Thursday, 25 September 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

For what I thought would be something to laugh about, last week I wrote to the Anti-Corruption Commission through it’s website to complain about MMD presidential candidate Rupiah Banda’s donations of mealie meal and sugar to people in Katete. This was after the story broke out that he used the occasion to campaign.

To date, I have not received any response, least of all an automated response considering that I used the internet, from the ACC to acknowledge receipt of my correspondence. Now I know why the ACC has not responded to my complaint. Not surprising then that ACC commissioner Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika supports Banda’s candidature and would not want him investigated by officials he is head of for an infraction of electoral rules.

But even more dangerously for the ACC which is supposed to be non-partisan in its operations, Aka says his fellow commissioners are free to support candidates of their choice.

The problem with this argument is that it is setting a dangerous precedent that will be difficult to root out in future when the ACC would be pursuing cases of political nature as some commissioners will look at them with a partisan slant.

My main worry at the moment is that with my perception of Aka’s point of view, it is alright for a presidential candidate to blatantly buy votes as Banda did at Vulamukoko when he dished out bags of mealie meal and packets of sugar to the villagers like Santa Claus dishing out sweets at Christmas.

Aka’s statement on a radio talk show flies straight in the face of Attorney-General Mumba Malila’s advice that politicians should avoid making donations at this time because it would misconstrued as vote buying.

To borrow from human rights campaigns which say something like “Consumer Rights are Human Rights” political corruption is corruption regardless of whom an ACC commissioner supports in a presidential or, indeed, general election.

Aka’s statement clearly affects the already tattered credibility of the ACC which has been surpassed in terms of operational competence even by the Task Force on Corruption which has scored better results in the few years it has been around.

I am sure that the professionals, some of whom I know personally, at the ACC are wringing their hands in despair from such ill-advised and ill-timed statements from someone who is supposed to be the torch bearer for the commission.

The best favour Aka can do the nation now is to step down as ACC commissioner and concentrate on the politically inclined African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) which has no direct bearing on the citizens. If he remains ACC commissioner, a motorist offering a bribe to a traffic policeman may consider it business as usual as no one would care to report it as such (if ever a policeman can report an offer made to him).

Equally worrying, is the long queue of organisations joining to defend Banda’s donations and one of them being the Electoral Commission of Zambia whose director, Dan Kalale said recently that Banda did not break the law when he dished out the goodies.

Yes Dan, Banda may not have broken the law because by then he had not officially been nominated, but morally it was wrong because it was already known that he would be the MMD candidate. What was he doing telling people to vote “pankholoko” if he was not campaigning?

What can be discerned from all what is going on around Banda’s campaign is that he is a man prone to poor judgment when it matters. The Katete donations aside, here is a man who let the constitutional office bearers emoluments Bill go through all the stages in the National Assembly in the face of opposition from citizens only to throw it out at assent stage ostensibly because of the forthcoming presidential by-election. I will not be surprised if the Bill comes back “bigger and better” because the Kwacha will have “lost” value in the interim and Banda, as president, will have no problem signing it into law.

Another occasion when Banda has shown poor judgement was when he told the people from Eastern Province (where I happen to originate) to give him 100 percent votes and ask other candidates to go back where they come from.

Banda also mentioned something like he felt that he knew most of the people in the audience or whatever but I would tell him that I have had more contact with PF leader Michael Sata and UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema than I have ever had with him. In fact, I have never even been less than 10 metres from him on any occasion even as a journalist of 19 years experience.

In the circumstances, you bet who I could give my vote if I were to cast it.

One shudders to think what sort of president RB will be when he takes full control of the Office of President and he is able to hire and fire people as well as influence decisions.



When he attempted to go for a third term of office, South African President, Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki sowed the wind at Polokwane where the ANC convention was held last. Today, he is reaping the whirlwind. He will soon be jobless after being forced out of office by his own party.

It is the same man, Jacob Zuma, who challenged him for party leadership whose supporters have now forced him to resign for allegedly interfering in the corruption cases he (Zuma) faced before the courts of law.

Mbeki denied himself the opportunity to vacate office with grace and dignity by his foolish act of trying to overstay his welcome, believing that he was a God-sent leader of South Africa who should rule eternally. Fortunately enough, the ANC rank and file saw through him by rejecting him at the convention. That rejection has been extended to forcing him out of office which he should have vacated next year.

As I have said on this forum before, political developments in South Africa are always providing the continent with lessons the rest of Africa should be learning from.


Mr Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika has since resigned his position on the Anti-Corruption Commission. 


Friday, 19 September 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

There is one issue Zambians have not put into perspective and debated with the seriousness it deserves—the Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices (Emoluments) (Amendments) Bill—and its implications.

This Bill, which is almost certainly law now, aims to give public office holding politicians inflation busting salaries and other emoluments that could only be a remote dream for the over 80 per cent of Zambians who are officially certified as poor.

Under the Bill, the highest paid official is the Vice President whose proposed salary is K99.3m salary, K94.2m special allowance, K90m responsibility allowance and K64.4m utility allowance. Toting these figures up gives one the sum of about K350m per annum.

The least paid in this category, a private member, will earn close to K210m per annum. In addition, there is a constituency allowance that will range from K26.1m for a Vice President from a rural constituency, to K17.4m for a nominated private member.

This is from the kitty that cannot adequately support the University of Zambia, the Copperbelt University and other institutions for lack of funds. This is the same kitty that cannot adequately fund other social service infrastructure and delivery.

This is a kitty that cannot adequately pay teachers who live and work in the remotest parts of the country, policemen who live in some of the most deplorable conditions anybody can ever think of living.

One just needs to visit Sikanze Police Camp which shares a boundary fence with the Ministry of Finance. These essential people in society are lucky to walk home with K1m per month or K12m per year--way, way incomparable with the K350m that the Vice President with all the other attendant privileges he/she would be earning under the Bill. This is not to talk about the President whose emoluments are, strangely, not included in this Bill.

It is very difficult for government to pay risk allowance to the policemen who risk their lives everyday to protect citizens and their property, it is equally difficult to pay a teacher or a nurse working in the “deep dyoli” his/her rural hardship allowance which, if I am not mistaken, has even been scrapped. For these people, making their salaries see them through to the next month would make an economics professor suffer from a headache.

I do not dispute the need to amply remunerate people, but it is the double-faced nature of the politicians and top civil servants who tell the unions that there is no money to pay lower ranking civil servants good salaries when they themselves award themselves immoral emoluments.

If the justification is to stem corruption among political office holders and to allow them to concentrate on the job of governing (read misgoverning), who is going to stem corruption among underpaid policemen? Who is going to stop teachers from selling ice-blocks and fitumbuwa to pupils when they are supposed to be concentrating on teaching?

I believe that the national cake must be shared equally but it is clear that our politicians want the actual cake, the cream and the cherry and even the crumbs, if they can sweep them all up for themselves, leaving nothing for the rest of the population.

As the nation goes to the presidential by-elections in the next six weeks, this is an issue that would-be voters need to reflect upon as they prepare to cast their vote. They should know what the rest of the life of this parliament is going to bring, bearing in mind that this ministerial salary increments are an annual occurrence and also that there is gratuity at the end of the term and we are talking in terms of unmitigated billions of Kwacha here.

The crusade that PF’s Michael Sata and UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema started by sharing a public platform for the first time was a good start if it was going to stop the people in government from plundering the economic under the guise of the law. It is not any different from the alleged plunder that took place under President Chiluba for which he and his accomplices are now facing charges.

Teachers, nurses, policemen, lowly-paid Zambians in all sectors of the economy, and indeed, the jobless, all should come together to stop the plundering of national resources we are about to witness by the caretaker—soon to be elected—government headed by Acting President Rupiah Banda.

The Zambian electorate should take this unprecedented presidential by-election as an occasion to fire warning shots to their governors that they cannot take any more nonsense.



I thought the issue of benefits for the late President, Levy Mwanawasa’s family was addressed by Attorney General Mumba Malila who adequately and objectively interpreted the law. Malila explained that since Mr Mwanawasa had died while in office, his widow, Maureen would be entitled to 50 percent of an incumbent’s president’s salary and other trappings that are entitled to a former president.

Maureen, according to Malila, would enjoy these benefits for as long as she did not join politics. There was something about children of 21 and below also benefiting from this arrangement.

As such, I do not see why the PF presidential candidate, Michael Sata should bring up the subject of government not stating how it would look after Mr Mwanawasa’s family as a national asset, or something to that effect.

There are a lot of issues that need to be discussed in the nation which should form the basis of the campaigns for the forthcoming presidential by-election and particularly the continuity of cases involving the plunder of national resources involving former President Chiluba and others.

Those who say they would carry on Mwanawasa’s legacy should show the nation how they will tackle corruption in the nation instead of being quiet about it.

And talking about bribing the electorate, imagine if it were Hakainde Hichilema or Sata distributing 500 x 25 kg bags of mealie meal in Vulamukoko in Katete what hoohaah would have come from the MMD accusing them of politicising a traditional ceremony. But because it is the acting President doing it, it is OK.

Friday, 12 September 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

It is very difficult to appreciate United Liberal Party (ULP) president, Sakwiba Sikota’s logic that the forthcoming presidential by-election should be abandoned to allow acting President Rupiah Banda to continue the late President Levy Mwanawasa’s mandate until 2011.

Much as we appreciate the colossal costs that will go with the exercise, this is the price we have to pay for not only the faulty constitution we have in place but also for the enhancement of democracy and the rule of law in the nation.

One would have thought that Sikota would have been wearing a lawyer’s hat rather than a politician’s hat which is controlled more by emotional rather than rational thought. Zambia is a young democracy and it does not mean that unfortunate events of the last couple of months in which a sitting president has died in office would not occur again but God forbid.

For Zambia to avoid the costs that will go with the forthcoming presidential by-elections there is need for the nation to work out a constitution that foresees such occurrences so that in future, a vice president should automatically assume the presidency in the event that the holder vacates the seat for any reason, death included.

I will say that we are lucky as a nation in the sense that we have the controversial National Constitution Council (NCC) sitting in the midst of all this constitutional mess which one hopes that it would now be cleaned up. This is where the Chifumu Banda-chaired NCC should strongly recommend that a vice president is a running mate of the presidential candidate in an election.

The current situation is absurd. Just look at how many vice presidents we have had since 2002 when the late Mwanawasa assumed the presidency. Four in six years, meaning that on average, vice presidents have held office for 18 months each showing that these people serve at the mercy of the president who has the prerogative to appoint and disappoint them. Mwanawasa started with Vice President Enoch Kavindele from the Chiluba administration, followed by Pastor Nevers Mumba who was poached from the opposition National Citizens Coalition, followed by Lupando Mwape and subsequently Rupiah Banda, essentially a UNIP member whom time, fortune and circumstance has favoured with the presidential trophy.

At this point, the constitution should re-define the role of the vice president instead of one who just dispenses relief food and tents in the wake of droughts and floods. The American model of the relationship between president and vice president, would suit us in the circumstances.

Political parties would also help if they consolidated democratic practices within their organisations by adhering to their party constitutions. Clearly, the way Mwanawasa dealt with the issue of the party vice presidency did not help matters when, on his demise, MMD NEC members had to sit to pick a candidate for the presidential by-election instead of a vice president automatically assuming the presidency.

The democratic credentials of the biggest opposition party, the PF, are equally nothing to write home about. The goings on at the UPND convention at which Hakainde Hichilema was elected is a millstone around the opposition’s party’s neck--democratic principles were thrown out the window for the sake of the late Anderson Mazoka’s fellow tribesman replacing him.

Political parties should internally be strong to avoid manipulation by sitting presidents. The MMD itself has been manipulated by the two presidents it has had in the last 17 years of its existence. First it was President Chiluba who treated it like his personal turf and then President Mwanawasa who did not have a vice president when he was elected party president.

The problem is basically that NEC officials and other members who end up as national conventional delegates are afraid of challenging the party and republican president simply because of the favours that they get or they expect to get from him for singing the loudest praise songs of him.

The praise singing has already started for MMD presidential candidate Rupiah Banda who is most likely to be elected MMD president at the next convention in two years’ time.



This last week I have come across two quotes on the internet regarding issues of governance:

The first one which caught my eye on the New Zambia blog is this: “Why did Mwanawasa surround himself with his relatives and in-laws? Kaunda had many faults but none of the members of the central committee were his hard core relatives, not even Chiluba. Perhaps they chose people they had worked with in the journey of life.
Why did these people [sic] prefer an outsider for VP. These questions are cardinal to understanding the future of
Zambia. A true leader who will fight corruption in Zambia will be one with no nepotism issues in his pocket.
The stress and pressure of not being able to chastise his relatives is what caused his uncontrollable BP and of course his death. Nepotism and hero-worshiping led the doctors who were supposed to be treating him to spend afternoons kneeling down in the Zambian oval office, nepotism led to the entire president being treated less adequately than my father whose doctor is a frustrated physician and a member of the Royal College but does things by the book so my 90 year old father is alive, poor but well. My president was being treated by doctors who can’t remember the last time they read a journal on cardiovascular diseases, receiving orders from the first lady.
"Why on earth do you expect my husband to eat like a poor man with no salt" and of course the medics would say not to worry perhaps just as he wishes.”

Whether this contributor wrote from facts or not is difficult to say, but it brings into perspective the Machiavellian philosophy of leadership of not listening to advisors which can lead to tragic consequences.

The second quote is on a friend’s Facebook internet social network page which says: “Doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.” A nugget of wisdom there, Ross Day.

Friday, 5 September 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

Clearly, MMD’s chickens are coming home to roost.

In 1995, only Levy Mwanawasa, the man we mourn today was the only one brave enough--I am sure out of principle because he probably knew he did not have enough chance of winning--to challenge President Frederick Chiluba for the MMD presidency at the party’s national convention at Mulungushi International Conference Centre.

At that convention, Mwanawasa was called all sorts of names for trying to rock the gravy train that everyone else was enjoying probably through the brown envelopes that were then becoming fairly common. As expected, Levy lost terribly and he sunk into political oblivion, if we may call it that.

A few years later, in 1998 and 1999, after it became apparent that President Chiluba was engineering a third term, Benjamin Mwila who was then MMD national treasurer and Cabinet Minister, publicly indicated his desire to take over the party presidency and eventually, the Republican presidency.

A group of hardcore Chiluba supporters who could not countenance anyone challenging President Chiluba ensured that Mwila was hounded out of the party. It was at this point that any semblance of democracy in the MMD was overshadowed by those who were intent to see Chiluba go for a third term of office at any price.

Things came to a head in the ruling party in 2001 when a group of senior MMD members, known as the MMD 22, led by the then MMD vice president Brigadier-General Godfrey Miyanda and Republican Vice President General Christon Tembo openly challenged Chiluba’s third term intentions by joining hands with the opposition in denouncing the ploy.

The 22 were unceremoniously booted out of the party at a charade of a national convention at Mulungushi Rock in Kabwe where some of them were physically manhandled and dragged out of the convention arena. Chiluba was overwhelmingly retained as party president. The only hurdle was the Republican Constitution which invariably allowed him two terms.

Chiluba then fell back on Levy Mwanawasa whom he anointed as his successor and vigorously campaigned for to take over the Republican presidency. Chiluba retained the MMD presidency which he was forced to give up a few months later after it emerged that his camp was allegedly bent on undermining Mwanawasa’s national leadership. Chiluba paid a heavy price. His immunity was removed and he now faces a myriad of court cases for allegedly plundering national resources.

Obviously, the MMD, like the rest of the nation, never anticipated that Mwanawasa would die in office, an unfortunate event that now seems to have unleashed the hidden democratic potential in the MMD. At the time of writing, there were at least 15 people intending to contest the race to be picked as candidates in the forthcoming presidential by-elections.

Mwanawasa had himself at some point indicated that he would play a role in choosing someone who would take over as MMD president and contest the Republican presidency in 2011.

An obvious weakness in the MMD was the freezing of the post vice president apparently because there was a lot of corruption among the candidates at the convention 2005 national convention where he or she was to be elected.

This is the moment, after Mwanawasa’s demise, the nation is watching with baited breath whether or not the MMD would emerge intact after a candidate has been picked to contest the presidential by-election sometime in November. So far there has been mudslinging matches between supporters of some candidates, calling each other names. Others have simply been nominal candidates right from the beginning. No one is talking about them or indeed, for them.

If at that point in history when Mwila launched his bid for the MMD presidency he was allowed to go the whole hog, if Miyanda and Tembo were allowed and if the late Paul Tembo had been allowed to “win” the vice presidency, the MMD could not have reached this point at which it is teetering on the brink, unless the 1991 spirit is allowed to prevail.

But again, nations that are today bastions of democracy went through even more challenging travails than Zambia has ever gone through as a nation born just over four decades ago. What the nation is experiencing today such as the death of a sitting president and over 15 candidates expressing interest in taking over, should provide it with important lessons for the future beginning with those currently trying to write the Constitution.




It is plain immoral and scandalous that the Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices (Emoluments) (Amendments) Bill, 2008 should be assented to as law when time comes and our ministers and the privileged few should be earning close to, if not over, K400,000,000 per year while doctors, teachers, nurses, policemen and other public workers on whom society hinges upon for smooth and continuous operation should earn a fifth of the above amount.

The stories in the papers as they appeared, just talked about huge increments without giving the figures involved until one disillusioned Zambian sent me an e-mail attached with the document signed by solicitor general Dominic Sichinga proposing sickening figures for a country whose 80 percent of the citizens live on less than US$2 per day.

The proposed income structure for the Vice President is K99,227,544 per annum, K94,199,870 special allowance (whatever it is), K90,000,000 responsibility allowance and K66,400,000 utility allowance.

These figures do not differ markedly for other Constitutional office holders but on the contrary, the monthly housing allowance for doctors is not enough to rent a decent room in Misisi in Lusaka or Sinia in Ndola. It is worse for teachers, nurses and policemen.

Most of the politicians who will be earning K400,000,000 or close to it are probably old Form 2 and want to justify it by how much Bank of Zambia governor Dr Caleb Fundanga earns. In any case, even the Bank of England governor, Dr Mervyn King earns way more than the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

Politicians anywhere in the world, more so in a poor country like Zambia, should know that they are in government for service and not fattening their already fat bank accounts.