An Open Letter to Dr. Christine Mwelwa Kaseba
Kuli ba Mama Kaseba:
Before I proceed any further, let me state out-rightly what this letter is not about. As a person who strongly believes in women’s rights, I must commend your decision to stand as presidential candidate within days of burying your spouse. Indeed, every woman must aspire to provide leadership to this great country. Your ambition therefore should be encouraged. I also should assure you that your decision to stand has somehow provided that needed courage for all women all over Zambia. Indeed, there is no minimum time required for mourning. There is no one-way of mourning our beloved ones. Usually, traditions have been used to shackle good women, especially after the death of their spouses. Your bravery to provide your candidacy for consideration, therefore, should be commended. I therefore do not condemn you for taking this courageous step. You have done well. I want to live in a Zambia where women will indeed have the liberty to make decisions based on what they feel is right. The time should come when women should stand against traditions that have the potential to subjugate. As a spouse, you have a say in the way you want to mourn or not mourn the departed. While it is true that it has only been a week since your spouse was put to rest, we should commend you for wanting to carry on the legacy that he left behind. And in your own way you have chosen to continue the legacy. And that Ba Mfumu is where I find the problem.
Kanabesa, the reign of your late husband was controversial for our country. Your spouse presided over a nation that has emerged more tribal and more nepotistic than any other president that has ruled our country. In three years we have accumulated more kaloba in billions of dollars. If this were the legacy you want to carry on, I would ask you to re-examine your heart and think again. Zambians are not naïve; we have seen how that the Zambian diplomatic corps now comprise your relatives and those of your late husband. Surprisingly, there are a number of diplomats whose only credential is that there were at one time very close personal friends of your spouse. I believe that part of the diplomatic corps should be scared now that you are aspiring to replace President Sata. But there is another cadre of diplomats that your candidacy will protect – your relatives and those of President Sata. If you say that this is the legacy you want to carry on, I should be the first one to state that please Ba Mfumu reexamine your decision.
From the civil service to the army, and parastatal organs, your relatives have greatly benefited from you being First Lady. Ba Mfumu your actions while First Lady in looking out only for the interest of your family creates reasonable suspicion in my heart that you do not mean well for the future of our country. Do not get me wrong. You do seem to be a great woman. You are educated. You do have a great experience as a medical doctor serving the needs of our poor at the University Teaching Hospital. But when we look at the government and see how many of your bululus are in office, it darkens our hearts and makes us wonder whether your reign will be any different from that of your late husband. As Laura Miti has rightly put it: “I just don’t want anyone from the Sata family. We need to dismantle the nepotistic edifice built in the state by the Sata presidency.”
When your husband was ill, we all saw that he had lost weight and that he was not alert at all. He was visibly sick, very sick. We meant well when we asked that your family consider withdrawing him from power so that he could concentrate on getting better. Who knows? May be he could have lived a little longer had he been away from the pressures of the State office. But our advice was met by repeated injury from yourself and those in his government. Even when he was addressing parliament, as frail as he was, the images of your beaming smile has despoiled our memory. We knew there was something wrong. But your smile tried to cover it all. You should not be blamed for the actions of your spouse, but it certainly creates questions in some of us to wonder what really was going on. As a spouse, were you complacent in keeping your husband going even when he had no capacity to provide leadership to our country? Now that you are aspiring to lead our country, it is in good conscience that we should ask these questions.
I am Ushi from Milenge, and as a people from the pedicle, we all know how widows become the first suspects after their spouses have died. That tradition is deplorable and we must condemn it. We should preside upon families to treat widows with all dignity and respect. As the Glorious Band sang in “Isambo Lya Mfwa”, it is unfair to heap the blame on the widows. That being the case, ba mfumu, we have a few questions that need answering considering that you are putting your name forward.
Obviously, we cannot insist on traditions now, when during illness our calls for humanity and Ubuntu were rebuffed. We cannot insist on a period of mourning now, when even at the time that Michael Chilufya Sata was visibly sick and incapacitated, all we saw was a cadre of people wanting to continue profiteering from the palms of a sick man.
I do not have confidence in your candidature. Your desire is to continue with the same legacy of corruption, nepotism and tribalism started by your spouse. You do not provide anything new and your time at State House as a spouse of President Sata inspires little confidence. You are a woman nevertheless and in a country that has been destroyed by men in power, it might be a source of relief to have a woman in power. But I really doubt if this woman should be you.
For now, I wish you well and hope that all goes well with you and yours. But please if you get elected to the presidency stop nepotism and tribalism and please help Zambia reduce on its appetite for “kaloba”.