Monthly Archives: December 2014

“Ifintu ni Inonge”: The making of the Edgar Lungu candidacy

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

It is November 30 2014. Delegates have gathered at Mulungushi Rock of Authority in Kabwe. The Patriotic Front is supposed to be having its Extra-ordinary conference. The acting president of the Patriotic Front, Guy Scott, called the conference, but for some reasons best known to himself he has decided not to attend the conference. He is not prepared to officially open it. As the delegates gather and wait for the official opening, it becomes apparent that their president would not show up. In fact, he would not even come near the venue of the conference.

Then enters Inonge Wina, the chairperson of the Patriotic Front. She ambles to the platform at Mulungushi and makes an announcement. She is calling the meeting to order. In spite of the absence of Guy Scott, the general conference must go on. She mentions that she had been in a meeting with Guy Scott and it seems like he would not be attending the conference. However, PF must move on to select a leader to succeed President Sata.

Wina enjoys reading, gardening and cooking. She holds a degree in history and sociology. She was the first CEO of the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) shortly after independence. She has worked in the government as a civil servant and as a politician. As a passionate women’s rights advocate she volunteered her time on various boards. In 1996 she was elected national chairperson for the NGOCC, an alliance of civil society organisations. Her active political involvement started with the United Liberal Party in 2006. After winning the Nalolo seat in 2011, she was appointed to cabinet in the new government.

In making that announcement in Kabwe, Wina brought to culmination a whole month of speculation and crisis within PF. She had made it very clear, that as Chairperson of the Patriotic Front, she was not going to be intimidated in the discharge of her duties by Guy Scott or anyone acting on his behalf. By standing up to power, Mrs. Wina had drawn upon the inspiration garnered from her own lifetime. Born in 1941 at Suibumbu Village in Senanga, she had served in civil society promoting gender equality and advocating for women’s rights. For her, resolving the crises in the Patriotic Front was just one of those duties in her life.

Ifintu ni Inonge

Ifintu ni Inonge

At first, she appeared to have been a neutral arbiter of conflicts beginning to surface just after the passing of President Sata. The main players in the conflict were Guy Scott on one side and Edgar Lungu on the other. She appears to have been quietly trying to have these two camps iron-out their own differences outside the glare of the public. But Scott’s infamous act to fire Lungu as Secretary General before President Sata was even laid to rest, rubbed many PF stalwarts the wrong way. As a peacemaker, that she is, she joined several PF leaders to have Scott rescind his decision to fire Edgar. To his credit Scott reversed his decision. Relations in the PF then went from bad to worse. It seemed that most of the MCCs had picked their side. They wanted Lungu. Most of PF MPs as well had decided to back Lungu for the presidency. On the other hand, Scott visibly did not seem to like Lungu. But in spite of Scott’s clear contempt for Lungu, it appears like there was consensus in the central committee, in cabinet and among PF parliamentary caucus that Edgar was going to be the PF candidate.

Inonge Wina

Inonge Wina

With the worsening relations within the PF, it was clear that resolving the conflict required some courageous leadership. It was at this juncture that Inonge’s guidance was going to be evident. She determined that the best way to resolve these problems was to give people what they wanted. She was not going to play neutral anymore. She had taken time to listen to the MCCs, to the MPs, and to the cabinet members. Consensus seems to have gone towards Edgar Lungu and she seems to have decided to make that happen. In many ways, therefore, she chose Edgar Lungu and she was going to do all that she could do to have the PF pick the candidate that consensus seems to have settled for. It also seemed clear that in spite of the emerging consensus, it was only Guy Scott and a few of his colleagues that did not want Lungu. Scott was going to do everything in his power to block Lungu. But doing so would not come without cost to the Patriotic Front. It is this cost, that Inonge wanted to avoid. And so the battleground was marked and the swords were drawn, Inonge Wina had picked a side and she was going to fight to the finish.

Consistent with Guy Scott’s reactionary and clueless leadership, when he noticed that Inonge had taken sides, he decided to drop her from PF. She responded with the bulk of MCCs to suspend Scott. Until that time, the pro-Lungu MCCs had lacked a credible spokesperson. All that changed when she emerged as the spokesperson for them. She brought credibility and integrity. The more Scott reacted against her, the more unreasonable he appeared. When on 30 November 2014, she stood at that platform to call the conference to order, it was all clear that Lungu was going to be elected. If PF stalwarts had picked Edgar, it was just natural for her to be the facilitator of that process rather than being the hindrance to it.

When later, in December she was asked about what had actually transpired at Kabwe, her answer was to the effect that she decided to go on with the meeting because she was concerned about the ruling party supporters who had travelled long distances to come and attend the meeting. She did not want to disappoint them. She wanted to have them go back having elected their leader. And so it was her pragmatism that finally won the day. Zambia needs pragmatic leaders like her.

Guy Lindsay Scott of Zambia

Guy Lindsay Scott of Zambia

After the election of Edgar Lungu, Scott proved that he still had some fight in him. He went ahead and conducted a fresh accreditation process and held another conference on Monday, December 1. But as far as Wina was concerned, the PF conference had already elected Lungu. What Scott was doing according to her, was illegal. She decided to go to court to compel Scott to not go ahead with his conference. Having obtained the injunction against the Monday meeting, Inonge Wina addressed the press with new PF president Edgar Lungu and presented to him the party’s adoption certificate. The work she had started was going to be brought to completion. At that same meeting, Lungu fired Bridget Attanga as Secretary General of the Party and replaced her with Davies Chama. This is perhaps one of the most significant tactical decisions that would prove decisive in giving Lungu the PF presidency.

Edgar’s route to the PF presidency has been fraught with great difficulties. Without the resolute leadership of one Inonge Wina, it could have been even more challenging. Lungu won because Wina did all she could to have him become the candidate. A president Edgar Lungu should look no further than Inonge for the choice of our country’s vice-president should he win in January. Inonge Wina has really earned her stripes. Vice-President Inonge Wina has a good ring to it. Ifintu ni Inonge.

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Suggested citation:

Munshya, E. (2014). After Sata: Inonge Wina and the making of the Edgar Lungu candidacy. Elias Munshya Blog. http://www.eliasmunshya.org, 30 December 2014

WordPress review of eliasmunshya.org blog in 2014 – Thank you readers!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 82,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Guy Scott must resign: Here is why

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

 There is no legal framework upon which cabinet could fire Guy Lindsay Scott as Acting President of the Republic of Zambia. Guy Scott can only be fired if a question about his mental capacity or physical capability has arisen. However, as a people, we are perfectly in order to request that Scott recuses himself from acting as executive head of our republic considering how he has bizarrely failed to unite his party and the nation with it. Political settlements are a legitimate part of governance. Zambia is neither a “legalcracy” nor is it a “technocracy”, but a “democracy”. Politicians should be able to talk to one other, pressure each other and, within limits of the law, make deals for the good of the country. It is in this vein that we should welcome the decision by cabinet ministers to try and negotiate for an exit strategy for Guy Lindsay Scott.

Guy Lindsay Scott of Zambia

Guy Scott of Zambia

I am asking Scott to resign on the basis that he has failed to provide leadership to our country. Scott has sabotaged the ruling Patriotic Front and with that has also sabotaged good order for our government. Some of our people are downplaying the significance of the wrangles in the ruling party. I am of the view that wrangles in the PF do have national security implications. We cannot just treat the PF as any other club. It is a party in government. As such, it is important to know that what happens in the PF could potentially affect the good order of our nation. Scott has failed to provide leadership in his party and this will spillover to the nation. How could Scott claim to preside over millions of Zambians, if he cannot preside over a simple affair of leadership selection in his own party?

Some are arguing that it is the ministers who should resign and not Scott. This argument is very laughable. Scott tried to fire Lungu while Sata’s body was still lying in state. This backfired upon him. He had offended the good sense of Zambian tradition. We gave him a benefit of doubt. We hoped that he would come around. And then the inevitable followed. He lost nearly all the PF’s Members of the Central Committee. Then he lost support for the PF ordinary members who went to Kabwe and elected Edgar. He also lost support of the PF parliamentary caucus. Scott has now lost support of cabinet. How does a guy continue to preside over national affairs when he has no moral authority?

I am aware though that the opposition parties are in support of Guy Scott. This is understandable. But the opposition needs to be cautioned that supporting Scott in his rampage to sabotage the Patriotic Front is insincere and could plunge our peaceful nation into chaos. Scott should not think that our country would go to elections without PF. It is ridiculous to exclude the PF in the elections just as it would be ridiculous to exclude any other party from participation in elections. This is why Scott’s letter to the Electoral Commission of Zambia and to the Chief Justice asking her not to receive Lungu was in bad taste. It was an assault on democracy. It was an act that has the potential to inflame tensions in the nation. It was a provocative act. Scott should go ahead and hate Lungu all he wants, but in so doing, he should not mortgage the good peace we have enjoyed since independence.

The signs were all clear for all to see. It was only Scott who was blind to this reality. Lungu may have his own weaknesses and he definitely has questions to answer to the people. Nevertheless, after the passing of President Sata, MCCs, MPs, and several cabinet members rallied behind the leadership of Lungu. Clearly, had Scott been a good leader and a good reader of national moods he should have sensed that. But instead of facilitating a fair process for the adoption of a candidate, Scott went on create chaos and mayhem all aimed at frustrating Edgar Lungu. And at whose expense? At the expense of the nation’s peace and good order? Scott cannot make choices for the Zambian people. Zambians will elect a leader of their choice on 20 January 2015. We do not need Guy Scott to tell us why Lungu or HH are preferred candidates. We can figure that out on our own. Scott though has a duty to be sensible and reasonable so that he doesn’t cause unnecessary chaos inspired by his diabolical disgust for Lungu.

Guy Lindsay Scott

Guy Lindsay Scott

Scott is now changing stories. He is claiming that all of his cabinet colleagues are on him because he has refused to abuse government resources for campaigns. I should reluctantly state this to Scott: “Kabepeniko bambi.” Scott is not acting this way because he wants to preserve government resources. Scott is behaving this way because, in spite of repeated indication from the Patriotic Front, he has chosen to sabotage Lungu’s candidature for reasons best known to himself. This is ridiculous. A presidential transition is a very delicate time and moment. We do not need sabotage but unity. To claim that ministers should not use their government vehicles is not only silly but also laughable. During by-elections ministers do use their government vehicles to campaign. Why should that be different now? Wasn’t Scott using state resources when he campaigned in the Zambezi by-elections? What about during the Livingstone by-elections didn’t Scott and Sata’s ministers use their official vehicles? What has changed now? Perhaps, what has changed is Scott’s desire to block Lungu at any cost. Scott should know that it is only the people of Zambia who can stop Lungu. Come 20 January 2015, the people will decide. Lungu could go ahead and use his government car. But the ultimate decision remains with the people on 20 January 2015. Scott should not play with the minds of people like “utwaice”. We have issues with theft, corruption and nepotism. For him to inject it while he fights a senseless war in PF is in bad taste.

In 2011, Rupiah had all the cars and the cash. And what happened in the elections? He was don’t kubebad. We Zambians have this matter in total control. Scott should not use legitimate concerns as a façade to hide his own contempt for a leader the PF has chosen for itself.

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

Scott has no confidence of the PF’s MCCs. He has no confidence of members of cabinet. He has no confidence of the ruling party’s parliamentary caucus. He has lost control of the ruling party. This makes him a ruler with legal power, but no political or moral authority.

The only confidence he seems to have at the moment is from opposition parties. And that, by itself, speaks volumes of why he is giving us so much drama. Scott should save us the drama and resign. If not, he should then lead us peacefully so that we can subject both Lungu and Hakainde to the will of the Zambian voter.

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Suggested citation:

Munshya, Elias (2014). Guy Scott must resign: Here is why. Elias Munshya blog. (www.eliasmunshya.org). 18 December 2014

Hakainde Hichilema, Edgar Lungu and the Politics of Contrasts and Comparisons

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

The campaign time has come in earnest. It seems all the parties now have a general idea of who is going to be their presidential candidate. It is game on. Without being sub judice, it is clear that after the discharge of the injunction against Rupiah Banda, the ECZ and several other interested parties almost certainly are taking him as the MMD’s presidential candidate. We, however, await the determination of the final matter to know for sure whether Nevers Mumba will bounce back to lead the MMD into the by-election.

zambia_flag_map

Zambia Decides

By far the winner on the campaign trail so far has been Hakainde Hichilema. Time has worked to his advantage. While the PF and the MMD were embroiled in bitter internal wrangles, HH had the time and support from his caucus to take his “Zambia United” tour across the breadth and depth of our country. This tour had taken him to Solwezi, Nakonde, Kapiri Mposhi and Kabwe. He has also been to Chama, Isoka and Kasama. If there is any candidate that has had a head start to this campaign it is Hakainde Hichilema. The infighting going on with his competitors has helped him sharpen his message. Those discontented with both the PF and the MMD have expressed support for Hichilema’s candidacy. Some MMD Members of Parliament such as Felix Mutati have now pledged to help campaign for Hichilema. It does look like this election will be his to lose.

Even though Hichilema’s campaign has had all these strengths, his fragilities are also quite enormous. Hichilema only campaigned with his wife once: during the launch of his candidacy. And that was the last time we heard of his wife. In Zambia, most successful presidential campaigns must greatly rely on the help of spouses. The Hichilema campaign team should find a way of involving his wife. If she cannot address rallies, they should at least find a way to take of lot of pictures of her with her husband. It is not necessary for her to talk or to address masses like her husband, but it will be good for the optics of Hakainde Hichilema to have Mrs. Hichilema appear with him. Generally, Hichilema appears stiff and rigid on the campaign trail. He has tried to loosen up a bit by biking along other supporters in Chipata. He has also been pictured dancing to some tunes on rallies. That is positive and helps shed off the stiff, business-like and serious appearance.

As stated earlier, the other thing HH needs to work on is to make more appearances with his wife. This is important to the electorate who for some reason still highly regard family unity. The second reason is that spouses somehow humanize candidates. There is something that a spouse brings to a campaign that a candidate cannot. When we look at Michael Sata’s campaign, his wife Christine Kaseba helped humanize him and brought support on her own. Chiluba had Vera during his 1991 campaigns. And so did Levy Mwanawasa, have Maureen, during his 2001 campaigns. I just hope that Hichilema will make his wife a little bit more visible. She has a lot to add to the campaign.

Mrs Lungu addressing a rally in Mongu alongside husband

Mrs Lungu addressing a rally in Mongu alongside husband

PF presidential candidate Edgar Lungu has already identified this reality and has his wife by his side during campaigns. She spoke at Edgar Lungu’s rally in Mansa making her husband to quip, “this woman could as well grab my Chawama seat”. That exchange of words can only work to the advantage of Edgar Lungu. It shows that they both as a family are ambitious and want to rule the nation. It also shows that both Edgar and his wife are susceptible to the temptation and trappings of office: a reality that rarely works against any political couple. Spouse involvement in politics also gives the people something to talk about apart from the real boring issues. In politics real issues could be monotonous, repetitive and uninteresting. But what can never be boring is the accent of a wife of a presidential candidate. People would like to gossip about how a spouse wears her Chitenge and how she does her Brazilian hair. They want to talk about how she looks and what she says. In the end, such talk only goes to humanize candidates. It also translates political rhetoric into a more common conversation. And today, between Hichilema and Lungu, Lungu looks more human, and casts a common man image to the electorate. In the ballot box, people would more certainly vote for a candidate they feel identifies with them. Hichilema has a lot of good things going well for him. But he needs to repackage his optics and his wife and family could help him do that.

Hakainde Hichilema

Hakainde Hichilema

Another matter of great interest is with regard to “tribal perception”. When Lungu went to Mansa, speakers included Kalaba, Inonge, Bwalya and Lubinda. When Hakainde Hichilema spoke in Mumbwa and Kabwe campaign speakers comprised Maureen Mwanawasa and Charles Milupi. That being the case, it appears like Lungu has a more diverse team than HH appears to have. This is not a matter of factual reality, but a matter of perception. And perceptions do matter in Zambian politics. Hichilema needs to deliberately diversify the team he takes on his campaigns. When he went to Muchinga this week, he appeared with Felix Mutati. But he needs to do more than just appear with Mutati. Diversity must appear sincere on HH’s part. It should not appear like he is just trying to work with Mutati to win votes. There has to be some changes in HH’s campaign team to show that he is willing to genuinely work with other political players, particularly those coming from the Northern-Muchinga corridor. The Hakainde campaign team should ask themselves, why is it that in spite of a lot of hard work in this area, his party and campaign still gets perceived as regional or tribal? They need to quickly work on some optics. In Kasama when he visited the Chitimukulu, it was very disappointing that no one came to HH’s defense on time. By the time Mutale Nalumango was responding, it was already too late and Father Frank Bwalya had already taken over the narrative reinforcing the idea that UPND had lied about the Chitimukulu endorsement. What HH needs is a quick response team that handles sensitive tribal issues, especially with regard to Northern-Muchinga-Luapula corridor. This corridor could prove decisive for HH. If he cannot find those that can willingly work for him, he can at least hire someone to do that for him.

This campaign period will be about real issues. But sadly, it will also be about feelings, perceptions, and other irrelevant things. A candidate wins not because they have handled huge issues very well. Candidates win because they connect with the voters sometimes at very personal levels. It is in this regard that we must caution those that are underestimating Lungu simply because he did terribly during the Radio interview. Lungu might not be the best speaker, but if he were able to connect with the common man on the street, it would be difficult to beat him. With good management and change in optics HH could as well become that inspiring politician demanded by the common man and woman.

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Suggested citation:

Munshya, E. (2014). Hakainde Hichilema, Edgar Lungu and the Politics of Contrasts and Comparisons. Elias Munshya Blog (www.eliasmunshya.org). 13 December 2014

Why It is Illegal for Guy Scott to fire or transfer government officers

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

News that the government of Acting President Guy Scott has either fired or transferred some senior government workers makes sad reading. We should all be concerned when a transitory government purports to perform functions that are outside its mandate. According to Article 38 (3) of the constitution of Zambia, a Vice-President who is performing functions of a President after the death of a substantive President cannot “revoke any appointment made by the President”. That being the case, it is illegal for the government of Guy Scott to replace Bert Mushala with Chanda Kasolo at the Ministry of Information. Some have advanced two arguments why they believe the Guy Scott government is in order to replace Mushala with Kasolo as Permanent Secretary. We will deal with each of these arguments in turn.

Guy Lindsay Scott of Zambia

Guy Lindsay Scott of Zambia

Some are arguing that the Guy Scott government is in order because in essence what they did was just transfer Mushala from Information and in his place they brought Kasolo. According to this argument, what is forbidden in the constitution is “revoking” the appointment and not “transferring” the worker. Now this is a very weak argument. If an action has the same effect as “revocation” then it should be condemned as such. We all know that there is a reason why an Acting President should not be revoking the appointed officers. An acting president as the name suggests is a temporary leader who assumes executive functions for the ninety days between the death of one president and the election of the next. During this time, it is expected that no major changes should take place in the government. Transferring senior government officers does have the same effect as revoking their appointments. First, it unsettles the basic structure of a government. Second, it sends a chilling effect on government officers to toll the line of the temporary leader. This temporary leader does not have the legitimacy to command such allegiance. Third, it could jeopardies the country’s good order and security. If security agents in Zambia feel insecure during a moment of executive transition, we have no idea how they would react to such activities. There is some strength in knowing that the basic officer structure left by the late President Sata should remain unchanged during the transition.

Guy Scott can't do through Msiska what the constitution disallows him to do - Munshya

Guy Scott can’t do through Msiska what the constitution disallows him to do – Munshya

The second argument being advanced is to the effect that, in fact, it is Secretary to Cabinet who has done the transfer and not Guy Scott. For the lack of a better term, this argument is absolute nonsense. The Zambian system of governance is a “political system”. Having a political system means that both the civil service and the armed forces are under oversight, supervision and control of our elected politicians. In Zambia, the Secretary to Cabinet even if she is the head of the civil service does not make personnel decision at Permanent Secretary level. This is the preserve of an elected and sworn President. Consequently, according to our constitution, the political leaders are estopped from changing the fabric of the senior civil service in the ninety days of an executive transition. As such, the Secretary to Cabinet does not have the power nor the authority to do what he is purported to have done. If Guy Scott is estopped from making changes, this certainly means that Secretary to Cabinet Msiska is equally estopped from making changes. In essence, Guy Scott cannot accomplish indirectly through Roland Msiska, what he cannot accomplish directly through his office. That which the constitution stops Guy Scott from doing, cannot be done by hiding through the signature of Dr. Msiska. It is an open secret that in the don’t kubeba government, systems and basic government decency has been heavily compromised. But we must do all we can to remind this government to do right. Even after the death of President Sata, this maltreatment of our system was exhibited. Instead of having the political leadership announce the passing of the President, it was a procedural indignity for the death of a republican president to be announced by a Secretary to Cabinet. After all is done, it will be good to make an inquiry into what exactly transpired in this sacrilege in protocol.

By stating that our system of governance is a “political system”, we do not in any way state that “professionals” or “technocrats” are irrelevant. What we are stating is that professionals and technocrats have a place in our system. But their place is not in usurping the role of elected representatives of our people. Zambia is not a technocracy it is a democracy. It is in this vein that we should agree with what Miles Sampa stated at one point when he was at Ministry of Finance. When he was a Deputy Finance Minister, he had differed with some technocrats there. In responding to them, Sampa made it clear that the role of technocrats is not to make “policy” but to implement it. Policymaking is a preserve of elected representatives who have political accountability to the people of Matero or Milenge as the case may be. Since technocrats are not directly accountable to the people, our system of governance makes them amenable to politicians and then politicians in turn are amenable to the will of the people. Zambians voted for Sata, for Guy Scott and will vote for Sata’s successor on January 20, 2015. Zambians never voted for Roland Msiska, and as such, he should exercise only those powers that are consistent with his role as Zambia’s most senior civil servant.

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Scott shouldn’t behave like a substantive President

Another concern we have that has insolently blurred the divide between politicians and the civil service concerns the so-called “District Commissioners”. The DCs are supposed to be civil servants. As civil servants, they are not political representatives of our people. It is surprising how these unelected DCs usurp civic and municipal functions that should be left to respective mayors and councilors to perform. DCs behave as if they are the mini-presidents or mini-ministers of their districts. This is a huge anomaly. To put it another way, a DC is not to Milenge what Sata was to Zambia. Again, my DC friend in Ithezi Tezhi is not to that town what Munkombwe is to Southern Province. We will leave that discussion to another day.

But for now, we condemn Guy Scott’s deplorable way of governing by transferring government officers. It is illegal, to say the least. We urge him to exercise restraint especially during this time that his party is undergoing a political bloodbath. During these times, there is a great temptation to act irrationally and to abuse power. We urge Guy Scott to be reasonable. A warning is in order. Scott could be thinking that he has political bombasa. But immunity is so unreliable as a way to hide what we Zambians perceive to be illegal. All Scott needs is to ask Bo Rupiah Banda and he will be told that in “bombasa” Zambians do not trust!

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This article appeared in the print edition of the Zambia Daily Nation on Friday 21 November 2014. Munshya wa Munshya on Friday column appears there every Friday.

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A Great Man Who Died “Empty”: Tribute to Dr. Myles Munroe (1954-2014)

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

The news came as a shock to me. Like most deaths, the passing of Dr. Myles Munroe was completely unexpected. He was flying to a meeting he was hosting in The Bahamas when his private plane hit a crane and disintegrated. All the nine passengers including Dr. Munroe’s wife Ruth died on the spot on November 9 2014. The Prime Minister of Bahamas, Perry Christie, remarked that the passing of Dr. Munroe was a huge loss to the island. Indisputably, Dr. Munroe had risen to be the most internationally influential preacher the commonwealth of Bahamas has ever produced. On many levels, the passing of Dr. Munroe has been a loss to his family, his church, his international followers and indeed to his native country. Munroe held three bachelor’s degrees, a Master of Arts degree and an honorary doctorate degree. He was a lecturer, advisor, pastor, and best-selling author.

I had the privilege of being introduced to the books and tapes of Dr. Munroe very young in my life. I started listening to Dr. Myles Munroe in my teenage years. My friends and I found the teachings from Dr. Munroe to be quite spiritually stimulating, emotionally vigorous and intellectually challenging. In the early nineties, a deacon in my home church in Chingola, the Grace Fellowship Family Church, lent me a book by Dr. Myles Munroe. I was only sixteen. But the book “In Pursuit of Purpose” changed my life. Henry Charles Sichone was a very dedicated church leader in Bishop Mumba Kalusenga’s congregation. He now provides leadership to a ministry called “Praise Ministries”. He had a home library where we could borrow books. It so happened that while he was sorting his books, I saw him tack away the book “In Pursuit of Purpose”. When I asked if he could lend it to me, he cautiously gave it to me with strict instructions that I return it in good condition. I had no idea just how much of an impact that book would have on my life. I am really glad that I came across that material. Dr. Myles Munroe helped shape my life through that book.

The Word of Faith Movement has received a lot of criticism. However, I find that some criticism to be quite unfair. While it is true that some within the faith movement only taught the idea that in order to make it in life you have to just “claim it”, there were other teachers who taught hard work, self-discipline and perseverance. Dr. Munroe belonged to the latter. There are several principles I learnt through the life and ministry of Dr. Myles Munroe.

First, Munroe taught about personal purpose. He taught that one’s fulfillment in life depends on them doing and becoming what they were born to be and do. This statement is quite liberating. I remember as a teenager reading through this statement and determining from then on that my fulfillment was not dependent on what my parents told me but on what I felt was God’s purpose for my life. It was this sense of personal purpose that led me to enroll in a theological college immediately after High School in Chingola. I have tried to pursue my personal purpose since then.

Second, Munroe taught about excellence. It was not enough to just know one’s purpose. Each person must work on excellence. The whole reason why we have a purpose to fulfill in life is because purpose brings something we can excel at. This is perhaps one of the most fundamental principles. The purpose of life is not to be rich or to be powerful, but rather to satisfy the primary reason why you exist. It is not about trying to be someone else, but it is about being an original. For some personal excellence might mean having to integrate several facets of life. Munroe was a preacher, lecturer and leadership consultant. It took excellence to integrate all these roles.

Dr. Myles Munroe

Dr. Myles Munroe

Third, Dr. Munroe taught about death. According to him, the grave is the richest place on earth because in it is buried great dreams that were never fulfilled. To motivate people, Dr. Munroe came up with a plan. The plan was about disappointing the grave. Instead of dying with a lot of potential, Munroe encouraged people to die “empty”. For him, a good death meant dying after you have fulfilled your purpose and emptied each and every piece of ideas or thoughts for the good humanity. Two weeks before his death, Munroe encouraged a TV audience to die like he was planning to die “empty”. The thought of human mortality does besiege each one of us. Existential questions abound in our minds. However, we should concentrate on ensuring that each day we live is spent emptying ourselves for the good of humanity. Indeed, after many lessons from Munroe, I am determined now more than ever to not only live purposefully, but also aspire to die “empty.”

Like many of us, Dr. Myles Munroe did have critics and detractors. He too had some debatable teachings. I am familiar with some of the controversial teachings later in his ministry. However, these controversies were never grave enough to warrant the criticism he received from some quarters. As a dispenser of concepts and ideas, Dr. Munroe did get into trouble. One of the most controversial aspects of his teachings has to do with his “Kingdom Theology”, which did seem to justify colonialism. Additionally, his teaching that “Christ” could be distinguished from “Jesus” was also quite controversial. For sure, the orthodox view is that, the man Jesus is actually the Christ. The humanity of Christ cannot be separated from the divinity of Christ. The human Jesus is the divine Christ. Weaknesses sometimes do show that we are all just human after all. Even the unimpeachable life of a great man like Myles Munroe could have some blemishes here and there. That is the hallmark of our own fallible humanity.

"A great man who died empty"

“A great man who died empty”

Years after I first encountered the teachings of Dr. Myles Munroe, I got to listen to him personally at a leadership conference in Swaziland. It was around the year 2000. The first meeting was at Lugogo Sun Hotel where he taught about leadership. The second meeting took place in Manzini where he spoke about the principles of purpose. It is these same principles that I had read about in his book “In Pursuit of Purpose.” I was just so glad that I could listen to him live. He appeared to be a very courteous fellow. After the Manzini meeting, I rushed to the stage, handed him a paper and he autographed it for me and for a hundred others that had jostled for the front. I have always had in my mind a desire to visit his home base in the Bahamas. But he died before I could travel to listen to him there. For sure, he died a great man. But he also died empty. He fulfilled his purpose and I just hope that each one of us will live to fulfill our own purpose and then die “empty”.