Monthly Archives: January 2014

Building on Sand: Why President Michael Sata’s INDECO Will Flop

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

The people of Milenge say, Icikwanka bacimwena kumampalanya.” Looking at all the “amampalanya” I see no indication that the Industrial Development Company (INDECO) under the current regime will work. While the PF government is enriching its rhetoric with embellished words of utopian expansion; the foundation upon which parastatal companies are operating is shady. It is a tandem for corruption and theft. In order for Zambia to develop, we must go beyond the mere fluency of talk and do the actual shake up of the system.

There is no doubting that we are a nation of dreamers. We are a nation of hopes and of visions. We are a nation of the so-called “positive confessions”. We love to declare stuff. No day passes without the government announcing certain extraordinary measures and, with that, some grandiose promises. Since 1964, we have never lacked political pronouncements. Neither have we lacked partisan promises. And I think 50 years after independence we are tired of mere promises.

INDECO will flop - Munshya

INDECO will flop – Munshya

Our history is full of vowed economic reforms but incompatible and irrelevant action. What our governments have failed in true action, they have tried to make up with cheap talk. Their mouths have become bigger and huger than the resolve of their hands. Anybody can talk, but we need talk paired with clear action. And it is not just any action, but action truly aimed at breaking the patterns responsible for poverty. There comes a time when we must begin to question whether we must do something more than just “the say it and claim it” baloney. We must come to question the basis for our beliefs and interrogate the very foundations upon which we are seeking to build our nation. President Sata has announced that he will now revamp INDECO. He has provided for about K20, 000,000 to begin this process. Some of his ministers have claimed that this INDECO will “create up to a million jobs.” This is about 5 times the total of current government workforce in all the nine, or is it ten, provinces of Zambia.

I have read great analyses from both sides of the INDECO debate. Those supporting it claim that it is exactly what Zambia needs. Those who are against the establishment of this company have gone into figures to show just how ridiculous this idea is. I contribute to this debate. I do this not because of grandiose economic or accounting prowess. All I need to do to predict the performance of INDECO is just to look at the underlying system currently in place. Unless we resolve problems with our national system vis-à-vis parastatal companies, we will continue to repeat the same failures we have been so eloquently nursing since 1964.

President Sata can give INDECO a billion. But pumping a lot more money into INDECO does not necessarily mean that it will perform well. INDECO does not suffer from a money problem. It suffers from a systemic problem. That which is wrong with a system cannot be resolved by pumping in more money. A jackpot of millions of Kwachas cannot suddenly cure a system that is rotten by corruption and nepotism. If Sata really wants to make a difference in the industrialization of our nation, he must begin by questioning and undermining systemic deficiencies characteristic of the parastatal system. There is no shortcut.

INDECO will fail because it joins the same parastatal system and processes currently operating in Zambia. It joins the same culture of theft of corruption that came with initial parastatals of 1972. That which joins a culture of corruption will eventually itself become a part of that culture of corruption. You cannot ferment INDECO in a brewery of corruption and expect to draw from it a wellspring of fresh wine. All parastatal companies right now, are irregularly awarding contracts to ruling party loyalists. And without any systemic reform assuring us that INDECO will be any different, it is bound to fail.

Recently, a Patriotic Front sponsored newspaper reported that one of the ruling party stalwarts had 21 companies directly doing business with the Government of the Republic of Zambia. These allegations have not been proven in any court. However, if this is true, it should be worrying to anyone. Sata’s establishment of INDECO does not come with any assurance that he will make INDECO do business any differently. The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) recently confirmed that a company belonging to one of President Sata’s associates had for 2 years been engaged, without contract, to provide transportation services to FRA. Will this abuse be stopped with the establishment of INDECO? Unless a system changes, INDECO will end up awarding such dubious contracts to political sycophants.

He who is unfaithful with little will certainly be unfaithful with much. If GRZ cannot run NCZ in Kafue it is likely to fail to run INDECO in Mufulira or anywhere else. President Sata and his cabinet should have proved themselves by handling smaller companies such as NCZ before they suddenly get the enlightenment to try and do a bigger styled industrial development company. In spite of having a facility that could produce enough fertilizer for all farmers in Zambia, NCZ does not operate up to capacity because of political interference and government inefficiency. This company would be able to do well had it not been for politicians’ interference in its management and business operations. Looking at how NCZ has performed, I make a prediction that Sata’s new INDECO will face the same fate.

Zambia does not lack good managers. We do not lack educated executives or bureaucrats. What we lack are managers who can run these parastatal companies without political interference. For example, as soon as the PF government grabbed Zambia Railways from the South Africans, President Sata personally appointed a chief exective for ZRL. The position was never advertised. The outcome of that appointment has led us to court. Prof E. Clive Chirwa is today facing serious allegations of theft and corruption. Political interference, in the way parastatals operate, present prospects for inefficiency and mismanagement. I am not here suggesting that Prof Chirwa has stolen. I make no finding as to the veracity of the criminal allegations he faces. I leave it up to the learned judges. I make a discovery, however, that what Prof Chirwa is going through right now is symptomatic of a failed parastatal system debilitated by political intrusion. Based on how GRZ has run ZRL I predict that INDECO’s future is bleak.

Zambia’s worst brain drain is not necessarily what has happened to those that have left for work overseas. The greatest brain drain happens to skilled Zambians, in Zambia, once they acquire political power or when politicians appoint them. Suddenly, political paternalism dims these brightest among us. As such, with good corporate governance and a board that is at arms length from politicians, I have no doubt that INDECO might have a chance of survival. It is sad though that already ruling party loyalists are lining themselves up for management positions and, of course, for those lucrative contracts to “supply services”.

National patriotism should not be measured by how much anyone of us agrees with whimsical pronouncements of government. Regardless of how grandiose these pronouncements are. As a patriot of our nation, I call upon this government to lead the way, not by pumping money into INDECO but by first changing the culture and foundation upon which all parastatals operate. That is the only way by which we can build a great future for Zambia.

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

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

Zambia should change laws that unfairly disadvantage women - Munshya

Zambia should change laws that unfairly disadvantage women – Munshya

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

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

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

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

Ms. Kay Figo

Ms. Kay Figo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking in Tongues: The Absurdity of President Sata’s “Local Languages” Policy

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), MA, MDiv.

English and Pan-Africanism

When a president has no agenda, she finds solace in promoting myopic nationalisms devoid of real sense. When a government has no tangible plan for development, it begins to couch useless pan-Africanist ideals that have no practical value.  Nothing demonstrates this recklessness better than the recent decision of the Michael Sata government to introduce vernacular languages as the sole media of instruction in lower primary school. According to the Hon. Kabimba, government introduced this policy so that Zambia can truly be free from the foreign language of English. The Permanent Secretary in the ministry responsible for education is couching this new policy as “the necessary revision to the educational curriculum.” At close inspection, however, we find this new policy is nothing other than a noisome invention that lacks any proper objectives. It is a “cimbwi no plan” initiative. In fact, it defies logic so much that it should not even be implemented further. It is a white elephant. Using Father Bwalya’s mother tongue– it is a cumbu munshololwa policy.

If it aint broken, don’t fix it

Why fix what is not broken?

“The idea that Zambia has seven local languages is perhaps the greatest fabrication to have ever come from the Kenneth Kaunda dictatorship” – E. Munshya

By introducing this policy, the PF government is labouring under a very mistaken assumption that teachers in Grade 1 to Grade 4 do not currently use local languages to teach. There is a saying that, “if it aint broken, don’t fix it.” Teachers in Zambia do, in fact, use local languages to teach. They combine both English and a local language. And herein lies the difference. The local languages that teachers use to communicate to Grade 1 pupils are the local language spoken in the respective areas. As such, teachers in Milenge do use Ushi and local Ushi expressions to illuminate addition, subtraction and multiplication. Teachers in Mongu also do use the local language to supplement English as the medium of instruction. However, all of this will change, if Lusaka imposes upon the teachers a policy to teach in one of the seven languages, which would be mostly foreign to the children. The key is not to impose languages from Lusaka. This PF government should leave teachers alone to teach in English as well as the local languages and systems of thought applicable within a particular context. Indeed, it would be absurd to teach Grade Ones in Chiwempala using a form of Bemba, which is not used by the children of Chiwempala. The Bemba spoken in Chinsali is different from the Bemba spoken in Chiwempala. Imposing Chinsali Bemba language on Chabanyama Primary School would not achieve any practical educational objective for children.

Deconstructing “Local Languages”

English is a Zambian language. It is senseless to fight it - E. Munshya

English is a Zambian language. It is senseless to fight it – E. Munshya

The government is saying that they have revised the curriculum in such a way that the pupils will now be taught in the “local languages”. This is absurd. In order for this reasoning to stand, we must first deconstruct what is meant by “local language”. The idea that Zambia has seven local languages is perhaps the greatest fabrication to have ever come from the Kenneth Kaunda dictatorship. Zambia does not have seven local languages. In fact, the seven local languages are not in any logical way expressive of the language status of the Zambian majority. Kaunda picked on the seven languages in an arbitrary manner and imposed them on us. Could Kaunda explain the reason why he chose to include Luvale among the languages of broadcast when in fact we have more Mambwe/Namwanga speakers in Zambia than the Luvale speakers? Additionally, how did KK make the decision to impose the Bemba language upon some people in the north whose heart language is in fact, not Bemba? This is why the decision by the PF government to recognise these seven languages as the de-facto representation of the Zambian languages is very problematic. It is not based on reality. It is a fantasy.

Is English a Foreign Language?

This then should bring us to an important issue, the idea that English is a foreign language. This reasoning is basically nonsense. Some of our citizens have spoken English more than they have spoken any of the so-called local languages. This then means that English is not foreign to them any more than a so-called local language is foreign. Some children in Mongu know English far much better than they can ever know the Bemba spoken in Mansa or Mpika. As such, to rant that English is more foreign than Bemba is just ridiculous. Africa needs to be delivered from the idea that to develop like a Whiteman we must reject everything that came with a Whiteman. The fact that English came with the British conquest should not in any way mean that for Zambia to be truly free it must reject English. If that were the case, then we would all be asking Mwata Kazembe to reject the Bemba language he adopted when he conquered the Luapula Valley. Or should the Chikunda reject Nguni languages because they were imposed on them after the Ngoni conquest? English is now an African language. It has become a Zambian language. We are not achieving anything by demonizing it. Africa needs to embrace this language and use it for development and ease of communication. It is too expensive and unnecessary to fight the English language. What good is it to try and invent an Ushi term for electrons and atoms when English terms are readily available?

Mobutuism & its futility

I must digress here a little bit. It is amazing how oblivious African leaders go into irrational Africanisms when they have no clear path for local development. When Zaire’s lunatic President Mobutu banned “foreign” names, he changed his name from the foreign name of “Joseph” to the African name of “Seseseko Ku kungbendu wa zabanga.” All Zaireans were banned from using English or French names. They had to adopt African names. Not even Bible names were allowed. Mobutu’s new African name could be translated as “the ever powerful warrior who wins battles while leaving fire in his wake”. This is the name Mobutu claimed was more “African” than the biblical name “Joseph”. It did not matter to Mobutu that in fact, Joseph was an African Prime Minister according to the Bible. It did not matter to Mobutu that “kuku ngbendu wa zabanga” was just a cover for corruption, patronage and theft. And in keeping with his so-called African name, Wa Zabanga became one of the most corrupt leaders of Zaire, “leaving fire in his wake”. The idea that African leaders should destroy all symbols of colonialism sounds very good and attractive, but deeply in it is buried hypocrisy and irrationality. It is this overarching philosophy I see in the don’t kubeba cumbu munshololwa government’s justification of using so called “local languages” in Grades 1 to 4.

Local languages are still relevant, but…

By saying what I have stated above, I do not in any way mean that local languages are irrelevant. Local languages are important and they are still relevant. I would pay any price to have my three children learn to speak and communicate in both Ushi and Lozi. My children are both Ushi and Lozi. They symbolize the true Zambian spirit, a multi-cultural and multi-tribal Zambia. But in doing so, I need no help from Kabimba or Sata whose objective is not to value African tradition, but to perpetuate language expansionism based on the superiority of the manufactured seven languages. If the PF truly wanted to value traditions, why don’t they let the traditional authorities choose their own Chitimukulu? You cannot claim to value tradition in one breath and in the next send armies to shoot at Sosala who has been selected by his own traditionalists. Before the PF even begins to trouble young children with a confused language policy, why don’t they begin a true language revolution by passing a law in parliament making Bemba or Tonga official language of record?

Bashing English in English?

What is even more absurd out of all this is that Kabimba and Phiri announced the language policy, not in their local language, but in English. So they were bashing the use of the English by using the English language. The Education permanent secretary was also talking about this change of the curriculum not in any local language, but in English. This is not surprising though. Ngungi Wa Thiongo is one of those great African scholars who also bash the English language while using the very English language.

Teachers already use local languages to teach children. It is not necessary to restrict them by imposing upon them Kaunda’s seven languages: One Zambia, many languages. And English is one of them.

(c) E. Munshya 2014. A copy of this article was published in the Friday edition of Zambia’s leading independent newspaper, The Zambia Daily Nation (17 January 2014). I have a column every friday called “Munshya wa Munshya on Friday.”

Zambia’s New Draft Constitution

Please find attached Zambia’s new draft constitution. This is the Silungwe constitution draft.

CONSTITUTION-OF-ZAMBIA-TECHNICAL-COMMITTEE-AUGUST-2013-3

400px-Coat_of_Arms_of_Zambia

 

DISCLAIMER: This website makes no representation whatsoever as to the accuracy of this document.

One Zambia One Kandolo: Mwanawasa, Cabbages and the Politics of Insults

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), MA, MDiv.

One Zambia, One Kandolo

One Zambia, One Kandolo – Munshya

President Levy Mwanawasa (Zambian President from 2002 to 2008) was a controversial figure. Without doubt he has gone into history as one of the most contentious presidents. Several things about Mwanawasa are contentious. Just how he was called from political retirement to become Chiluba’s preferred MMD presidential candidate ruffled a lot of feathers within the MMD in 2001. Legend has it that Mwanawasa was actually woken up from sleep to go and accept his candidacy at an MMD meeting at State House. Without effort, Levy would be king. Chiluba had famously dribbled several people in the MMD to push the Mwanawasa candidacy through. Ironically, one of those dribbled candidates was a potent MMD Secretary known as Michael Chilufya Sata. Ten years later, this MMD strongman is now president of the republic. For some reason, he has decided to dissociate himself from the MMD he served and led. But we will leave that mboholi for another day.

Mwanawasa also proved to be contentious by the way he won the 2001 elections. Held during the December holiday season, the 2001 elections were contested by a record eleven candidates including Michael Sata, Nevers Mumba and Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika. What made the 2001 electoral result even more bizarre was how Mwanawasa beat Anderson Mazoka, by a single percentage point. Some political observers claim that Mwanawasa’s victory was stolen right from Mazoka’s nose. We, of course, do not have any evidence for all these allegations. For their part, the Supreme Court exonerated Mwanawasa from any electoral malpractice in the 2001 electoral petition.

Mwanawasa was also controversial in the way he chose to prosecute and with it persecute his own benefactor President Chiluba and his close collaborators. There was no one who escaped Mwanawasa’s wrath. Beginning from Chiluba’s political collaborators such as Michael Sata to civil servants such as State House senior staff, Mwanawasa made sure that they all faced police cells. Sata’s alleged crime was theft of a motor vehicle. This was a non-bailable crime at that time. For Chiluba himself, it was theft of about half a million dollars. Had Mwanawasa had the way, he would have probably locked up some people for being like kandolo.

With all these controversies, however, there is something for which we should all commend Mwanawasa. The way he handled, perhaps, the most vicious of insults any person can ever face: his mental wellbeing. Shortly after the 1991 elections, Mwanawasa was involved in a very nasty accident where he almost died. He was hospitalized in South Africa for many months. His own recovery was nothing short of a miracle. According to biographer Amos Malupenga, some of Mwanawasa’s closest associates and even Levy himself did link this accident with his short-temperedness and slurred speech. In his own home, Mwanawasa had a nickname: the tiger. His children and his wife learnt over the years how to handle his temper.

The most vicious of insults, however, concerned the idea that Mwanawasa was a cabbage. The term cabbage meant that Levy had basically been so affected by the 1991 accident as to leave him without normal human faculties. He had basically become a vegetable – a cabbage. The idea that Levy was a useless cabbage became the punchline for opposition Zambian leaders. In one of the many protests against Mwanawasa, protesters would be seen hoisting cabbages in the air, sending a clear insult to Levy that he was but a vegetable. In fact, opposition leaders Edith Nawakwi and Dipak Patel even faced a brief prosecution over the “cabbage” remarks. No doubt, calling Levy Mwanawasa a cabbage was an insult. And as such, the law that proscribes presidential defamation covered it.

The way Mwanawasa handled this cabbage episode, however, teaches us a few lessons in leadership and indeed in the way leaders should handle insults. Before political leaders resort to using the courts or the police to resolve issues of insults, it would be better for them to have recourse to some specific tools that could counteract those insults. Mwanawasa had a choice. He could have started to arrest all the people who called him a cabbage. He could have banned cabbages too. Additionally, he could have sent soldiers to arrest UNZA students who frequently hoisted cabbages when protesting. Instead of reacting in retribution, this is how Mwanawasa handled the insult. He simply rebutted it by claiming quite famously that:

“I am not a cabbage, I am a piece of steak”.

With these few but powerful words, Mwanawasa added hilarity to a very difficult insult. He knew that he could not fight all the people calling him a cabbage. It would be difficult to do a tit-for-tat with everyone bent on annoying him. And he realized that he had a choice in the matter. And that choice was humor. When you react to insult with humour you pre-empt the enemy’s venom. From Mwanawasa we learn that even a cabbage can survive the Cobra’s venom by using laughter. From Mwanawasa we learn that while a cobra’s venom cannot hurt a cabbage, humour can transform a cobra into a potato. It may take a few years, but certainly the time always comes when a cobra suddenly becomes a sweet potato. And it appears in all probability that going by what BBC and AP had reported on Tuesday, there was a serious issue of “Kachamba” happening in Kasama this week.

"I am not a cabbage, I'm a piece of steak" - Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

“I am not a cabbage, I’m a piece of steak” – Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

There is a saying in Bemba, which states that “imfumu taituka bantu, abantu ebatuka imfumu”. This can be loosely translated: a leader should be able to tolerate insults from those he is leading. This wit was widely used by President Chiluba (1991-2001) to divert criticism and insults from various political opponents. President Levy Mwanawasa also used the same wisdom to tolerate the deplorable insults coming from various opposition leaders. The pain of being likened to a cabbage was what people in the nation could do against Mwanawasa, but he knew that he had to react better since he was president of the republic. Tolerance is important for several reasons.

First, it helps a leader to focus on providing leadership instead of focusing on useless and unproductive battles. A leader has a lot issues weighing heavily on her. These things include umutengo wa bunga, a people driven constitution and lack of nurses at UTH. And so to give due attention to these worthy causes, it is necessary that a leader be not moved by petty and senseless squabbles. Second, tolerance is important because it helps to foster an atmosphere of democratic liberty. Zambians should have the liberty to both state and miss-state Lozi language sayings such as Ngulu Musholi, a deliberate adulteration of a Bemba saying Chumbu Munshololwa. Indeed, after Bembas have been robed of the opportunity to choose their own Sosala as Chief Chitimukulu, no one should limit their liberty to use their expression connected to Kandolo.

Chumbu Munshololwa

Chumbu Munshololwa

If we are to learn anything from Mwanawasa, it is the way he handled this cabbage insult. I just hope that from him we can all learn to be more tolerant and allow Chingovwa to be what it is: a good delicacy that does not bend. But if it were Mwanawasa we called Mboholi, he was going to tell us in no uncertain terms, “I am not Chimbwali, I am a piece of steak”. And it is this humour that Zambia lacks today: One Zambia, One Kandolo.

People and Events That Will Shape Zambia’s 2014

By E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), MA, MDiv.

The New Year is finally here. We should all be relieved that the year 2013 has come to an end. Each New Year brings to us a fresh perspective on life. And for Zambia, we all should expect a renewed look at what would make our nation better and greater. The shape of any nation is continually fashioned by people and events. In this New Year 2014 there are several events and people I see shaping the way the fabric of our nation shall unfold.

The Year of GBM 

Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) is likely to affect the political field more than any other person this year. GBM’s high profile end-of-year resignation from President Sata’s cabinet has created some perception that he is a courageous politician. In this fresh perception, it does not matter that GBM’s resignation might have been caused by his loss of influence within the PF (Team A v Team B). All that seem to matter to his supporters is that he has shown some courage by quitting and standing up to his former boss. GBM will do well to leverage this momentum. It therefore matters how he will handle himself especially in the coming few weeks.

GBM will shape Zambia's political landscape in 2014

GBM will shape Zambia’s political landscape in 2014

To benefit from this momentum, GBM could choose to launch a political party of his own. But that would be a serious mistake. Launching a new party would only go to crowd an already over-bloated opposition scene. What he needs to do is to be more calculating. The two choices that come to mind are either the MMD or the UPND. Going to MMD has some risk involved. The MMD is a compromised brand. Having another powerful Bemba in MMD, after Nevers Mumba, would prove problematic for GBM. The most formidable step GBM can take is to collaborate with the UPND. This choice would almost certainly be mutually beneficial for both GBM and Hakainde Hichilema. Such a move would make the UPND strong enough to be a serious contender to power in 2016. If GBM were to join the UPND, he could become its Vice-President. In this arrangement, the goal is not to get the Bemba vote to UPND, but to bring the urban vote gravitas to the UPND. As it stands now, GBM cannot dislodge the PF’s stronghold in Bemba-speaking areas in the Luapula-Muchinga corridor. But most certainly, GBM does have the aura in the urban areas to dissuade Lusaka and Copperbelt from continuing with the PF.

In 2014, the political front is not likely to bring any surprises. In the seats that have been nullified, we expect the PF to win in its traditional areas and the opposition to win in their respective areas. It is quite unlikely that the PF will perform well in these by-elections. The MMD is likely to lose some seats to the UPND especially in areas such as Northwestern Province and Barotseland. As far as the Eastern Province is concerned, Nevers Mumba’s MMD is likely to win all the by-elections held there.

The Year of Justice Chibesakunda & Chikopa

Munshya wa Munshya

“2014 – Will be a significant year for Zambia” – Elias Munshya

The Supreme Court will be determining important cases this year. One case that is likely to return to the bench is the Mutuna case, which is being handled by Ndola High Court Judge Siavwapa. I have named this case Mutuna II to differentiate it from the first Mutuna case, which the Supreme Court has already dealt with. What is unusual with Mutuna II is that Judge Siavwapa has maintained that what Mutuna and others are looking for in Mutuna II is quite different from what they wanted in Mutuna I. By distinguishing issues, Siavwapa does seem to have rejected the idea that he is bound by the stare decisis in Mutuna I. We should all closely watch this court case. It will be one of the most significant cases of the year. The fact that this Mutuna II case has stayed the Chikopa Tribunal is also significant. It is quite interesting that 2 years after Chikopa, this tribunal is yet to begin sitting.

The Supreme Court is also likely to hear the case against Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda. In this case, the Law Association of Zambia is challenging Chibesakunda’s occupation of office of Chief Justice. This case is likely to divide the court and in turn is likely to divide the members of the Zambian bar themselves. With about thirty lawyers involved in this court case, it will be one of the greatest cases in the nation’s history. In view of this, Justice Chibesakunda could decide to resign before the hearing. She could also decide to stay and fight it out. If she stays to fight it out, the fights might themselves create a perception among citizens that the judiciary is alienated. For an already mistrusted court, this is the last thing they would want associated with them.

Year of Nullifications

Nullifications of parliamentary seats are likely to continue this year. I do not think that the Supreme Court is nullifying these seats due to some ulterior motive. But I think there is fundamental misinterpretation of the law on the judges’ part. It seems like all the judges do seem to be following a clear pattern. They find an irregularity and this irregularity leads to automatic nullification. This has been the case in almost each of the cases heard by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court does seem to misunderstand the real purpose behind electoral laws. And this is a common misconception that any court can make. In my opinion, for a seat to be nullified at least three questions should be answered in the affirmative.

First, was there a malpractice or electoral irregularity? The second question should be; “was the malpractice or the irregularity so grave as to affect the electoral outcome”? The third question should be, taking into account public policy and interest should the election be nullified? Answering all these in the affirmative should lead to nullification.

It would be a serious mistake if any malpractice or irregularity will automatically lead to nullification, as is the case now. Again, I think the Supreme Court judges have done a great disservice to the nation in the way they continue to interpret and implement the Electoral Act. That being the case, I do not think that they are nullifying seats due to some hidden conspiracy.

The Year of More Kaloba

In terms of economics, things are not looking very bright. If the don’t kubeba government continues along this path, Zambia is likely to continue on its path of accumulating kaloba at unprecedented levels. This year is likely to be the year of more kaloba. Finance Minister Chikwanda’s last act of the last year was to sign a 20-year kaloba in millions of dollars with the Chinese. It is not good for our country to accumulate pre-HIPC debt loads. It is unacceptable. The thing is, Chikwanda’s coffers are dry and in order for him to deliver the so many extreme promises the PF have made he has to resort to borrowing.

50 Years Jubilee

Zambia will be 50 years old this year. This calls for celebration. However, the true celebration should be with the way President Sata decides to rule the nation. He must backtrack on debts. He must also improve his human rights record. At 50, the police should not be detaining people simply for possessing Vermox. Several journalists will be in court in a few days time. They are facing charges connected to their work. In this year, we should all apply the necessary pressure upon government to desist from abrogating press freedom.

Kenneth Kaunda Will be 90!

On a good note, this year Kenneth David Kaunda will be turning 90. And at this age, Kenneth Kaunda will be one of those that will shape Zambia in 2014. It will matter how Kaunda celebrates his 90 years. I just hope that he will not spend it as a partisan demagogue, but as a true compatriot of the people of Zambia. Kaunda belongs to all Zambians. He does not belong to the PF alone and the sooner he realizes that, the better.

Happy New Year Zambia.