Monthly Archives: October 2013

Zambia At 49: Reimagining the Myths of Our Nation

 Munshya wa Munshya

400px-Coat_of_Arms_of_Zambia

Reimagining The Myths of Our Nation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elias Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

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

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

Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Extinction: ZIALE, Lawyers & Access to Justice

 Munshya wa Munshya

 Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education results are out. And they are pathetic. Out of over 200 candidates only 6 managed to pass the legal practice exams. Another six of repeaters have passed. Now this number translates to a meager 3% pass rate. The next number is even more worrying, upsetting actually. Ninety-seven per cent of all candidates have failed. Nothing should define a crisis in the legal system than this pathetic failure ratio. Indeed, with a pass rate this low and a failure rate so high, the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education should rightly be called the Institute of Advanced Legal Failures or something to that effect. The collateral effect of this deplorable pass rate at ZIALE is that instead of leading to legal excellence, this institution will lead Zambia into legal extinction, into doldrums. The numbers just don’t add up.

Currently, Zambia has about 800 lawyers. Applying this number to our general population means that there is only one lawyer for every 20,000 of us. If all lawyers were to be spread across the country and evenly distributed in the depth and breadth of Zambia, there will be a distance of about 250-kms between each lawyer. What this means is that there is just not enough lawyers in Zambia to go round. The lawyer to population ratio is just too high. This is unsustainable in the long run.

Legal access is a fundamental element of the rule of law. Zambia cannot achieve adequate justice without adequate legal representation for its people. From Mongu to Milenge and from Chipata to Chavuma, remand prisons are full of our people who are incarcerated, without bail, because they do not have access to adequate legal representation. This is pathetic and a betrayal of the fundamental provisions of the rule of law. And instead of helping heal this gap in the lawyer population, one wonders why ZIALE should continue to perpetuate lawyer shortage.

With this failure rate, if ZIALE were the regulator of medical doctors, government and indeed the population would have long reacted. Indeed, if ZIALE were the regulator or examiner of nurses, the population would have long noticed and this wholesale failure would not have been tolerated a single day. I still wonder why in spite of this tragedy in the number of lawyers, ZIALE should be permitted or even allowed to be passing a meager six lawyers per examination period. Something must change.

In our democracy, the supply for lawyers is not a benevolent offering of a few lawyers. It is an imperative of good democratic governance. In fact, just as we demand for medical doctors to fill our clinics, so should we demand for more lawyers to fill our chambers. Without lawyers, the rule of law becomes a pipe dream only available to the bourgeoisie of Lusaka.

There are some eminent persons among us, who argue that ZIALE is doing well in regulating how many people get into law so as to limit the number of lawyers. With due respect, this argument can only be sustained if indeed we were dealing with an oversupply of lawyers. Reality sharply contradicts this line of thought. Zambia does not have an oversupply of lawyers; it has an undersupply of them. It is, therefore, ridiculous to suggest that ZIALE should continue to trickle down a few lawyers each year in a society that already needs hundreds of lawyers each year. It is consequently, nonsense, to argue that we have too many lawyers. I actually cannot see how one lawyer for every 20,000 people can become an oversupply.

Another issue that should be dismissed with contempt is the erroneous idea that most of the law graduates who go to ZIALE are in fact of low calibre. Indeed this argument could be sustainable only if it is a few failures we are dealing with. In this case, it is not a few failures we are dealing with but rather almost all of our brightest. It is bizarre to think that almost all of Zambia’s LLB graduates, from both UNZA and other private universities, are in fact of such low calibre that only 6 or 10 of them are worthy to become lawyers. It just does not make sense at all.

All the other excuses that ZIALE has been using are just as pitiful. ZIALE and its council should have run out of excuses by now. The ordinary people of Zambia want answers. Someone must put a stop to the baloney that is going on at ZIALE. The excuses such as lack of accommodation for students make no sense too. There should be no relationship between student accommodation and this pathetic failure rate. ZIALE should reform or it should be disbanded.

There is a very worrying tendency, even among practicing lawyers, to treat law as a fundamental preserve of a few. Indeed, this tendency or philosophy should have been truer to the old tired regime of the First or Second Republics. In the Third Republic, each citizen of our great nation owns a part of the legal destiny of our country. And no one institution should hold hostage the legal development of our country to please a few somewhat selfish individuals that want to keep a tight rein on the law profession.

What then should be done about ZIALE? The ZIALE scandal should not be left in the hands of lawyers alone. Lawyers are by nature risk averse. They are trained to not take risks. Calculation and over-carefulness are the caricature of all legal education. Lawyers alone will not reform ZIALE. Indeed some are unwilling to. Had they wanted to do so, they would have prevailed upon the powers that be to change the law or do something about it. But no, they won’t, even if it means overstretching themselves over a distance of 250-kms purporting to do an impossible feat of serving 20,000 people each day.

Zambia’ Attorney General is in a unique position to influence change in the legal fraternity. Doing this however, could come with a political risk for her. We must support and prevail upon the Attorney General and other politicians to prevail upon parliament to bring changes to ZIALE. The Attorney General plays an important role in our democracy. Importantly, she is the leader of the Zambian bar. But more than that she is the principal legal representor of the juristic public interest. As a quasi-politician, the AG should be more aware of the political pressure exerted by the people. It is at this level where those demanding changes at ZIALE can begin. The crisis at ZIALE should be moved from being a pure legal issue to become a wider crisis that threatens the public interest and the growth of our democracy. With political pressure, ZIALE can be reformed.

Current law students can also join the thousands of ZIALE failures to do something. To demonstrate along Cairo Road and perhaps make some noise along Great East Road and bring visibility to this issue. Additionally, all law students and graduates in Zambia could one year boycott ZIALE. Send no application there. Send a clear message. It cannot be a fair process that which collects billions of Kwacha in fees only to select the lucky six for law licenses. Action should begin now.

There is 1 lawyer for every 20,000 of Zambians

There is 1 lawyer for every 20,000 of Zambians

I am curious though to find out what professors at ZIALE really teach their students as to account for this low pass rate. Do they teach them in Hebrew only to examine them in Greek? Indeed, it is either these law graduates are so dull or it is to the professors we must direct this criticism. Zambia will be better and greater with a few more lawyers in it. But with the failure rate at ZIALE so high we shall continue to have 20,000 of us chase the skirts or robes of one lawyer. And the problem is that there are just not enough skirts or robes to go round.

One Bemba, One Nation: Politics of Tribe From Kenneth David Kaunda to Michael Chilufya Sata

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

Fighting for his political survival, Hon. Wynter Kabimba, made a very significant comment that his party has a clique of Bemba political hegemonists. Even Guy Scott has supported Wynter in these assertions. A daily newspaper has also, in its editorial, made the same allegations: there seems to be a Bemba clique within the PF that wants exclusive political control. Kabimba, further, acknowledged that he had been naïve all along. We’ve been telling Wynter all along that the PF is a tribal party, but it is only now that he has suddenly realized it. After this reality had sunk in, Wynter realized that the party he thought would rule Zambia for 100 years was in fact, a tribal party. Since Bo Kabimba has joined in this conversation, it would be just and prudent for all of us to continue it. After all, democracy is an orgy of ideas.

At independence in 1964 Zambia’s first president naively thought that Zambia had entered a new era of post-tribal politics. Kaunda had managed to convince the Litunga to have Barotseland proceed to independence, with the rest of Zambia, as one nation. However, just three years into power, Kaunda realized that the Zambian tribes were not as united as he had previously thought. The first post independence UNIP convention saw a very bitter tribal fight. The Bemba—Tonga pact had at the UNIP convention bitterly defeated the Lozi—Nyanja alliance. Kapwepwe was elected UNIP’s vice-President to the consternation of Kaunda. Reuben Kamanga, an easterner, was soundly defeated. In fact, it was during this time, that some UNIP stalwarts started doubting Kaunda’s loyalty to the Bemba tribe since he had Malawian parentage. Kaunda knew very well that he needed to do something more to overcome this new era of tribalism that had started to engulf the nation.

To overcome this, Kaunda retraced and reemphasized his loyalty as a Bemba subject of Chief Nkula in Chinsali. He also made a point to try and persuade Kapwepwe to step aside since two Bembas could not possibly hold two top positions in both UNIP and the government. Kapwepwe reluctantly obliged and Kaunda quickly brought in Mainza Chona, a Southerner to replace Kapwepwe. But this deeply displeased Kapwepwe and several other Bemba hegemonists, who later proceeded to found the UPP, a party whose principal popularity was in Luapula Province and its Copperbelt subsidiary of Mufulira.

To cure the issue of tribalism Kaunda started what he called Tribal Balancing. In this new arrangement he made sure that the provinces were well represented in government. It was so intentional that you could actually predict who would be in Cabinet and who would not. In this new arrangement the position of Prime Minister was almost exclusively reserved for either Barotseland or Southern Province. Out of six Premiers, from 1973—1991, four were Lozis and the other two were Tonga. This was KK’s tribal balancing at its best.

When Chiluba came into power, the intentional and deliberate tribal balancing was effectively overruled. Chiluba now claimed that he would appoint people on “merit.” However, it still remains to be answered why under Chiluba almost all Parastatal chiefs seemed to originate from Luapula Province. From just this it may be clear that appointment on merit may have meant tribal merit as well. But even if this is the reality with Chiluba, he was never accused of playing tribal politics. I guess if it were a Lenje doing the same thing, some vocal quarters could have condemned the practice.

It seems like; there is an assumption, a disturbing one for that matter, among some Zambians that only non-Bemba speaking peoples are more capable of tribalism. This is obviously erroneous. It should be quite surprising that President Sata would in one breath appoint an exclusively Bemba cabinet and in the next condemn Hakainde Hichilema for tribalism. Of all the presidents, it is the Bemba-speaking presidents who in fact have appointed more of their tribesmen to power. Chiluba and Sata have appointed more Bembas in their cabinet and Parastatal companies. What is surprising is that in spite of this, these presidents still deny being tribal.

When leaving power in 2001 Chiluba wanted to have a minority tribe to take over. This honour obviously fell on Mwanawasa—of both Lamba and Lenje heritage. Even without objective evidence, Mwanawasa was quickly accused of appointing a family tree in his cabinet.  Opposition leader Michael Sata was the main accuser. But once objectively assessed you will notice that Mwanawasa’s cabinet was more tribally balanced than any other in history. Mwanawasa also brought in some tribal diversity in Parastatal companies. However, when he appointed Sisala as ZESCO Managing Director, more tribalistic accusations were leveled against him. This again plays to my thesis that several Zambians believe, erroneously, that only non-Bembas are more capable of tribalism.

Under the Rupiah Banda presidency, the issue of tribalism took on a new shape all together. What was even more surprising with Rupiah Banda is that in spite of only having five easterners in his cabinet, opposition leader Michael Sata repeatedly accused Banda of practicing tribalism. Five easterners in Rupiah Banda’s government by far pale the over 70% Bembas in Michael Sata’s government.

President Sata has appointed more of his tribesmen to both Cabinet and the diplomatic service. But in spite of this, he still denies that he is a tribalist. I don’t know what measures tribalism better than a president’s exercise of prerogative powers. If a president appoints more of his tribesmen than any other tribe, surely, we could easily conclude that tribe must be playing a more prominent role than any other consideration. The idea that this president tries to balance brains is even more insulting to other tribes considering that these so called brains are derived primarily from Luapula-Muchinga-Northern corridor.

In the Bible both Joshua and Moses were repeatedly asked to choose men from each tribe of Israel. Tribal balancing does have some biblical basis as well.

Tribalism is alive and well in PF because President Sata tolerates and in fact, flourishes in it. Action speaks louder than words. If President Sata wants to put a stop to this tribal nonsense, then he must act and act decisively. The president should not be seen to be acting with a forked tongue – condemning GBM and his group while at the same time doing nothing concrete to put a stop to GBM’s tribal crusade, as alleged by Wynter. But to add more salt to injury just this week His Excellency sent two more Bembas to the diplomatic service.

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Munshya wa Munshya

Tribal diversity should be the bedrock of our republic. No one should be ashamed of his or her tribe and no one should be made to think lowly of their heritage. The rivers of our national identity pass through the valleys of tribal and ethnic diversity. The dream of One Zambia, One Nation is not a motto that obliterates differences, but a tool that unites diversity for the national good. In Zambia, all people from all tribes and ethnic groups should feel a part of their country. From Mongu to Mwansabombwe and from Milanzi to Milenge, it should be clear that our country is better and stronger once diversity is not only recognized but also respected.

Our national motto is One Zambia One Nation and not One Bemba One Nation. It should be simple common sense to realize that a little tribal balancing could help foster unity more than this crass preference for the peoples of Luapula-Muchinga-Northern corridor.

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Suggested citation: Munshya, E., ‘One Bemba, One Nation: Politics of Tribe From Kenneth David Kaunda to Michael Chilufya Sata’ Elias Munshya Blog (11 October 2013) (available at http://www.eliasmunshya.org)

Of Cohorts, Cherries & General Miyanda: I Stand By What I Had Written

 By Munshya wa Munshya

Brigadier General Godfrey Kenneth Miyanda has objected very strongly to this paragraph in my article of 20 September 2013 in the Daily Nation Newspaper. This same article is also published on www.eliasmunshya.org. This is what I wrote:

When Chiluba and his cohorts – Michael Sata and Miyanda to be exact – found great solace in the barbaric use of the Public Order Act, it is gallant judges who held that some sections of this law should be ruled as unconstitutional (see cases of Mulundika & Resident Doctors). Further, when Chiluba, Sata and Miyanda amended the 1996 constitution to exclude the likes of Kaunda based on the “parentage” clause; again our Supreme Court came back and provided a more sensible interpretation of what it meant to have Zambian parents (see Lewanika & Others v. Chiluba). It has been my position, following guidance from the Lewanika case, that even a Zambian like Guy Scott does satisfy the requirements of the “parentage clause”.

Specifically, General Miyanda has taken strong exception to my description of him as a “cohort” to Chiluba and Sata in the “barbaric use of the Public Order Act”. General Miyanda has also objected to my opinion that he with Chiluba and Sata “amended the 1996 constitution” to exclude the likes of Kaunda.

I had responded to his objections in my article entitled “When a General Cherry-Picks History”. In his response, Brigadier General Miyanda wasted no time to accuse me of all sorts of things. Additionally, he accused me of having an agenda to stigmatize him. Further General Miyanda cited me for forgery. One would then wonder where this stigmatization is based in my article as I only mentioned the trio’s political activities to this our country. Addressing the forgery I have been cited for, I still don’t know what he meant by that.

I do stand by what I had written in its entirety. Further, I wish to not respond any further to his insinuations. Indeed spending lots of time answering General Miyanda could take me away from the nobler task of adding our democratic visibility to those who currently serve in the “Donchi Kubeba” government. These individuals will soon join General Miyanda in the ranks of former this or former that. It is to these individuals like Guy Scott, Wynter Kabimba and even Bo Chilufya Sata that we must expend our energies in offering the needed political criticism. I do thank General Miyanda for his distinguished service to our people. He is a gallant soldier of democracy. But what I have written about his role during the Chiluba Era still remains my opinion and I would not for a second regret  authoring such.

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I do this with a clear and sincere hope that the greatness of our nation lies ahead of us. I also do believe that in this little way, we could help to bequeath to our children a better democracy and with that a better republic.

Follow the conversation on twitter: @munshyamunshya

….And Then General Miyanda Responds to “When A General Cherry-Picks History”

BRIGADIER GENERAL GODFREY MIYANDA’S RESPONSE TO MUNSHYA WA MUNSHYA’S ARTICLE TITLED ‘WHEN A GENERAL CHERRY-PICKS HISTORY: MY RESPONSE TO GODFREY KENNETH MIYANDA’

Munshya wa Munshya’s article titled “When A General Cherry-Picks History: My Response to Godfrey Kenneth Miyanda by Munshya wa Munshya” seems to be responding to my article titled “Objection to Munshya wa Munshya’s Personal Attack” published on page 6 of the Daily Nation on 28th September 2013. But on close examination I find that his article is a clever ruse for him to have a second bite at the cherry! This latest effort does not deserve an answer because it is a forgery but respond I must.

Munshya wa Munshya has forged his own statement of 20th September 2013 and supplanted it with fresh talk! I object and refuse to be an accessory to his laundering scheme. If I ‘aggregate’ my response I shall be perpetuating a never-ending debate. Instead I shall just expose the duplicity (deliberate deception) in his response. I shall do this by pointing out the forgery, then drawing attention to his unsubstantiated accusations and unsupported malicious “opinions” based on conjured up facts.

BACKGROUND OF MY COMPLAINT: In my article published in the Daily Nation (page 6 dated Saturday 28th September 2013) I based my complaint on Munshya wa Munshya’s article dated 20th September 2013, which I quote again: “a. ‘when Chiluba and his cohorts – Michael Sata and Miyanda TO BE EXACT- found solace in the barbaric use of the Public Order Act’; b. ‘further, when Chiluba, Sata and Miyanda amended the 1996 Constitution…’”. I used his own EXACT words to correct the record or ‘history’!

THE FORGERY: In his current article of 4th October 2013 Munshya wa Munshya has forged his own original article, adding what he had not written and basing his comments on the new cherries. The following are examples of new material:

(i) “Brigadier General Godfrey Kenneth Miyanda has objected to my characterization of him as a cohort to a group of politicians that I deemed to have been responsible for the ‘barbaric use of the Public Order Act in the 1990s’. I had said this in my Daily Nation column published on Friday 20 September 2013”: He has not just forged but has lied that he said this in his article of 20th September. By adding ‘a group of politicians’ and ‘deeming’ he has changed the meaning and imposed his own history!
(ii) “He (Miyanda) has also objected to my description of his role as a cohort to both Chiluba and Sata in the role the trio played in the 1996 constitutional amendments”: This is also a new addition that has changed the original exact wording.
(iii) “I did characterize General Miyanda as a significant player in the 1996 amendments”: this is also an addition and changes the original wording.
(iv) “I agree with him (Miyanda) that it is difficult to, in some instances, attribute actions of the State to any one individual”. : This is a fabrication and I deny that I said this for him to ‘agree’ with me.
(v) “In that article, I (Munshya) mentioned three most important and most senior leaders of the MMD and our country who spearheaded those amendments: Chiluba, Miyanda and Sata”: where did he say this in the original article? Nowhere!
(vi) “Today, it is Miyanda we are demanding answers from”: another forgery; nowhere did he ask me to answer any questions.
(vii) “…the General seems to be having a problem with the fact that I feature, in my column, ideas that he has previously promoted. Democracy is a repetition of ideas. Pluralism flourishes in the free exchange of similar if not identical thoughts. Both the General and me agree that Justice Chibesakunda ‘kuya bebele’. Miyanda should not fault me for this”: he is answering his own questions as I did not refer to his column and I did not fault him on his democracy crusade but on ignoring my own little contributions in national issues, which he has now done and for which I thank him.
(viii) “Challenging the story told by Brigadier General Godfrey Kenneth Miyanda is a legitimate practice in our democracy”: which story is this that he is challenging? I am not aware of this and I believe that even many readers do not know what he is referring to.
(ix) “At the centre of his (Miyanda’s) objection is the story or history he wants us to believe or to write”: really? Which history and what is he referring to?

Munshya wa Munshya has faulted me for “cherry-picking” history. But according to his own definition and I quote “History is a story or specifically, it is a collection of stories”. So why should I not pick a cherry from the collection? He wants to divert attention by generalising and ignoring the exact words he published. I reject the unsubstantiated insinuation that I suppressed or doctored evidence in my response. It is him who must be estopped from doctoring published statements. Had he written what he has now written I would have had no cause to object. I did not write any history but objected to the convenient misleading characterisation which he has left as a permanent record to be relied on by researchers at home and abroad. This is why I characterised him as careless and casual. See now who is cherry-picking!

Follow this history he has published, I quote him: “For avoidance of doubt, as at 2013, Sata has spent more time in government serving with Miyanda (1991-2001) than with Kabimba (2012-2013) or Guy Scott (1991-1995 & 2011-2013). This is a historical fact.”: Munshya wa Munshya’s historical facts are skewed; let him carry out further research and he will discover how long President Sata has been associated with Guy Scott and Winter Kabimba. His history is wrong yet he is imposing it on us. Further I have not been Mr Sata’s boss as he alleges.

ACCUSATIONS:

He has accused me of wanting to escape from responsibility. This is slander disguised as an opinion. It is him again who is imposing his own version of our history. I object and deny hiding behind collective responsibility. There is in the public domain, my very clear acceptance of the collective actions we took but for posterity I have a right and a duty to state or correct facts when this is necessary and/or legally possible.

OPINIONS (some of them): I have just been informed that Munshya wa Munshya is a lawyer – good for him. If so my humble advice is that he must base his opinions and assumptions on real facts and not those he makes up. Otherwise he will always go astray with his analyses.

If there is to be judgement let it NOT be a generalised one in 2023 but it should be now on Munshya was Munshya’s forged response of 4th October 2013!

GODFREY MIYANDA,
BRIGADIER GENERAL
[4TH OCTOBER 2013]

When A General Cherry-Picks History: My Response to Godfrey Kenneth Miyanda

Elias Munshya By Munshya wa Munshya

 If history were tomatoes, we could all easily amble towards Soweto Market find vendors and from a variety of that fruit choose which kind we want. If history were a presidential candidate, we could easily exercise our franchise and choose from two competing chronicles. Indeed, if history were a brand of soft drinks, we could turn to ZCBC and cherry-pick Tiptop over Tarino. Isn’t it a blessing that history is none of these? History is a story or more specifically, it is collection of stories. This is not to mean that we choose between competing stories, but rather that competing stories, together should be aggregated towards a more complete picture: a picture capturing time and emphasizing the role of our common humanity in it.

Brigadier General Godfrey Kenneth Miyanda has objected to my characterization of him as a cohort to a group of politicians that I deemed to have been responsible for the “barbaric use of the Public Order Act in the 1990s”. I had said this in my Daily Nation column published on Friday 20 September 2013. He has also objected to my description of his role as a cohort to both Chiluba and Sata in the role the trio played in the 1996 constitutional amendments. At the center of his objection, I think, is the story or history he wants us to believe and to write. He wants to cherry-pick the tomatoes of history. I do sympathize with his yearning to do so. In fact, it is his right to write or reformulate a story of his life that is based on his own exploration. But Miyanda should be estopped from imposing his version of history upon the opinions of our people and certainly not upon me.

General Miyanda’s story has been gallant. The name of Miyanda shall be forever etched on the consecrated stones of our jurisprudence. Beginning from employment law, to evidence law, and to constitutional law, the courts of our republic teem with Miyanda cases. The courts have formulated greatest doctrines in constitutional law from the very cases Miyanda brought against the State. In fact, every soldier in our national service is more secure in his or her employment as a result of one case in which Miyanda took President Kaunda to court for unfair dismissal.

However, a comprehensive picture of the history of our politicians should be balanced by criticism. I did characterize General Miyanda as a significant player in the 1996 amendments. I have no regrets, and certainly will not be apologizing for so writing. It seems to me that General Miyanda is eager to escape responsibility over the 1996 amendment by hiding behind the complexity of a modern administrative state. I do understand how complicated the modern state has become. I agree with him that it is difficult to, in some instances, attribute actions of the State to any one individual. But General Miyanda was not a small player in Chiluba’s administration. He was not an insignificant District Administrative Officer for Milenge. Miyanda was the vice-president of our republic.

In that article, I mentioned three most important and most senior leaders of the MMD and our country who spearheaded those amendments: Chiluba, Miyanda and Sata. I’m surprised, though, at how quickly Chiluba’s close collaborators want to delete themselves away from the Chiluba Era. In fact, when you look at Sata now, he seldom mentions Chiluba. Sata has named everything after Kaunda and Mwanawasa while conveniently disremembering the father of our democracy – Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba. If Chiluba has been made to own the success and failures of his regime, then we should equally have the freedom, and with it the fortitude, to ask Chiluba’s close colleagues to accept and own that piece of history as well.

General Miyanda has taken great exception to my use of the term “cohort”. I concede. I will now change the term from cohort to colleague. I am not too sure though how that changes the substance of my arguments.

Miyanda also objects to my characterization of him as a close associate of one Michael Chilufya Sata. In fact, the General mentions that his political life has been unlike that of Sata. For avoidance of doubt, as at 2013, Sata has spent more time in government serving with Miyanda (1991-2001) than with Kabimba (2012-2013) or Guy Scott (1991-1995 & 2011-2013). This is a historical fact. I do agree that a majority of our population is young and was born way after 1990, but this should not be reason to circumcise history based on current political realities. Miyanda was Sata’s boss in government for about 6 years and was Sata’s boss in the ruling party for years after that. Nothing in my assertions here should mean that the two gentlemen have the same political philosophy. Miyanda is in many cases far much more superior in both intellectual acumen and moral fortitude. All I am stating is that these two gentlemen served in a government, which made laws and policies that have significant consequences today. The fact that Miyanda and Sata have gone separate ways especially after the 2001 debacle cannot retroactively defeat a prior political intercourse. If we allowed 2013 to remake 1996, then we have become magicians but, certainly, not historians.

I must mention this to the current leaders who too will be former this or former that.

Know that each time you stand in the sacred space of our parliament you are writing a piece of your history and a piece of the story of our country. Our nation is becoming impatient with leaders who refuse to lead appropriately hoping to hide behind the veil of collective responsibility when the future demands accountability. Today, it is Miyanda we are demanding answers from. Tomorrow, it will be Guy Scott or Wynter Kabimba. Take the responsibility given to you by Zambians earnestly. If you do not believe in the actions of Michael Sata, say it now. The year 2023 might judge you more harshly than the way 2013 is judging Miyanda and his cohorts (oops, colleagues).

Miyanda then touches on the issue of where “Munshya was when I fought in the second republic”. Zambian politicians like to use this “where were you” tag to delegitimize critics. It is as if, they want to freeze 2013 in 1978. I was probably an infant when he was fighting Kaunda’s abuse of army employment law. However, a few years later, I was one of those little boys on the streets of Maikulile who would line up the pathways of Chiwempala to hear him and his colleagues campaign for the reintroduction of multi-party politics in 1991. I was a small boy – adorning the dust of our blessed soils with torn shorts. My little mind, nevertheless, captured the story of democracy for my country. I believed in democracy because, the stories Chiluba and Miyanda told were in sharp contrast to Kaunda’s tired “wamuyaya” narratives.

But the time has come for me to ask questions and to formulate a story on my own. That being the case, I should find it even more surprising, that the General seems to be having a problem with the fact that I feature, in my column, ideas that he has previously promoted. Democracy is a repetition of ideas. Pluralism flourishes in the free exchange of similar if not identical thoughts. Both the General and me agree that Justice Chibesakunda “kuya bebele”. Miyanda should not fault me for this!

Nevertheless, in order for us to create a better democracy we might need to recast the story of our democracy by reimagining the roles that champions played in this story. That re-imagination should begin by considering the forte and the flaws of some players in our democratic narrative. Challenging the story told by Brigadier General Godfrey Kenneth Miyanda is a legitimate practice in our democracy.