Monthly Archives: October 2014

There’s a lot more to Zambia’s new president than his whiteness

There’s a lot more to Zambia’s Guy Lindsay Scott

Answering Misheck Shulumanda on the question of Guy Scott and treason

A gentleman by the name of Micheck Shulumanda has asked a few questions over the propriety of Guy Scott acting as president. He is challenging the use of Article 38 instead of Article 39 when deciding who should act as president. I wish to provide some answers.

  1. If the President appointed Minister of Defense and Justice, and PF Secretary General Hon Edgar Lungu to act under Article 39 (1), on what basis did the Attorney General advice Cabinet that Dr. Guy Scott is the rightful person to Act?

Article 39 operates when a President is alive. Article 38 operates when a President is “dead” and there is a vacancy in the presidency. The death of Michael Chilufya Sata triggered the operation of Article 38 as a vacancy due to death arose.

  1. Why did the Attorney General only rely on Article 38 which deals with vacancy in the office of the Presidency without addressing himself to Article 39 (1) under which Hon. Lungu should have been appointed since the President left the country for medical purposes?

There was no need to address himself to Article 39 because President Sata died. When a President dies, a vacancy in the presidency is declared and that triggers sections of the constitution that deals with a “vacancy”. One such section is Article 38.

  1. Why is it that President Sata never allowed Vice President Guy Scott to act as President if not for the reasons that he was incapable to perform functions of the office of President? Why should he act now that he is dead?

I do not know why President Sata never allowed Scott to act. Guy Scott can act now that President Sata is dead, because as you have said it, he is dead. President Sata and his actions or inactions are never a source of constitutional law in Zambia. The source of Zambia’s constitutional law are as follows: (1) the text of the constitution, (2) the judgements from the Supreme Court and the High Court, (3) unwritten conventions from our English Common law heritage, (4) Acts of parliament. His Excellency President Michael Sata or any president are not a source of Zambia’s constitutional law. Guy Scott is acting now, because there is a vacancy in the presidency on account of the death of an incumbent.

  1. Was President Sata on the wrong side of the law when he asked others to act even when the Vice President was verily available in the country?

This question has no relevance to the matter at hand. The question is not about whether Sata was right or wrong, but rather what should happen in the event that there is a vacancy in the presidency. According to our constitution, the repository of Executive power in the event of a vacancy in Zambia is the Vice-President.

So has, Attorney General Musa Mwenye committed treason? Not a bit.

The Cobra Who Charmed a Nation: The Life and Times of Michael Chilufya Sata

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

President Sata with President Kenneth Kaunda

President Sata with President Kenneth Kaunda

Michael Chilufya did not have one life. He had many lives. His relatively long life, by Zambian standards, where life expectancy is around 45, mean that there is a huge span from which one could chose his story. Like many of his contemporaries, very little is known of his childhood. Born in 1937, there is very little known about the young Sata except that he was born in Mpika and went to primary school there. Around 1964 during the fight for the country’s independence some accounts situate the young Sata as a constable in the colonial police force. There are some accounts that he spent some years in the United Kingdom after serving as a colonial police officer in the 1960s.

Sata rose to national fame and notoriety when in the late 1970 and early 1980s he emerged as a talkative member of the United National Independence Party (UNIP). This political recklessness did wonders for him. He quickly caught the eye of the then President Kenneth Kaunda who appointed him District Governor of Lusaka and later as Local Government and Rural Development Minister. In many ways, Sata was different from most of his political contemporaries. Most of his colleagues were mostly educated and had stints in the Foreign Service. Sata never had the luxury of the two. He never served in the Foreign Service and his education level remained humble. Nevertheless, in spite of that, he still managed to catch the attention of the nation and that of Kenneth Kaunda. As Lusaka Governor, the tough talking and pragmatic Sata embarked on a modernization program for the city. He presided over the building of the flyover bridges over the town-centre and established a quasi-private company to take care of the water reticulation system in Lusaka. That company has continued to this day.

The Late Michael Chilufya Sata

The Late Michael Chilufya Sata

When in 1991, the dawn of multi-party democracy rose over Zambia, Sata was among some UNIP loyalists who crossed over to the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) late. As a politically cunning and calculating tactician, Sata chose to remain in UNIP until late so as to perhaps get the best of both worlds. When he joined the MMD, he became an instant hit. At the MMD convention of April 1991 Sata was elected chairman of local government. He pledged his total support for President Chiluba and the two became political confidantes. To be clear, Sata had the political clout of his own within the MMD. In Chiluba’s government Sata served various portfolios. He worked as a Local Government Minister. During his tenure in this portfolio, allegations of corruption surfaced. But was cleared by both his boss and the Anti-Corruption Commission. He also served as Health Minister. Chiluba’s choice of Sata for the health portfolio surprised many because some thought that Sata was not intellectually sophisticated to lead a portfolio that had medical doctors and nurses. But Sata excelled in this ministry. Hospitals became cleaner. Morale among health workers was revamped. The straight talking Sata encouraged nursing schools to admit Enrolled Nurses so that they could become Registered Nurses. Under his watch, he changed nurses’ uniforms to include the wearing of pants. Sata also served in several other portfolios such as Labor and as Minister-Without-Portfolio.

Sata’s politics, however, during the first term of the MMD did have enemies. The most vicious of the fights was between himself and the then Vice-President Levy Mwanawasa. After realizing that he could not break the bond between Sata and Chiluba, Mwanawasa resigned from the vice-presidency citing irreconcilable differences with Michael Sata. For his part, Sata claimed that Mwanawasa was a political novice whose skills were only good for the practice of law and not politics. The resignation of Mwanawasa would see Sata being elevated to more visible status within the party and the government. Indeed, after the 1996 convention, Sata became National Secretary of the MMD. As Chief Executive of the MMD he became the architect of the Chiluba political engineering.

Michael Sata with Hakainde Hichilema

Michael Sata with Hakainde Hichilema

After the 1996 elections, Sata mostly served as a minister-without-portfolio in Chiluba’s cabinet and as the MMD’s Chief Executive. Throughout all this political career, the down-to-earth man of the people image made Sata very popular on the street. He was a lovable character. When speaking to the people, he would use the common language that citizens on the street could understand. He was a constant feature in the media. He was a story maker. Towards the end of Chiluba’s second term, rumours started swirling that Chiluba was interested in going for the third term. For his part, Sata appeared to have been the main architect of this initiative. He advised Chiluba to appoint District Administrators to bring “government close to the people”. Nevertheless it was clear that this initiative was really about the Third Term.

In 2001 when it became clear that Zambians would not support Chiluba’s Third Term bid, Sata had some hope that it was he that the party was going to adopt to succeed Chiluba. Shortly before that, Sata as National Secretary presided over the expulsion of over 50 senior members of the MMD including the country’s vice-president then, Christone Tembo. If there was anyone who was playing his cards well, it was Sata. But Chiluba had other plans. At a party meeting at State House, Chiluba influenced the MMD to pick Levy Mwanawasa out of political retirement to become the party’s candidate. This infuriated Sata. There was no way Sata was going to support his nemesis Mwanawasa as presidential candidate for his MMD. In 2001, Sata broke off from Chiluba, left the government house and formed his own party, naming it the Patriotic Front after Mugabe’s party in Zimbabwe.

Chiluba and Sata - as MMD leaders 1991 to 2002

Chiluba and Sata – as MMD leaders 1991 to 2002

After leaving the MMD, Sata became a fierce critic of both the MMD party and its new president Levy Patrick Mwanawasa. It seems like the old enmity had resurfaced. The politics was brutal. For Sata, Mwanawasa was a cabbage. In his campaign messages, Sata claimed that Mwanawasa was so sick that his mind and his mouth had stopped coordinating. With these attacks against Mwanawasa and the MMD, Sata’s political star started to rise. His anti-capitalist and anti-Chinese messages found a home among the urbanites. His Patriotic Front party started to pick seats in the by-elections the first one being from the Copperbelt. Yamfwa Mukanga won Kantanshi seat with the support of the Cobra. Something happened however, that seemed to have changed the Cobra’s attitude towards Mwanawasa. Having been a strong critic of Mwanawasa, Sata changed after he himself got a heart attack only to be evacuated at midnight by Mwanawasa. When Sata returned to Zambia, he had the change of heart. He met Mwanawasa at State House and from that meeting the two became friends. Sata’s illness and Mwanawasa’s reaction to it had helped these political leaders come to some agreement and cooperation.

When Mwanawasa died in 2008, Sata joined the nation in mourning his friend. However, he quickly found another enemy, the vice-president Rupiah Banda. In the presidential by-election of that year, Sata was brutally defeated. But by this time, it was clear that his political star had only gotten brighter and it was just a matter of time before he would win the presidency. And sure enough, three years later, Michael Chilufya Sata delivered a blistering defeat to incumbent Rupiah Banda becoming Zambia’s fifth president.

There were a lot of expectations on the shoulder of the new leader. But within the first week of winning, Sata went beyond the limit of how many people he could nominate to parliament. He presented ten names instead of eight. He was forced to retract. He appointed a cabinet full of his relatives and fellow tribes mates. What had been an election of hope quickly gave to despair. To invest in infrastructure development, he borrowed heavily from the Eurobonds. And then one year into power, his physical and mental health started to deteriorate. His close confidantes denied that there was any problem. In fact, they said that he was working very hard behind the scenes.

Sata leaves behind a divided party and nation - Munshya

Sata leaves behind a divided party and nation – Munshya

To his credit, in spite of his invisibility, the business of government continued being carried out. The loyalty he commanded seemed surreal both within the party and the government. Reports of his death emerged on several occasions but each time it was rumoured he had died, he would emerge looking stronger than before. On 20th October 2014, he was flown to London for what officials said was going to be a medical review. He died in London on October 28 2014. He was 78. He leaves behind several children. And for sure, he leaves behind a divided party and nation. However, one thing can never be denied of Michael Chilufya Sata: he was the cobra who charmed a nation.


Suggested citation: Munshya, E. (2014). The Cobra Who Charmed a Nation: The Life and Times of Michael Chilufya Sata. Elias Munshya Blog (found at (29 October 2014)

After the Cobra: What does the law say about Vice-President Guy Scott?

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

Guy Lindsay Scott

Guy Lindsay Scott

The President of the Republic of Zambia, Michael Chilufya Sata has died. He died in a London hospital on 28 October 2014. Sata died the same week that the nation was celebrating 50 years of independence from Great Britain. The question grappling the nation right now is whether the nation’s Vice-President Guy Lindsay Scott satisfies the constitution to be an Acting President for 90-days before calling a special election to replace Michael Sata. The complication with Guy Scott is that his father and mother are Scottish. In fact, Guy Scott is perhaps the only white Vice-President across the African continent. According to the Zambian constitution, one can only satisfy the constitutional requirements to be a presidential candidate if both parents of the candidate are “Zambian by birth or descent”. There are two sides to this issue: those who argue that Scott does not satisfy this requirement and those who argue that he does. In order to shade light on this issue, I must begin with some boring yet important stuff.

Sata and Scott

Sata and Scott

According to both the written and unwritten principles of the Zambian constitution, the Supreme Court and the High Court of Zambia are the primary interpreters of the constitution of Zambia. This means that if there is any ambiguity in the constitution we should look to the court’s interpretation for guidance. In this constitutional set-up, the written constitution of Zambia and the ruling of the courts of law, together comprise what we should refer to as “constitutional law”. Constitutional law seldom refers to the text of the constitution alone. In most cases, the constitution is sometimes vague and some concepts such as “parent” or “Zambia” need further illumination and explanation. According to stare decisis, courts are supposed to follow the precedence set by the higher court in a hierarchy. Of principal importance in our judicial system is the idea that the courts of law do in fact play a huge role in interpreting the law and their rulings become binding. In stare decisis, if the ratio decidendi of one case can sufficiently be applied to another case, we have the obligation to follow the ruling of the precedent. With these boring principles in mind we can now turn back to the Guy Scott issue.

The constitution of Zambia is clear. For one to be a presidential candidate in Zambia, his or her parents must be Zambian by “birth or descent”. The question is what does this mean? It could mean many different things to different people. However, if the Supreme Court answers the question of what this means, it should settle the matter. This is because this is the system we have chosen for ourselves. It is our rule of law. It is the way we handle contentious issues. We take it to court and the courts give us an interpretation. In 1998, the Supreme Court answered this same question. In Lewanika and Others v Chiluba, the court was asked to disqualify Chiluba from the presidency because his father was “not a Zambian by birth or descent”. The petitioners presented several versions with regard to Chiluba’s father. There was a Zairian Chabala Kafupi and the Mozambican Jim Zahare. Chiluba the defendant offered an alternative version of his parentage and claimed that his father was actually from either Kawambwa or Mwense. But that is beside the point. The Supreme Court assumed the facts as avowed by the petitioners and ruled that even if Chiluba’s father were a Zairian or a Mozambican; Chiluba would still satisfy the constitutional requirement of having parents being “Zambian by birth or descent”. The ratio decidendi, or the reason for the ruling is based on several principles. First, the Supreme Court erected a wall of citizenship and held that the republic of Zambia was actually created on 24 October 1964. Having been so created on this date, those who were ordinarily resident in Zambia on this day became citizens of Zambia. For such people, there is no need to inquire into the citizenship of their parentage, as none of their parents would qualify as “Zambians” because there was no nation called “Zambia” before that. Second, the Supreme Court ruled that the requirement for “Zambian citizenship” might make sense later in the history of Zambia. But even then, it would still create problems for the future of Zambia. Third, the court then dealt with racial issues. They made it clear that an assumption that the constitution deliberately discriminates against whites or Chinese does not make sense. In order for such an assumption to be made, the constitution should explicitly state that. Having explicitly not isolated one tribe or one colour, the court could find no justification in upholding this discriminatory part of the constitution especially as far as presidential eligibility is concerned. Fourth, having been cognizant of the political rhetoric that accompanied the “parentage clause” enactment into the constitution, the court relied on the actual text of the constitution, embraced its absurdities and offered an explanation that was consistent with Zambian history and principles of fairness and justice.

After the ruling in Lewanika and others v Chiluba, the question is whether the ratio decidendi of the case can be sufficiently applied to Guy Scott’s situation. Guy Scott was born in the then Northern Rhodesia, and acquired Zambian citizenship at independence in 1964. Having so acquired that citizenship, there is a legal wall that makes the citizenship of his parents invisible and inconsequential to his legal status as a founding citizen of Zambia. Additionally, even if his parents continued being citizens of Britain, it should not affect his own satisfaction of the Zambian constitution since the “Zambian by birth or descent” requirement does not apply to him and to many others who became citizens of Zambia when the nation was created in 1964. Following the Chiluba case, it is clear that just like Chiluba satisfied the constitution in spite of the possibility of a Mozambican or a Zairian father, Scott would also satisfy the constitution in spite of his British father. The Guy Scott case has facts, which can meet the ratio decidendi of the Chiluba case.

Having offered this legal explanation. I must confess that there is more to life than just law. While Zambia remains a nation ruled by law rather than men, it is incumbent upon the leaders and the people to find a political solution to some contentious issues. Those who do not want Scott to lead a transition should do so without unnecessarily abusing the law as justification. The law is definitely on the side of Guy Scott. I am not too sure though whether the politics are on Scott’s side. I have tried to answer the legal question. I will leave it up to the cabinet and the people of Zambia to answer the political question. At the end of the day, our nation should stand as one during this time of transition. May the soul of Michael Chilufya Sata rest in eternal peace.

Note: Those seeking specific legal advice should consult members of the Zambian bar. I am not a member of the Zambian bar. I am in the process of applying for a student-at-law status in the jurisdiction of Alberta, Canada. I hold an LLB (Honours) from England and have completed all coursework towards the award of an LLM degree from Northwestern University (Chicago, IL).


Suggested citation: Munshya, E. (2014). After the cobra: what does the law say about Vice-President Guy Scott? Elias Munshya Blog. (found at (28 October 2014).

From “Pastor Changwe” to “Belinda nafwa”: 50 years of the music that defined Zambia

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

A discussion must be had about the role that Zambian music has played in the making of our nation for the past fifty years. There is great wisdom in the saying that music is food for the soul. However, with regard to nations, music is also food for national identity and national myth making. While there will always be arguments about what really comprises Zambian music, there should be no argument about the fact that music has had an enormous impact upon the identity of our country. In 50 years, we must look back and re-listen to the tunes and lyrics that have come from the minds and hearts of our artists.

Music has united the nation. It has held Zambia together. It has helped ferment political revolutions as well. Music has also helped to teach our nation. Dandy Krazy’s “Don’t Kubeba”, is one of the most politically influential songs in the history of Zambia. There is no song that captivated the political landscape so much as the “Don’t Kubeba” song in 2011. This don’t kubeba song is contentious for the subject matter it deals with and for the genre of the music itself. This genre of music has become very popular among artists in the last ten-years. It is mostly over-processed and generated from computer simulations.

Emmanuel Mulemena

Emmanuel Mulemena

Beyond that, however, the most popular songs in the history of Zambia have seldom been political. In fact, even the most popular musicians to grace the Zambian music stage have been apolitical in many senses. These greats include: Mulemena, Chishala, Chilambe and Chris Chali. To this list I must add the latest singers such as the Shatel duo, JK, and Macky II. The legend PK Chishala for example, never wrote a politically charged song except for “Common Man” which he released much later in his carrier. It might have come as an exception rather than the rule for him. On the other hand, Maiko Zulu can be distinguished as the only of musicians to dedicate almost all of his music to politically themed songs. The “Mad President” track, released during the Mwanawasa regime, is one of the most provocative songs ever done by a Zambian criticizing a sitting president. Petersen Zagaze and, now Pilato have also gone into the political fray.

During the one-party state, all musicians were by default members of the one-party state. They would from time to time be expected to churn out songs in praise of the ruling United National Independence Party (UNIP). But beyond that, Zambian music continued its apolitical stand until very recently. During the Chiluba regime, there were always one or two artists who released a song or two criticising the regime. One of those is “tomato balunda”, which was a hit only for a month or two.

Chimbayambaya nsenda - P.K. Chishala

Chimbayambaya nsenda – P.K. Chishala

Chishala’s “Common Man” came as a surprise because in his entire career he had shown some indifference to politics. He never sung in praise of the Kaunda regime, and neither did he ever sing for the Chiluba regime. It was therefore a shocker that he would pen a song that essentially acknowledged the difficult economic situation that the “common man” was experiencing under the liberalisation policies of the Chiluba government. Chishala’s hit song was “Pastor”, a notorious song he released in 1985. In that song, he quite controversially, narrated the story of a randy pastor. The most provocative aspect of the song were words Chishala put into Pastor Changwe’s mouth: those talking about the alleged infidelities of Bible characters. Nevertheless, this song proved to be a hit and it propelled Chishala to immediate stardom. After “Pastor”, Chishala would release other songs such as “Church Elder” and “Na Musonda”. He also penned some songs based on Ushi mythology and folklore such as “Impumba Mukowa” and “Muchibolya”. The song “Chimbayambaya Nsenda” almost certainly crowned PK Chishala as the true professor of Zambian music. With his music, the nation sang, danced and together imagined a more thriving nation.

Mayenge Asoza

Mayenge Asoza

Amayenge is perhaps the most consistent of all Zambian bands. Whereas, almost all the great bands are long gone, the evergreen Amayenge Asoza continue to surprise. Most importantly, the death of its leader Chris Chali did not lead to the demise of the singing group. The most famous of Amayenge’s song is “Bamu kaika ten wala”, a hit highlighting child marriages and related issues. After 50 years, the nation will continue to benefit from the music prowess of this dynamic singing outfit. Rumour has it that the Amayenge are working on a new album. It should be very welcome considering that Zambia has been bombarded by too much over-processed computer generated music. A few artists however, are trying to deliver us from this over-processed music; these include Scarlet Mwana-Okondewa (whose album used live instruments).

Serenje Kalindula Band also deserves recognition. Their songs based on both Lala folklore and popular culture proved popular in their days. Other bands that stand out include Oliya Band, Masasu Band, Lima Jazz Band, and Green Labels. Masasu’s “Kabelebele” should add to the list of Zambia’s greatest songs of all time. Uweka Stars’ “Grace”, combines the active Eastern beat with some Nyanja folklore. Recently, a band that tried to emulate these great bands was Chingola’s Glorious Band. Under the leadership of Chibesa, Glorious Band tried to revive the fallen Kalindula live music. Chibesa penned songs such as “Isambo lya mfwa” which became an instant hit. A few years after the release of their first album, the same curse that has struck most Zambian bands also struck the Glorious Band: all the band’s team members died within months of each other obliterating any hopes for the revival of live Kalindula music. Compared to musicians in other countries, it is rather astonishing, the rate at which Zambian musicians die.

P.K. Chishala is the country's greatest musician and poet - Munshya wa Munshya

Music is food for national identity and national myth-making – Munshya wa Munshya

Pompi and Nathan Nyirenda are the gospel artists that have tried to redefine gospel music. The two seem to have distinguished themselves as Christians doing Zambian music, rather than as Christians doing Zambian Christian music. With “Mwe makufi” Nyirenda has perched himself as one of the most gifted singers and musicians Zambia has seen. Jojo Mwangaza took music to another level by taking rhumba tunes and christening them with gospel lyrics. The result of Mwangaza’s music is that for those Christians who feel they cannot dance to “worldly” music, they are welcome to dance to the same rhumba music only replaced by Bible verses. Some musicians such as Ephraim have made it clear that their music is exclusively “Christian” music and they are “Christian artists” first before anything else. Ephraim has combined nearly all genres, borrowing from Kalindula, R n B, Rhumba and Nigerian music.

Currently, the hit song all over Zambia is “Belinda Nafwa”. Its genre is the same, as Dandy Krazy’s don’t kubeba music. Its lyrics however, seem to be resonating among Zambians due to insinuations about sex and HIV/AIDS. Though over-processed, Chester’s voice proves the fact that the story of the greatness of Zambian music is still in its development. For the next fifty years and beyond, Zambian music will continue to grow and with that our nation.


Suggested Citation: Munshya, E. (2014). “From ‘Pastor Changwe’ to ‘Belinda nafwa’: 50 years of the music that defined Zambia. Elias Munshya blog ( (24 October 2014)

Zambia at 50: A tribute to a resilient nation

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

President Sata in Church

President Sata in Church

As Zambia celebrates her fifty years as an independent nation, there is a great temptation to only look at the good events that have shaped the nation and completely ignore the sad stories. Indeed, there is a lot we can talk about the good stuff that have evolved over our times in the young nation. Independence Day was certainly a great time of celebration. October 24, 1964 set off huge festivities in the land. Beyond 1964, many more outstanding moments have shone through the dimmed clouds of a youthful country. Great leaders have arisen and throughout the fifty years, they have inspired the confidence of the young and old alike. However, regardless of how gallant the story of Zambia has been, it would be unfair to history if we do not take the time to remember and observe those moments of adversity that our nation faced. The character of a nation is demonstrated by how it handles moments of great temptation and trial. We need to pay a tribute to a resilient nation that in spite of adversity has managed to rebuild and redefine itself for the good of posterity. Disasters have come and gone, but a resilient nation has stood “strong and free”.



Copper is the economic lifeblood of our nation. Mines are, therefore, strategic to our development. Each day, thousands of miners stroll into the belly of the Zambian earth to extract copper, cobalt and other minerals. Their safety is a priority. However, in 50 years of our independence one mining disaster shook the foundations of the new nation. On 25 September 1970, barely six years after independence, hundreds of miners reported for work at a shaft below No. 3 Tailings Dam in Mufulira. They went into the shaft to operate the mine as they had been doing for years. Eighty-nine of them never returned from that night shift. An underground breach of a tailings dam led to its collapse resulting in the deaths of hardworking miners. The sweet smell of political independence had now given into a bitter pill of disaster. A new nation was facing an accident that would shape it for decades to come.

In this article, I am not trying to apportion blame, but to celebrate the resolve of a nation in the face of adversity and danger. Following a commission of inquiry conducted to study the cause of the Mufulira mine accident; it was found that there had been some missteps in the management of sinkholes. The accident was indeed preventable. From the recommendations of the commission, several steps were taken to make mining safer for the future of Zambia. It was due to some changes made after 1970 that mining in Zambia experienced some relative safety afterwards. As we celebrate fifty years of independence, we should have, in our memory, the men who perished in that accident.

Decades after the Mufulira Mine disaster, another industrial accident shook the nation. Around April 2005, 51 workers were killed in an explosion at Bgrimm Explosives Zambia Limited. The most painful aspect with this accident is that it was completely avoidable. At 50 years, Zambia should remember her citizens who died through this avoidable chaos. The challenge remains for government and citizens to work together to make workplaces safer. We do not need another Bgrimm disaster.

The greatest disaster to strike our nation happened on 27 April 1993. The nation had just voted in a new government two-years prior. There was a lot of promise for the rebuilding of our democracy. With regard to sport, our national football team was doing very well. It was the year we all hoped Zambia would win the Africa Cup of Nations and perhaps qualify to the World Cup. That team had great players whose discipline and dedication were admired by many: Mankinka, Mulenga, Mutale, Numba, just to mention a few. But on 27 April 1993, disaster struck. An airforce Buffalo plane carrying the national team had crashed into the sea off the coast of Gabon. All the members of the football team and the crew perished in that tragedy. The nation was in shock. We could not just believe what had happened. We all wondered the turpitude we ever committed, as a nation that could have resulted in that terrible retribution. Rumours swirled about what could have caused that disaster. That accident became the worst we have ever seen. Oceans of tears flowed freely from the eyelids of exhausted citizens. Zambia was in mourning and it was terrible.

President Kenneth Kaunda, a weeping prophet

President Kenneth Kaunda, a weeping prophet

But like all great nations, Zambia persevered through its mourning period. Led by President Frederick Chiluba, the nation found solace in God. We mourned. We cried. We prayed. We wept. We then came together and out of that tragedy came the resolve to rebuild and push on as one nation. Undeniably, after that tragedy, Zambia arose afresh as a nation just recovering from disbelief. The new football team inspired by that loss did so well and emerged second at the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations. However, the most potent tribute to the heroes of the 1993 crash took place in Gabon in 2012 when just as few kilometers from the coast of Gabon, the Zambia National Team beat Cote D’Ivoire to scoop the Africa Cup of Nations. As a further testimony to the character of our country, most of the players in Gabon in 2012 were barely toddlers when the 1993 team crashed in Gabon. Indeed, “pafwa abantu pashala bantu”. On the ashes of disaster, was born a new resolve to show the true character of a nation – “proud and free”.

There would be no space in this article to mention all the tragedies from which our nation has recovered and continues to recover. In 2005, 45 pupils died in a road accident in Kawambwa. We should remember them. In 2013, over 50 people died in the Chibombo accident. We should remember them. In early 1990s, a cholera outbreak in Kitwe left hundreds dead. We remember them. During the Mushala rebellion, hundreds died. We should remember them.

When Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili named the new Lusaka stadium – Gabon Heroes Disaster Stadium – like one man, the nation petitioned the Patriotic Front government to drop the “disaster” term. In honour to the 1993 team, the name of the new stadium was shortened to “Heroes Stadium”, the term that shows the attitude Zambians take to disasters and tragic circumstances. Beyond these disasters and tragedies, the nation stands and sings a song of Zambia, the land of work and joy.


Suggested citation: Munshya, E. (2014). Zambia at 50: A tribute to a resilient nation. Elias Munshya blog ( (24 October 2014)

One Zambia One Nation: The need for a new narrative

 E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div.

President Kenneth Kaunda and King Mwanawina III

President Kenneth Kaunda and King Mwanawina III

After 50 years of independence there is need for Zambians to begin reimagining the myth of their nation. The story of our nation needs to be told in a fresh and new light. Each time a nation or indeed an individual celebrates an anniversary; there is a great temptation and pressure to focus only on the past rather than on the future. This is the temptation we risk falling for, this 24th October 2014. From 1964, there is a possibility that we will begin looking back over the years and let nostalgia pervert our ability to imagine a future ahead of us. We could spend all of the time and effort at seeking to recover the fossils hoping to get inspiration from our past. Regardless of how glorious the past has been the people of Zambia should use the past as a springboard to a new imagination of a future. This is not to mean that we should dishonor the past, but rather that we must use the past only as a backdrop of inspiration for tomorrow. The nation that was not has now been, for 50 years. It cannot return to the past, but it can only spring to its future. To do so, we will need courageous imagination to foster a unity needed to face the challenges of tomorrow rather than the ambiance of yesterday.

We need to reimagine our education system. For any nation to prosper, it needs an educated citizenry. This education must be in areas that our economy needs most: science and technology. The government and the business sectors should begin investing in those educational programs that offer a promise for the future. No doubt, we have had a proliferation of universities in the past ten years. This is only but a beginning. Government now needs to put in place a qualifications framework of some sort so that quality is assured. Zambia right now is not facing a university problem more than it is facing a university “quality” problem. Regardless of how many new universities we build in Chinsali, without quality we would only be digressing and not progressing. Fifty years after independence, it becomes necessary to establish a national qualifications framework that could both accredit and regulate the universities around the country. Additionally, it is no secret that most of the universities have gone into the humanities. I have no problems with humanities. I have read humanities at both universities and seminaries. I love humanities. But Zambia also needs sciences and technology. Government and the private sector can invest in higher education that produces suitable graduates in the sciences and technology. It is unacceptable that fifty years after independence we still cannot design a single “fosholo” to help mine copper in Kansanshi. With a new imagination and new incentives, I have no doubt that a future Zambia can create the higher educational framework for the good of our common tomorrow.

We also need to reimagine and reevaluate our dependence on copper. It is rather shocking that fifty years after our so called independence our country still depends upon copper for its economic survival. Now copper is a finite resource, it is a diminishing resource. The problem with such dependence is that our economy oscillates according to the performance of copper in Beijing and London. We must face the honest assessment that, Zambia has no economic future without economic diversification. Regardless of how glorious the past of copper has been, we have to reimagine a future of Zambia that is less dependent upon copper. With fertile land that is the envy of millions and water so abundant as to quench the thirst of billions, we have no justifiable excuse to fail in agriculture. We need a fresh imagination that takes our minds off copper to other things such as agriculture to develop our country.

In terms of politics, we have made giant steps since 1964. We have had five presidents. We have done mature transitions from one leader to another. We have a judiciary that is relatively independent. We have a somewhat workable constitution. And in the little areas it is not working, we are making effort at changing that which needs to change in this 1991 constitution. We are a talking people, and we do not take kindly to governments that want to desecrate our liberty to speak and to assemble. That being the case, we must continue in the same spirit to safeguard our democracy. The greatest defenders of any democracy are the ordinary men and women around the country. Democracy belongs to the people. As such, the people of Milenge as well as Mwinilunga should continue participating in the democratic process. We should continue to vote and make our voices heard. It is our democracy. It is our country and we have a duty to hold leaders accountable. We must build on our democratic success over the last fifty years to build a more robust democracy for the next fifty years and beyond.

On the eve of Zambia's Independence - 23 October 1964

On the eve of Zambia’s Independence – 23 October 1964

Zambia is not necessarily our heritage more than it is our destiny. Heritage connects you to the past, but destiny connects you to the future. Our republic should connect us not only to our past, but also to our future. Zambia should be a collection of people united in their imagination of the future rather than a morgue of people united only by a common past. A past is limited, while a future has unlimited. Together, we are creating a destiny called Zambia. Each day is an opportunity to build a nation and to help imagine that place we desire for ourselves and for our children. Destiny looks at other Zambians and collaborates with them in building a future for the people of Nakonde as well as Chirundu. It is not enough to share a common past, what we need now is a commitment to share a common future. This has implications. Tribalism can easily be defeated if we all decided to focus more on the destiny we are trying to create rather than on the heritage whose past we may not all share. To create a future for Zambia means we have to go beyond the limits of our own tribes to capture out of other tribes a common dream for Zambia. Destiny means we should find it repugnant for a cabinet to feature only one tribe or region. Destiny is welcome of others and this is the welcome we need for Zambia and her future. A Zambia at fifty should be accepting of a Vice-President Guy Scott not just by the colour of his skin, but rather by the content of his passion for our nation. When we condemn tribalism, we should also condemn racism and the evil that comes with it. Zambia belongs to all. It belongs to the Bantu, the Ng’uni, the Luba-Lunda migrants, the Mfecane raiders, the Bantu Botatwe, the Makololo invaders as well as the descendants of the Europeans. It belongs to all.

To a nation committed to a bright future, we should all say happy 50th Anniversary, Zambia.