Additionally, while he advocates for private business, he is quick to mention that he personally would not go to private businesses that encourage such discrimination. To support his views, Dr. Paul uses various examples. One of these hinges on gun rights. Just as Americans have a constitutional right to own guns, so should individuals have the liberty to exercise racial discrimination. Indeed the civil rights act, did give religious organizations some right to discriminate based on their beliefs. As such, an evangelical church can discriminate based on faith when hiring their pastor. That is guaranteed by the Civil Rights Act, but Dr. Paul would want to see that exception done to private businesses as well. Businesses should discriminate whom they can serve coffee based on race. And according to Dr. Paul that would serve the needs of the libertarian principle.

But what, I think, Dr. Paul misses in his thinking is that while churches could indeed discriminate based on faith, private businesses should not discriminate based on race because being black is not a religion or a belief. You do not believe to be black, it is who you are from conception, and you remain so until death. Being black is not the same as being evangelical or being Catholic. Being Catholic is what we believe, but being Black is not!

Movement for Mufumbwe Disaster: What the MMD must do to Redeem Itself

Movement for Mufumbwe Disaster: What the MMD must do to Redeem Itself
By Elias Munshya wa Munshya

The MMD’s loss in Mufumbwe is a bitter pill to swallow for them. This is in fact evidenced by their refusal to concede defeat. However, it is a thesis of this article to show that while the Mufumbwe loss was a huge shock to the MMD there are tangible steps that the MMD can take in order to avert further disaster.

First the MMD must swiftly concede defeat in Mufumbwe. It does not make sense that the ruling party, with the privileges of incumbency should be petitioning an election result of this nature. Petitioning this election may go to show that the MMD is not in control of the structures of government at all. Additionally, it has the potential to show that they are bitter losers. The best that they should do is to concede defeat learn, from their mistakes and move on. The accusations of violence are neither here nor there. Zambia has seen more violent campaigns such as the Mapatizya by-election. And petitioning the results based on the notion of UPND’s use of violence is a serious misnomer whose political consequence is too fatal for the MMD.

Secondly, the MMD should check their choice of parliamentary candidates in the by-elections. For their candidate in Mufumbwe, they retrieved Mulondwe Muzungu who had been contesting elections since the Kaunda era. The question should be, didn’t the MMD have younger and fresher candidates they could have adopted? The optics of the by-election campaigns spoke for themselves—here is Banda over 70 years old, campaigning for his age-mate. Now contrast that with a young looking Hichilema campaigning for youthful Kamondo. It is clear that the optics did not work well for the MMD’s campaigns in Mufumbwe. A younger candidate could have helped them.

Thirdly, the MMD will need to shuffle both the cabinet and the MMD decks. I am sure that there will be a cabinet reshuffle soon and George Kunda is likely to be replaced. Such a move is necessary if the MMD are to turn around their political fortunes. Kunda has not proved to be politically helpful to Banda. What Banda needs going into the 2011 elections, is a Vice-President who is politically savvy. As such, he will do well to consider having George Mpombo, or Katele Kalumba as the Vice-President. Mpombo will help Banda stem the loss of “kwi Lamba”, and his politically outspokenness can be a good match for HH and Sata. Katele also provides a good relief for Banda. No one in MMD politics can beat Katele’s political acumen. Katele is a fighter, whose political shrewdness combined with some comedic elements proves potent for political maneuvering. Considering the corruption allegations he was facing, Katele had zero chances of bouncing back into Mwanawasa’s arms. But there was Katele, in Kabwe, beating VJ Mwaanga to scoop the Chief Executive Job. If Katele is acquitted of corruption by the courts Rupiah would be in order to consider him for the Vice-Presidency. Besides Katele, whose wife is Lozi, may provide the necessary connection to Barotseland as well. Barotse is undoubtedly a critical constituency in the coming elections.

Conversely, the man Rupiah Banda should not even consider for Vice-Presidency is Defence Minister Kalombo Mwansa. He lacks political popularity, and his grim temperament is demonstrated by his decision to take a civil action suit against a Dry Cleaning company for messing up his suit a few years ago. A whole Minister of Home Affairs, at that time, wasting lots of money, and precious time to sue a company because it had messed up his suit! I wonder what Kalombo would do as acting President if something like that happened again. If another company messes up his suit again he will send them a battalion, I am sure. And questions still remain, why did he litigate? Was it to prove a point, or to claim compensation? On the other hand, it may be too unfair to judge Kalombo’s character from this incidence alone, but coming from a man who does not make lots of political clamor—this incidence may be the only thing we can judge him by.

Fourthly, the MMD should re-think their Hichilema strategy. HH is likely to be the kingmaker in the next elections. It is my opinion that the UPND and PF pact is not likely to materialize, and thereby split the electoral vote to Sata’s favor. Contrary to what many political commentators suppose, I am of the opinion that the MMD does actually have a better chance retaining the presidency fighting a Pact than they do fighting HH and Sata separately. With Rupiah, Hichilema, and Sata all vying for the presidency, an election that has all the three as candidates is likely to go Sata’s way due to the simple “ first past the post” rule. If we are to use 2008 elections as a way to predict forthcoming trends then the MMD is in deep trouble with the rise of HH. Here is the arithmetic, from 2008 election results Banda had 718,359 votes, while Sata had 683,150, and HH had 353,018. Banda beat Sata by only 35,209 votes. And as such, if HH continues to eat into Banda’s support base in Northwestern Province, and assuming that all else remains equal, HH would obliterate Banda’s 35,000 vote advantage. And thereby create a huge benefit for the PF which is unsurprisingly holding its support in Lusaka, Copperbelt and Northern Province with the exception of Luapula. The MMD should therefore, try to speak with the UPND and persuade HH into forming a pact with them or even consider him for future Presidency. Honestly if MMD went and got RB from the farms, they can surely acquire HH. There will be more in the UPND who would feel more welcome with Banda’s MMD than with Sata’s PF. The overtures towards HH should begin now. HH and Banda could bury their insulting differences and make an alliance to prevent one Michael Sata from ruling the country. All those claiming that HH and the UPND are violent; choose forget Chawama—when Michael Sata was unleashed. With Sata in State House, the whole Zambia will unquestionably become a Mufumbwe disaster!