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?”


MrK said...

Hi Gershom,

The way forward is to ensure that the presidency is tied to parliament so that only Members of Parliament can aspire for presidency.

How about going one step further, and only selecting MPs from the ranks of council leaders?

That way MPs understand the workings of (local) government, and they have years of experience running a council.

Just a thought.

Unknown said...

There is definitely need to reform our governance system. The Westminister/Capitol Hill hybrid has clerarly failed to work for us. What is worse in our case is that we have picked the worst of the two systems rather than the best. The electoral process in it current form will always fail the people who have been pining for change since 2001.