Tag Archives: politics

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

Separation of Powers Betrayed: Why Justice Lengalenga got it wrong in the GBM case

E. Munshya, LLB, LLM, MDIV.

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Elias Munshya, LLM, M.A., MBA, M.Div.

In the Zambian doctrine of separation of powers, each branch of government has a distinct role to play and no one branch should interfere in the other’s function. Parliament makes the law, the executive implements the law while the judiciary interprets the law. But this doctrine is quite subtle. Our system of government does allow for some overlap. For example, the executive is almost exclusively made up of members of parliament and the president as head of the executive is a principal actor in the legislative process. As argued below, while the judiciary is the ultimate interpreter of the law, both parliament and the executive to have interpretive functions. At the heart of Justice Lengalenga’s March 23, 2016 ruling in the Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba v. the Attorney General, the Speaker of the National Assembly, and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (the “GBM 2016 case”) is the question of whether the Speaker as head of parliament had the power to make the declaration that GBM’s Kasama seat had become vacant. Edwin Mbewe, a legal commentator and 4th year student at the Zambia Open University Law School has correctly observed that the reason for Justice Lengalenga’s decision (known as ratio decidendi in legal jargon), was that the Speaker has no powers to declare a seat vacant and that function is purely the preserve of the High Court. It was this ratio that led Madam Justice Lengalenga to reverse the Speaker and to grant the Kasama parliamentary seat back to GBM. My concern with Justice Lengalenga’s ruling is that it betrays the doctrine of separation of powers and the ruling misconstrues the High Court’s role when interpreting the law.

While it is true that it is the High Court’s role to interpret the law, it is necessary to understand circumstances under which such a duty arises. In Zambia’s political and legal practice, the High Court is not the only body that interprets the law. It is fundamentally problematic to hold that only the judiciary can interpret the law. In actual fact, everyone interprets the law, including the police on the Chipata highway, administrative bodies in Mpika, teachers in Chiwempala, plumbers in Kasompe, tamanga boys of Katongo Street, and fishermen in Milenge. The judiciary only comes in to resolve issues when there are legal disputes. Judicial interpretation of the law is tied to its role as an arbiter of disputes. When we refer to judicial interpretation, we are in essence referring to a form of legal dispute resolution. The laws of Zambia do not wait for the judiciary’s active interpretation for the laws to be valid. The laws do not remain dormant until the judiciary brings them alive through an interpretation. Two of the branches of government have a proactive duty to function, the judiciary, on the other hand, does not have a proactive duty. The judiciary cannot go on rampage trying to “interpret the law.” The judiciary comes in if and when there is a dispute among competing interpretations. Articles 71 and 72 of the Constitution of Zambia does state that only the High Court can settle a dispute concerning the loss of a parliamentary a seat, but Justice Lengalenga’s judgment failed to appreciate the fact that other clauses within 71 and 72 provide different ways a seat could become vacant without necessarily involving the High Court. For example, if an MP dies, you do not wait for the High Court to declare a seat vacant. Additionally, an MP who ceases to be a citizen of Zambia ceases to be a member of parliament too. You do not need the High Court to declare a seat vacant in those circumstances as the Speaker can take note of the facts and make a determination that a seat has become vacant. Conversely, the Speaker cannot declare a seat vacant if the seat is contested in court between two parties that are claiming the seat as happens during an electoral petition.

Where an MP deliberately chooses to leave the party that sponsored them to parliament and then becomes a member of a different political party, it is within the Speaker’s powers to declare their seat vacant without the need to go to court. This is exactly what happened with GBM. Justice Lengalenga by restoring the parliamentary seat to GBM had out-rightly ignored GBM’s own actions of leaving the Patriotic Front to become a member of the United Party for National Development. For clarity, let us look at some pertinent facts. In 2014, GBM ran into some discipline issues with his party the Patriotic Front (PF). The PF moved to discipline him, but before they could reach him, he went to the High Court and obtained an injunction against his expulsion. After the commencement of that legal action against the PF, GBM escalated issues and subsequently accepted the position of vice-president of the UPND. The Zambian constitution did not and does not allow dual party membership for MPs.

Even if political party constitutions permitted dual party membership, the republican constitution does not permit it. An MP who becomes a member of a party other than the one that sponsored them to parliament ceases to be an MP. Full stop. When GBM became a member of the UPND (evidenced by his acceptance of the position of veep and his own sworn affidavit) he ceased to be a Member of Parliament. It was the Speaker’s right and responsibility in such circumstances to acknowledge that fact and inform the Electoral Commission of Zambia that Mr. GBM was no longer a member of parliament. There was no need to wait until the GBM v PF case was disposed of because the GBM v PF case concerned a matter completely different from what the Speaker was dealing with. Justice Lengalenga did not create this distinction in her mind leading to a very erroneous outcome that undermines the principle of separation of powers. She went on to answer questions that were irrelevant to the issues at hand.

No one took the seat away from GBM, he did it by himself and the High Court was wrong to give him back the seat which he voluntarily abandoned. It does not matter that Mr. GBM may not have intended the consequences of his actions. He cannot be vice-president of UPND and PF member of parliament at the same time, no matter how you spin it.

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Suggested citation: Munshya, E. (2016). Separation of Powers Betrayed: Why Justice Lengalenga got it wrong in the GBM case. Elias Munshya Blog (www.eliasmunshya.org) (March 31, 2016)

Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba v Attorney General & Others – 2015.HP.1279-2

 

 

Zambia’s Sugo Fiasco: Interpreting the constitution’s Grade 12 requirement

E. Munshya, LLB, LLM, MBA, M.Div.

In the recent constitution amendment signed by President Edgar Lungu is a provision that is both absurd and confusing. According to Article 70 (1) (d), a person is eligible to be elected as a Member of Parliament, if that person “has obtained, as a minimum academic qualification, a grade twelve certificate or its equivalent”. This provision has sent shivers and panic, no less, among the very parliamentarians that passed the constitution. Some quarters are even suggesting that candidates should produce their grade twelve certificates if they are to stand for political office. I submit that the Zambian courts will have to provide a more creative interpretation of this provision if we are to avoid the mess it has brought. However, today, I just want to dispel a few fears.

Is grade twelve the academic qualification for political office? No, the constitution is clear; a grade twelve certificate is the minimum academic qualification. So a person does not need to produce this minimum qualification if they have a superior qualification.

Can a person have a higher academic qualification if they did not complete grade twelve? Yes, in fact many of our senior judges, lawyers and senior civil servants in Zambia never completed grade twelve as they never went to secondary school. Kenneth Kaunda trained as a school teacher and yet he did not have a grade twelve education. Frederick Chiluba graduated from Warwick University with a Master of Philosophy degree and yet he never had a grade twelve education. It is possible for a person to not complete grade twelve and yet have academic qualifications that are superior to it. If Kaunda, Mainza Chona or Chiluba were to stand as MPs under the current constitution, they would not have to show a grade twelve certificate, all they would need to show are their tertiary qualifications.

How can a person have tertiary education if they do not have secondary education? This is what confuses many. In the real world, it does not take secondary education to do tertiary education. In fact, Zambian universities and colleges can admit students on mature entry status who do not possess a grade twelve education. Those graduates would still have an education that is superior to a grade twelve certificate and can qualify to stand based on Article 70 (1) (d).

Some institutions demand grade twelve even from those with superior degrees, isn’t the constitution saying the same thing? Article 70 (1) (d) does not state that a candidate must have a grade twelve education as well as other education. It simply states the minimum. It can also be noted that the Article is referring to a “certificate”, and not to an “education”. So it is not asking for a grade twelve education, but a grade twelve certificate. A grade twelve certificate can be obtained without twelve years of education and in fact, even a superior qualification can be obtained in its place. While it is true that ZIALE, as an example, demands grade twelve certificate in addition to a bachelor of laws degree in its admission requirements, this is different from what 70 (1) (d) is requiring. With due respect, you cannot interpret the constitution on the basis of discriminatory practices of bodies such as ZIALE or the Nursing Council of Zambia.

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Elias Munshya, LLM, M.A., MBA, M.Div.

Can trades certificate and diplomas qualify as superior to grade twelve education? We might have to wait for a court ruling on this one, but the old myth that trades and vocational education is not academic enough has long been dispelled. Vocational training and the trades are as academic as a university education. All tertiary education in Zambia is superior to secondary education. Education in Zambia is roughly demarcated as follows: primary, secondary and tertiary education, in the level of their superiority. 70 (1) (d) makes secondary education the minimum, meaning all those with tertiary education do qualify to stand. To say that a person cannot have tertiary education unless they have secondary education is as ridiculous as suggesting that for one to have secondary education they must first have primary education. There are clear instances where a person without primary education due to circumstances beyond their control would go straight to secondary education. Trades certificates such as diplomas and certificates in plumbing, cooking, and joinery from a recognised institution of training in Zambia is academically superior to any secondary education.

There is a lot to say about the grade twelve qualification. It is absurd and if it came up before the constitutional court, it will be interpreted very liberally so as to allow more people to qualify to stand as political leaders. It is certainly absurd to demand that councillors in Milenge have a grade twelve certificate when secondary school arrived there only very recently. Let us end here for now and see how this sugo fiasco plays out.

Editorial Note: Elias Munshya holds three degrees in law and is currently undergoing the bar admission process in the jurisdiction of Alberta. Those personally affected by the issues raised in this article are encouraged to consult members of the Zambian bar for legal advice specific to their situation.

Citation: Munshya, E. (2016). Zambia’s Sugo Fiasco: Interpreting the constitution’s Grade 12 requirement. Elias Munshya Blog. (www.eliasmunshya.org).

 

From Kasonde to Kafwaya: Debunking the myth that “old people” rule Zambia

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

Munshya wa Munshya

Munshya wa Munshya

The honorable Dr. Joseph Kasonde was born in 1938, his youngest counterpart in the legislature, Hon. Dawson Kafwaya, was only born in 1984. Between these two years is a spectrum of the ages of the current members of the Zambian parliament. Perhaps the most dominant myth to grace our politics in Zambia, is this persistent notion that “tired”, “old” and “finished” politicians rule our republic. This myth drives some of our youth to desire a political revolution that will usher in the “young” generation. There is no doubting that the Zambian population is very young. Our median age is 16. With a life expectancy of about 50, improving from the time we got serious with condoms, over half of Zambians are below the age of 20. At my age, I am older than about 75% of all Zambians. Some Canadians find it rather amusing when they learn that at my young age, I am quite a madala in Zambian terms.

The greatest threat to our national development is neither old age nor young-age, but it is theft, bribery, corruption and nepotism. It is ridiculous to think or even imagine that our senior citizens of our republic are the main reason why we are not performing well as a country. The call for a younger political generation is insufficient, by itself, to take us to the Promised Land. Zambia needs a balance of age so that the promise of youth is balanced by the strength of old age. Our problem really is not that we have too many old people in our politics; in fact, we do not have too many old people in our politics. We probably have very few of them.

When some Zambians demand for young people to take over our politics, it is important to define what “young” means and what is “old”. I will take it that all those born in the decade of Zambia’s independence are young, while those born before independence are “old”. If we used this as a mechanism, we will find that in actual fact, the Zambian parliament is relatively young.

Of all the 159 Members of Parliament in Zambia, I had age data access to about 132 of them. Only two of the 132 MPs were born in 1938: Alexander Chikwanda and Dr. Kasonde. They are both 77 years old. Members of Parliament born in the 1940s include: Wina (1941), Lingweshi (1941), Lungu (1943), Willombe (1943), Scott (1944), Kazabu (1945), Chanda (1946), Chituwo (1947), Kawandami (1947), Kaunda (1947), Limata (1948), H. Mwanza (1949), Kapaya (1949), Mooya (1949) and Phiri (1949).

Members of Parliament born in the 1950s are twenty-six. I will mention only but a few. Chifumu Banda, Mutale, J. Lungu, and Shamenda were born in 1950. They are 64 years old. Imenda, Kazunga and Luo were born in 1951. Kaingu, Yaluma, and Muntanga were born in 1952. Katuka and Chipungu were both born in 1953 while Simbyakula was born in 1954. Munshya, Muchima, and Lufuma were born in 1957. The following five were born in 1959: Mutati, GBM, Mwimbu, Matibini, and Matafwali.

Dr. Joseph Kasonde

Dr. Joseph Kasonde

From the figures I have presented above, only 43 of the 132 MPs, I analysed, were born before 1960. Contrary to some perception that we do have a lot of “old” people in our politics, a bulk of Zambian politicians are actually, 50 years old or younger. They were born after 1960. Specifically, fifty-five of the current MPs were born in the decade between 1960 and 1969. Thirty-three were born in the 1970s. Dawson Kafwanka of Solwezi is the only MP born in the 1980s. Born in 1984, he is the youngest member of the current national assembly. Additionally, Kafwanka is the only MP who does not meet the requisite minimum age to qualify as a presidential candidate. In Zambia a presidential candidate must be at least 35 years old.

Those born in the 1960s have the distinction of being politically vocal and controversial. Another analysis should be done as to why this is so. It is from this group where we find the most presidential aspirants. I think this is the group that feels like they are “true” Zambians mostly born after independence. Simuusa (1962), Lubinda (1963), Mukanga (1965), Nkombo (1965) and Kambwili (1969) have all been floated as possible presidential contenders. It remains to be seen how far this group will go. All of Zambia’s presidents so far, were all born before 1960: Kaunda, Chiluba, Levy, RB, Sata and now Lungu. Presidential contenders Hakainde Hichilema and Nevers Mumba were both born after 1960.

Members of Parliament born in the 1970s look like they will shape the future of Zambian politics. It is from this list where we have the likes of Cornelius Mweetwa (1976), Miles Sampa (1970), Harry Kalaba (1976), Levy Ngoma (1975), Dr. Chilufya (1972), Habeenzu (1973) and Vincent Mwale (1978). It is also quite interesting to note that ten youngest members of this present parliament are either ministers or highflying members of their party parliamentary caucuses.

Dawson Kafwaya

Dawson Kafwaya

In addressing the age of MPs, we must deal with the longevity of individual MPs in parliament as well. Experience is important for an institution such as the National Assembly. The Republic of Zambia is only 50 years old, and yet most of the MPs we actually have in parliament have only been in parliament since the year 2000. In our desire to push for youth, we must not neglect the importance of institutional memory. Chikwanda was an MP for a few years in the 1970s and apart from him, no one of his current colleagues have that distinction. Our parliament is not only young, but it could also be short on institutional memory. Scott and a few others were MPs in the 1990s, but that is just about it.

From Kasonde to Kafwaya, we need to take our national rhetoric beyond the age of our politicians to asking important questions about integrity, values, and commitment to liberties. I really do not care how old an MP is, as long as they will not steal from the tax payers. Theft, and not age, is my greatest concern about politicians. And as one prophet said: “age aint nothin’ but a number.”

The Temptation of Nevers Sekwila Mumba (Part III): Keeping the Ambition Alive

By Elias Munshya wa Munshya

Dr. Nevers Sekwila Mumba believes that political parties are not the centre of the political process, people are. As such, he sees nothing wrong with changing parties, starting new ones, disbanding others and going back to the parties that disowned him. Political parties for Nevers are tools that a person can use to aspire for leadership. As such, loyalty to a political party comes second on Nevers Sekwila Mumba’s radar. The adage that there are no permanent enemies in politics except for permanent interests, comes even truer in the political life of

Nevers Mumba

Dr. Nevers Mumba

Nevers Mumba after he was fired as Vice-President of Zambia.

In the previous article, I had mentioned how that after President Mwanawasa’s return from New York in September 2004, it took only 24 hours for Vice-President Nevers Mumba to be fired. The firing itself came as a shock to Nevers Mumba. What is even worse is that President Mwanawasa felt so aggrieved at Nevers that he even paraded Nevers’ letter of apology that he had written in connection with the reports The Post had carried about the airport event the day earlier. Most interestingly, President Mwanawasa even mentioned that he had regretted appointing Nevers as Vice-President.

After he was fired, a brood of the Mwanawasa camp within government and party was excited that Nevers had been fired. The perceived threat that Nevers presented to all those that were aspiring to succeed Mwanawasa had now been taken of. In the opinion of some, the MMD would now move on and keep the Nevers Mumba factor behind them. Not so fast though, the Nevers Mumba factor was alive and well and in the next few months he was to strike back and strike back real hard.

After the September firing, Nevers left government house, his official residence within days. Typically, a former vice-president is expected to stay in the official residence for a few weeks to allow for him to look for decent accommodation elsewhere. He left the country for the USA and a few other countries to perhaps recuperate. After this firing, he mentioned of how he tried the sport of golf and also found solace in taking a few courses at Regent University in Virginia. He had earlier enrolled there in a Master of Public Policy program.

Upon return to Zambia, a few months latter, Nevers discovered that the support he had garnered within the MMD branches across the country was quite unshaken. In fact, even within the MMD NEC itself, it seemed Nevers had some sizeable support. In a party that had grown to dislike Mwanawasa’s hardline style of leadership, most within the MMD party had taken Mumba to be a safe alternative.

The MMD was about to go to the convention that year. Now that it was just November, the arrangements for the convention were delayed until the next year 2005. MMD members who had seen Nevers as an alternative to Mwanawasa had to move quickly to assure Nevers of their support. Even MMD stalwarts like Sikota Wina and his wife were reported to be among those supporting Nevers Mumba to take over as MMD president.

As Nevers’ presidential candidature was gaining momentum, he enlisted the support of President Frederick Chiluba. Nevers knew that openly accepting Chiluba’s endorsement would be a political gaffe. And so he had to be very careful. Chiluba on his part had made it clear that he would support anyone who wishes to challenge Mwanawasa. When asked about this endorsement, Nevers Mumba’s answer was clever and yet subtle:

“I have heard that President Chiluba has endorsed me for MMD president, there is very little I can do about that since I cannot go into his mind and change it.”

Implicitly then, Nevers had accepted Chiluba’s endorsement. And if Nevers had considered Chiluba to be a thief – now that he was running for president of the MMD he could do with as much support as he could get. It did not matter that when in government Nevers did push for Chiluba’s prosecution. An enemy had become a friend – politics par excellence.

And then came the announcement. Nevers was featured on Anthony Mukwita’s Let the People Talk. It is from there that he announced that he was going to run for MMD president and challenge President Levy Mwanawasa at the upcoming MMD convention. Mwanawasa on the other hand gathered enough intelligence both within the party and indeed the nation to know that Nevers was going to be a viable candidate against him. He was told there is a revolt in the MMD branches and Nevers had real support.

With these reports, Mwanawasa had to move very fast. The only way out was to change the MMD’s electoral college. To help Mwanawasa do this was going to be the newly installed MMD Secretary Vernon Mwaanga. It only took weeks for Vernon to announce that the NEC had changed the electoral college of the upcoming MMD convention. It is the NEC that was going to choose delegates to the convention and not district or branch organs. The provincial MMD branches were also stripped of this power. Additionally, Vernon announced that the MMD was going to commence disciplinary action against Nevers Mumba. Among the charges Nevers was facing are gross indiscipline and disloyalty to the party.

The dissatisfaction that the MMD members and branches had against Mwanawasa was so deep rooted that even after changing the Electoral College, most of Mwanawasa’s preferred candidates did not win at the convention in 2005. Most notably, Vernon Mwaanga lost the position of National Secretary from an electoral college, which he himself had handpicked. But we will come back to that later.

After weeks of wrangling, the NEC finally decided. Nevers had been expelled effectively ending his ambition to be president of the MMD. Vernon Mwaanga had also ensured that the electoral college was cleansed of all the supporters of Nevers Mumba. One by one, so called MMD branch officials would appear on national television renouncing Nevers and emphasizing in no flattering language that the disgraced former priest would not come near to tasting the republican presidency.

Politics change and change very quickly. It is one thing to have support within the MMD and quite another to transform that support into a new political party. Even if Nevers was quite outstanding when compared to Mwanawasa he was no Michael Sata. Starting a new political party was going to perhaps be the most controversial decisions of Nevers’ political career.

Enlisting the services of a shadowy figure known as John Ziba, Nevers Mumba established and registered a new political party to be known as the Reform Party. With an emblem of a charging bull, the party symbol was going to show everything that Nevers stood for – tenacity, strength and power. The Reform Party had for its slogan, a phrase taken from the national anthem – strong and free. This party was not going to last long. Nevers did not manage to garner any significant support for it, and before long, the Reform Party remained a party on paper.

Perhaps, Nevers’ decision to start his own party after his expulsion from the MMD might have been motivated by the desire to emulate Michael Sata’s decision to start his Patriotic Front years earlier. However, like I mentioned above – Nevers was no Michael Sata. What Sata represented in the minds of Zambians was far much more real than what Nevers did. And so if Nevers had thought that his new party was going to succeed he was in for a rude shock. The Reform Party made no real inroads into the political scene.

After Nevers was expelled, the Bemba-speaking section within the MMD had lost their political symbol and with it they had lost their influence. This group now wanted to get back its lost power. Mwanawasa knew of this influence and in fact it had been one reason why he had earlier appointed Nevers in the first place – to appease them. For Mwanawasa to keep the Bembas happy within the MMD he appointed another Bemba from Kasama – Lupando Mwape to be Nevers’ replacement. But the Bemba group was still was unsatisfied. Lupando Mwape was not a safe bet.

Meanwhile, as the MMD is recovering from Nevers’ expulsion, a group of six Bemba candidates were lining up and campaigning for the position of party vice-president. Austin Chewe, Lupando Mwape, and Bwalya Chiti were among the leading contenders. Knowing the consequence of such a bloodbath, Mwanawasa came up with a solution, suspend all campaigns for the party vice-presidency but keep Mwape as republican vice-president. But that decision was going to be a costly one for the party.

At the convention, the Bemba group resurfaced again. The same group that was unsatisfied with the expulsion of Nevers Mumba regrouped and the influence was deafening. They influenced the MMD convention to vote for Bemba-speaking Katele Kalumba as MMD National Secretary. This shocked Mwanawasa. But at least it made him realize that in politics friends could be enemies and enemies could turn out to be friends. Katele Kalumba is one of those individuals being prosecuted for corruption and theft by the Mwanawasa government.

This MMD convention and the way it voted in Katele Kalumba made Nevers Mumba to exclaim that Mwanawasa had betrayed the fight against corruption.

To bolster his chances in politics, Nevers knew that the Reform Party was headed nowhere. As such, he sought an opposition alliance with Michael Sata’s Patriotic Front for the 2006 elections. The terms were that Nevers was going to support Sata while he is given the opportunity to stand on PF ticket for parliament. A few weeks before the 2006 elections Nevers Mumba travelled to Chinsali with a certificate of adoption from PF Secretary General Guy Scott.

There was a small problem, however. PF Secretary General Guy Scott had issued a similar certificate of adoption to another candidate Mulenga. Mulenga coincidentally is nephew to Nevers Mumba. He had campaigned hard in Chinsali and had bolstered his popularity in Chinsali. In the battle of the 2 adoption certificates, it was Mulenga’s that won. A family meeting in Chinsali had persuaded the uncle to defer to the nephew and drop out of the race for Chinsali.

Nevers had failed.

The 2006 elections came and Nevers never again appeared with Michael Sata. He never openly campaigned for him. His Reform Party was not prepared enough to even field a single candidate. It seemed like dejavu for Nevers.

In the 2006 election, Mwanawasa finally prevailed. But the MMD’s popularity was further eroded. After having lost popularity in urban areas, the MMD had now lost to the Patriotic Front in both Luapula and Northern Provinces. The Bemba-speaking areas of Zambia had disowned Mwanawasa and the MMD. In fact, even Mwanawasa’s vice-president Lupando Mwape lost to a little known lawyer in a contest for a seat in Kasama.

With the Reform Party now basically extinct Nevers started making gestures to Mwanawasa for an appointment into the diplomatic service. His efforts at going to Canada kept being rebuffed by Mwanawasa and his loyalists. There was no room for Nevers Mumba. His sin had been too much. And his temptations were unforgivable.

Two years after the 2006 elections, President Levy Mwanawasa died. Fresh elections were to be called within 90 days of the burial. The MMD found its candidate in the republic vice-president Rupiah Banda. Knowing that the MMD was basically non-existent in the Bemba-speaking regions of Luapula and Northern Provinces, candidate Rupiah Banda turned to both President Chiluba and to Nevers Mumba. The 2009 presidential by-election would pit Michael Sata against Rupiah Banda. Sata’s friend Frederick Chiluba was no longer supporting the PF. He had changed back to the MMD because Rupiah Banda was more hospitable to him than Mwanawasa had been.

In countless campaign stops, Nevers appeared with Rupiah Banda in Mansa, Chinsali and several others places. Campaigning for Rupiah Banda meant almost instantaneously that Nevers was still going to be game.

After Rupiah Banda won the elections – Nevers’ dream of going to Canada as High Commissioner would come true. The turbulent priest, turbulent vice-president and controversial politician was now on his way to Ottawa to become the country’s ambassador. Upon hitting the ground in Ottawa, Nevers became a hit. He learnt the art of diplomacy quickly and got loved almost instantaneously by his diplomatic colleagues. In 2010 he was appointed dean of the diplomatic corps of Canada. Apart from Canada he was also ambassador to several Caribbean nations such as Bermuda, Jamaica and The Bahamas.

Within the business community, Nevers connected very well. Barrick Gold had just come to Zambia and were making huge investments into Lumwana. President Banda was happy to have Nevers in Ottawa. Since Nevers’ ambition knew no boundaries, Rupiah Banda did well to keep Nevers as far as possible. But even from the far flung areas of Canada, there were still whispers in the corridors of power, that Nevers’ political ambition had not ended. His time in Ottawa was going to be but a preparation time for something bigger.

What else could be bigger than being Ambassador or being vice-president?

Nevers’ sights for State House were never altered. Being Ambassadors was just one of those steps to take to help him reach the goal. However, MMD members and indeed many MMD insiders were still watching Nevers from afar and given the right circumstances they could give him another chance.

And that chance came in 2012. It came very fast and shockingly brutal.

In the 2011 elections, Rupiah Banda had lost the election to Michael Sata. Ambassador Nevers Mumba in Ottawa got the shocking news and knew there will be changes soon in Ottawa. Hours after Sata was sworn in, Nevers sent his congratulations but knew that his time as Ambassador had come to an end. He started gathering his goods and putting his house in order. Zambia had called. Foreign Affairs Minister Chishimba Kabwili recalled Nevers Mumba with immediate effect. To this recall, Nevers responded:

“I will come back to Zambia after the 3 months expires in accordance with my contract.”

This three months would give Nevers the necessary time to bid farewell to the contacts he had gathered in Ottawa. It would also give him the time to reflect on his next move. The opinion within the MMD NEC had been quite categorical – they needed him back to head the MMD.

Rupiah Banda tried to hold on to the MMD presidency for a few more months. But in December 2011 – he resigned as MMD president giving chance to the MMD NEC to find a new president.

In a convention, the MMD electoral college comprising branch, district, provincial and national delegates cast their votes. The first ballot had no convincing winner. It was the second ballot that assured Nevers Mumba of victory.

That morning, Nevers Mumba had been elected president of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy. President Michael Sata was not too happy with this outcome. From State House, President Sata castigated Nevers Mumba as a bogus and fake pastor who had stolen money in Canada and could not be trusted for leadership. “Nevers Mumba”, President Sata said, “abandoned his flock to join politics.” These words left no doubt that Nevers Mumba was going to face more temptations and trials under the leadership of President Sata.

The Temptation of Nevers Sekwila Mumba (Part I): Politics of Personal Sacrifice

By E. Munshya wa Munshya

It is Frank Talk time on prime time television in the early 1990s. One evening, the whole nation is listening in as journalist Frank Mutubila introduces his guest on ZNBC TV. Pastor Nevers Mumba sits confidently in his chair. Next to him is his wife. They are appearing on a program that follows and features news personalities. In the middle of the interview, smart Frank Mutubila probes Nevers about whether he would consider running for public office.“I am a preacher”, Nevers exclaims. And continues, “any involvement in politics would be a demotion.” Those words would become the most memorable lines of that Frank Talk interview.

When NeverNevers Sekwila Mumbas is saying that politics would be demotion. It really means just that. His name had become a household name in Zambia. He was an international preacher attracting the very best of international charismatic preachers. In a Christian nation, Nevers had access to State House at any time. Among his closest friends were President Frederick Chiluba and his Vice-President Godfrey Miyanda. Nevers Mumba was for all reasons a man with a lot of influence, the influence that came as a result of his faith commitment and leadership within the charismatic Pentecostal movement. His yearly Victory conferences became pilgrimages for Zambian Pentecostals.

Nevers’ influence did not just involve the MMD regime, however. President Kenneth Kaunda counted among many admirers of Nevers. In the dwindling days of his presidency, Kenneth Kaunda, a Chinsali native had turned to Nevers, another Chinsali native for counsel. The meeting at State House that Nevers had with Kaunda occupied several pages in Nevers’ book Integrity With Fire. According to Nevers and using Pentecostal language – President Kenneth Kaunda had given his life to the Lord after meeting Nevers at State House around 1990.

After winning the 1991 elections, President Frederick Chiluba’s government policy was to recognise and respect church leaders. Ignored for a long time under the leadership of Kaunda, Chiluba was going to give more visibility to Pentecostal leaders. He lavished them with recognition and Nevers Mumba was among those Chiluba honored with Zambian diplomatic passports. The reason for this honor was simple: “Christian preachers were envoys of the Christian nation of Zambia.”

On television, The Zambia Shall be Saved program was featured weekly, and sometimes appeared twice a week. In that program, Pastor Nevers Mumba became a firebrand of what it meant for Zambia to be a Christian nation. He would preach about faith, about prosperity, about international exposure. He would also preach about black consciousness. In those programs Nevers would testify about his wealth, his vision and the plans for his church and consequently for Zambia. Things were going well it seems. Zambia was going to be saved, and indeed it was getting saved.

Nevers was an alumnus of Hillcrest Technical School in Livingstone. After completing high school he interned for a few months in the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines. But this was not going to last long. He was to meet Evangelist Reinhard Bonkke in the early 1980s. When Bonkke met Nevers it was like at first sight. Nevers was going to be Bonkke’s Bemba interpreter and before long a scholarship had been arranged for him to study in the USA.

Upon return from the USA around 1983, Nevers registered a ministry under the Companies Act. In those days, Kenneth Kaunda had banned registration of new religious movements. The only recourse for beginners like Nevers was to use the Companies Act. Victory Ministries Inc. was born and with it came the influence, the splendor and the pomp. The poor boy from Chinsali had finally broken into the big league. For Nevers, what Kaunda had said about Zambia being free in 1962, he was going to tweak it and call rebrand it as “Zambia shall be saved.” This was going to be his mantra for life.

That splendor characterized Nevers’ life is an understatement. Ministry supporters of his had given him a mansion in Riverside, Kitwe. Victory Ministries was a staple all over the country. Crusades were held across the nation. Nevers Mumba was that embodiment of those rich American preachers. If any one could say there is money in Christian ministry, Nevers had broken that ceiling. He was swimming in money, in power and in influence. Given that influence, it is true; becoming a politician would truly be a demotion.

And then something happened.

It was in 1997, in Kabwe. Nevers had somewhat a change of heart or mind. We may never know. Or may be he had another born again experience. He announced that he had formed an organization to push for political reforms in Zambia. The National Christian Coalition was going to take on President Chiluba’s government.

When Nevers is making the decision to challenge Chiluba in this manner. He knew that this move would come at great personal and ministry risk. Indeed, if Nevers had cared about his own welfare he knew that challenging the Chiluba government would be a risky move. And it is this move that many analysts of Nevers never pay attention to. By breaking with the Chiluba government, Nevers had demonstrated tremendous courage. He knew he was going to lose all the honor, splendor and respect the Chiluba government had accorded him. In fact, he knew that the words he had spoken to Frank Mutubila earlier would come back to bite him.

But for Nevers, the nation was at stake. Chiluba had become corrupt. The promise of a Christian nation was not leading to a more moral nation. In that context, Nevers felt he could do something about it. He risked it all. And indeed the response from those in power was swift fierce.

After the NCC announcement, Vice-President Miyanda went to ZNBC. He berated Nevers Mumba. The war of words had now become the war between two of the countries’ foremost Pentecostal firebrands: Nevers in one corner and General Miyanda in another. Clearly, Nevers had fallen out of the league. With those words from General Miyanda, Nevers’ world started to shrink. And it shrunk faster than Nevers had expected. The sacrifice he had envisioned for his people was going to demand more than he could handle. If he had been tested and tried many times while preaching, the new political frontier was a temptation on steroids.

Nevers’ fellow preachers were next to call him out. He was a traitor, some of them screamed. He was challenging his fellow brother in Christ, some exclaimed. Some of his detractors accused him of leaving the “calling”, a treasonous crime within the Pentecostal fraternity. The words he had used to Frank Mutubila were replayed over and over again. Some even suggested that he was selfish just wanting to get into politics for more power, splendor and influence. Any one who has watched Nevers knows that he has far given more to politics than he had taken out. And if there was any doubt about that – challenging Chiluba’s corruption was the first step.

Chiluba’s machinery continued to respond swiftly. The NCC’s status as a society was threatened. Nevers had to quickly transform it into a political party and rename it the National Citizens Coalition. Chiluba summoned the Zambia Revenue Authority to audit the Victory Ministries Inc., which had for all these years operated as a non-profit company. Nevers was going to pay back back-taxes in millions of Kwachas. All the privileges Nevers had were to be withdrawn. The diplomatic passport was withdrawn too. Nevers might have bargained for too much. And he had bitten a bigger chunk he could not swallow.

But when he started speaking about his journey towards politics, Nevers was loved by the opposition and by civil society. As a close preacher to Chiluba he had noticed the abuse and corruption going on with Chiluba. Nevers had noticed how the government was working against the Zambians instead of working for the Zambians. Chiluba’s closest confidante, Michael Sata, was also on hand to berate the “disgraced preacher”. It was Nevers against Chiluba, Miyanda and Sata. It was Nevers against the machines of power and the testing and trails were only going to get fiercer.

That mansion in Kitwe was going to be subject of litigation. Victory Ministries faced closure. The Zambia Shall be Saved program on TV was only saved by court intervention. The temptation of Nevers Mumba had only started to intensify.

Pentecostal political theology is still in its infancy as an academic subject. Many observers of Pentecostal political theology especially in Africa do characterize it as one that attempts to maintain the status quo. At best, most analysts see Pentecostals as perpetrators of the status quo. As such, Nevers Mumba’s decision to challenge the status quo was a bit unusual and a departure from what is expected of a Pentecostal preacher. In this regard then, Nevers becomes an embodiment of that spirit of resistance against corruption and abuse of power. After noticing that Zambia was going the wrong direction, Nevers bucked his own Pentecostal movement to challenge the excesses of his brother in Christ, Frederick Chiluba. This Nevers did at great cost to his own life and in fact, to his own integrity.

Pentecostalism is for many reasons predicated on an understanding of God who can do anything. As a faith that lacks a central authority, it is by nature quite chaotic and dynamic. In Pentecostalism God speaks directly, but more than that, God continues to speak daily to his people. As such, when Nevers says he could not join politics that is what God could have told him in 1992, but by progressive revelation may be God told Nevers something else by 1997. He had to abandon the church in order to challenge the corruption he saw in the Chiluba government.

This contrasts Nevers and President Michael Sata. Both of them were close to the Chiluba axis of power. But when he noticed corruption, Nevers broke with Chiluba at great personal and family cost. Sata on the other hand stayed with Chiluba in the middle of the worst corruption Zambia has ever seen. In fact, Michael Sata only left Chiluba after it was apparent that Chiluba had dribbled him on succession. Nevers’ decision to leave Chiluba’s MMD was a decision for others, for Zambia. Sata’s decision to leave, however, was based on personal ambition – the desire to be President and only leave corruption when he gets disappointed from being adopted as MMD candidate.

By the time Nevers was campaigning to be president of Zambia for the 2001 elections, he had been reduced to a pauper. The levers of power had worked their way into Nevers’ life. He had lost everything. The only thing he was left with was that Pentecostal confidence in the God who can “do anything.” Nevers had lost his house, his reputation stained, and his friends had run away from him. He had not committed any crimes, or may be the only crime was to cry out against the shoes, the designers Bombasa, and theft he saw in the Chiluba administration. And for doing that, he suffered for it. Politics for Nevers had been a demotion, but a demotion he fully believed was for the good of the nation.

By the end of the 1990s, Nevers’ children had just become teenagers. They needed a father who would provide for them. Having lost the income, the influence, the power, Nevers had paid a huge price for politics. His passion for the ordinary Zambia led him to make these sacrifices. He had some solace in a few friends outside of Zambia who would invite him to preach. Having lost the Kitwe home – Nevers had become a destitute. Politics and a passion for his people and his nation had not made him richer but poorer. And daily, he had to agonize about what happens to his children, and to his family. The days of splendor and glory are over. With a simple stroke of a microphone he could have returned to preaching full time. And as usual, there was going to be more people to welcome back the prodigal preacher.

The temptation of Nevers was too great to bear. The man who could advice presidents was now living in a guest wing at his in-laws. Cruel life. But for a good cause. The cause of his nation.

And then the call came.

Nevers Mumba’s one of his eleven challengers in the 2001 elections had now been president for almost a year. Levy Mwanawasa had been handpicked by President Frederick Chiluba to succeed him. When Levy won the elections, he adopted the fight against corruption as the motto of his presidency. Levy Mwanawasa started proceedings to have Chiluba prosecuted for corruption and theft. Nevers Mumba’s fight against Chiluba’s corruption had now been confirmed that Chiluba was no longer in power. President Chiluba, a man of the people had by the end of his second term faced serious accusation of theft and corruption.

When Mwanawasa made the moves to prosecute Chiluba, Nevers Mumba was among the first to support the decision. The Post Newspapers carried Nevers Mumba’s reaction to President Mwanawasa’s efforts. “It was an answer to God’s justice”, Pastor Nevers Mumba had said. May be, as he is saying this, he has in mind the injustice he had suffered at the hand of President Frederick Chiluba. For now, it was just early 2002 and President Mwanawasa had noticed, a Chinsali born Bemba, and former preacher who shared his ideals against corruption.

Levy Mwanawasa’s crack at the presidency proved difficult. Chiluba’s influence within the levers of power was so endemic. If he had to prosecute Chiluba, Mwanawasa needed partners. But partners within the MMD government proved difficult to keep. And so he had to look elsewhere.

Within the MMD, almost all of the senior leaders had been soiled by the Chiluba corruption. Vice-President Kavindele himself had won the MMD vice-presidency under very controversial circumstances at the 2001 convention. By 2003, the Bemba speaking faction in the MMD had been dissatisfied with Mwanawasa. President Mwanawasa was going to find a perfect fit to help him win the Bemba hearts and to fortify his fight against corruption.

It was early 2003. In an evening broadcast, President Mwanawasa had made a choice of a new Vice-President. Nevers Sekwila Mumba from the living room of his in-laws went through the formalities of appointment. He had become Zambia’s Vice-President. Becoming the first preacher to become Vice-President and the second Chinsalian to become Vice-President after Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe in 1967.

President Mwanawasa had found a partner in the fight. President Mwanawasa had also found a well-spoken preacher to help him deal with the public relations issues facing his government. Nevers was swift, flamboyant and hard working. His personality made him likeable. The image of a clean, handsome man coming into office enthralled many.

But this honeymoon was never to last long.

In 2004, Nevers’ crack at executive privilege had been curtailed. President Mwanawasa had fired him. And with his firing – Nevers’ trials and temptations continued.

Beyond “House, Money, Car”: Why Ms. Kay Figo Deserved Compensation

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

Zambia should change laws that unfairly disadvantage women - Munshya

Zambia should change laws that unfairly disadvantage women – Munshya

The facts of the 2012 case of one Ms. Kay Figo and her lover Mr. Van are very well defined. Around 2007 a 55 year-old Mr. Van  met a 21-year Ms. Kay Figo at a Kabwata nightclub. Due to love at first sight, Mr. Van that night invited Ms Kay to his Makeni home.  They  lived together for a period of 5 years. The relationship had broken down for at least two years of those five years. Noting that the relationship had broken down, Ms. Kay sued Mr. Van before the Lusaka Local Court. Ms. Kay’s argument was that she deserved compensation from Mr. Van for lost time while “dating” him. She wanted the court to recognise her time with Mr. Van as deserving some level of legal or equitable recognition. Some reports suggest that Ms. Figo had actually wanted this 5-year cohabitation to be recognized as a common law or some form of customary marriage. Mr. Van argued that, to the contrary, he did not need to compensate her because as far as he was concerned he was not married to her. It was also Mr. Van’s argument that during the 5 years he had lived with Ms. Kay he had tried repeatedly to reach her family so that he could get her to marry him. Reaching family suggest that Mr. Van might have wanted to marry her through customary law and practice. He argues further that she was not willing to introduce him to her family. As such she refused his proposal for marriage. That having been the case, he argued that she was un-deserving of any compensation.

This matter has received lots of media attention. Some in the media have characterized Kay as an “untaught” girl and as a gold digger just out to get Mr. Van for his money. Indeed that Kay was quite specific about the amount of compensation she wanted from her former lover, only went to stoke the suspicions in many that she was an opportunist going for a “house, money and car”.

The Lusaka Local Court reached its decision in October 2012. The local court justices dismissed Ms. Kay’s action declaring that since she had not been married to Mr. Van, she had no recourse to any compensation. The courts declared that there was no valid marriage contract upon which compensation can be ordered. As such, Ms. Kay was unsuccessful in this claim.

I find the decision of the court to be unfair. I wish to paint this decision within a wider framework of both law and tradition to argue that there is need for Zambia to change its legal framework as to recognise compensation in cases such as the one under consideration.

Ms. Kay Figo

Ms. Kay Figo

In Zambia today, there are principally two ways by which marriage can be contracted. The first is marriage under the Act and the second one is the marriage under Zambian traditions and customs. Marriage under the Act is primarily modelled after European system (sometimes misusing the Bible as justification). In this marriage, two people can contract a marriage and have it solemnized by the registrar of marriage or a gazetted minister of religion. The marriages contracted under Zambian laws and tradition is valid only after definite steps are taken. Legal jurisprudence right now as it stands in the Supreme Court precedence is that a marriage under customary law can only be valid if the man has paid some form of dowry or “lobola” to the family of the woman.

The consequence of the law as it stands right now is that regardless of how long a man has lived with a woman, that union cannot be recognized as a marriage unless he has “reached” the woman’s family and some form of dowry has been paid to the woman’s family. It is not my intention to change the way our traditions or the law defines what a marriage is. I would leave that up to the traditionalists and to the Zambian parliament.

My argument is that there has to be some form of legal or customary recognition of some unions contracted in the manner similar to Ms. Kay and Mr. Van’s. My argument is that leaving the law as it is would disadvantage women who are at the receiving end of unbalanced power within society. Indeed, in much of the English Common law jurisdictions, the law has moved on to where it imposes a “marriage” upon any couple that has cohabited for a specific period of time. In Canada for example, the “marriage under common law” is imposed upon any couple that has lived together for at least 12 continuous months. Privileges for such recognition vary from one Canadian jurisdiction to another.

In the case of Zambia, a couple should either be married or if not then it is cohabiting with the later receiving no legal or equitable protection at all. There is no middle ground. Marriage receives both legal and equitable protection while cohabitation does not. I do not wish to encourage cohabitation. Indeed, a marriage is far much better than two people just cohabiting. But there comes a time where women are disadvantaged due to the unfair balances of power after the cohabitation is over. Indeed, in the case of Ms. Kay and Mr. Van, the man took this young girl from a bar and lived with her for 5 years. That they were cohabiting without being married is clear for all to see. But in the event that the relationship comes to an end it would be unconscionable for the woman to walk out of that relationship without some amount of consideration.

She was a de-facto spouse to Mr. Van while she lived with him. She cleaned his house and took out his garbage every night or probably once a week. She worked hard for him. She provided him with the love and affection he needed. This love and affection made him work well and work hard in his businesses. For at least a majority of those five years, she was there for him. Honestly, that after these years she deserved some form of a “house, money or car” from him. He must not be allowed to dismiss her that easily.

Many commentators have discussed how a “gold-digger” Ms. Kay is. In fact, many have questioned her moral values as “ a girl picked from a bar.” Indeed, I find such criticisms very unfair. Why aren’t the same people condemning the 55-year-old Mr. Van who pounced on this innocent girl? Why is it that when it comes to such matters, the woman gets the most condemnation while the man goes scot-free? In fact, Mr. Van has been left off the hook such that there are reports that he has now started another “cohabitation” with another young woman.

If indeed, Ms. Kay is a bar girl, that criticism should also be leveled against Mr. Van who took her from the bar and within the same night took her to his house in Makeni. He loved her and lived with her for five solid years. Honestly, after having enjoyed her youth and her innocence, Mr. Van cannot and should not get away so easily. He must at least offer reasonable compensation to her. It is just the right thing to do.

She has lost the case. Probably, as a controversial musician, she will even sell more records after this episode. However, she will bear the brunt of this saga while Mr. Van goes scot free to begin pouncing on another girl at a shabeen in Shang’ombo.

Only that next time, we must make Mr. Van realize that once he picks another girl, he would not discard her so easily. The “not married to you” nonsense should not be tolerated. If you cannot marry the girl then do not cohabit with her. But if you so wish to cohabit with her then you should be able to offer any compensation that would normally fall on a marriage of similar length. Here is a number from Ms. Figo.

(c) E. Munshya, LLB, M.Div. (2012). This article was originally published on this website on 5 October 2012. It is republished here in 2014. All rights reserved.