Friday, 30 May 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

The conviction and sentencing of former deputy minister, Clever Silavwe who is also Nakonde MP should serve as a warning to people serving and those aspiring to serve in government not to tamper with public funds because the long arm of the law will catch up with them.

It is disheartening in the nation in which over 80 percent of the citizens live in poverty for selfish people in leadership to be stealing money which would otherwise go to improve social infrastructure and service delivery for all.

Kudos go to law enforcement officers who work under very difficult conditions especially where investigating the high and mighty in society is concerned for securing the conviction of Silavwe, the former Northern Province minister for fiddling public funds.

But there is also need for citizens to play their role in exposing the crimes by people they chose to lead them. It is not uncommon to hear stories of how some leaders boast that their names would never be found on dubious documents used to filch money from government coffers when it is clear that something wrong goes on in their ministries.

Zambians have in the past tended to admire people who have stolen money from government or the private sector by labelling them as inshimbi or abaume.

But, incidentally, these are the very reasons why standards of education have fallen, roads have deteriorated, why there have been shortages of drugs in hospitals and above all, why public service salaries have remained poor—because of the thieves in government.

I have often said that President Mwanawasa has his own weaknesses, but on the fight against corruption he deserves unequivocal praise because allowing the arrest, prosecution and conviction of a ruling party MP and former minister would obviously be an embarrassment to government.

Silavwe’s trip to the slammer means that there are no sacred cows who would be allowed to steal public funds with impunity.

The nation’s moral compass should be activated by the fact that an MP and former minister has been convicted for fraud which means many others of similar character could be reported, arrested, and if found guilty, sent to Chimbokaila, Kansenshi or Kamfinsa prisons.

Those who have remained undetected should be exposed instead of just admiring them driving expensive cars, building mansions and drinking from ‘30 to 30’ (that is from one end of the month to the other) when the rest cannot make ends meet.

It is really scandalous that some ministers, permanent secretaries, other senior civil servants and parastatal chiefs should be in the forefront of exhibiting extravagance in this way when they are the first ones to claim that government or their parastatal companies have no money to pay improved salaries.

That is why an announcement by Mwanawasa that there is another ministry being investigated for corruption, like the Ministry of Lands where some officials are appearing in court, can only be waited with baited breath.

On that score, this is also the reason why non-governmental organisations which are clearly non-profit making, should be roped in terms of statutory controls because they also lack accountability with some of the NGO leaders also displaying the same extravagance as some crooked government officials.

Is it any wonder that some NGO leaders, vocal on calling on calling on government to be accountable when they themselves are not? If they are not criticising government, the NGO leaders are on Cha Cha Cha Road weaving in and out of hardware shops buying materials for their endless building projects.

I only wonder what happened to the NGO bill that Home Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha introduced in parliament a year or two ago which unsettled the NGO leadership.

To underscore the importance of fighting corruption in the nation, there is need to not only promote the culture of whistle blowing, but to also protect the whistle blowers who are presently harassed at places of work or even dismissed for reporting dubious activities in their midst.



It is a very big shame that South Africans are repaying the people that hosted them in their darker days with life and limb. Before the South Africans embark on their murderous rampage against foreigners, they need to ask themselves where they sheltered when they were being hunted like rabid dogs by the apartheid regime.

Did they not hide in Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and all over Africa? Is not Tanzania that provided them with military training in their refugee camps? Didn’t Mozambican president Samora Machel die because of trying to secure the freedom of the same South Africans today chasing Mozambicans like animals?

What didn't the Nigerians do to help in the liberation of South Africa? Some Nigerians may be a crooked lot, but their role in the South African liberation struggle cannot and should not be ignored or easily forgotten.

Zambians did not only sacrifice their economy which was once very strong, but they also lost their lives when the racist South Africans were ferreting out the freedom fighters hiding in their midst.

Lest South Africans forget, Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki squatted among the people of M'tendere, yes, you heard me, M'tendere, that shanty township in Lusaka. On one state visit to Zambia, he even visited the township to pay homage to the people there. 

South Africans need to be told in no uncertain terms that they are offside in their bloodletting on foreigners. Their leaders like Nelson Mandela, Mbeki himself and all others should not only send soldiers on the streets for a token ceasefire, they should condemn in no uncertain terms the xenophobic behaviour of their citizens.

For Zimbabweans now caught up in this ugly mess, the buck stops at Mbeki's door. He has dithered for over six years to sort out the political situation across the Limpopo until the matter reached tipping point a few days ago when his countrymen felt they had enough of Zimbabweans and Africans from other parts of the continent.

May be it is time countries like Zambia demanded reparations from the South Africans for the loss of lives her people suffered and the shattered economy she ended up with by supporting the liberation struggle down south.

Friday, 23 May 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

My hero for the last few days is neither President Mwanawasa nor Michael Sata for their shocking reconciliation resulting from an ailment that the PF leader suffered from and the government dispatching him to South Africa for treatment at tax payers’ expense.
Rather, my hero has been the bus driver, Felix Mwape, who died somewhere in Kaputa after he asked passengers to disembark so that he could try to drive up a hill.
Mwape had feared that he would have difficulties to climb the hill and he sensibly asked the passengers to disembark and, as Luapula Province police chief, Dobson Siame said, “unfortunately, even without passengers, the bus failed to negotiate its way up and rolled back and he crashed to his death on his own.”
I do not know the criterion used to pick people who are honoured on African Freedom Day, Heroes and Unity Days and Independence Day, but whichever authority deals with these issues should consider Mwape for a posthumous award.
I mean, how many passengers have died from accidents on a number of buses out of carelessness of the bus crews who just wanted to show how fast their buses went?
How many innocent passengers have died because bus drivers and conductors had had one too many for the road and never considered the souls of those on board? Many, many people have lost their lives in this way.
Most bus companies that employed racing drivers have even gone scot-free even with poor road safety records when they should have had their licences withdrawn or their insurance premiums hiked to levels that should have forced them out of business if only it would force them to employ sensible drivers.
But comes along Mwape, sober, level headed and considerate at the risk of his own life, asking the passengers to get off the bus who, I am sure, watched in horror as the bus rolled back and crushed him.
Strangely, because not one of the over sixty passengers, knowing how loaded those buses can be in the rural areas, died, the government has been very quiet about raising the issues that ought to be raised in the circumstances. But imagine what hullabaloo would have been raised if the passengers had died.
The way the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) has come up with safety mechanism such as speed limiters on those “flying buses”, is the same way it should come up with controls regarding old, old buses plying the roads. As that was a Tata Bus that was involved in the Kaputa accident, it should be one that survived from the UBZ era.
This brings into question the second hand cars that are being brought into the country from countries like Japan where they would have done “galactic miles” to the point of being taken to a landfill or what we in Zambia know as marabo.
But the clever Japanese don’t have enough landfill sites and the best disposal mode is selling the cars to Zambia where they come for more “galactic miles” to an extent where the owners spend more time under the cars than inside them. Such cars are called, and appropriately so, wire.
There should be a vigorous law to force motorists to service their vehicles so that when a vehicle hits a certain mileage, it should be scrapped. Motorists should not claim the issue of costs. It is the avoidance of those costs that is costing lives.
As they say in Chewa,
walila mvula, walila matope, loosely translated, it says if you want rain, be ready for the mud, motorists, more so passenger transport operators, should spend money to keep their vehicles roadworthy.
By forcing motorists to have their vehicles serviced at registered garages where the mileage of the cars would be registered and therefore traceable in case of accidents, it would also have an added bonus of creating jobs for the bush mechanics who ply their trade on street corners.
For now, Cabinet Office should surely think of an appropriate medal for the late Mwape for saving the nation unnecessary tears.


Not that reconciliation is bad for politics in a nation, but what is unfortunate in the circumstances is the fate of PF members who were ahead of their president’s time in search of reconciliation by opting to sit on the National Constitution Council (NCC). This brought so much acrimony in the party such that five or so MPs are on the verge of being expelled but are only served by the fact that the matter is in court.
I remember a picture of some PF MPs praying at some motel in Lusaka where their fate of expulsion was being decided that God should soften the hearts (no pun intended) of their leaders or something to that effect.
Now that this has happened and Mr Sata is now bosom friends with President Mwanawasa and he, himself, has been forgiven the passport transgression, he should similarly forgive his MPs if the Speaker has not yet declared their seats vacant.
He should then allow them to sit on the NCC and earn themselves the loose cash flying around in the name of contributing to the constitution making process. I am sure that will complete the cycle of reconciliation.
But as other commentators have said, I hope that this reconciliation of the PF and MMD will not mean that the opposition will just be rubber stamping any government policies and parliamentary bills that would hurt people if implemented. We as citizens hope that Mr Sata will still be as robust as previously in his outspokenness on issues such as those that won his party the Kanyama by-election.
In the same vein, I hope that he will not hitch a ride from President Mwanawasa on the presidential chopper to go and campaign for the Milanzi by-election in the next few weeks otherwise he would have delivered the country back into the one party era.
Or may be it is time Mr Sata stepped back from the political arena and left it to younger and more energetic members. After all he has been on the political scene for a long time, hasn’t he?

Friday, 16 May 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

Now that Chief Justice Ernest Sakala has himself come out on the issue of corruption in the judiciary, we outsiders can come in and finish off the carcass which we previously failed to tackle for fear of being contemptuous of the judicial system.

As Justice Sakala pointed out, corruption in the court system starts from the local courts to the highest levels of the judiciary. By its very nature, corruption is a very difficult case to tackle because it works on a satisfied-client-basis. What I mean is that both the “briber” and the “bribed” get what they want and carry on as if nothing has happened.

If the benefit is very high to the one who has offered a bribe or from whom a bribe has been solicited, none of the two would be obliged to report the matter to law enforcement agencies.

Technically, both are potentially culpable unless one of the two reports “being offered a bribe” or “being solicited for a bribe” and that is normally why the ACC or other investigative agencies would record warn and caution statements from the giver and the receiver or the “offerer” and the “offeree” if there are such terms.

In the case of the judiciary, someone facing a court process, criminal or civil, will want to influence the outcome of the case in his/her favour and the only way to do it is by finding weak minded court officials from court clerks to the local court justices, magistrates and judges to short-circuit the process.

To pretend that this does not happen is to pretend that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. It is so obvious even the blind can see it.

Sometimes even lawyers are involved in “fixing” cases in this way. Some court officials do it with such impunity they state to those close to them about what they will eat without taking bribes with statements like “You know our job; I can’t refuse the money if I am offered?”

Higher up in the judicial system, court marshals come in as middlemen for the judges they work for. These are the people who handle the “dirty cash” for which they get shares and hence build the mansions that Justice Sakala talked about. These are the people who are able to drink beer everyday of the month when others are struggling on their meagre salaries.

Apart from the judiciary whose chief executive has accepted what goes on in his domain, other hotbeds of corruption are the Zambia Revenue Authority, Police, Passport Office, Immigration, Road Traffic and Safety Agency and the ministry of lands.

Because of the ubiquitous nature of the police service which makes them come into regular contact with ordinary citizens who feel the effects of even parting away with a K50, 000 to a policeman and are therefore prone to be reported, other departments like ZRA in which huge amounts of money exchange hands for the passage or release of goods, chances of such activities being reported to the ACC are very slim.

I know that Inspector General of Police Ephraim Mateyo also harps on the issue of corruption, but heads of other government departments should come clean on corruption like Justice Sakala did last week by admitting the existence of the problem in their midst.

The fight against corruption might not have been as effective as desired, but the fact that President Mwanawasa himself speaks out against corruption is a positive sign in itself which should give impetus to the ACC and other collaborative agencies to fight the scourge.

Those who have followed the history of the ACC will remember that from 1991 when the MMD came to power under Chiluba, the institution was strangled to near-death due, perhaps, to deliberate under-funding which prevented the commission from effectively carrying out its mandate. At that time the commission only had four offices in the entire country.

Coincidentally, that was the time the Special Investigating Team on Economy and Trade (SITET) was scrapped. SITET was effective as a deterrent against unscrupulous businesspeople and civil servants who always feared on knock on their door. What we, as a nation, saw after that can only be described as shameful the way the nation’s resources were plundered thereafter.



With the rising cases of post-election violence in neighbouring Zimbabwe, it is difficult to appreciate the efforts of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union in resolving the “no-crisis” crisis in that country.

Both pictures and stories that are coming out of Zimbabwe point to state sponsored and systematic brutality in which people are being killed, maimed and humiliated in what ZANU-PF militia are calling “re-education” to change their political views.

It may appear as if the trip by the so-called SADC troika to Zimbabwe in the last few days as well as the visit of AU executive secretary Jean Ping to that country were mere tea-party jaunts because nothing much has changed in levels of violence.

Medical personnel rarely comment on political issues, but if the desperate voices of Zimbabwean doctors and nurses who are having to treat the victims of the government sponsored violence are anything to go by, the situation will degenerate into something worse than 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Insensitive Zimbabwean government leaders even question those who are likening the situation to that of Rwanda saying the violence does not involve any ethnic groups and is therefore not ‘tribal.’

But the fact that people are being hunted for not voting for President Mugabe, makes matters even direr.

AU and SADC chairpersons Jakaya Kikwete and Levy Mwanawasa should not rely on Thabo Mbeki as mediator because he appears to be biased in favour of Mugabe. If what is coming out about an agreement he had with Mugabe for him to delay land grabbing to facilitate a smooth transition in South Africa in 1994 is true, then he should definitely be ditched as mediator because he will be seen as paying a debt to Mugabe.

Those interested in reading more about what is going on Zimbabwe should visit


Friday, 9 May 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu 

Circumstances under which PF president, Michael Sata has found himself in lately are unfortunate indeed. Firstly he suffered a heart attack which saw him rushed to South Africa by the MMD government, his very nemesis, and secondly he lost his son, Chilufya.

But it is the circumstances of his being ferried to the now famous Milpark hospital, together with its twin Morningside clinic, which has been controversial and left his vice-president Guy Scott painted as a “heartless” politician.

All and sundry made comments vilifying Scott, among them ZCTU president Leornard Hikaumba and former Vice President Nevers Mumba citing the so-called Zambian culture of “compassion,” to Mexico, Brazil and other Southern American countries sending their citizens to the US for specialist treatment.

But examining Scott’s statement which was unfortunately repudiated by Sata’s family, one realises the folly of our politicians in particular and the nation in general.

It is clear that politicians want to feather their nests, even if it means going by the old age nugget of wisdom, scratch my back, at the expense of the larger majority which is denied the preferential services that they give themselves. Quite clearly, “Ba Somebody”--a term I used to hear in my teens in the late 1970s and early 80s which hated then and I hate now--are given deferential treatment that nonentities just dream of.

First and foremost, who among Jack Compound residents will be rushed to Chawama Clinic if they can find a wheelbarrow to ferry them there let alone Care for Business Hospital whose services even those who can afford pay through the nose? Who among the villagers in Chief Chiundaponde will be rushed to Chilonga Mission Hospital if they fall ill and they can find a scotch-cart?

Is this the “Zambian culture” that Hikaumba is talking about that sees people in Kapoto Compound die in their homes because they cannot be rushed to the Kitwe Central Hospital while those who can afford to pay for services at Care for Business are even paid for to be treated in South Africa?

On the other hand, Rev Mumba talks about advanced facilities in Southern America when our own facilities in Zambia have crumbled to an extent where they are almost useless.

The folly of the so-called Zambian culture a la Hikaumba is that it is the ordinary citizens who even praise “ama bolukwa” even if they are exploited and have nothing at all.

Before talking about compassion in the case of Sata and all others--obviously connected to the powerful and the rich--who have been ferried to South Africa for treatment, people, particularly the privileged few such as Hikaumba and Mumba, should talk about improving local facilities so that all citizens are treated with dignity and fairness.

No one would have woken up Lusaka International Airport staff to reopen it if it were a poor Kalikiliki man who collapsed with a heart problem for a nocturnal trip to South Africa. What is so painful is that hapless beings do not even have access to what should be basic treatment such as dialysis and have to fork out huge amounts of money to have access to it.

If they have the treatment, it will only be for a few days before they go to meet their maker because they cannot afford the astronomical costs.

If Hikaumba who should be speaking on behalf of his members most of whom can barely afford to exist, one wonders whose interests he represents. One would have expected him to put Scott’s comments into perspective rather than coming out the way he did.

I thought the true Zambian culture which he should know as a workers’ representative is one which adequately supports even the poor with such privileges in times of sickness. We should have seen a number of ZCTU members flown to South Africa for treatment for various ailments.

One perhaps cannot help but agree with President Mwanawasa on government’s insistence on the new industrial relations Bill if labour leaders are to be seen to be true workers’ representatives rather than those with vested interests which can be discerned from their utterances.



For reasons of time and space, I did not attend last week’s World Press Freedom Day celebrations at the Freedom Statue in Lusaka on Saturday, but I understand that I came quiet under a tongue lash from the Minister of Information, Mr Michael, a.k.a Mike, Mulongoti.

Apparently this was for some article in which I allegedly wrote “bad” things about him. A journalist friend who was at the function sent me the following e-mail:

The minister of information was talking about you during the World Press Freedom Day that you wrote bad things about him and he wants to see you because he does not know you.”

It is a small world, I am sure we will meet Bwana Minister, so that we can have a good chat and, hopefully, a good laugh.

And talking about the ministry of information, I agree with PAZA vice president Amos Chanda’s recent presentation to a parliamentary committee about radio and TV regulation which came shortly after one radio station was made to pull down a repeater station which enabled it to go beyond the agreed radius.

As Chanda rightly pointed out, with the internet and the World Wide Web, a radio station in a remote part Zambia, if it is properly networked, can be picked in remote Siberia via the internet.

Similarly, even TV can, and in this case ZNBC TV, is being watched all over the world via the internet. Applications such as YouTube can be used to transmit anything anywhere at any time.

All these developments in information and communication technology is making strict media regulations look anachronistic.

I have argued on one forum before that the only thing that one may not find on the internet are Cabinet papers, otherwise things like the size of the military, expenditure and even readiness for combat of any country can be found if one knows where to look for the information.

The Zambian government should count itself lucky because not many people have access to computers, LOL (laugh out loud in computerspeek).

Thursday, 1 May 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

Legal issues, especially those to do with the constitution making process, stump me, I must admit, but this round of making the constitution is simply baffling. A few years ago, the President, Dr Levy Mwanawasa, State Counsel, against all opposition, appointed a Constitution Review Constitution chaired by renowned lawyer Willa Mung’omba.
The epitome of opposition to the Mung’omba commission was the resignation of Zambia Democratic Congress president, the late Dean Mung’omba from the body just after the first sitting, if I remember correctly.
Forgive me if I am wrong, but Willa and Dean were brothers and yet the latter refused to be part of the charade, and if President Mwanawasa’s sidestepping the results of his own creation is anything to go by, Dean was right to think the whole thing was a joke.
In fact, Mr Mwanawasa has not said very kind things about the job done by the Mung’omba team particularly for suggesting the mode of adopting the resultant document via a Constituent Assembly.
The issue of the high cost of such a venture kept cropping up with the argument that parliament was adequate for enacting the draft constitution into law. But I am stumped even more that the same amount that was to be costly setting up a CA is now being spent on the National Constitution Conference.
The subsequent setting up of the Zambia Centre for Inter-Party Democracy (ZCID) with it is baby--the NCC has proved just that, a joke that Dean feared his brother’s CRC would be.
What I don’t understand is why ZCID and NCC should be going round the country to “sensitise” the people on the constitution making process and even debate what to include or not include in the document that is being thrashed out by the overpaid delegates who are making even more money in subsistence allowances for touring the countryside.
What happened to the views collected by Willa & Co? Has it been the proverbial case of throwing the bath water together with the baby? Could Mwanawasa and his lawyer friend, George Kunda—Legal Affairs Minister—not have salvaged the people’s submissions which would then have been reconsidered by the overpaid NCC delegates?
The current constitution making process is the most duplicitous (as in both double work and dubiousness) I have seen since the 1972 Chona commission and I only hope that the nation will not have to assemble another group of people, including traditional healers, to make another constitution in the next half century or so.
And talking about traditional healers and other delegates, there is one who sat on the John Mwanakatwe CRC, on the Willa Mung’omba CRC and now on the NCC.
Incidentally, he is also one of those that pushed for President Chiluba’s third term attempt, calling all those, particularly his fellow clergy, charging that those who opposed the former president were going against the Bible because it was “God” who wanted Chiluba to “carry on” at State House.
But stranger still, the NCC which has enough lawyers, is hiring other lawyers to give talks to the delegates on the obvious, the need for a constitution that is not made to disadvantage individuals, separation of powers, etc. I know that the issue of age has been discussed in one of the provinces by the ZCID/NCC teams who are/have been on sensitisation jaunts.
But a matter that would be laughable if it were not serious is that some members of ZCID now feel that the NCC Act should be amended obviously because they have realised some shortcomings with the current NCC Act.
The signals coming from Mr Mwanawasa regarding the 50 per cent plus one issue for the president-elect and those from the Chief Government Spokesman, one Michael, better known as Mike, Mulongoti are neither encouraging nor inspiring as an element of arm-twisting the delegates is becoming evident and the ruling MMD has an inbuilt majority on the NCC.
Maybe PF president Michael Sata (I wish him a quick recovery) was right after all, to boycott the grand circus currently going on.


The issue of Onshore Investments “expatriate” labourers has just accentuated what Zambians have always known about how mean employers of Indian origin can be. If they could give a “bum deal” to their like, imagine the treatment indigenous Zambian get in the shops, factories or on farms run by Indians or Zambians of Indian origin.
At the expense of repeating what I have said before, I recently saw a picture of a Zambian worker at an engineering firm owned by an Indian or a Zambian of Indian origin with only torn footwear on and had no safety goggles when using the arc-welding torch.
But even more baffling is how the ever tough-talking Home Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha allowed the importation of wheelbarrow pushing labourers to come all the way from India when Zambians from Kapisha, Chiwempala and other areas in Chingola can push wheelbarrows and turn “indaka” or concrete.
The Onshore Investments case reminds one of the Malaysian labourers who were brought in to build the Millennium Village by the Presidential Housing Initiative in the late 1990s. However, credit should go to the Indian workers who could not take the abuse inflicted by their fellow countrymen who employed them by forcing 20 people to a room in a three bedroom house, use chamber pots to answer the call of nature and get paid “1 metre” or K1 million which cannot buy enough flour for chapatti and curry spices for Chicken Tikka or Massala.
Chingola Municipal Council town clerk, Charles Sambondu should not jump on the bandwagon now when he had an opportunity as far back as February to correct the situation when he realised that Onshore Investment workers were being packed in houses in circumstances that even sardines would tolerate.
The problem with Zambian local authorities, like other government agencies, is that they are reactive rather than proactive. The Chingola matter would have died a natural death had it not been for the strike.
Zambians who will be employed by Onshore should not accept peanuts that have been rejected by the gallant Indians who even went on strike to register their displeasure.