Monthly Archives: July 2016

Loving the “Other” In Zambia: Towards a praxis of peace in political violence

By E. Munshya, LLM, MBA, MDIV

Our nation is in crisis. We have suddenly realised that we too are a violent nation. The so called oasis of peace, we think we are, has been challenged a great deal by recent events. Zambians known for hospitality made headlines in April, 2016 when they looted shops owned by foreigners. Suddenly, right before our eyes, the myth of peace has given way to a narrative of confusion. A few weeks before the elections, violence has been passing like a song in the night. Not even the Head of State seems to know what to do about it. A citizen was shot by police. Accounts differ about what happened exactly. Some say it was the cadres who got violent, others accuse police of the violence. If Zambia is to return to the peaceful oasis it has been, it must re-examine its own myth making as a nation.

To counter a culture of violence, we must learn to live with the “other”. We call ourselves One Zambia One Nation. This is partly true, but in order to counter the violence, we must interrogate the assumptions that come with this national motto. For Zambians to stay safe and peaceful, their lives must not be predicated on an assumption that they are a homogenous unit. Homogeneity has never been the standard for peace, at least not from the Biblical perspective. Jesus does not want us to think alike, in order for us to live at peace with each other or with the other. As a matter of fact, Jesus brings a revolutionary concept to peace. It is rarely a homogeneity of race, tribe or even nationality. What brings peace from the Christian perspective is the tolerance of diversity, a respect for the foreigner, and a hospitality towards the other.

Zambians are as strong and as weak as any other peoples. Nations at war are not necessarily more evil than we are. Things can easily escalate and we could lose the peace we have always enjoyed. We must begin interrogating our own pride and arrogance that makes us believe that we are somewhat more special than others in the region. Human beings are very evil and sinful. It is important that the Zambian human realises just how base and sinful they can be. We are as wicked as the Rwandans or the South Africans. We are all human after all. If we condemned South African xenophobia, our pointing fingers were greatly embarrassed when in April we did our own xenophobic acts on the Congolese and the Rwandans running shops in Chawama and Mtendere.

Elias Munshya New

Theologian & lawyer

When Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10, it is a revolutionary story that challenges race, nationalism and religion. The story of the Good Samaritan in fact goes further by redefining the way Christians should live with the neighbour or with the “other”. The Samaritans were ostracized by the Jews. And yet, it is the ostracised person in the story who goes to help a Jewish victim of violence. By making the Samaritan become the hero of the story of hospitality towards the Jew, Jesus leaves for us the example we must follow. Tolerance and love become powerful once we exercise it beyond our comforts. Love cannot be love until it is given away. This is the powerful lesson we need to learn in this great country before we give way to violence and become as failed a state as the many African nations that have gone to war.

We do not have to like the other to love the other. We need to love even those we do not like. There is nothing drastic about a PF cadre loving a PF cadre, but it is a great revolutionary act when cadres love each other across party lines and in spite of their political differences. Jesus himself assembled a team of disciples whose political persuasions were antithetical to each other. Among the disciples of Jesus was Matthew the tax collector and presumed collaborator of Roman colonialism. Simon, the Zealot was also one of the disciples of Jesus. Zealots and tax collectors were the worst of enemies. Their politics was at odds but it is remarkable that Jesus brought these two enemies together to become the core group of his incarnational work. In Zambia, we must so transform our politics as to know that after we have done all the politics there is, we must still learn to live with each and tolerate each other just like Matthew and Simon, the zealot learnt from Jesus the grace of tolerance.

We must love the other because we are the other. Homogeneity is important, but it is on its own a very dull construct. In 1991, Zambia did away with a homogenous political party and ideology because we wanted some variety in the daily intercourse of our political conversation. After we have tasted the sweetness of democracy, we must not let political heterogeneity lead to violence and despair. We certainly are going to see things differently. But differences in how see things must not create a chasm that divides the cemented unity of our nation.

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Edgar Lungu

President Lungu has called for prayers. We must pray for our country. But more than that, we need to act very decisively. Prayer without action does not achieve much. Even the book of James encourages us to be doers of the Word. President Lungu must not only model prayer, he must model love and tolerance towards the other. He is president of all and it must hurt him when an innocent citizen gets killed by bullets blurring from government issued rifles. President Lungu can set the tone: the tone of prayer and the tone of tolerance, grace and forgiveness. He must not push responsibility to UPND cadres alone as PF cadres are equally violent. It is time to pray, but it is also time to love the other and to tolerate others even if their politics is repugnant to our nostrils. There should be space for all colours under the Zambian skies.

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Suggested Citation: Munshya, E. (2016). Loving the “Other” In Zambia: Towards a praxis of peace in political violence. Elias Munshya Blog (www.eliasmunshya.org) (July 17, 2016)

Elias Munshya is a theologian and lawyer practising civil litigation, administrative law, and estate law at West End Legal Centre (www.westendlegalcentre.com) in Alberta, Canada. 

Note: A version of this article appeared in the Friday edition of the Zambia Daily Nation Newspaper on July 15, 2016 in the Munshya wa Munshya Column

Towards A Theology of Hospitality: The Referendum and Zambia’s Christian nation declaration

By E. Munshya, LLM, MBA, MDIV

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E. Munshya – theologian and lawyer

Ours should be a theology of hospitality, not arrogance. An evangelical political theology in Zambia must begin reassessing the theory and practice of its Christian faith, particularly as it relates to the relationship between the Church and the state. Zambia is not a church; it is a liberal republic. We cannot run Zambia is if it were a church. Zambia is not a congregation and Lungu is not its priest or prophet. Jesus is no more king over Zambia, than he is king over Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Jesus is the King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords. We do not need to enthrone him, for him to be king. The fact that we have declared ourselves a Christian nation, has led to a theology of arrogance that lacks the hospitality spirit of our Lord. We are an overindulged lot and it is only after we have reassessed our spoiled theology that we can return to a more balanced approach of the faith as it relates to our republic. There is nothing wrong with our profession of the Christian faith, there is everything wrong if we create an intercourse of the church and state to a level where we fail to distinguish one from the other. Nothing has led to our lack of theological hospitality more than the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation, particularly after it was enshrined in the constitution of Zambia in 1996.

The Church of Jesus in Zambia, does not need the aid of the state to flourish. Jesus is building his church even in the most repressive regimes such as China. The church is growing the fastest in communist China than it is in Zambia further pouring scorn on our evangelical nationalism fueled by American political theology more than the simple hospitality of Jesus of Nazareth.

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President Edgar Lungu

Zambia will be going to a referendum on August 11, 2016 to entrench the Bill of Rights into our constitution. There is a section of our evangelical brothers and sisters who feel that the Bill of Rights is somehow anti-Jesus and would lead to Christian depravation. The Bill of Rights in its draft form guarantees every citizen of Zambia the right to belong to any religion of their choice. The Bill of Rights will guarantee that the state respect citizens’ freedom of conscience. If we are to do away with a theology of arrogance, we must first define what the Bill of Rights is all about. The Bill of Rights is not a statement of faith. It is not a religious text. It is a document that explains the limits of state action as far as the rights of citizens are concerned. The Bill of Rights proscribes the state from imposing upon citizens a particular doctrine or faith. It protects citizens from the power of the state’s bullets and guns. Zambian Christians will be better protected if the state is proscribed from imposing its faith upon citizens. The logic is simple: A Christian government today, may cease to be a Christian government tomorrow. If the church has been enjoying good treats because of a government’s faith, then the church will disintegrate if that government loses power.

Evangelicals need a prophetic distance from state favour by refusing to eat from Caesar’s table as a way of insulating itself from trouble. Government must provide an enabling environment of freedom and let Christianity compete in an atmosphere of liberty without coercion.

The declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation is a powerful statement of intent and faith. It is what we as a nation have declared ourselves to be. That being the case, we make a huge mistake if we think that the declaration has somewhat given Christians reliable rights over non-Christian citizens. As a Zambian Christian, I do not have more human rights than a non-Christian. As a Christian, I am not a first class citizen over a non-Christian. As we debate the Bill of Rights, let us be very clear that we are debating a bill for all citizens and not just Christian citizens. A theology of hospitality will help evangelicals to treat non-Christian citizens of Zambia as equals with full rights of citizenship.

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Frederick Jacob Titus CHILUBA

Without a theology of hospitality, Zambian evangelicals would lack a transnational prophetism. Ours would be a nationalist prophetism. A nationalist prophetism looks no further than a respective nation. It is self-centred and views Christianity as a means of temporal and political power. Nationalist prophetism is seen from evangelicals in countries such as the United States. Transnational prophetism on the other hand is outward looking. It looks at the Christian faith as a faith that goes beyond national government to encompass believers across the world. Transnational prophetism is not convinced simply by intra-national Christian domination, but a trans-national hospitality towards the “other”. Let us take Nigeria as an example. Nigerian preachers and Nigerian Christians will do anything in their power to keep Nigeria a secular state and would do everything to have a Bill of Rights similar to the one we will be voting on during the referendum. They want to keep the Nigerian state from interfering in religious liberty of Nigerians. They want the Nigerian state to guarantee every citizen the liberty to follow their faith and for faiths to freely propagate.

In Zambia, on the other hand, it seems Zambian evangelicals take it for granted that the state must somehow aid them in their crusades and evangelism. Even when the state favours us, Zambian evangelicals must live their faith as if they have no favour from the state and must act as if the state is not their friend. Zambian evangelicals must be faithful citizens of their country, but they must not give into the illusion that they need state favour to exist.

The work of evangelism must continue, and the best way to continue with the work of evangelism is if Christians had the freedom to spread their faith in a country which guarantees religious liberty to all. I hope all citizens in Zambia will vote yes for the Bill of Rights.

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Suggested Citation: Munshya, E. (2016). Towards A Theology of Hospitality: The Referendum and Zambia’s Christian nation declaration. Elias Munshya Blog. (www.eliasmunshya.org) July 7, 2016

 

A New Legal Tradition: Commentary on the rules of Zambia’s Constitutional Court

By E. Munshya, LLM, MBA, M.DIV.

On May 27, 2016, Justice Marvin Mwanamwambwa, the Deputy Chief Justice of Zambia and acting Chief Justice signed Statutory Instrument No. 37 of 2016 promulgating the rules of the Constitutional Court (C Court). It takes more than a Colosseum of judges to create a court system. Operationalisation of the Court simply means one thing: The Court can now begin its sittings as it now has the rules and the infrastructure to do so. I provide a commentary on the rules using a question and answer format.

What are Rules of the Constitutional Court?

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Supreme Court of Zambia

In general terms, there are two elements to any court system: substantive law and procedural law. Substantive law concerns the law as it is and includes subjects such as criminal law, securities law, corporate law and estate law. Substantive law is the “what” of the law. Procedural law on the other hand is about procedures and rules of how parties and the court can best deal with legal disputes. Good legal practice does not subsist in the knowledge of substantive law alone, but in the knowledge of the nuances of rules of procedure. A court needs some form of order of how people can approach it and what forms, if any they can use. It would be unimaginable, for example, for people to just show up before a judge and tell her whatever grievances they have. It is the rules of court that explain how a petitioner can bring matters before a judge: first fill out a form, write down what you want, take it to the registry, swear that what you have written is true, and have the court officials schedule a date for you to appear before a judge. It is the rules that would appropriately explain the how and where of any legal process. In law, the what of the law is as important as the how and the when!

If the Constitutional Court ranks equivalently to the Supreme Court, why is Justice Mwanamwambwa signing the Statutory Instrument operationalising the Constitutional Court?

According to Zambia’s constitution, the C Court ranks equivalently to the S Court, and the respective heads of the C Court and S Court rank equivalently as well. However, the Chief Justice of Zambia remains the head of the judicial branch of government. In that capacity, as the head of the judiciary, the Chief Justice is administratively superior to the president of the Constitutional Court. It is in this capacity as acting head of the judiciary that Justice Mwanamwambwa promulgated rules of the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court is a new court and there will be birth pangs and perhaps a little clash between two of our highest courts. However, knowing the maturity and candor of the judges of both of our highest courts, I am very positive that any clashes will be handled with the greatest civility that has come to define the greatness of our nation and the stellar reputation of our judges.

Are Constitutional Court Rules similar to other Rules of Zambian courts?

Zambia, as a common law country, relies heavily upon court rules and legal procedures from England and Wales. So much for our pride of political independence. The rules of the C Court acknowledge the role of English legal procedure and provides that the Rules of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales would apply on any question that is not addressed in the rules promulgated under the hand of Deputy Chief Justice Mwanamwambwa. Both the High Court and the Supreme Court rules currently in force are surrogates of English rules.

What is so remarkable about these new rules?

Elias Munshya New

E. Munshya of the Alberta Bar

The rules of the Constitutional Court are quite modern and take into account how business should be done in the age of the internet. The rules take into account information technology and modern devices. However, they go into too much detail about the technology that could be obsolete within a year or two. The rules could have done well to recognise the role of modern information technology without the need to actually specify the technology. Technology seems to change as quickly as we are blinking and the law will always have to play catch up. The recognition of e-filing, and scanning, and serving documents electronically is a very positive move and the Zambian judiciary must be commended for this modernization. Technology is expensive and it is my hope that the judiciary will have enough financial resources to implement its drive towards technology. In terms of modern technology, the rules ignore important aspects of modern technology: websites and blogs. While it goes on about books being relevant and admissible in court, the rules are silent about the relevance of blogs and internet sites. If books are valuable, a court that wants to recognise information technology should equally recognise the value of blogs such as eliasmunshya.com which is dedicated to academic discussion of both law and culture. Just for its recognition of information technology, the Rules should be commended. It is a great start.

 

Are the Rules easy to understand?

I think they are quite easy to comprehend. I like the simple language used in the Rules. A few ambiguous paragraphs exist here and there, but in general terms, I like the language of the rules. It will take some time though for both lawyers and laypeople alike to get used to the Rules. But they provide a very robust new beginning for our Constitutional Court. I would not recommend that citizens attempt to navigate through the legal and constitutional system on their own. It is always a good idea to enlist the help of a member of the Zambian Bar. Few as they seem to be, Zambian legal practitioners are committed to representing constitutional litigants and I have no doubt that they will help in the herald of this new legal dispensation.

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Citation: Munshya, E. (2016). A New Legal Tradition: Commentary on the rules of Zambia’s Constitutional Court. Elias Munshya Blog. (www.eliasmunshya.org). July 3, 2016