By Gershom Ndhlovu
Last Friday I received the following letter from PF president Michael Sata reacting to my recent article, “Sata’s Political Swansong”:
“I read your article five times looking for anything wrong I said in Harvard about your Chinese friends. To my disappointment, the entire article is to divert attention from the focus on your Chinese friends to personalise attack on Michael Sata.
“You are relatively intelligent you can manufacture another page to undress me. But for Zambia’s sake your Chinese friends can never be defended no matter how much talk time they give you. You are a Zambian learn to defend Zambia instead of becoming Editor-in-Chief for the Pekin or is it Beijing Daily.
“Remember, Comrade Ndhlovu, I shall leave the political arena just as you shall leave the Media arena. In spite of our past mistakes you should emulate Freedom Fighters and compliment [sic] our forefathers who had no education but the will to fight to prepare Zambia for you, young men.
“One thing surprising, it is the Zambians in government and the Media like yourself defending the Chinese invasion of Zambia, why can’t the Chinese defend themselves and make the comparisons or observations you have made in your column[?] Comrade Ndhlovu may I please have a copy of your contribution to the Chinese Media in praise of their invasion of Zambia.
“Thank you for your sentiments, but remember you only have one Zambia. Anyway, privileged people like you may have some room in China when Zambia has been completely overrun by your Chinese friends.
“The more you defend them, the more encouragement you give me to attack the Chinese all over the world. For your information in the last two weeks I have spoken on the Japanese and Swedish televisions, two days ago I was on the BBC.
Good luck and have more talk time from the Chinese Ambassador. (Signed) M.C. Sata.”
In 1983, when I just finished Form Five at Kitwe Boys’ Secondary School, one fellow we lived with in Kwacha, Jim who only had one arm, wanted to draft me into UNIP. He was ready to push me for scholarships and stuff like that, but even as politically unconscious as I was then, I sensed something was wrong with the system then and I refused.
Several years later, when it was fashionable among State Media journalists to support former President Chiluba’s third term attempt for which Sata was in the forefront as MMD National Secretary and Minister without Portfolio, I refused to join the bandwagon.
My refusal to sing the third term chorus meant that I gave away the “benefits” that went with it -- brown envelopes, cars and houses which some journalists directly benefited from that political lunacy.
As for the Chinese Ambassador buying me talk time, I must hasten to say that I do not even know his name, nor can I tell the difference between him and the director of Baoxing Company in Ndola whose directors are in the coolers for copper theft.
As much as I have my own weaknesses, receiving money from sources has never been one of them. I have bought sources beer in an environment where it is the other way round, and lent some of them money (I won’t mention names) such that I have no need to get money or talk time from the Chinese Ambassador.
I am sure the Chinese government auditor’s office would query the man if it was discovered that he gave me money equivalent to how much I personally use for my talk time per month.
Without necessarily dragging the National Mirror in the issue, the amount of money the newspaper pays me for the column is far less than it costs me in terms of time, phones and the internet to transmit the column. What drives me is the passion to make a difference.
Lastly, Sata should know that I am one of the few journalists who have been consistently critical of the Chinese invasion of Zambia and Africa at large if only he can go back to my previous articles.