Mumba Yachi of Mokambo: Zambia’s lost citizens and what they can do about it
E. Munshya, LLM. MBA, M.DIV.
We really do not know all the facts surrounding Mr. Mumba Yachi’s arrest. From the public domain, we understand that he has been arrested for obtaining a Zambian passport and identity documents on false pretences. He on the other hand, it is being reported, asserts that he is a descendant of Lumpa exiles who had settled in Mokambo, a Lamba village straddling Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s pedicle. After he returned to Zambia, a series of events led to his arrest on fraudulent citizenship charges. This article presumes that these reports are true concerning Mr. Yachi’s Lumpa background. Additionally, this article complements the earlier article I had written on Mumba Yachi. That earlier article can be found here: https://eliasmunshya.org/2017/09/03/mumba-yachi-lenshina-and-the-continuing-challenges-of-zambian-citizenship/
All those in Mr. Mumba Yachi’s shoes, whether they are exiles, descendants of exiles or Zambians who find themselves on the other side of the Zambian border must understand that they may have legal claims to Zambian citizenship. Zambia is their country. Contrary to fake and jealousy news, lost citizens must follow Zambian law and procedure when trying to claim what is legally theirs. Citizenship Acts and Regulations exist for a reason. They exist to operationalise the constitution and help preserve the integrity of a nation. Zambia is now attempting to mature as a jurisdiction. For it to do so, the systems must function and the law must be respected. We are no longer in the age of citizenship chipantepante. The post-independence age of fuzziness is over. Anyone who believes they are entitled to citizenship must be informed or try to inform themselves of the law. For a lack of a better term, I would use the term “lost citizens” to refer to the people in Yachi’s situation.
Lost citizens must not listen to liars. They must remove the blanket of ignorance. They must know that if they are entitled to citizenship there is a procedure – a legal procedure they could follow and most importantly to say the truth. There is a lot of false information and fake news out there.
Lost citizens must learn to tell the truth. Each lost citizen has a story unique to their situation. If you are a Lumpa descendant tell the Zambian authorities the truth about your parents and your heritage. If one of your parents is a foreigner, tell the truth. Do not hide the fact that a father or a mother are not Zambian. According to Zambian law, a child of a Zambian mother or father could be a Zambian by descent. Do not believe the lie that only a Zambian father confers Zambian citizenship on a child. That may have been the case many decades ago. It is not the case now. If your mother is a Zambian, you could still be entitled to Zambian citizenship based on a mother’s citizenship. When you are speaking with Zambian Immigration be forthcoming and tell them the reality.
Lost citizens must understand that Zambian citizenship is a matter of fact and law. It is not something that is just granted by an immigration official. Immigration officials are not grantors of Zambian citizenship. If you believe that the law or the constitution entitles you to Zambian citizenship, tell the immigration officials that fact. You do the homework as well. Let them know that you are entitled to Zambian citizenship and the officers are there to help facilitate that and not hinder it. If you can hire legal counsel to help you navigate the law, do so. It could be expensive at first, but it can help.
Lost citizens close to a consulate or embassy, must go and speak to consular officials about their situation. Let me be more direct: Do not fear the Zambian diplomatic officials. They are there to help Zambians, all Zambians. Go and explain to them your situation, register with them and if you wish to pursue your citizenship in Zambia, let them be on your side. Consular officials are expected by the constitution of Zambia, statutes and regulations to give effect to the letter and spirit of the law. Do not listen to anyone who misleads you. Even if they do not speak French or Portuguese, the consular officials are expected to listen to your story and translate it. We know that not everyone entitled to Zambian citizenship will pursue it, but it is always a good idea for consular officials to know.
If you live in border areas such as Chirundu, Mokambo or Chavuma, and are Zambian, take advantage of the mobile Zambian citizenship registration exercises. Usually when Zambia is preparing for elections, the Zambian authorities are expected by the law and the constitution to register citizens who are eligible to vote in the elections. When politics and procedure are in competition, please know that politics frequently win. Politics usually speed up procedure. Use that leverage, if you can. But always tell the truth. At age 16 or 18, you can go and see the mobile registration officials, explain to them your situation and they could consider registering your citizenship and issue an NRC. I do understand that you must have a parent or responsible adult with you. Please note that the NRC does not grant you citizenship. It only registers your citizenship. You must be a Zambian to obtain a green NRC. Therefore, when you are undergoing the mobile exercise routine, be truthful to the officials and if you have a non-Zambian parent as I have stated above, let the officials know. Conversely, if you have a relative who can help vouch for you, take them with you and let them be truthful as well. Remember: there is great wisdom in the biblical adage: the truth shall set you free.
If someone comes to you and tells you to bribe your way through a green NRC, do not do it. If you are entitled to Zambian citizenship the law will always be on your side. It is costly to amend mistakes of this nature.
While there are no clear solutions to some of the situations, it does not hurt to try. Please understand that many times, even the Zambian state or its agents might misunderstand and misapply the law and the constitution. In those circumstances, you have the right to petition the Zambian High Court for redress. It is expensive. I know. As a lawyer, I often wonder if I can afford myself. But if you can, you may take the Zambian state to court if it abrogates the constitution. In the Zambian system of governance executive decisions are reviewable by courts. The famous court case that dealt with citizenship and the impact of the NRC is Lewanika and others v. Chiluba. I am resisting the temptation to discuss it in this article, but it was a constitutional masterpiece. Every citizen must read that case.
Ultimately, lost citizens must know that the Republic of Zambia has a duty to its citizens. If you are one of them, it has a duty to you. But you also have a duty to the republic. Tell the truth, act quickly and bless your country. Your country needs you.
Below is the Youtube link of Mr. Mumba Yachi’s hit song – Mokambo.
About Elias Munshya: I am a Zambian based in Canada where I practice law at West End Legal Centre in Calgary, Alberta. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, I reflect on issues that affect Zambian development.
About Mokambo: Both my mother and my grandmother Ondi Chibilo are buried there. That little piece of land straddling Zambia and Congo DR will always hold great memories and a rich history. My family’s story will always be the story of migrations from Milenge to Mokambo and then to the world.
Suggested Citation: Munshya E. (2017). Mumba Yachi of Mokambo: Zambia’s lost citizens and what they can do about it. Elias Munshya Blog. (www.eliasmunshya.org). September 4, 2017.