Tuesday, 28 October 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu


It is unfortunate that Benny Tetamashimba has resorted to insulting and threatening people of Eastern Province if they do not vote for Rupiah Banda who happens to hail from the province.

It appears that these are the tactics that Tetamashimba uses in the North-western Province where people appear not to scrutinise the people they vote for. Tetamashimba himself is a good example as the people have kept on voting for him as he has hopped from the National Party to UPND and later the MMD because they think he is the best that has ever happened to them.

People in Eastern Province are able to change their MPs at will and similarly, they are able to discern good from bad leaders. In 1991 easterners overwhelmingly voted for Dr Kaunda whom they thought was a good leader when the rest of Zambia voted for Frederick Chiluba the former ZCTU leader.

If what has been happening to Chiluba since he left office seven years ago about him having to spend more time answering to criminal charges in the courts of law than writing his memoirs is anything to go by, I think the easterners have been vindicated.

In 2001, they voted for FDD when the rest of Zambia voted for Mwanawasa. They wanted change at that time by were disappointed by the rest of Zambia. In 2006, they overwhelmingly voted for Mwanawasa when most of Zambia rejected him. From the accolades Mwanawasa is receiving in his death, the easterners were right.

This year they are being insulted that if they do not for Rupiah Banda it means they are foolish. They are also facing threats of being whipped north-westerners led by Tetamashimba if they do not vote for Banda because, according to him, they have been given a chance to have one of theirs at State House.

On the contrary, like the biblical wise men from the east, the easterners know a good leader when they see one. They will subject Banda to the same scrutiny that they have subjected other leaders before him and not because they hail from the province.

Why did they not vote for Brigadier-General Godfrey Miyanda, who comes from Minga between Nyimba and Petauke? Miyanda has been contesting presidential elections since 2001. Easterners and those who hail from there but live in other parts of the country, vote for people not because they are easterners but simply on the qualities they possess as individuals and what their party has to offer. They never even gave Miyanda an MP for that matter.

It is important to educate people like Tetamashimba on the ethnic composition of Eastern Province. The province comprises the Chewa, Ngoni, Tumbuka, Nsenga, Senga and Chikunda people. What makes it difficult for people like Tetamashimba to distinguish the different tribes of the province is the similarities in most the languages which in itself has helped hold the people together.

It is important for people to understand that if Paramount Chief Mpezeni speaks, he does not speak for all the people in the Eastern Province, neither does Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi. There are other senior and junior chiefs representing different people in the province. It is therefore folly for any chief to ask all the easterners to vote for Akulu Mphuno or Ang’ono Mphuno.

It is understandable that Tetamashimba comes from a tribally volatile province where tribal passions are easily whipped for political expedience. This is one element that Tetamashimba has exploited and emerged, rightly or wrongly, as the spokesperson of the entire province.

On the contrary, in the Eastern Province, because there is so much scrutiny on who attains a position leadership, no one has been able to exploit the people like Tetamashimba has done where he comes from by speaking for the entire North-Western Province. Strangely enough, people have tolerated him and have kept voting for them since 1996 regardless of which ticket he has stood on.

It probably shows the dearth of leadership material that exists in the North-western Province which is not the case with the Eastern Province where leadership material is “mbwe mbwe mbwe” and the people do not need to be told there is no one else apart from the likes of Tetamashimba.

Even in the case of the presidential election on 30th October, Banda will be subjected to the same rigorous test that other leaders from the Eastern Province and other parts of the country are subjected to.


Last week there was a flurry of e-mails among a group of Zambians on constitutional weaknesses after PF presidential candidate Michael Sata allegedly said he would serve for five years until 2013 if he is elected president on October 30. This followed a write up by Dr Henry Kyambalesa which also circulated on the web.

Wrote Dr Chiyaba Njovu: “Our parliament is largely dysfunctional because of the literacy levels of our
MPs. If you recall, the late Jack Shamwana highlighted this problem in 1992 when he was the chairman of Local Government elections. At that time he proposed that the minimum qualification for a councillor be grade 9 and that of an MP be grade 12. He cited issues of understanding constitutional provisions as the driving force for advocating for higher literacy levels. But Chiluba's response was that politics was for all irrespective of literacy…

We cannot make progress without a good constitution but we also cannot have a good constitution without an enlightened team of parliamentarians... Some of our MPs are worse than our Children in their minds and that is the reason why anyone in Zambia can dream of becoming president and manipulate them. The way forward is to ensure that the presidency is tied to parliament so that only Members of Parliament can aspire for presidency. In that way, all enlightened people will aspire to be MPs and the riff-raffs will have to be put where they belong unless they improve themselves. 
Tough but that is the way to move forward - give people a challenge. You cannot have call-boys talking about buying suits in parliament or getting women through parliament motel. What a lot of nonsense?”

Friday, 24 October 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

In December 2001 when I was a senior journalist at the Zambia Daily Mail, like many others assigned to various parts of the country, I was assigned to Kitwe where I beefed up the local staff, to cover the presidential and parliamentary elections there.
In the morning of the December 28, the day of elections, I covered the northern and eastern part of the city while one of my colleagues who was then Kitwe-based, covered the south and western parts of the city. My coverage took me as far as Race Course in Chimwemwe Constituency and Bulangililo in Kwacha Constituency. At a polling station in Race Course I met a former State House senior private secretary who had been fired by President Chiluba but was driving a ministerial Volvo which was somewhat strange. He did not say what exactly he was doing there.
At the polling station at Bulangililo Community Centre, a place I know very well having had grown up in nearby Kwacha myself, I met a former Kitwe Boys’ Secondary School classmate I had not seen for donkey years who whispered to me that some ballot papers meant for Livingstone had been found at that polling centre.
The centre’s returning officer explained to me that it was probably a mistake that those ballot books could find themselves at a polling centre in Bulangililo. I mentioned that fact in passing in my story which was the lead the following day.
I forgot about that little fact and had no reason to refer to it until now when a government driver was recently caught trying to smuggle ballot books from the warehouse at Lusaka International Airport in full view of, strangely, Electoral Commission of Zambia officials, to somewhere in Kalabo or whatever place it might have been where he wanted to take them. Stranger still is the fact that the commission over printed ballot papers by over 600,000 of the registered voters.
During the 2001 elections, the turnout in Kitwe was massive such that by 22.00 hours people were still queuing to cast their ballots I was sure it was because people badly wanted to get rid of the MMD government then. It was not surprising why the following evening there was a convoy of vehicles “celebrating” UPND’s Anderson Mazoka’s victory with the “kuyumayuma” chorus.
Obviously, people may not remember the truck carrying ballot papers to North-western Province that was gutted somewhere in Chisamba. It could have been an accident then, but again it could have been a ruse to rig elections by someone in the know who wanted to get rid of traceable ballot books.
Mazoka’s victory was not to be. Two days later, people in Luapula were still voting and the tide badly turned against Andy. Results started coming from other rural areas and the rest, as they say, is history. MMD candidate Levy Mwanawasa was sworn in as president almost seven days later, on January 2, 2002.
For the elections of almost five years later, in 2006, I was no longer in the mainstream media to cover them, but I keenly followed the proceedings such that I got the results as they were being announced at the central counting station in real time even as I was not there thanks to my journalist friends who spent sleepless nights at Mulungushi International Conference Centre.
At that time, PF’s Michael Sata was leading very, very comfortably at least from the results in urban areas, at least until those from rural areas started coming in.
All this was before the forthcoming presidential by-election. Thanks to the discovery of the “government” driver from Kalabo who was caught trying to smuggle ballot papers from the Electoral Commission of Zambia warehouse at the Lusaka International Airport warehouse which were yet to be verified.
The question to ask ourselves as a nation is, how many unverified ballot boxes have been smuggled out of the Electoral Commission of Zambia custody in the 2001 and 2006 elections in a practice that was yet unknown until driver Zaza came along a few days ago?
Was it accidental that Livingstone ballot books were found at a Kitwe polling station in the 2001 elections, or was it a well orchestrated exercise which was meant to steal votes in favour of the MMD even when the nation clearly wanted change particularly in 2001 and 2006?
Can the same tricks be employed in this by-election or is it that the citizens have become vigilant monitoring the illegal movement of ballot boxes?
Can someone monitor Zambia Airforce (ZAF) that ferry ballot boxes from outlying polling stations in rural areas? Zambia could avoid falling into the Kenyan curse the world witnessed at the beginning of this year.
“Dr Puma also said the issue of salary increments for constitutional office holders had been exaggerated by people with little information on the matter.He said the tax threshold for people in high-income brackets was 40 per cent and that if for example one got K20 million, K8 million would be removed from their salaries.He said what was being proposed was nothing to write home about compared to what chief executives of some companies got.”
The above quote comes from a Post story of 14 October 2008 made by former Resident Doctors Association official Felix Lwipa Puma now deputy minister of health.
This coming from a government minister, does it mean that the issue of salary increments for constitutional office holders is not dead, come November 1?
I have that sneaky feeling that the MMD government will bring back this issue if and when Rupiah Banda is elected president of Zambia.
If Dr Puma and his ilk want to compare what they yearn to earn with what obtains in the private sector, they should also be prepared to pay junior civil servants what the private sector pays its workers.
All the unions, but particularly those representing government workers, need to be alert to stop this greedy lot from giving themselves salaries, allowances and other fringe benefits worth more than K35 million per month when other workers go home with less than K15million per year.

Friday, 17 October 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

 Supreme Court judgements, by their nature of being unchallengeable, become law or precedence as the lawyers call it, and have to be followed as such. Clearly in this election campaign, one Supreme Court judgement has been ripped to pieces may be because the culprits have been queuing to support the ruling MMD presidential candidate Rupiah Banda.

A few months ago the Supreme Court nullified the Mwansabombwe seat which was held by PF's Samuel Chitonge after the 2006 elections but was challenged by MMD's Maybin Mubanga on account of Senior Chief Mwata Kazembe supporting Chitonge to the disadvantage of Mubanga.

Principally, the Supreme Court observed that Mwata Kazembe prevented voters from choosing a candidate of their choice because he supported the PF and its candidate.

From the evidence,” according to a story carried by the Zambia Daily Mail at the time, “the court noted that Mwata Kazembe was an influential figure whose action was illegal.”

The court, according to the story, pointed out that the constitution and the Election Act did not allow a chief to exert undue influence on his subjects and reference was made to the case of Sikota Wina who petitioned Mulobezi MP Michael Mabenga on grounds that an induna ferried supporters to a secret meeting. The court noted that in this case, Mwata Kazembe was not an ordinary induna but a senior chief.

In contrast with the judgement in the Chitonge case, the nation has in the last few weeks witnessed a whole array of chiefs being paraded to endorse Banda's candidature. One wonders if the Supreme Court judgement in this case only applies to parliamentary candidates and not presidential candidates. But since an election is an election regardless at what level it is, whether local government, parliamentary or presidential, the same rules should apply and fairly for that matter.

If the Supreme Court found Mwata Kazembe's actions illegal in the election of Chitonge in 2006, the actions of chiefs who are being paraded all over the country to openly support Banda are definitely illegal and it is high time someone blew the whistle considering that a legal precedent has been set by no other than the highest court in the land.

Chiefs by their nature are influential to not only people living within their chiefdoms but to their subjects living in other parts of the country. We all know how deferentially subjects behave towards a chief or even a headman, when he is visiting an urban area such that if he or she said that she supported one presidential candidate in, say Namwala, his or her word would reverberate around the country knowing that his royal highness has spoken on behalf of his subjects wherever they may be in the Republic of Zambia.

People should not underrate the influence of chiefs by thinking that this only ended in their chiefdoms. I have in the past covered chiefs visiting urban areas and in some instances, urban-based subjects visiting chiefs and seen for myself what transpires when subject meets chief. To dismiss it as a mere customary thing would be very naïve for anyone.

Similarly, to dismiss the influence of chiefs in an election such as the forthcoming presidential by-election would be suicidal for any politician. This is is the reason why the rule book vis-a-vis Chitonge's judgement should be thrown at these chiefs and whoever is seen to flout it, should be dealt with accordingly.

Knowing the character of most of the chiefs, they receive “gifts” from politicians who visit them and then make careless political statements to justify the gifts. Today's chiefs are no different from the chiefs of several centuries ago who sold their subjects into slavery for bottles of rum, coloured cloth, salt beads and mirrors.

The only difference is that today's chiefs would be “herded” into the comfort of some lodge for a few days, pampered with the most expensive and potent alcoholic drink and at the end of the day, awarded with fat brown envelopes and they come up with the most absurd of statements in support of a particular candidate. This is no different from selling their subjects into slavery.

Rigging of elections is difficult to prove but certain occurrences during elections may point to that. In the rural areas where results wipe out the gains of opposition parties in urban areas, the ferrying of ballot boxes by ZAF helicopters is, in my view, a very sensitive issue that needs to be addressed seriously and with the urgency it deserves.

In 2000, I had an opportunity to cover a by-election in Mufumbwe were I witnessed ZAF choppers ferrying ballot boxes from polling stations in outlying some as far away as 400 km.

Not that anything untoward that I can remember happened in that by-election but given that there are so many places like Mufumbwe where these choppers criss-cross the countryside and what is of concern is that there is not enough room on the choppers to carry all of the participating parties' agents to keep an eye on the ballot boxes on their way to central counting places at council offices.

When one hears statements that this or that candidate will never be allowed to rule Zambia, then you wonder who determines that. Is it the people who control elections or the citizens who cast their votes? Is this at the point when rigging takes place to keep out the unwanted leaders from State House?

In the last few weeks I have such statements from people who should really know better. The best way to show that people have the power to chose who leads them, they must vote convincingly not to leave any doubt as to who they want as president rather than have their intelligence insulted.

A leader Zambians chose should not be voted for because he has dished out a lot of brown envelopes, sugar, mealie meal or has bought many drums of Chibuku, but one with the vision to take the nation beyond the poverty that many of our citizens are chained to.






Friday, 10 October 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

“Experience is the excuse of the incumbent over the ages. Experience is what they always say when they try to stop change. In 1979, James Callaghan had been Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Chancellor before he became Prime Minister. He had plenty of experience. But thank God we changed him for Margaret Thatcher.

“Just think about it: if we listened to this argument about experience, we'd never change a government, ever. We'd have Gordon Brown as Prime Minister – for ever…

“The risk is not in making a change. The risk is sticking with what you've got and expecting a different result. There is a simple truth for times like this. When you've taken the wrong road, you don't just keep going. You change direction – and that is what we need to do. So let's look at how we got here – and how we're going to get out.”

These were the words of opposition British Conservative Party David Cameron at his party’s annual conference last week and they ring true of the current Zambian campaign period in which the older candidates in the forthcoming presidential by-election, MMD’s Rupiah Banda and PF’s Michael Sata both of them in their 70s and both of whom have been on the political scene even before UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema was born, have been deriding their younger opponent as lacking experience in government.

Sata even goes farther by contemptuously referring to Hichilema or HH as he is popularly known, as an “under five”. I am not a fan of Cameron and his Conservative party, but for once, I agreed with him on the issue of experience as an excuse to block the much needed change in our situation.

For ages now, our own leaders, past and present, have referred to the youth as future leaders but one wonders when that future for the youths to take over will come. Or is it the case of those old men and women who used to say “ndise mayusi,” loosely translated as we are youths and never getting to admit they were past their sell by date?

Examples of what harm the so-called experience can do in the running of a country abound. The leader of one neighbouring country has been at the helm for close to three decades and he is not getting any younger and yet the economic and political situation that country is in a serious mess it can only take a miracle to change things.

Our very own President Kenneth Kaunda was Zambian president for 27 years in a government in which both Banda and Sata cut their teeth and where did he leave us? There were long queues for basics like Ebu, a smelly carbolic soap, pasa mulopa buns and just about anything until came along someone who did not have experience in government, Frederick Chiluba who--let us face it--changed a lot of things for the better.

May be by a miracle, our own “experienced candidates” both of whom are claiming to carry on with the late President, Levy Mwanawasa’s legacy will truly turn round the fortunes of the 80 per cent of the population leaving in poverty, something they failed to do when they had the chance. On the other hand, one would hope that the younger candidate would inject fresh blood and energy in the running of government along corporate lines which, in any case, is the norm in the globalised world.

The days of running government just for the sake of it are gone. This is the reason why we still have people in government who want to give themselves huge salaries, comparing themselves with corporate managers, but not delivering the goods to the shareholders, the citizens who also pay the taxes on which state machinery runs.

On account of age, and corporate experience, Hichilema would probably provide that magical hand that Zambia needs for now.


I was shocked to read about Solwezi Central Member of Parliament Benny Tetamashimba saying that he drove the most expensive GX in the country and that he could manage to buy any vehicle on earth.

If Tetamashimba was an MP for Lusaka Central, he could be excused because quite a few constituents there would afford to have bespoke Rolls Royces made for them, but that coming from an MP of Solwezi Central where few people can afford a bicycle not to talk about a Corolla, is a bit insensitive.

Just last week, a junior British minister, Tom Harris was sacked by Prime Minister Gordon Brown for an insensitive comment he made asking why the credit crunch currently affecting Britain and other western countries which has seen people lose jobs, companies closed and banks collapse, made people “so bloody miserable.”

But in Zambia, MPs and ministers can get away with it by laughing at their poor constituents who cannot afford to “slaughter” women and drink from expensive hotels or buy wheelbarrows and bicycles because they are poor. What is sickening is that for the rest of us, “kulyamo fye” is the buzzword. That is why the distribution of mealie meal and sugar to would be voters appears normal.

Principled men and women like James Lukuku are demonised for not taking advantage of the kulyamo fye culture which surprisingly, is defended by some clergymen and journalists, at least in private.

If the president, acting or substantive, cannot fire such ministers, the people themselves can fire them by not voting for them at the next election. This is the only way our public servants will show respect to us if they know that their utterances hurt us.

And talking about MPs, some MPs supporting Rupiah Banda’s candidature are arm twisting the electorate by saying that even if they vote for an opposition leader for the presidency, the MMD MPs are in majority and would make it tough for the new leader to pass laws.

In one of my earlier columns, I stated that it was possible for MPs to dissolve themselves quoting a relevant Article in the constitution, but because of their selfishness, they had no compelling reason to do so.

Friday, 3 October 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

History has that nasty tendency—to repeat itself.

Thank you, James Lukuku, former New Revolutionary Party (NRP) national secretary, for “confirming” what we always suspected since the days of former President Chiluba’ attempt to go for a third term.

At that time, chiefs, churchmen, some non-governmental organisations and characters of all hues and shades would allow themselves to be assembled to the public calling for Chiluba to go for a third term.

For some of us who were unfortunate to work in state-owned newspapers, it was such a pain in the wrong place to be subjected to write stories from statements brought to newspapers from State House, sneaked in by District Administrators or brought by brazen NGO leaders, all supporting the third term.

A group of radical journalists could whisper among themselves about the possibility of money exchanging hands for people to be so paraded. Some gullible people even had the chance of being accommodated at exotic lodges such as Lilayi Lodge for a reward of a moment’s appearance on TV and their names appearing in newspapers.

The most unforgettable episode of that Third Term tragic-comedy was the 90 Pentecostal pastors bussed from Ndola to make fools of themselves by lending credence to the charade the majority of well reasoning Zambians were saying no to.

What was unfortunate at the time was the conspiracy of heads of state-owned media institutions who could alter the outlook of the next day’s paper even when it was about to go for printing if a statement came through State House or certain influential NGOs of the time supporting the third term. It was sickening!

If what Lukuku has exposed, and indeed chief government spokesman and minister of information Mike Mulongoti has admitted, that the MMD “helps” smaller parties, the nation should shudder to think about what “help” the chiefs who have joined the “Vote Rupiah Banda” chorus receive through the District Administrators who always seem to be there when the statements are made and, indeed, all others who have suddenly fallen in love with the man who shares his name with the currency of Indonesia which he used to boast about in the past.

Surely, political parties that have no money have no reason to exist if they are going to be parasites of the ruling party. Strangely enough, these opposition parties come up with all sorts of absurd statements not only against other opposition parties, but flabbergasting statements in support of the ruling party at venues that straight forward opposition leaders just dream about.

If it is alright for the MMD to support other parties through the back door, why has it always opposed suggestions by citizens to the Constitution Review Commissions that have been constituted under its watch, that government should financially support political parties particularly those with members of parliament?

If the MMD is able to dish out money like it allegedly did to the NRP recently, can someone explain if the ruling party has liquidated the huge debt it had a few years ago which resulted in one former trustee even losing his farm because he used it as collateral for the party’s debt?

May be it is time, MMD members and the nation at large demanded to see the MMD’s statement of accounts since it has been in government for 17 years now and it is therefore “public property”, to see where it gets its money from and how it spends it. This is the only way citizens will clear their minds that “ako kanono” given to someone was not from state coffers.

The country has had an opportunity to learn from the episode of the plunder of national resources for which former President Chiluba is facing court charges. The people need to be alert to be on guard against such nefarious activities by leaders.

Zambians living today should make their leaders accountable because they, themselves, will be answerable to more enlightened future generations who would question why the country they would inherit will have been left in a mess even when it was endowed with plenty of natural resources.

 The NRP case needs to be taken up by all governance institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission, Electoral Commission of Zambia, Human Rights Commission and related NGOs to get down to its root. Those found culpable, whoever they are, must be prosecuted in accordance with the law. My worry though is that when it is an opposition party involved, such institutions move in even swifter than lightning.



Am I surprised that Information and Broadcasting permanent secretary Emmanuel Noel Kapaipi Nyirenda has banned live phone in programmes on private radio stations? No, I am not.

Nyirenda was, under Kaunda’s regime, plucked out of the media to go and work as a diplomatic at the Zambian High Commission in London and he was recalled, he was posted to Cabinet Office were he worked as an under secretary. In 1992 he was appointed as Zambia Daily Mail managing editor until 1995 when he was transferred to the Times of Zambia in the same capacity.

Nyirenda changed the way the two newspapers reported and wrote stories to an extent where his legacy still remains, almost six years after he left the Times. Reporters always kicked off stories with a reaction from government and relegated whatever anybody said against the government to the very last paragraph or paragraphs.

Nyirenda’s reasons for banning live phone in programmes do not hold water because he knows the existence of the laws of civil and criminal libel for which whoever falls short of the same, is hauled before the courts of law and where liable, they pay damages or go to jail.

Equally, in terms of biased coverage under the electoral laws, liable media organisations are supposed to be carpeted by the Electoral Commission of Zambia which would impose whatever penalties are prescribed under that law.

QFM and other radio stations should have been subjected to the same existing laws rather than be banned by the whims and caprices of a permanent secretary who probably wants to secure himself a job in the new administration.