Friday, 27 June 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

There is definitely something wrong with African leaders when they become presidents of their countries. They elevate themselves to the position next to God if not God himself.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s recent statement that he was appointed by God and it is only God who can remove him is as absurd as it is profane. “Even Romans 13 says leaders are appointed by God. I am an image of God who appointed me to my current position,” Mugabe is quoted as having said in Bulawayo last week.

We have seen this same thing in Zambia where presidents and their supporters have invoked the name of God to justify their stay in power or their actions and whoever disagrees with them is “committing” sin by “disobeying” God.

During President Kaunda’s reign between 1964 and 1991 there used to be the slogan “Kumulu Lesa, Panshi Kaunda” loosely translated as God in Heaven and Kaunda on Earth. That was as sacrilegious as it could ever get, really, but nay.

Along came President Chiluba who “entered” into a covenant with God when he embraced one of the pillars of State House (I was at that function) in December 1991 and declared Zambia a Christian nation. This, obviously, found its way in the 1996 Republican constitution.

But with what has emerged over the years and his frequent trips to police stations and courts of law, it is doubtful if that covenant was genuine or not on his part.

May be the Karl Marxian view about religion being the opium of the masses comes into play here. The nation was probably sent to sleep with the religious dope while Chiluba and is friends did what they are now answering for.

It has not been very different under the incumbent head of state when God is mentioned as having had a hand in “anointing” Mwanawasa as president of the country and anyone questioning some of his actions commits sin.

Ministers who probably cannot even recite the Lord’s Prayer on their own and have never stepped in Church save for weddings and funerals suddenly discover “God” when they are appointed and invoke Him when countering the president’s critics.

Dubious church leaders who want to pick the crumbs go to even greater lengths to dredge obscure Bible verses on God’s appointment of leaders and their authority.

There is never mention of elections with what goes with them—the bribery, the violence, chicanery and backstabbing—when one is voted into power. It is all praise and prayer thereafter.

But the case of Mugabe in which the man says he is an image of God, in my view, beats all the cases cited above. I think the god that the Zimbabwean leader mirrors who encourages murder, torture, rape and defiance of the people, not to mention blasphemy, is the Devil himself.

All democracy-conscious citizens know the term vox populi, vox dei—the voice of the people is God’s voice. Now, if one is an image of God, read people, and they say they don’t want you through the ballot, you just get your katundu and off you go. I am sure this is not the God that we know and read about in the Bible that Mugabe is talking about.

Mugabe who was brought up in the Catholic faith at Kutama Mission in the then Rhodesia should know better than taking God’s sacred name in vain let alone comparing himself with God which not even the Christ Jesus did when He walked the earth three millennia ago.

Imagine Foday Sankoh—that  nemesis of Sierra Leone not too long ago—maiming, raping and killing people in the name of God saying he had been sent by Him to “liberate” the people. The only difference between Mugabe and Sankoh is that the former as head of state has control of state machinery as head of state while Sankoh did not have.

Before Mugabe’s megalomania tips over to even claim God’s throne, the best place for him is a seat of shame at The Hague to answer for his crimes against humanity before the International

Court of Justice.



The reaction of the African Union to the unfolding crisis in Zimbabwe just goes on to show how moribund the organisation is to the needs of the 21st Century. The AU is anachronistically stuck in the 1963 induced catatonia of not interfering in the internal affairs of a member country even if, as Zimbabwe, it is tottering towards a precipice.

In its current state, the AU is comparable to a fire brigade which only reacts when there is a fire rather than to prevent one. A few days after the elections which Mugabe lost, a delegation from the AU went to the state house in Harare and the way some delegation members were bowing before the man, one knew they would not resolve the crisis.

There has not been a definite word from the AU chairman and Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete and the executive secretary Jean Ping.

Africa should have by now learnt the lessons of the Rwandan genocide which started in the same way the crisis is brewing in Zimbabwe. The argument for Zimbabwe of course is that it is a political rather than tribal conflict of the Hutu/Tutsi order.

It is a political crisis involving state police, military and security personnel who are stoking the fire with the help of ZANU-PF militias hiding under the war veterans label who, exactly like the Interahamwe of Rwanda, are hunting unarmed members of the opposition, maiming, raping and killing them. What else does the AU want to be jolted into action?

Is it not the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and its sister media organisations, again like Rwanda’s Radio Mille Colline, which is spewing hate propaganda against the MDC and its supporters who in turn are being chased across the land like rabbits by a hungry fox?

How cursed can a continent like Africa be where political contests which in other parts of the world are just a normal game where losers and winners congratulate one another and carry on with their jobs, are  a matter of life, death and more misery?


Sunday, 22 June 2008


Dear Sir, 

It is very disheartening that the African Union has not come out as strongly as it should have done on the Zimbabwean Question. The situation in Zimbabwe has been deteriorating for a decade now and because of the concept of the built in "Non-Interference" clause in the charter, you have Mr Robert Mugabe perpetrating crimes against humanity to which the AU turns a blind eye. Today Morgan Tsvangirai has withdrawn from the run-off and you, the African leaders will line up to congratulate Mr Mugabe for his "victory". The question that will not be on the lips of any one of you is "how many people have been killed, how many people have been maimed, how many people have been displaced, how many women have been raped?" Your only pre-occupation will be how many bottles of champagne are being chilled now that Tsvangirai is out of the way.

The African Union, we have always feared, is just an old boy's meeting place to hold annual parties and for member governments to give jobs to their supporters to. The positioning of the AU and the other useless body called SADC has just been to posture against Britain, America and other so-called former colonial powers when our own leaders have been worse than the colonial masters not only in terms of stealing resources, but in terms of killing opponents and other forms of brutality which our parents never envisaged when they fought against colonialism.

Mugabe's megalomania where he is even claiming to be next to God or even God himself will lead him to claiming God's throne itself because you, the AU, choose not to do anything. The tragedy though is that as he makes those weird claims of his, Zimbabweans citizens are being killed, maimed, raped, intimidated and displaced. Tomorrow, you will line up to pat each other's backs with Mugabe for a "good job". It is a shame that you, the AU, exist in our name as Africans when you let the ordinary people you represent being treated worse than animals. Not even the slaves that were shipped to the Americas all those centuries ago were treated in the manner Mugabe has treated Zimbabweans in the last decade or so.

Kwame Nkrumah and other true Pan-Africanists who sacrificed their lives for the African peoples' cause must be turning in their graves that we are still driving spears up each other's backsides just to keep mad men like Mugabe in power while the AU does absolutely nothing. Look at Darfur, the other blight of the continent, look at the xenophobia in South Africa. All you do as the AU is to posture against Britain, against the US. All this against the backdrop of the champagne that pops in the posh Addis Ababa hotels. Mugabe is no different from Foday Sankoh, from Charles Taylor, from Jean-Pierre Bemba. He deserves a place of shame at The Hague and the best force to capture him is the African Union. If the British or Americans do it for you, you will cry foul as usual.

As it is, I will not be surprised if you will be the first ones to CONGRATULATE Mugabe and join him at the National Stadium to toast his sham victory. As I write, Namibia's army chief, Lt. Gen. Shalli has already assured him how his country will not interfere in Zimbabwe's internal matters.

Surely, you must be ashamed of yourselves!

Gershom Ndhlovu.

Friday, 20 June 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

It appears that the issue of dual citizenship is taking centre stage in the current constitution making process with erstwhile army commander and Vice President Christon Tembo and Immigration Department Chief Ndiyoyi Mutiti expressing security concerns if the provision is included in the new constitution.

One would understand the background Lieutenant-General Christon Tembo is coming from as head of the Zambia Army at the height of not only the one party state but at the time when Zambia faced apartheid South Africa as an enemy.

At that time, the country housed freedom fighters whom it had to protect by any means as they risked being smoked out, if that is the phrase, by the white South African soldiers.

Politically, the African continent was very unstable then with coups and counter-coups being the norm and as a result undemocratic leaders of the time shut out of power not only citizens within the country but more importantly the “enemy” was seen to be one with foreign connections.

The government at the time thought that denying people dual citizenship was the solution. Unfortunately, it is this mindset that has been carried forward when the political state in Zambia in particular and Africa in general, has changed.

In the case of Mutiti, her fear for someone with dual citizenship committing a crime in one country and running away to another just shows “thought ossification” in the Zambian civil service. She should know about Interpol which does a great job of tracking criminals around the world.

Ms Mutiti should suggest to government to sign extradition treaties with countries where there would be a prevalence of dual citizenship for ease of tracking down criminals who would try to hide in other countries.

It appears General Tembo, Ms Mutiti and other politicians and civil servants do not understand the concept of globalisation even as they use it at public forums.

The World Bank describes globalisation as an inevitable phenomenon in human history that has been bringing the world closer through the exchange of goods and products, information, knowledge and culture.

“But over the last few decades, the pace of this global integration has become much faster and dramatic because of unprecedented advancement in technology, communications, science, transport and industry,” the World Bank states on one of its websites.

With the advancement of information and communication technologies (ICTs), some of the things an old soldier of General Tembo’s mould would hold dear, like the personnel and material capacity of his army, can easily be found with the click of the button on a computer.

A simple search on Google Earth would easily give one the coordinates of sensitive infrastructure of a country. As such, General Tembo’s fears become not only unfounded, but unreasonable.

Globalisation, ICTs and Google Earth aside, one wonders how developed countries which otherwise would have a lot to lose by allowing dual citizenship, sensibly grant dual citizenship while poorer countries always think about security and crime as a way of denying those wishing to acquire dual citizenship.

In most cases, there is a genuine reason for one wanting dual citizenship rather than the thought of committing a crime in one country and running off to another.

Like others have argued, there are children of Zambians born outside the country who only know Zambia in name but have more in common with the country of their birth. These children, for atavistic reasons, want to hold on to the citizenship of their parents while also enjoying the citizenship of their countries of birth.

NCC members debating the issue of dual citizenship should not be swayed by “has-been” politicians and civil servants whose understanding of globalisation and ICTs is minimal and have unfounded fear as to why this should not be included in the constitution.

What the NCC members should bear in mind is that Zambia stands to gain once dual citizenship is allowed because such citizens will easily be moving resources between countries.



I notice that the debate between Chief Moomba and Southern Province Minister Daniel Munkombwe on the one hand and Gender Minister Patricia Mulasikwanda on the other, over who owns land around Mulobezi is taking a different and worrying dimension.

One Yuyi K Libakeni in a letter to the Post wrote: “As a Nkoya tribesman, Moomba is traditionally a subject of the Litunga from whom he now wants to grab land…in defiance of established maps.”

As a journalist working on a state-owned newspaper in the early 1990s, I extensively covered the Nkoya-Lozi issue when the former where against the revival of the Barotseland Agreement which some Lozi people were agitating for.

The Nkoya at the time said that if the Lozi wanted the agreement revived, then the government should establish a province they wanted called Kafue Province so that they would not be part of “Barotseland” which they felt had been oppressive to them.

In their proposal, the Nkoya wanted the province so established to include Kaoma, Lukulu, parts of Mumbwa and parts of Kasempa and other places.

The genesis of the problem between the two ethnic groups is over a chieftaincy at Naliele in Kaoma where a Lozi prince who was sent there as a tax collector circa 1945, was made a senior chief over Nkoya chiefs Mwene Kahare and Mwene Mutondo.

The Nkoya argue how in other provinces, different ethnic groups have their own paramount and senior chiefs while in Western Province there is a perception that the Nkoya are subjects of other ethnic groups.

One thing for sure is that the Nkoya are a distinct ethnic group with their own language and culture very different from that of the Lozi but for some reason they are presented as a Lozi sub-group and their language a Lozi dialect.

For as long as authorities bury their head in the sand over this issue, the nation risks two ethnic groups rising against each other to address the historical injustices perpetrated against one group by the other.

People like Mulasikwanda should not just dredge desirable elements of history; they must go all the way so that they enlighten the nation on why the Lozis deceptively burnt Nkoya literature in 1966.



Friday, 13 June 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

Is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) overwhelmed by events in some of its member countries such as Zimbabwe which is failing to respect the organisation's rules, regulations, protocols and resolutions of its organs and the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa?

Does SADC still have a future if the above events in some of its member country are anything to go by?

Some SADC member countries seem to be supporting the current political system in Zimbabwe where whoever opposes President Robert Mugabe is beaten senseless and the unfortunate ones are even killed. Efforts of forward looking leaders in the regional grouping are looked down upon and such leaders, like the current chairman, Levy Mwanawasa, are being accused of being bought by the West.

Leading this onslaught on Mwanawasa is the Zimbabwean leadership which itself has issues with Britain and the USA while Zambia does not have any problems with the two countries which have been pushing for democratic change in that country.

If the rumour that Mwanawasa threatened to resign as SADC chair as SADC chairman when he was apparently snubbed by other SADC leaders at the TICAD IV gathering in Japan, I would actually urge him to go all the way and pull Zambia out of the regional grouping because continuing membership in the organisation is reducing Zambia to belonging to a "Mickey Mouse" club where rules do not apply at all.

Zambia could still contribute to the community of nations through the AU even though a lot needs to be done even there as well.

Zambia and other peace loving and democratic countries have been let down by tyrants and those propping them who are themselves not very democratic at all. Of course people elsewhere will point to disputed elections in Zambia, but the country does not witness state sponsored savagery such as has been unleashed in Zimbabwe by a click of people that wants to cling to power even after they have been rejected by the very people they claim to be serving even if it means grinding them into dust.

Granted, Zambia's democracy is not perfect but it is by far better than in other SADC member countries where people are "cleansed" for voting against certain leaders who think they occupy those positions by divine right.

On the other hand, the xenophobic attacks in which several people have lost lives in various parts of South Africa shows that the concept of SADC has not permeated to the grassroots in the member countries where people feel, and rightly so, that this grouping, just like the African Union, is more of an occasional gathering of leaders where they feast on champagne and caviar when their people are grappling with the basics of life.

If my memory serves me right, Foreign Minister Kabinga Pande sometime back issued a statement to the effect that Zambia's foreign policy would be dictated by economic rather than political expediency.

Following on that statement, Zambia needs to review its diplomatic relations not only with individual countries, but even with international organisations which do not add value to Zambia belonging to them.

Zambia can instead enter into strategic economic alliances with individual countries it shares ideals with instead of an omnibus arrangement like is the case with SADC.

If Zambian nationals will feel insecure of not only travelling to certain countries, let alone living therein, Zambians should not pretend to be happy being in membership with those countries belonging to organisations that pretend to be working for the good of citizens of all member countries when, in fact, not.

South Africa as the most economically powerful member of the SADC has let other countries down, first by failing the people of Zimbabwe through its role as mediator in the Zimbabwean crisis where President Mbeki has not been as resolute as has been expected of him, and secondly by its citizens beating the hell out of foreigners.

In fact it took a newspaper to force President Thabo Mbeki to issue a half-hearted apology when it asked him to step down because of failing to provide leadership to all the South Africans.


Chiefs are supposed to be non-partisan in their conduct particularly on issues of elections. It is surprising that some Eastern Province chiefs and headmen have found themselves in the political fray for the Milanzi by-election. 

These traditional leaders should bear in mind that the people they lead belong to different parties and, if they came out like Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi who is said to have endorsed the MMD candidate Reuben Chisanga Banda and Senior Chief Nzamane and the 29 village headmen who protested apparently for not have been consulted, they are bound to be misunderstood.

In fact, this could breed indiscipline between traditional leaders and their subjects as they would quarrel over their differences of political choice.

The question that begs an answer is that did all other parties consult the traditional leaders on the candidates contesting on their tickets which would be fair, or is it that it does not matter who the opposition candidates are because the other parties do not have the proverbial carrot to attract them with?

As a subject of Gawa Undi on my maternal Chewa side and Nzamane on my paternal Nguni heritage, I would love to sit down with them, discuss matters involving their subjects in particular and Zambians at large while waiting for their subjects to vote for whichever candidate they think would represent their interests best whether from the MMD, FDD, PF, UPND, or the APC, rather than arm-twisting them to vote for a particular candidate.

Who does not know the challenges that the people of Eastern Province face like the poor road network and general underdevelopment?

The two chiefs should be engaging government to take electricity to the M'gubudu and Chiparamba areas which have great agricultural potential instead of just politicking on by-election candidates.  

I believe Senior Chief Nzamane should be feeling embarrassed for being "ticked off" publicly by MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba for expressing his partisan views on the MMD candidate.

Friday, 6 June 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

If the newly constructed Chembe Bridge spanning the Luapula River on the border between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo were a structure replacing Watopa, Lubungu or, indeed, Chiawa pontoons deep inside the country, it would have been Ok to call it Levy Mwanawasa Bridge.

Now, the fact that one leg of the bridge will rest at Mwenda in Congo, and as that country’s ambassador to Zambia claims, that his country will or has contributed 50 percent of the cost of construction, naming it after President Mwanawasa is a definite no, no, no.

Students of International Relations, or even experts like Vernon Mwaanga at that, know what the Realist school says about the “anarchy” that exists in the international arena in which states compete for power and how other nations defend themselves by bargaining and entering into treaties or what is euphemistically called diplomacy by other means--war to you and me.

In the case of Chembe Bridge, Zambia has definitely exhibited the same elements of “international anarchy” by christening an international structure with President Mwanawasa’s name when his brother, Congolese President Joseph Kabila and his people are equally stakeholders in the same.

The distance between Mokambo and Mwenda in the DRC may only be 46 km through the pedicle road, so named because of the shape of the outline on the map that appears to be a leg jutting into Zambia, the fact is that it is Congolese territory whether Zambia alone has footed the bill of the construction or not.

It does not even matter if Zambia has plans of tarring the stretch which can be a nightmare driving through especially in the rain season when places like “Gabon” are as muddy as hell.

Mansa District Council secretary Bwanga Kapumpa and Luapula Province Minister Chrispin Musosha should have been the first ones to see the folly of the council actions which are meant, read bent, to please the man whom they want the bridge named after.

It is clear that the local chiefs and other cadres who are defending the diplomatic faux pas, are ignorant about international issues and more so that to them, the people at Mwenda are just as good as their subjects who would not mind going to sell roast cassava and roast groundnuts and tasteless orange drinks at the “Levy Mwanawasa bridge.”

Authorities in Kinshasa would take a tangential view about the whole issue and think about it as “encroachment” on their territory.

Africa is replete with such seemingly innocuous moves of fishermen from one country spreading their nets on an island claimed by another country on a river between two countries and tensions have flared up.

An immediate example that comes to mind is the Kasikili to the Namibians and Sedudu to the Batswana, otherwise known as Kasikili/Sedudu Island on a river separating the two countries which has been a flashing point between the otherwise peaceful neighbours.

The other example, a real thorn in the flesh, is the Bakassi Peninsula separating Nigeria and Cameroon. Nigerians are passionate about the same piece of land while the Cameroonians swear it belongs to them and no one would take it away from them.

Badme between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the Aouzou Strip between Libya and Chad are but other examples.

I am not suggesting anything, but it may seem as if Zambia is claiming that very small peace of land at Mwenda where a thirsty Zambian traveller buys those big Simba and Tembo beer bottles to wash down the dust of the pedicle road which ever direction they are going. The traders there might as well start selling Mosi.

The argument by Kapumpa, Musosha & Co. that the resolution is now “law” just does not wash. Laws and, certainly, council resolutions can be repealed and reversed if they turn out nonsensical particularly in this case where another country is involved.

Talking about eponymous nomenclature, who doesn’t know that in the 1991 euphoria of wiping everything Kaunda from the people’s psyche, all open areas which used to be called Kaunda Square where changed to Freedom or Independence or whatever square people chose to call them?

Similarly, in a few years time when President Mwanawasa exits the political stage, someone will just say “we are reverting to the name Chembe Bridge” and there would be nothing much that he, Mwanawasa or Kapumpa or Musosha will do because it will have been a “council resolution.”



From the confusion of the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa, it is difficult to pick out what Zambia’s position is. One moment, Defence Minister George Mpombo says the beating of the living hell out of foreigners in South Africa is a blessing in disguise.

The next moment, wearing the hat of home affairs minister, he sheds crocodile tears about the Zambians caught in the South African lunacy.

As if Mpombo’s flip-flopping is not enough, comes more flip-flopping by Information Minister Mike Mulongoti who, at lunch time tells the nation 25,000 Zimbabweans are headed our way but at supper time he comes up with a totally different story.

Little wonder the Zimbabwean High Commissioner to South Africa has laid into the Zambian government on this issue calling it “hogwash” coming from Zimbabwe’s northern neighbour.

The diplomat says the buses that were sighted in Botswana heading north were sent by the Zimbabwean government to pluck out its affected citizens from the blood thirst South Africans.

The road from Tlokweng on the border with South Africa in Botswana runs some 500 km northwards to Ramokgwebana on the border with Zimbabwe. Surely, anyone should have seen the ZUPCO buses zooming towards Zimbabwe.

One shudders to think what the quality of Zambia’s information gathering, or is it intelligence, is if its men in shades can fail to spot the hyphenated number plates on the buses ferrying Zimbabweans to Plumtree via Ramokgwebana mistaking them as heading for Kazungula and our government preparing for imaginary asylum seekers.

President Mwanawasa should save himself the diplomatic embarrassment that has been caused him as the chief diplomat by firing the flipping-floppers who, in the end, turned their ire on hapless SABOT Transport drivers who were genuinely seeking asylum.