Monthly Archives: November 2013

Hakainde Hichilema, Luapula Province and the Politics of Tribal Perception

 Munshya wa Munshya

 It was certain that the Patriotic Front party was going to win the Mansa by-election. We all expected the PF to win. Luapula is their stronghold after all. And no doubt, the people of Mansa Central showed that they have not changed a bit in their unwavering support for the don’t kubeba party and its leader Michael Chilufya Sata. The fact that nearly 8 out of 10 voters went for PF cannot be dismissed lightly. What is significant though about the Mansa by-election is not necessarily its winners, but its losers and the meaning of their loss. The MMD is a compromised brand in Luapula. Come 2016, I have no hope that the MMD will even retain the Milenge parliamentary seat. Undoubtedly, the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) pulled a surprise to come out second in Mansa. This FDD performance is trifling and I am surprised at how president Nawakwi is overplaying this win.

Politics of Tribal Perception

Politics of Tribal Perception

The party that needs attention as far as Mansa, and beyond, is concerned is the United Party for National Development (UPND). This is due to its formidable growth outside Bemba-speaking regions and its serious position as a contender to the 2016 presidency. However, if there was any doubt that Luapula Province was impenetrable by the UPND, well the writing is now eloquently on the wall. The year 2016 would be a difficult for the UPND to infiltrate Luapula. In view of this, Hakainde Hichilema should alter his strategy. In this article, I wish to discuss some strategic moves HH could make in view of the Mansa loss.

Hakainde Hichilema should begin to do better in the way he manages the flawed tribal perception that dogs his UPND. It is sure that HH suffers from a serious perception problem that he and his party are tribal. However, once this perception is subjected to empirical test, one finds that it is indeed a falsehood that cannot stand scrutiny. With regard to regionalism and tribalism, the PF is more tribal and regional than the UPND. For his part, Bo Michael Sata is daily appointing his relatives and tribesmen into government positions at a rate unparalleled in the 50-year history of our republic. In spite of this reality, however, perceptions persist that it is the UPND, which is tribal. It is a notorious fact that both the UPND and the PF do have specific regional support that is unswerving. But since politics is a science of the management of public perceptions, Hakainde Hichilema should begin to invest in perception management. As a good pragmatic manager, HH has tried to fight the wrong tribal perception by countering it with facts. But facts are insufficient alone to ascertain political truth. Rumors are quite powerful in politics. Occasionally, HH uses facts to speak against PF tribalism. After the 2011 elections he is reported to have commented that a regional block voted for the PF. In reality, HH was right. But as a political move, it was obtuse and those that prey on Tonga tribalism quickly jumped on the bandwagon to condemn him as a vicious tribalist.

How then can HH manage to change this perception? It does seem that in so far as the tribal polemics and apologetics are concerned HH fights alone. Going forward, this must change. What he needs is to find influential Bemba-speaking politicians who can vouch for him. It is they who should be defending his impeccable credentials as a true Zambian patriot. For his part, HH has tried to diversify the tribal composition of the leadership of his party. However, the fact that he has not managed to attract some talkative Bemba politicians who can vouch for him has exposed him to continued irrational ridicule that he is in fact anti-Bemba.

HH’s strategic missteps can also be seen in the recent hiring of his top team. He engaged Mutale Nalumango as UPND chair. This is the same Nalumango who opposition leader Michael Sata and PF decampaigned in Kaputa on tribal basis. HH earlier poached Dr. Canissius Banda from the MMD to join him as UPND vice-president. I do not doubt HH’s political acumen. However, for any political observer, it would be difficult to tell what political value Dr. Banda has added to the UPND. At a time that HH is fighting anti-Bemba perception it was unusual that he could not instead poach a Bemba for a vice-president. If not for vice-president, HH could also try to find a Bemba speaking party spokesman. I believe such a move would help deal with the perceptions. This is by no means a magic bullet to solving HH’s perception problems, but it certainly would be a good move.

This then should bring me to the next point. The people of Luapula and Northern should have another look at HH. It seems that HH by far has the numbers currently to provide real challenge to Michael Sata’s PF. The people of Luapula and Northern might care to know that even without their support, HH stands on solid ground to win in 2016. That being the case, the Bemba-speaking regions will do well to see this and provide HH with the support he needs. So far, Hakainde Hichilema is doing very well in Western, Northwestern, Central, Southern and Copperbelt rural. With this support, all he needs is a slight urban revolt against the PF and he could win the presidency. The Bemba regions should as well know that the 2016 winds are blowing in Hakainde’s direction. The idea that the people of Luapula will continue to vote for PF due to tribe should be forever laid to rest.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

The Patriotic Front should be judged not so much by how much it is winning in Luapula, but by how much it is losing in the non-Bemba areas. As things stand now, the Barotse Province would be difficult for the PF to win. They have created lots of enemies there. In fact, their Mongu Central seat hangs in a balance. The PF cannot be guaranteed the urban vote too. There is just too much dissatisfaction among the urban population for the PF to pull another majority in town areas. With the MMD as a ruined brand, only the UPND stands to gain. These are some of the factors that are at the forefront of the winds blowing in HH’s favour. And only HH is able to manage this to his benefit. But the question is, will he? It seems like the so-called under-five politician still has more muscles to fight. And as such, let us wait and see.

An Attorney Goes Rogue: Why Mumba Malila Is Wrong To Challenge the Masebo Tribunal

 Munshya wa Munshya

William Harrington, a private citizen of Zambia wrote the Chief Justice of Zambia requesting that a tribunal be instituted to probe the activities of a cabinet minister. Hon. Sylvia Masebo is alleged to have committed some irregularities with regard to her role in personnel firing, board appointments and subsequent awarding of tenders in the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. Harrington petitioned the Chief Justice in keeping with the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct. At section 13 (1) the Code states that:

An allegation that a Member has breached Part II may be made to the Chief Justice by any person, in writing giving particulars of the breaches or breaches alleged, signed by the complainant and giving the complainant’s name and address.

What is so interesting about the facts of this case is how similar they are to a case, again brought by the same William Harrington (Harrington v. Siliya & Attorney General [2009]). In the Siliya case, Harrington had brought similar charges accusing Hon Dora Siliya of obtaining pecuniary advantage from her position as Minister of Transport and Communications. The Siliya case made its way up to the Supreme Court and its ratio decidendi must be relied on in this new case of Masebo.

With regard to Harrington v. Masebo, however, the Acting Chief Justice of Zambia, Lombe Chibesakunda neglected to constitute a tribunal. Among other reasons, she rationalized that she did not have sufficient information from Harrington. Harrington sought judicial review of Chibesakunda’s decision and Justice Sichinga of the Lusaka High Court ruled that under the Ministerial Code of Conduct the Chief Justice of Zambia should have constituted the tribunal.

When Harrington petitioned Justice Sichinga, Zambia’s Attorney General joined the proceedings, as expected. Mumba Malila was of the view that the Chief Justice was right in her decision to stall in appointing the tribunal. Obviously, Mumba Malila lost this case and Justice Sichinga sided with Harrington. Chibesakunda was going to appoint the tribunal.

Zambia’s Chief Justice, in so far as she functions within contemplation of the Ministerial Code of Conduct, is not functioning as a judicial officer but rather as an officer of the administrative state. And so with regard to her constituting of the tribunal she is subject to normal judicial review procedure. It is, therefore, not surprising that a judge, one court her junior, compelled her to appoint a tribunal. After Sichinga’s ruling, Chief Justice Chibesakunda complied with the court and appointed a tribunal to probe the conduct of Hon. Sylvia Masebo. However, before the tribunal could sit, Sylvia Masebo and the Attorney General applied to court to have this decision stayed as the Attorney General appeals to the Supreme Court.

What is at issue here is whether Zambia’s Attorney General can in fact appeal against a tribunal set-up to probe a political leader. In other words, is it legally right within our legal and political system of governance for Mumba Malila to appeal against the formation of a tribunal by the Chief Justice?

The goal of the Ministerial Code of Conduct is clearly laid down in statute. It is aimed at increasing political accountability of members of cabinet not only to the president but also to the people of Zambia directly. Section 3 (1) of the Ministerial Code of Conduct Act states that:

The provisions of this Part shall constitute part of the code of conduct for Members for the purposes of the Constitution, a breach of which results in the vacation of the seat of the Member concerned.

It is the people of Zambia who appoint and vote for politicians to lead in governing. However, it is within contemplation of both the constitution and statute that politicians will have to account personally for their official acts. It is in this vein, therefore, that the role of Harrington should be seen and interpreted. This being the case, the Attorney General of Zambia, should not appear to be impeding political accountability of ministers to the people of Zambia. Instead of impeding this accountability, the Attorney General should be enhancing it.

The law governing the role of the Attorney General in our democracy can be found in at least three sources: the common law, the constitution and statute. Constitutionally, the role of the Attorney General is espoused in Article 54 of the constitution. Statutorily, the role of the Attorney General can be found in various statues that bring his role under contemplation. The common law also has some specific judge made rules regarding the role of the Attorney General. A review of all these three sources reveals the following principles.

First, the AG is the principal legal advisor of the government. This means that she is the lawyer or counsel for the president and his government. Typically then, President Sata and his government ministers go to court under the cover of the Attorney General. The role of legal adviser is just that “adviser”. This does not mean that government cannot make decisions unless the AG endorses them. According to the impeccable reasoning of Justice Musonda in the Dora Siliya Tribunal case, while the AG is indeed a legal adviser to the government, a government minister is not under legal duty to accept the advise from the AG. Just like what happens in any solicitor to client relationship, a client can refuse to follow counsel. Having the AG as legal adviser to government does not mean that government should only function according to the advise of the Attorney General. The Supreme Court on appeal did not have problems with Musonda’s reasoning per se, they only took issues with his decision to delve into constitutional matters considering that the case at his bar was a judicial review application.

In our political government it is not laws that rule through people, but rather people that rule through laws. Laws are not the principal but people are. It is politicians we hold responsible for government and not laws. As such, Musonda was right. Government can be crippled if it has to wait for an AG to advise on each and every issue. In fact, Musonda went even further by suggesting that sometimes the duty of governance entails taking political decisions that are at variance with the current state of the law. Laws take a long time to change, and no government should be held to ransom due to the inflexibility of laws in so far as governance is concerned. Just as no courts of law can promulgate an injunction against the state, so can’t the advise of the AG bind the state. A politician who makes a decision, with or without advise from the AG is still personally and politically responsible for her decision. It is quite telling, that during the time of the Dora Siliya case, it was Mumba Malila who was AG. It does appear like he never learnt from this opinion. As adviser to government, Mumba Malila should not assume that he could block political accountability of government ministers.

Second, the AG is the general officer of the juristic public interest. This role goes beyond being a legal counsel to a sitting government. If the public interest were a person, the lawyer it would hire would be and should be the AG. In a general sense, the AG acts for this public interest. Public interest could include the AG intervening in certain criminal prosecutions due to the general nature of its impact on public interest. Public interest is widely interpreted. In fact, most courts would let the AG join in court proceedings quite liberally. The courts respect the role of the AG in this respect. I see that Malila could use this power to say that he is interfering in the Masebo case due to public interest matters. The problem in arguing this would betray the very nature of public interest which is on the side of personal accountability of ministers to the people of Zambia. If Malila cannot tell what is truly in public interest, then he should resign from this position and the taxpayers can be better served by a leader of the Zambian bar who understands what is truly at the heart of this public interest.

Third, the AG is the lawyer not only of the political government, but also of the administrative government. What this means is that the AG is legal counsel for the Zambian administrative state with all its tributaries. All state institutions covered under administrative law are within cover of the Attorney General. The administrative law includes statutory bodies, tribunals and commissions of the state. It is this limb that makes the Attorney General to be party to court cases involving the ECZ and bodies such as the Mutuna tribunal. Once an administrative act is done, it automatically assumes a legal defender: the Attorney General.

Specifically, the tribunal is funded directly by the taxpayer (s.15 of the Ministerial Code of Conduct). A taxpayer funded operation; the tribunal deserves legal representation from the foremost taxpayer legal counsel, the Attorney General.

Since a tribunal constituted by the administrative state should have the Attorney General as its lawyer, it becomes quite questionable that in the case of Sylvia Masebo tribunal, the Attorney General has decided to join proceedings against the tribunal. This is quite unusual. The major question to ask here is: who is the client of the AG between Masebo and the tribunal?

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Masebo cannot be client of the Attorney General because within the contemplation of the Ministerial Code of Conduct, a minister is personally responsible for his or her action. What Harrington is petitioning is that Masebo might have gotten pecuniary advantage from her position as minister. The Code is aimed at increasing personal accountability of government political leaders. If the Attorney General impedes this then personal accountability will be betrayed. Even if Masebo made decisions on advise of the AG in the first instance, once a tribunal has been instituted against her, the AG ceases to be her lawyer. She must find other lawyers to represent her. As it were, the tribunal is a government organ while Sylvia Masebo in so far as the tribunal is concerned does not function as a government organ. The tribunal is a political process of accountability of government ministers directly to the people. In fact, specifically the Code of Conduct brings a ministerial tribunal at par with Commission of Inquiry instituted under the Inquiries Act (Code of Conduct section 14 [10]). Therefore, there should no difference between a constitutional review commission and ministerial tribunal. They are both organs instituted by the State.

By insisting that he represent her or rather that he defends her, Malila has betrayed the Zambian people who are actually his clients. If Malila wants to be Masebo’s lawyer then the honourable thing he should do is to give up the taxpayers’ salary and go and become Masebo’s lawyer. The Zambian people have already hired Malila. He has a duty to defend both good and bad decisions made by the Zambian state. He has a duty to defend the tribunal even if it were irregularly constituted. In fact, he should be spending time trying to defend the tribunal rather than betraying it.

The principle here is not that Chibesakunda was right or wrong to constitute a tribunal. The issue is whose client will the tribunal be? And it is clear that the tribunal already has a lawyer: Mumba Malila. If Malila does not want that then he should resign. A new AG will meet him in court and defeat him viciously.

Note: This article is meant for academic and public interest comment. It is not intended to render specific legal advise. Those seeking legal advice should consult members of the Zambian Bar. (c)Munshya wa Munshya, 2013

Politics of Forgetfulness: President Sata’s Disremembrance of Frederick Chiluba

 Munshya wa Munshya

The Life & Times of Frederick Jacob Titus CHILUBA

Frederick Jacob Titus CHILUBA – 1943 to 2011

During the Memorial Day weekend, President Michael Chilufya Sata while laying wreaths on the World War I Memorial Cenotaph castigated both his Vice-President and Minister of Works over Chiluba’s tombstone. For some reason, Sata found it unacceptable that a place where the remains of Chiluba are buried could be in such a deplorable condition. In many ways, Sata is right. The PF government should take care of the memory of President Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba. However, at close inspection, we discover that Sata’s sudden interest in the sanitation of Chiluba’s tombstone comes with some questions that he himself must answer. Michael Sata’s ministers have neglected Chiluba’s resting place partly because Sata, himself, has chosen deliberately to disremember Chiluba. And the ministers have gotten a clue from Sata’s behaviour. As such, instead of blaming Mukanga and Scott over the legacy of Frederick Chiluba, Michael Sata should own this absurdity and for once decide to do the right thing. And here is the right thing: instead of incessantly berating his subordinates, Sata should lead the way. He should honor not only the tombstone but also the conscious memory of that short man who walked tall.

We are a people of memory. In fact, we become a nation by the memories we choose to share and cherish. The memory of those who lived among us and showed us the way, become an inspiration to the subsequent dreams of upcoming generations. Consequently, you can know the soul or direction of any nation not only by what it remembers but also by what it chooses to disremember. In many ways, Sata has done well to immortalize the memory of Levy Mwanawasa and Kenneth Kaunda. But it is quite absurd that this memory of the great has deliberately left out President Chiluba. Michael Sata’s decision to honour Mwanawasa’s legacy and neglect completely to do the same for Frederick Chiluba is itself quite strange. What is even more bizarre is that while little known characters such as Paul Mushindo are being memorialized by having universities named after them, Sata has decided to completely disremember Chiluba.

Politics of Forgetfulness

Politics of Forgetfulness

Chiluba should be remembered as a gallant fighter of democracy and human rights. At the time when Sata and his cohorts were busy eating at Kaunda’s table in the 1980s, it was Frederick Chiluba who held the forte. In spite of repeated temptation to eat from Kaunda’s banquet of corruption, Chiluba decided to be true and faithful to the workers of our nation. If democracy was to be reborn in our country, it had to take the courage and, sometimes, political recklessness of people like Chiluba who stood up to Kaunda and remained steadfast. Michael Sata should help Zambia to maintain this memory.

Chiluba’s memory should be kept alive because he also answered the call when the time came to topple Kaunda. It was in 1990. And for those with recollections, Chiluba at first instance resisted the call to lead the MMD. But after reflection, he answered the cry and was voted MMD president the next year. He managed to topple Kaunda because he was in many ways not one of Kaunda’s political puppets. By agreeing to lead “the hour”, he embedded his name in the sands of our national memory.

Chiluba should also be remembered and in fact he deserves our memory, because of the courageous and difficult decisions he made as president. He was a decisive leader. He loved his presidency. He never shied away from cameras and neither did he bury his head in the sand when it came to issues affecting the nation. The prosperity we are seeing today in our country is as a result of the vision and foundation Chiluba lay. The privatization of the national economy was a difficult decision he and his team made. But it was a correct decision. And today, Zambia is reaping the benefits of that courage and foresight. The only threat to that economic foundation right now is the all-over-the-map economic policy of the don’t kubeba government. By the time Sata is done with us, Zambia will have returned to those UNIP days when Kaunda controlled everything beginning from a cleaner at a primary school to the prime minister. Armed, not with pangas, but with the memory of those democratic forebears, it becomes incumbent upon all Zambians of good will to hold steadfastly our democratic affirmation.

Memory sometimes requires good age to keep up. And I understand that. However, there are some among us, who would want us to believe that Sata is deliberately forgetting Chiluba due to personal differences the two gentlemen had. It would be very sad if this were true. Sata should not hold the collective memory of our nation hostage, just because he had some personal scores to settle with Chiluba. The Zambian presidency, as a repository of national memory, should not be used to circumcise and mutilate the foreskin of our political history. I am glad, however, to note that the idea that Chiluba and Sata were bitter enemies does not just stand close scrutiny. For example, in his post-presidency, Chiluba spent more time as a member or sympathizer of PF than any other politician. He spent much of his post-presidency, from 2002 to 2008 openly supporting PF and opposition leader Michael Sata. Chiluba only changed his support back to MMD after the demise of Levy Mwanawasa in 2008. If Sata had a high profile supporter during his struggle for the presidency in the last decade, it was none other than Chiluba. This makes it even more ludicrous that Sata would be so quick to immortalize Makasa, Kaunda, and Kapwepwe and not tag anything after Chiluba.

Like all of us, Chiluba had flaws. But these are not so significant as to deserve this disremembrance. We saw pictures of Chiluba’s designer bombasa and shirts and as a nation we questioned how a champion of the poor and workers’ rights came to love bling bling so much. But none of all those should make us doubt the commitment and contribution of Chiluba to our national wellbeing. And requesting that Sata immortalize Chiluba is not asking too much. It is a quest to keep alive the memories of one of our nation’s colorful figures.

The London judgment was passed. And Chiluba was found liable to a tune of millions of dollars. But what is still surprising today is that none of that so called stolen cash has been found anywhere. Mwanawasa went to the London court because he told us that Chiluba had stashed stolen money overseas. Justice Smith issued his ruling and to-date, all that allegedly stolen money and assets have not been found. After failing to find the so-called stolen assets, Mwanawasa wanted to come back to Lusaka and grab Chiluba’s house in Kabulonga. If Chiluba had indeed stolen all those millions, where are they? I am not in anyway supposing that Chiluba did not steal, I am merely questioning this assumption and its use by critics to disremember the unassailable reality of the Chiluba Era.

Our nation is evolving everyday. And surely, in this evolution, it would be very sad to let Chiluba’s memory slip away. We must continue the ritual of memory. We must relive the sacrifices of the past through the immortalisation of those individuals that have come to symbolize us as one nation. If Sata cared so much about that graveyard, then he should also care that Chiluba’s legacy remain animated. As Chiluba himself put it: democracy is the challenge of change. But one thing that should not change is our resolve to preserve the memory of the great among us.

To the memory of Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba.

“Stupid Idiots”: Presidential Insults From Kenneth David Kaunda to Michael Chilufya Sata

 Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

“To insult or not to insult.” That has been the question we have had to contend with from our presidents since 1964. Zambia’s history with presidential foul language and insults is not new. We, in fact, started having presidential foul language as soon as our nation was born. In this article, I draw upon the history of the Zambian presidency to discuss the presidential use of insults from 1964 to the present “don’t kubeba” government. Each of the presidents is discussed in turn.

According to authors Rotberg, Gifford & Morris, Kenneth Kaunda started off as a kind, Christian gentleman in the run-up to independence. He was widely admired by friends and foes alike. Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe at independence had lots of praise for KK. Additionally, Princess Nakatindi Wina remarked in 1964 that KK was like the Prophet Moses sent by God to deliver Zambians out of “Egyptian bondage.”

However, with the growing opposition to his rule from within his party UNIP and from an array of Zambians—in the army and in the trade unions—KK started to change the tone of his language. In press conferences he became famous for calling his opponents, “stupid idiots”. He would also frequently call opponents “frightened little men.” By this, he was implying that only he was that courageous big man. Not to be outwitted by his past, Kaunda’s “stupid idiot” comment has made headlines again in 2013. He used the same insult to refer to some members of President Sata’s government. I think Sata’s cabinet is perhaps the most insulted cabinet since 1964. What is unusual, as we will see below, is the source of the insults. It is not necessarily ordinary people seemingly insulting this cabinet, but rather President Sata himself and his master Kenneth Kaunda.

I cannot recall any report of Dr. Frederick Chiluba insulting anybody. Ironically, when he faced the fiercest opposition bordering on insults, Chiluba would famously say: “infumu taituka bantu, abantu ebatuke imfumu.” This Bemba adage basically means that while the general population may have reasons to insult a leader, a leader should not insult his people. With this attitude, Chiluba avoided use of foul language. The only moment, that stands as the exception with regard to Chiluba was at his rally in 2001 in Kitwe when he was introducing presidential candidate Levy Mwanawasa. At that rally Chiluba famously used a Copperbelt street idiom “ujeni”. He then quickly added, “I am not insulting because I have not called any particular person or insulted any particular person”. He further mentioned that only “catile cobe” would qualify as an insult.

That being the case, President Chiluba, mostly, was not the type that used strong or bad language. Indeed, there was a lot that President Mwanawasa needed to learn from the way Chiluba handled opposition. President Sata could also learn a lot from the way Chiluba handled opposition. It is rather interesting to see the kind of letters Sata is signing off at State House. They are often in bad taste and honestly they are full of condescension, especially for one Hakainde Hichilema.

According to biographer Amos Malupenga, President Levy Mwanawasa was seen to have been a man of very sober manners. In 2005, at a rally in Southern Province when MMD National Secretary Katele Kalumba tried to intimate that Levy was a handsome man whom ladies could truly fall for. Levy was quick to correct Kalumba and remind the rally that he was a happily married man. When it comes to drinking, it is reported that he was not a habitual drinker. The only time he sipped some alcohol, after a long time, was when the Supreme Court ruled the presidential petition in his favor.

But even if he had so much going well for him, Mwanawasa could not dodge the accusation that he had insulted some Zambians. He became a victim of a serious allegation that he had insulted the Bemba speaking peoples while visiting Ndola. To the question of why most of the people he had been prosecuting were mostly Bemba speaking, he is reported to have said how much he hated corruption. He then added just how “stinking” corruption was. This set off serious political tsunami that could only be assuaged by appointing a Bemba as his Vice-President. And one of the first duties for Dr. Nevers Mumba was to go to the Bemba chiefs and calm the storms of the “stinking” insult. Undoubtedly, Michael Sata, while in opposition, condemned Mwanawasa’s insult and used this alleged insult to his political advantage.

After the 2006 elections, Mwanawasa had to find a replacement for Vice-President Augustine Festus Lupando Mwape. He needed to find a person who could bring some maturity and stability to the Vice-Presidency. This person, in Mwanawasa’s judgment, was going to be a retired 67-year-old farmer, Rupiah Banda. And maturity, I assume here, may include being a person of sober words and a mature tongue. That was not to be, however. Banda maintained his tongue only as long as Levy was living. And only as long as he stayed as Vice-President. But when Banda became president, insults and rumors of insults besieged him as well. His closest insulting focus became opposition leaders Michael Sata and Hakainde Hichilema. With youthful vigor and a moderate tempter HH responded tit-for-tat to each of Banda’s insults. HH sometimes called Banda, “sleepy”, and a “man of small brains”. For his part Sata and Banda’s major area of insult was about whom, between them, was more handsome than the other. It was as if the old men were now competing for a beauty pageant. In one of those insulting episodes, President Banda called opposition leader Michael Sata as, “cisilu ca zoona”. Sata reciprocated this affront very swiftly too.

After becoming Zambia’s fifth president, Michael Sata has his own share of accusations of using insulting language. And therein lies the difference. All the other presidents are perceived to have been insulting their political enemies. Kaunda’s “stupid idiots” comment was aimed to the troublesome UNIP rebels. Banda’s issue with both Hichilema and Sata was because the duo was opposition. But with Sata currently, however, he seems to be berating and in fact insulting his own allies. It is quite strange that he would tell his inferiors in Kitwe that “bushe mulicipuba imwe”? This was rather strong a language to use especially that he was using it against his own associates from the Patriotic Front party. President Sata’s reaction in Kitwe was in bad taste at most. It was completely uncalled for.

The Men of Words

The Men of Words

At a time that the Patriotic Front is facing serious violence and “pangamonium” it is quite telling that the president has chosen to concentrate his energy on the state of his house in Kitwe. The president in very limited circumstances uses that State Lodge in Kitwe. In fact, he has only been to Kitwe once or twice ever since he won the presidency. It is strange therefore, that he would be so worked up about renovations that should go on in that house. Even if he were indeed indignant, he could do so, without mixing it with utter disrespect and disdain for his juniors. If indeed Sata is a no nonsense guy, it would be much better for him to demonstrate that through the way he disciplines Wynter Kabimba or GBM. It is like Sata was trying to make up for his inefficiency in dealing with the pangamonium in Lusaka by creating pandemonium in Kitwe.

That being the case, I think we will have to contend with presidential insults for sometime to come. I just hope that while doing his own round of insults, President Sata will also spend some time to actually govern our country. Insulting opponents and ministers is not the best way to run a country like Zambia.

Beyond President Sata’s Tantrums: My Passion For Zambia’s Economic Future

 Munshya wa Munshya

When a leader lacks a clear vision of what he exactly wants to accomplish, he spends his energy chasing shadows. Without a clear articulated economic vision for Zambia, President Sata and his PF government will continue punching in the dark. In Zambia, our greatest problem is not KCM or companies like that. Our biggest problem, especially right now, is that a bunch that has no plans and certainly no vision for Zambian economic recovery is leading us. And when you have no vision, it shows. To say that this is a chimbwi no plan government is, in fact, an understatement. This is a government that rules through tantrums. To be more specific, Sata is ruling through frenzies and outbursts. Before the PF further destroys the economy of our country, we must provide some remedies in the hope that they will reform and quickly change their ways.

Finance Minister Chikwanda does not seem to know what he wants out of the Zambian economy. So he does not know what to do exactly to bring about the desired change. The only thing he seems to be doing better is to contract one kaloba after another. By the time the old man is done with us, our debt levels will be much higher than the pre-HIPC times. At this rate, we will be $10 Billion in debt by 2016. It seems that this lack of economic foresight does not even bother President Sata. It is daily becoming clearer that it is not economic competence that Sata is looking for, but rather a tribalistic consanguinity in his collaboration with this Minister of Finance. Chikwanda cannot compare to economic visionaries such as Magande or Musokotwane. I should agree with FDD, Chikwanda might do us good by peacefully resigning. One wonders though, what Chikwanda’s resignation could accomplish for us, knowing that the buck stops at His Excellency himself.

To put Zambia back to economic revival, we must first face the truth. The way we have been mining copper since 1964 is seriously problematic. It is unsustainable in the long run. Just a few days into office, it is Hon Chikwanda himself who lamented that the cost of production for copper is just too high for the mining companies. It seems that when he came into office, he suddenly realized just how expensive it was. However, instead of acting strategically about this, the PF government has taken no identifiable steps to cushion the impact that might ensue as a result of mechanization of the mining industry. KCM is arguing that it costs less to produce copper using machines than using people. Now this is the reality world-over. It is the reality that in our global economy, machines will begin overtaking humans in production efficiency. Instead of interacting with this inevitable reality, Sata has chosen to play the kind of populist demagoguery fit for Katondo Street and not Nkwazi House. A visionary government, therefore, should begin a process of retraining the workforce so that it could be ready for changes. But instead of being proactive, the PF government has resorted to being reactive. And certainly it is trying to patch where there is no wound.

An economy that completely depends upon copper is unsustainable in the long run. This is the trap that we face as a nation. It is time to move away from copper dependency to economic diversification. But how then can we diversify this economy? We should tap into the resources and opportunities provided by a global economy. We should open up our country to foreign investment in manufacturing and agriculture. And the greatest asset we should be leveraging is labour and the peace we enjoy. This also implies that we need a sane government that would not be just operating on impulse. It should be the duty of a president to be methodic and diplomatic when dealing with investment. There should be rules and some assurances that foreign investment will be protected in this country. A president should not just be waking-up one morning and begin threatening to grab ZANACO or KCM. A president should not use short-term political consideration to shortchange a broader and long-term economic vision. Zambia has only one product to sell, the product of consistency and peace. But if our way of resolving disputes were through tactics fit for the Stone Age then we would lag behind. China is where it is today, because in spite of its communism, you will never hear the Chinese government threatening to repossess American or European companies doing business in China. China has prospered because these foreign companies have found it economically stable to invest. If Zambia wants to emulate the Chinese growth then we must put a stop to this nabukila ku left governance.

The recent outbursts from President Sata concerning KCM are very concerning. Sata cannot make up through outbursts what he has failed to provide for through sound planning. If this government had a plan, KCM would be very easy to deal with and jobs would be protected. Sata is being paid all these huge salaries so that he can engage sanely with companies and find wise solutions to problems. Not through mountaintop ifishobo and imiponto.

This then should take us to the issue of economic priorities. The Sata government came up with a 10% charge on raw copper exports. This was absurd. When Chikwanda and his officials realized their mistake, they used SI-89 to reverse it. I think the reversal was in order. Since copper production is so expensive in Zambia, it is ridiculous to lump more charges on production. The idea that this was a good tax for Zambia makes populist sense but once evaluated closely, it has very little economic impact. The issue with mines in Zambia right now is not about how many pointless taxes you lump on these so-called raw materials. The problem is with how the final goods get sold and how you account for them. This government has no clue about how much copper production costs and equally has no clue about how much it is selling for in London. Unfortunately, the 10% tax would not resolve these problems.

May be the 10% was going to make sense if indeed we had the capacity to process all the copper in Zambia. Had President Sata been serious about raising the capacity to process copper in Zambia, he was going to be more intentional in promoting relevant infrastructure. Obviously, instead of building this strategic capacity, Sata is busy building expensive soccer stadia and the so-called universities all over the place. It shows the shallowness of his priorities.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

If he wanted to process the copper here in Zambia, why didn’t he then invest in a copper processing plant? In fact, except for the Chinese owned Chambishi plant, all other smelters on the Copperbelt are so dysfunctional that they are more famous for transmitting respiratory pollution than anything else. From Butondo to Nchanga chemicals from these plants are daily rioting the nostrils of innocents. And Sata does not care for a moment as long as his retirement house is being built. There is some good news out of this, however. The year 2016 is fast approaching. And in that year, we could at least start afresh and retire this so called A-Team, in national interest!

Fallen To Rise Again? Emmanuel Mwamba & His Future In Zambian Democracy

Munshya wa Munshya


Frederick Jacob Titus CHILUBA

From the instant that little known Emmanuel Mwamba was appointed President Frederick Chiluba’s personal assistant he became an instant sensation. The man would be seen defending and in many cases travailing for his boss. Chiluba had so much confidence in Mwamba that on several occasions, Chiluba deferred to Mwamba in many press appearances. Nothing should prepare a person for the growing burdens of leadership than serving a boss like Chiluba who was facing serious anguish from the barrage of prosecutions from the Mwanawasa government. Emmanuel Mwamba was ever in the company of Chiluba. He became a known staple at the magistrate’s court complex. In those instances when Chiluba was evacuated to South Africa for medical treatment, it was he by his side. In many ways, Chiluba’s problems became Emmanuel’s.

When in 2005, Chiluba became a sympathizer of the opposition Patriotic Front, Mwamba changed with him. In fact, with him in toll, Chiluba arrived at the Lusaka Airport from one of his many medical trips abroad and raised the fist in the air, in clear support of Sata. It all seemed certain that the 2001 dribbling had been laid aside. Chiluba and Sata had made up. And for the 2006 elections, Chiluba had made no qualms about whom he was going to back. Where Chiluba went, Emmanuel Mwamba would go also. Perhaps it was at this time, that the Patriotic Front party and Sata might have noticed the brilliance and loyalty of one Mwamba. It was only after Sata had won the 2011 elections that he would bring Emmanuel closer and appoint him Permanent Secretary.

It was this appointment Emmanuel had embraced with vigor. In Kasama, Emmanuel Mwamba hit the ground hard and started to work for his new boss, Michael Sata. If there were any doubts about where he stood, it was all settled. He was a supporter of the agenda of the PF government. He would use the name recognition and whatever little politics he learnt from the time he served Frederick Chiluba. Pressure was no problem: he had endured more difficult times serving an ever persecuted and prosecuted Chiluba. Before, he is finally fired; Emmanuel Mwamba would serve as Permanent Secretary in about 4 other ministries. But it is his last stint at the Information Ministry that raised issues. This stint exposed both his immaturity and lack of judgment. But it also exposed an opportunity for him. And for that he has been punished quite severely for it. But Emmanuel still has a lot going for him, and in many instances he could still rise again. The thing is, he has to learn from what went on and then he must quickly recast and redefine this disappointment in ways that help him and the nation he obviously loves.

Emmanuel made some mistakes at Information. Instead of deferring politics to his principal and superior, Mwansa Kapeya, Mwamba started to champion political battles that are beyond the scope of his duties. He made decisions that are for the most part absurd. A permanent secretary should never make these decisions. Realizing that there was corruption at the Ministry, Mwamba went on to expose it and in fact went ahead to report his predecessor to the investigative agencies. There is nothing wrong with the fight against corruption. In fact, I would support Mwamba anytime he wants to fight it. The problem with the approach he took is that without political support from his principal and indeed from President Sata, there was nothing much Mwamba could achieve. His passion became his snare. He had laid for himself a trap that was just waiting to clamp once it had caught its prey. And the prey was Emmanuel himself. Let Zambia make no mistake. The fight against corruption cannot be imitated in any factory from China. In fact, regardless of how many Permanent Secretaries we have, if Michael Sata is not committed to fighting corruption, there is nothing mere secretaries could do on a global scale. As evidenced this week, corruption in the PF runs very deep. It infects the browning grounds of State House down to the core of the very structures that have made this mammoth monster we now call the ruling party.

Mwamba then got involved in an unnecessary political battle between GBM and Wynter Kabimba. It should never be the duty of any civil servant to be involved in political battles in this manner. Kabimba, as a minister in the PF government, was a defacto superior and supervisor of Mwamba. It was very unwise for Mwamba to appear to publicly undermine Kabimba. In the Zambian system of governance, the civil service is supervised and is amenable to the policies of politicians. Civil servants should not grow brains to begin undermining politicians. Politicians play a very important role in our governance and this is the reason why we vote for them. And in fact, this is the reason why it is our responsibility to remove them through political means. A civil servant like Mwamba had no power to join political nemesis who wanted Wynter removed. Now make no mistake about it. Wynter needed to go. But this was the decision that was supposed to be taken by the people through political means such as the use of cadres to do peaceful protests. This was not going to be done in a boardroom of a Permanent Secretary under taxpayers’ funding. In Zambia ordinary citizens hire and fire politicians. And in this role, we require no direct and unambiguous help from civil servants.

It is not that Mwamba achieved nothing at Information Ministry. In fact he achieved a lot. Within weeks, the ministry was headed the right direction except for a few mishaps as explained above. But clearly, President Sata went into a tantrum on Monday and the rest is history. With a leader in State House who throws a party of tantrums like what the nation saw on Monday, Zambia has a long way to go. Sata has failed to govern. And when you fail to govern throwing tantrums becomes a setting you default to. Such behaviour is dishonorable to say the least. It seems like; Sata is his presidency’s worst enemy. And Emmanuel had to just face the blunt of an out control emotive presidential tantrums. Many mistakes Emmanuel made, but firing he did not deserve.

That being the case, Emmanuel is no more in the PF government. President Sata has bizarrely called it “retirement in national interest.” Having made these mistakes, Emmanuel can redeem himself yet again. He is a hardworking man and we have all seen that.

Mwamba must now reflect deeply, learn from mistakes and move on. Since it is politics he seems to be interested in, it is to politics he should go. For his part, Sata said he is ready to meet Mwamba in politics. And the UPND could be the best place to start from. Hichilema needs a person like Mwamba in his party. Mwamba is experienced, is young and can help deal with public relations adversity in the UPND. And of course should be added one quality: Mwamba is Bemba. A kind of chatty Bemba that Hichilema might need to further supplement the current UPND firebrand.

As we put it in Milenge, ica kukonka ulubilo, nobe ucikonke ulubilo. I am very sure this is not the last time we have heard of Mwamba. And I just hope that the next time he speaks; it will be for Hichilema and the growing political fortunes of the UPND.