Friday, 31 December 2010
During the gift-buying frenzy period a few days to Christmas, I did not know what gift I was going to buy my brother who was supposed to come from London to the little town I live in, to the south west of the British capital. I trawled the shops and websites but couldn’t come up with any idea until I saw a re-mastered CD of Rikki Ililonga and the Musi-O-Tunya entitled Dark Sunrise.
I placed an order hoping that it would turn up in time for its wrapping and placing it under the Christmas tree. However, in the days before Christmas it snowed very heavily disrupting the delivery of post which in turn delayed the arrival of the CD. As it also turned out, my brother and his wife could also not come.
The CD arrived two days before New Year. A day passed before I could unwrap it from its cellophane and, of course, the first disc of this two-disc set I played was the Musi-O-Tunya one. The reason is simply that anybody my age remembers this group particularly its song Wings of Africa.
I know that competent people have already reviewed the CDs and it is therefore not my mission to do so. It is the memories that listening to these songs bring to me. The songs transport me right up to my place of birth in Kitwe, where I did my primary and secondary schools. But most importantly, I am transported back in time to the neighbourhood I grew up in Kwacha township.
Older boys who were my elder brothers’ peers, used to play these songs on their Philips mono record players whose speakers they used to put in gourds to boost speakers. And because our neighbourhood did not have electricity then, they used batteries which they could put out in the sun to recharge them. We also used to listen to these songs on Livingstone-assembled two band ITT radios.
But it also reminds of the numerous songs we used to listen to blaring from the juke box at the nearby Mukwae Tavern, ranging from solo Zambian musicians such as Nashil Pitchen Kazembe, Peter Tsotsi Juma, Smokey Hangala to groups such as Super Vina, the Witch, Mulemena Boys and many more. Newer groups like Juligzya Band, Serenje Kalindula Band, Makishi, Masiye, etc, also emerged.
When I went to the University of Zambia while frequenting Chibuku taverns in Kalingalinga, Mutendere, Kaunda Square and other Lusaka townships, there I listened to a lot more Zambian music most of which has now disappeared from the public domain. And when I briefly worked on Radio Mulungushi, now Radio 4 of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation in 1989, I was exposed to a lot of Zambian music.
Sadly, this music in private hands was on vinyl which was largely forgotten, even gotten rid of because compact cassettes replaced record players and later CDs came on the scene. But sadder still, most of these bands fazed out of the scene either through economic circumstances and also that most of these musicians died from AIDS. In some cases, entire band members were wiped out.
This music has largely disappeared from the public domain and there is no way of laying hands on it. Music is a bigger component of a nation’s culture. Zambian music is no exception. The re-mastering of Rikki Ililonga and Musi-O-Tunya’s music should be extended to other musicians and other bands for its preservation and diffusion to wider audiences. The market for such music would not be lacking as the voracious consumption of CDs such as Zambiance, attests to this yawning market.
If anything, a Malawian on Facebook was asking for the music of the Burning Youth, a band that created a storm on the Zambian music scene in the mid-1990s.
I mourn this loss of Zambian music the same way I mourn the loss of art works of one artist by the name of Donald Ndalachani Chisanga who could qualify as the Zambian version of Banksy, the elusive British artist who paints on public walls under cover of darkness. Chisanga painted the walls of taverns in the Lusaka townships I have mentioned above.
One memorable painting of Chisanga’s was a wall mural we referred to as “Ninali Kumaliro Mbuya” depicting a monkey telling a mouse how he is never seen on paydays and when he reappears, he is always asking for beer from friends.
This is probably why Zambia needs a ministry seriously dedicated to cultural issues so that the country does not only renew what has already been created, but promote the creation of new cultural artefacts of all forms, not excluding music.
Sunday, 5 December 2010
Sunday, 27 June 2010
I wish to join other Zambians in acknowledging your extraordinary effort, determination and commitment to review the Republican constitution and give our beloved country a new constitution that is expected to stand the test of time.
In this connection, I wish to make a few comments and suggestions designed to make the new constitution more acceptable to the majority of Zambians, and more credible in the eyes of the international community.
1. The Preamble: The first three paragraphs of the Preamble should read as follows:
We, the people of Zambia, by our representatives assembled in our Parliament,
Acknowledge the supremacy of God Almighty;
Uphold the right of every person to enjoy that person’s freedom of conscience or religion; …
The Republican constitution should be a neutral document that should not appear to discriminate against atheists or pagans, or those who believe in Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or Jainism. All these segments of Zambian society have a genuine stake in the Republican constitution and, therefore, deserve to be respected in spite of the fact that they are not currently as large as their Christian counterparts.
2. Christian Values and Principles (Article 16): This Article should be removed because “directing the policies and laws towards securing and promoting Christian values” or beliefs would be inconsistent with “upholding the right of every person to enjoy that person’s freedom of conscience or religion” that is enshrined in the Preamble. It is also not consistent with what is enshrined in Article 96(2)(a) of the Bill, which states that a political party shall not be founded on a religious basis, among other things.
If it were permissible for the national government to generate “policies and laws towards securing and promoting Christian values …,” why would it be wrong for a political party to fashion its existence and contemplated policies and laws that would have a religious bearing?
If there is a compelling and absolute need for this Article to be retained, however, the “Christian Values and Principles” will need to be specifically defined in the same manner as Article 10 (Political Values, Principles and Objectives), Article 13 (Socio-Economic Values, Principles and Objectives) and Article 15 (Cultural Values, Principles and Objectives) are defined.
3. Promotion of Sport (Article 19): This Article states that “The Government shall promote recreation and sports for the citizens.” It could more appropriately and logically be incorporated into Article 13 (Socio-Economic Values, Principles and Objectives).
4. Qualifications of Presidential Candidates (Article 108): The requirements that presidential candidates should have a bachelor’s degree as a minimum academic qualification, and to have been resident in Zambia for 10 consecutive years preceding any given presidential election are clearly designed to exclude certain individuals from contesting the Republican presidency.
It is obvious that these two clauses could not have been recommended by the NCC if the MMD presidential candidate in the 2011 general elections -- that is, Rupiah Banda -- did not have a degree and had been working or studying in a foreign country over the last 5 or so years.
The degree requirement, for example, is undesirable and outrageous for the following reasons:
(a) It is not based on evidence from Zambia or anywhere else in the world suggesting that a president’s competence is directly related to his or her academic qualifications. In other words, it is mainly based on hunches rather than on facts!
(b) There is no academic degree offered anywhere in the world which can equip an individual with the qualities that are needed in political leadership, such as emotional stability, patriotism, selflessness, fair-mindedness, patience, compassion, tolerance, respect for the rule of law, and the ability to make compromises with people who have dissenting views.
(c) Most academic degrees are not designed to equip students with the requisite knowledge and skills relating to political or national leadership.
(d) The number of years which have passed from the year someone obtained a degree to the present reflects on the relevance of the degree involved. A degree obtained during the 1980s, for example, is generally useless if the holder is not engaged in teaching or other professions which require the application of the knowledge and skills acquired during the pursuit of the degree.
(e) The Republican president appoints qualified advisors to provide him or her with decision inputs in dealing with legal, economic, political, and other matters.
(f) The Republican president is expected to appoint competent government ministers and charge them with the responsibility of advising him or her on matters relating to national projects and programs, and spearheading the implementation of such projects and programs.
(g) The clause, if it is eventually included in the new Republican constitution, will inevitably require all office bearers (including the vice president) who are constitutionally expected to take over the presidency under special circumstances to be holders of academic degrees. And
(h) The kinds of national policies, projects and programs a presidential candidate promises to pursue are more important than his or her educational attainments.
There is, therefore, a need to retain Article 123 (1) (e) of the Willa Mung’omba draft constitution, which states that a person would only be qualified to be a presidential candidate if he or she had obtained the minimum academic qualification of a Grade 12 certificate.
With respect to the 10-year residence requirement, what is really the rationale for such a Clause? What is it supposed to achieve?
There are many reasons why Zambians temporarily reside in foreign countries, such as to pursue studies, to work for the Zambian government in foreign missions, to work at foreign-based branches of companies registered in Zambia, to pursue investment opportunities, or to seek employment due to the widespread unemployment currently obtaining in the country.
These are all good reasons why some Zambian citizens have, now and again, found themselves temporarily residing in foreign countries. Why, then, should their native country’s constitution deny them the opportunity to vie for the Republican presidency?
There is a need to remove this requirement because it discriminates against citizens who temporarily live in foreign countries for good reasons.
Over the years, the people’s call for a non-discriminatory Republican constitution that is expected to stand the test of time has been loud and clear. Unfortunately, those who are entrusted with the noble task of delivering such a constitution to the people seem to have personal and/or partisan stakes in the constitution-making process.
I, therefore, wish to urge each and every member of the NCC to heed the people’s call for a Republican constitution that will meet their needs and expectations in order to save financial and material resources that are likely to be devoted to another constitutional review commission in future.
Thus far, Zambia has wasted a good portion of its meager resources on financing the Chona Constitution Commission, the Mvunga Constitution Review Commission, the Mwanakatwe Constitution Review Commission, and the Mung’omba Constitutional Review Commission. There is, therefore, a need for the NCC to put personal and partisan interests aside and give the people a more acceptable constitution this time around.
5. Appointment of MPs to Executive Positions: The Bill requires that the Vice President, Provincial Ministers and Deputy Ministers should be appointed from Members of Parliament (Articles 128, 130, 131 and 132). This is an outdated and backward requirement for a burgeoning democratic system like ours.
We, therefore, need Articles and/or Clauses which would provide for the appointment of the Vice President, Provincial Ministers and Deputy Ministers from Zambians who are qualified to be elected as MPs, but who are not MPs. Such Articles and/or Clauses are important for the following reasons:
(a) They can afford a Republican president or President-elect a larger pool of competent people from which he or she can constitute a Cabinet.
(b) They can provide for greater separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government.
(c) They can afford presidential aspirants enough time to identify potential ministerial appointees well before tripartite elections rather than waiting for parliamentary elections to be concluded. And
(d) They can reduce the apparent work overload on government officials who have to handle both ministerial and parliamentary functions.
6. Defence and National Security (Part XVI): There is a need to create an additional Article in this Part of the Bill relating to the Zambia National Service (ZNS).
Friday, 25 June 2010
It is our intention to engage in this process mainly by sensitizing the general public on what the NCC is proposing and allow them to participate from a well informed basis. We will additionally continue to advocate for the adoption and enactment of a new constitution, which is anchored on commonly shared democratic principles. We do however, note with sadness some inadequacies in the whole process of receiving comments from the public and we are concerned that these could affect the participation of the majority of Zambians. Some of our observations are as follows:
1. The launch of the draft constitution and report took place without a prior notice. Indeed the public generally knew that the report would be launched soon but NCC should have taken a leaf from the Electoral Commission of Zambia which has been running public notices in the mass media to sensitise the public of the voters registration exercise. NCC, knowing fully well that the public only has 40 days to comment on the draft constitution, should have preceded the official launch with public sensitization – unless the intention is not to have as many people participating in this exercise;
2. There is an apparent lack of preparedness for this exercise and this can be illustrated by the fact that the launch to place at the time when Government Printers is still printing copies of the documents, all the websites mentioned had not uploaded the document for access by the public and the issue of translation is not yet decided. In the meantime, the countdown of the 40 days has begun. These are basic logistics which should have been put in place before the launch – and if people cannot yet access these documents – what was NCC launching?
3. It is a pity that translation of the draft constitution and report is not a given and contingent on availability of resources. NCC and the Government should have prioritized public participation as opposed to the largesse spent on endless sittings of the NCC. We are worried that this whole process will soon become exclusive and the preserve of the literate –and yet every Zambian should have a say on this important document and efforts should have made to ensure that this is possible.
4. It is our considered view that the NCC Chairperson should have taken advantage of the launch of the draft constitution, to equally avail to the public – a programme of how the NCC was going to facilitate public engagement in this process. For instance, is the NCC going to organize public meetings and if so- where and when? Further details should have been given on how rural areas which are far away from the district centres are going to access the documents. The question which still lingers is how will communities in the rural and remote areas participate in this process? Is the NCC in discussion with Churches, NGOs or other stakeholders working in these areas to reach out to these communities? Related to the above, it necessary that NCC indicates how many copies of the draft constitution and reports will be or has been sent to each district and how the people can access these copies.
5. Another issue of that requires clarification from the NCC is the manner in which differences between what the NCC is recommending and what the people and institutions who comment on the draft constitution and reports will be resolved. For instance, the NCC, in their draft constitution has proposed a minimum degree qualification for a prospective presidential candidate; assuming that the majority of the people and institutions (more than the numbers at the NCC) canvass for removal of this article- how will NCC handle this development? It is important that the process of reviewing and integrating the proposals from the public is made clear from the onset so that this does not turn out into an academic exercise where people take time to read the document and suggest changes and yet the NCC and Government remains adamant on what they would like to see in the final document.
6. Given the stage that this process has reached and some of the issues raised in the draft constitution, it is necessary for Government to present a full roadmap as to what will happen after 31 August 2010. There should be a sense of forward planning on the part of Government and thus ensure that this process does not stall after August 2010 but reaches its logical conclusion. Government, for instance, should consider appointing a Referendum Commission who should start working out modalities for a referendum as soon as possible. Such a step, will be a sign that Government really means well and that a new constitution is a possibility before the next elections.
In conclusion, we wish to underscore that these constitutional reforms should, at all cost, promote the common good and all those engaged in managing this process, should ensure that the final document that is adopted and a constitution bill subsequently enacted, is one that embodies the vision and aspirations of not just the current generation but even sets a foundation for generations to come. We do not want to see this process started all of over again in the next few years simply on grounds that partisan or sectarian interests were promoted as opposed to national interests.
Monday, 31 May 2010
STATEMENT BY CHANGE LIFE ZAMBIA TO MARK THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE ORGANISATION AND PROMULGATION OF THE THEME FOR 2010 NAMELY “THE CHANGE WE WANT”
We believe that our country requires radical change to usher in upright, patriotic, innovative, pragmatic and selfless leaders that should accelerate development and steer our country to the kind of prosperity that offers a better life for all Zambians especially vulnerable citizens. Against this background, we reiterate the importance of mobilizing people to transform Zambia’s social, economic and political landscape for improved living standards for all.
UNVEILING THE 2010 THEME
We wish to inform the public that the theme for 2009 namely “Change or Die, Zambia” has transformed into a new theme for 2010 namely “The Change We Want”. We are very happy to observe that the theme for 2009 has achieved its objective of raising awareness on the vital need for change. It is now clear that many Zambians appreciate the inevitability of positive change for Zambia to reverse its serious situation of regression and hopelessness. Moreover, poor people in our compounds and villages also know that the only solution to their suffering is change.
For the next one year under the new theme “The Change We Want”, CLZ will implement programmes and activities to facilitate the drawing up of a People’s Manifesto (PM). This will be a document that will outline some cardinal and priority changes that the government to be formed after 2011 should implement to move the country forward. We shall lobby voters to demand adoption of the PM as a condition for them to vote for any party or candidate that will take part in the 2011 general elections.
NEED FOR A PROACTIVE ELECTORATE
CLZ desires to see a proactive citizenly that should not wait for politicians to state what they would do if voted into office but a situation where the people would demand desired changes in exchange for their vote. We believe that time has come for Zambians to demand critical changes as a condition for any political party to get their valued vote.
NEED FOR FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS
For many years now our people have been denied a genuine and happy national election victory party where supporters of the losing party or candidate would share a drink and make merry with those of the winning party or candidate. Instead we have sporadic violence after elections and the reason is that majority of our people believe that elections are rigged in favour of the ruling party.
Against this background, CLZ demands affirmative action by government and other stakeholders to ensure free and fair elections in 2011. We believe that failure to implement drastic measures to guarantee free and fair elections will be a great danger to our peace and stability.
Hence, we repeat our condemnation of electoral violence and other forms of politically motivated violence. Moreover, we add our voice to that of various organisations and eminent citizens calling for action to stop electoral violence.
Therefore, we are scandalized and shocked to note that the MMD party has concerned itself more with the loss of the Mufumbwe seat to UPND/PF pact than with the loss of blood and life that happened in Mufumbwe.
We call upon our members and sympathizers to continue praying for justice in our country conscious of the reality that peace and development are fruits of justice. We also urge them to pray for national leaders committed to establishing a just society where all live in harmony as brothers and sisters.
Fr Frank Bwalya
Thursday, 20 May 2010
MARSHAL PLAN FOR WESTERN AND LUAPULA PROVINCE
MARSHAL PLAN FOR WESTERN AND LUAPULA PROVINCES
The United Liberal Party (ULP) is calling on government to develop a Marshall Plan to help accelarate development in Western and Luapula provinces. The Marshall Plan we are proposing is similar to the “Marshall Plan” for Europe, announced 60 years ago by US Secretary of State George C. Marshall on June 5, 1947, which set Europe on a path of economic development and ultimately led to the formation of the European Union. Our “Marshall Plan” should be called the “Zambia for All Plan”.
Western and Luapula Provinces have consistently emerged as the poorest provinces in most surveys conducted by the Central Statistics Office with the incidence of poverty remaining between 75 and 84 percent of the total population. This is not to say that other provinces should be excluded from the development agenda of the country. We are simply calling on government to put Western and Luapula Provinces as priority areas in the development process in order of agriculture, health, education and directing investment from the Foreign Direct Investment projects.
The ULP feel that in order to get greater equity within the country it is necessary to pay extra attention to the two least developed provinces in the country. The aim of any government should be to ensure that no province or region is left behind in development. The statistics we have show that the two provinces which are lagging behind in terms of development in Zambia are Western and Luapula Provinces.
Compared to other provinces Western and Luapula Provinces are least developed in terms of education, agriculture, health infrastructure, road infrastructure and Direct Foreign Investment which is channeled to the province. There is a need for Government to increase funding in these areas so that Western and Luapula Provinces can catch-up with the rest of the country in terms of development.
In surveys conducted by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on the access to basic amenities such as safe drinking water Western Province has the lowest percentage per household. For example Western province has the lowest proportion of households with access to electricity which stands at 3.5 percent. Yet electricity is one of the major sources of energy that can help accelerate development in the country.
The proportion of households without a toilet facility is highest in Western Province at 53.4 percent, followed by 33.2 percent in Southern Province and 21.5 percent in Eastern Province. Lusaka Province has the largest proportion of households with access to safe water (96 percent) while Northern Province and Western Province have some of the lowest proportions of households with access to safe water in the country. Luapula Province has some of the highest deficiencies in nutrition among children resulting in stunting levels well above the national average of 54.2 percent. Luapula Province also has levels of poverty above 75% of the population.
The “Zambia for All Plan should deliberately target groups that represent medium and low-income groups who are in the category of subsistence living. The targeted groups should not be less than 50 000 households, representing the rural population. The “Zambia for All Plan” for Western and Luapula Provinces should also aim at reaching directly to at least 15 000 farming families in each Province including those living below the subsistence level.
Funds should also be provided in the “Zambia for All Plan” to target female-headed households which have been on the increase as a result of high HIV/AIDS infection. Investment in health should also target women and girls because they are the most vulnerable in terms of HIV/AIDS infection. The poorest provinces in Zambia deserve all the necessary efforts from government to reduce the high levels of poverty. Government should include the “Zambia for All Plan” for Western and Luapula Provinces in the “6th National Development Plan” for the country.
ULP challenges all the other political parties to publicly declare their commitment to having the least developed provinces being given special attention which will bring them to simillar levels of development with other provinces.
Sakwiba Sikota SC
United Liberal Party (ULP)
May 17, 2010
Thursday, 13 May 2010
THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA
For Immediate Release
PRESIDENT BANDA CONDEMNS TRIBAL POLITICS
LUSAKA, May 13, 2010 – His Excellency, Mr. Rupiah Banda, President of the Republic of Zambia, on Thursday condemned the emerging culture of tribal politics saying tribalism is a cancer that will destroy the country if condoned.
The President said it was disheartening to see politicians sink so low as to be debating tribal politics in this modern era at the expense of developmental issues. The President said it was not possible for him to appoint a cabinet of 73 people in order to have all the tribes in Zambia to be represented in cabinet. He said cabinet ministers are appointed on merit regardless of tribe, race, sex and creed as per Zambian constitution.
President Banda said he felt vindicated by comments attributed to Paramount Chief Mpezeni that he has not appointed a Ngoni in his cabinet. President Banda, who is Chewa/Ngoni by tribe, said the comments by Paramount Chief Mpezeni showed that he was not a tribalist because he has not appointed a single cabinet minister from his own tribe.
The President said the media should also avoid giving prominence to tribal remarks as they have the potential of sparking hatred and violence as witnessed in a number of countries. The President appealed to his Cabinet Ministers and ruling party officials to avoid getting involved in tribal politics.
President Banda also challenged the media to do a thorough scrutiny at State House and see whether it was true insinuations by some politicians that he has appointed his tribesmen in key positions in his office. He said almost all provinces are represented at State House at very senior level.
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT
PRESS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
Monday, 10 May 2010
ULP PRESIDENT SAKWIBA SIKOTA ON THE NEED FOR GOVERNMENT TO PLAY GREATER ROLE IN MAIZE PRODUCTION AND MARKETING
MILLERS NEED TO COLLABORATE WITH STAKEHOLDERS
The United Liberal Party (ULP) is calling on government to play a greater role in the production and marketing of maize in order to help stabilize the liberalized market system in the milling industry. Government needs to introduce legislation that will stop deliberate market distortions and to protect consumers of maize-meal.
We are not calling for the reintroduction of price controls but legislation that will compel millers to declare stocks of maize in their shades on a monthly basis. Compelling millers to declare maize stocks will help the Ministry of Agriculture to get the correct picture in terms of the availability of maize in the country and adequately prepare for any back-up supplies that may be required.
Millers as handlers of a strategic commodity and a staple for this country need to seriously coordinate their activities with government to avoid the shortage of maize and un-necessary price hikes. Maize as a strategic commodity needs to be jointly handled by all stakeholders including farmers, millers of maize-meal and the government.
Millers should also help to stop the exploitation of small-scale farmers by briefcase buyers who are in most cases are selling the maize to millers of maize-meal. Millers can systematically help stop the abuse of the open market system of marketing maize by buying directly from the small-scale farmers to avoid the middlemen who exploit the farmers.
The poorest in our communities are the hardest hit by the break in the supply chain as a result of lack of proper communication between the millers and the small-scale farmers; the poor spend the highest portion of their income on food and with meagre budgets already overstretched they cannot be expected to keep on absorbing high prices of maize-meal.
Considering the five most widely consumed food types in Zambia, maize meal, white sugar, tea, milk and bread in terms of very poor consumers, maize-meal contributes about 54 percent of energy intake. Reduced consumption of maize meal is likely to affect the daily energy intake among the poorest of our population.
If not handled properly the issue of maize-meal prices can destabilize the relative peace we are enjoying. All past riots have been centred on high prices of food including maize-meal.
Hon. Sakwiba Sikota SC
United Liberal Party (ULP)
May 10, 2010
Monday, 3 May 2010
All Zambians including the state and corporate institutions should be at the forefront of protecting media independence in the country. A free press plays a key role in sustaining and monitoring a healthy democracy, as well as in contributing to greater accountability, good government, and economic development.
Most importantly we should guard against any restrictions on the media that could affect freedom of the press because most often they could indicate an impending assault on other democratic institutions.
All stakeholders including media institutions should stop controlling the viewpoints that should reach citizens and repress independent voices who aim to promote accountability, good governance, and economic development.
The press should also play a role in ensuring freedom of the press is protected by thoroughly investigating issues and providing balanced reporting. While there is no reason that justifies restrictions on media independence, reporting half truths has led to unnecessary assaults on the media.
The legal environment for the media should also be designed in a way that will not allow political pressures that influence reporting, and economic factors that affect access to information to thrive.
Hon. Sakwiba Sikota SC
United Liberal Party (ULP)
May 3, 2010
Saturday, 1 May 2010
TRADE SURPLUS AND LABOUR
Reports that Zambia in March this year recorded a trade surplus amounting to K 752.9 billion resulting from increased exports in metal products is a good development for the economy. Government should take advantage of this and ensure that the increased trade surplus is sustained and diversified so that the larger percentage can also include processing consumer and capital goods.
There is need for government to take measures that will increase the share of processed capital and consumer goods on trade surplus from 6.6 percent of total exports to around 30 percent. What we are proposing is a workable initiative that can benefit the economy and increase employment levels.
For example according to information obtained from the Central Statistics Office the bulk of the trade surplus (75.1 percent) is from copper cathodes and some refined copper. Again copper and other metal ores such as cobalt account for 19.3 percent of the total trade surplus attributed to raw materials.
Similarly if government can support the non-mining industries to increase the volume of their exports by processing consumer and capital goods it could translate into thousands of jobs being created to meet increased demand. Relying on copper for the bulk of our exports is a risky business transaction that urgently requires to be resolved by supporting non-mining industries to produce high quality products for export.
As we celebrate Labour Day, the trade surplus should also be viewed from a broader perspective. It should be viewed not only in monetary terms, but because it also represents one of the ways that we can use to transfer semi-skilled labour to the modern production systems of processing raw materials to finished goods locally. Currently general trade in raw materials and refined metals account for over ninety percent of the trade surplus, this needs to be changed.
Government support to non-mining industries will help the export economy to move from relying on general trade in copper, to providing rapid growth of the processing trade of non metal commodities that can help to sustain the trade surplus for many years and increase demand for skilled labour. The trade surplus should be used to help create job opportunities for the thousands of un-employed University and College graduates around the country.
Government should also encourage the setting up of labour intensive industries to provide employment opportunities for the backlog of unemployed people and also to help broaden the tax base. Farming, Agro Processing, small scale manufacturing and tooling should be among the priority areas that can help create employment.
Hon. Sakwiba Sikota SC
United Liberal Party (ULP)
May 1, 2010
Friday, 30 April 2010
ISSUED BY FR FRANK BWALYA
30TH APRIL 2010
Today April 30th 2010 marks one year since I was removed as Radio Icengelo Station Manager and decided to take leave of absence from active priestly ministry. Many of you will remember that on May 1st 2009 I made a public statement during which I addressed a number of vital national and personal issues. During the same live studio based press conference I announced my decision to take leave of absence from active priestly ministry. My statement was published in form of a booklet and some Zambians have a copy. The media in Zambia especially the Post Newspapers reported the events very well.
Today, I have decided to address you again to share with you what I have gone through during the last one year. I will also inform you about what follows in my life after the end of my leave of absence. Moreover, I will address a number of personal issues as well as burning national issues. I must hasten to emphasise that my press statement is not prompted by president Rupiah Banda’s hate speech recently in which he shamelessly and obnoxiously attacked me alongside some opposition political leaders.
Before I proceed, let me recite my mission statement.
The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.
Let me now revisit what happened, what cause conflict between me and government and my subsequent removal from Radio Icengelo.
A REMINDER OF EVENTS THAT CAUSED CONFLICT
In March last year Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), a body comprising all Roman Catholic Bishops in Zambia issued a pastoral letter called “A Call to Integrity”. When the vice president George Kunda who claims to be a Catholic responded to the letter he accused the Bishops of aligning themselves to a particular political party. The response by Mr Kunda was ridiculous and completely baseless. I considered it childish and I actually made a statement to the same effect and I promised to do radio programmes on Radio Icengelo to translate the pastoral letter into Cibemba so that ordinary people would understand what the Bishops said and therefore appreciate my terming as childish the response of learned Mr Kunda. I called the programmes “An In-depth Analysis of the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter Call to Integrity”. The response to my programmes pointed to an overwhelming agreement that the government’s response to the Bishops’ pastoral letter through Mr George Kunda was childish. That’s when trouble started brewing.
This truth angered the MMD party. So during a demonstration on 18th March 2010 held in Ndola they made scathing attacks on me and the Catholic Church in Zambia. The MMD demonstration was covered by state media in the same fashion they give prominence to state sponsored hooliganism.
On 19th March 2009 I made a statement that I would make a comprehensive response to the allegations the MMD on the Copperbelt levelled against me at a press conference the following week on Wednesday 25th March 2009. Due to public demand I later decided to move my press conference to Saturday 28th March 2009 at Buchi Hall in Kitwe.
At this stage the MMD and the state got into panic mode and started evil schemes to cage me and ensure that I don’t address a public meeting to respond to them. They behaved in a typical manner of someone who starts a fight they can’t handle.
Falsehoods were spread that I was forming a political party and these malicious lies were told to Catholic Church authorities in Ndola diocese under which I fall. The state media especially The Zambia Daily Mail splashed these lies. To cut a long story short, the MMD government finally succeeded in influencing the Catholic Diocese of Ndola to remove me as Radio Icengelo Station Manager.
Hence on Friday 1st May 2009 I bid farewell as Radio Icengelo station manager during a live studio based press statement on Radio Icengelo and I also announced my leave of absence.
The government thought by removing me from Radio Icengelo and eliminating my voice from the waves of this community radio they had succeeded in shutting me up. They were very mistaken.
BIRTH OF CHANGE LIFE ZAMBIA
After my removal from Radio Icengelo it became necessary to form an organisation to continue civic education programmes I was doing through various radio programmes. That is how Change Life Zambia Limited was conceived with the following aims;
1. To mobilize, harness and direct the power of citizens for transformation of Zambia to achieve improved living standards through positive change in the areas of democratic governance, social and economic development for the benefit of all Zambians especially vulnerable groups;
2. To promote the emerging of new leaders, especially young women who are selfless, visionary, strategic, pragmatic and patriotic;
3. To promote entrenchment of high ethical standards in public life;
4. To support processes which safeguard the independence and integrity of State Institutions;
5. To sensitize the masses of their rights so that they can demand for them as well as for transparency and accountability from elected leaders.
The organizational vision of CLZ is; “To be a powerful agent that contributes to positive change in Zambia for sustainable social, economic and political development that guarantees welfare and integrity of citizens especially the marginalized” whereas the vision for Zambia is; “A Zambia where all citizens live above the national poverty datum line, are educated about their rights and national leadership steering the nation towards accelerated social, economic and political development.”
I was appointed first Executive Director. Since then governments determination to silence me using all kinds of schemes and blatant persecution has become more pronounced. Here I remember the words of Jesus to his opponents;
“Do you know why you cannot take in what I say? It is because you are unable to understand my language. The devil is your father, and you prefer to do what your father wants.”
WHAT I HAVE GONE THROUGH
The public now knows that I have been a target of smear campaigns by the MMD government and some of such persecutions are instigated by Mr Rupiah Banda himself using hate speeches at various national and MMD party functions. The state media has been used to vilify me and isolate me from my Church and the general public. The Times of Zambia, Daily Mail and ZNBC have carried vicious and clearly malicious reports about me. They have tried to paint me as a blood thirsty man bent on causing genocide in our peaceful country, and for them peace means lack of armed conflict. They have also tried to orchestrate treason charges against me.
It is clear that the state media has been used as propaganda tools to peddle lies and all kinds of falsehoods about me. The offence I have committed to deserve this treatment is exercising my prophetic role by challenging the inept, selfish and corrupt government of Mr Banda.
I have been denied access to community facilities for meetings and other public functions in a manner that is reminiscent of the one party state. In fact we are back in the one party state culture and that is why today politicians and party cadres masquerading as police officers can try to influence a medical doctor to discharge from hospital a convicted sick political opponent just to ensure that he rots in our pathetic prisons. This is a manifestation of devilish and sadistic behaviour. We can’t go on like this. We should stand up and oppose this intrinsically immoral conduct.
VIOLATION OF MY RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS
My rights and freedoms have been violated by the state and its agents and it makes me convinced that we are on the verge of losing some of our gains in entrenching democratic culture and liberal multi-party politics. My ordeal speaks volumes about the injustices and torture our people are subjected to everyday.
MMD cadres have publicly threatened to beat me up and even kill me if I insist on exercise my constitutional rights and freedoms such as free expression, association and assembly. On the other hand President Banda has continued to stimulate hate, anger and violence against me through his hate speeches. Mr Banda has accused me of instigating confusion and violence in Zambia. He has called me a mad man and at least one over-zealous police officer has joined him in branding me as a mental patient. Mr Banda has even gone to an extent of lying that I was no longer a Catholic priest all in the futile attempt to isolate me from my church and those who support me for what I stand for.
LIFE HAS BEEN TOUGH
Life in general has been very tough for me and sometimes I felt that I was exhausting myself for nothing but the words of Scripture have provided much needed consolation and grace to forge ahead. Particularly the words of Scripture in the Prophet Isaiah provided much needed steam;
“He said to me,
‘You are my servant Israel in whom I shall be glorified’;
while I was thinking, ‘I have toiled in vain, I have exhausted myself for nothing’; and all the while my cause was with Yahweh, my reward with my God.
I was honoured in the eyes of Yahweh, my God was my strength”
Even within a Church institution some people associated with me have been targeted. These poor people have had their employment contracts not renewed whereas others have been fired from their jobs just for being perceived as my friends. And when I tried to speak out on such social injustices, heavy handed measures were taken to twist my hand and ensure my silence over such injustices. But I will not stop speaking out for the poor and I believe that one day soon God will answer their prayers.
I have suffered but I have not surrendered. I have been pressed but not crushed. I have been pushed but not moved.
I will continue to speak for the people. I will continue to criticise bad governance, corruption, violence and mediocre leadership. I will also continue to condemn government structures and practices that perpetrate ignorance, disease, hunger and poverty. I will also continue to condemn the greed and selfishness of leaders in our country especially those that occupy public and elected office. It was for this that I was born and if I do not do it I am doomed. So I will not succumb. Jesus tells me; “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both the body and soul in hell.” (Mt 10:28)
GRATITUDE TO INDEPENDENT PRINT AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA
The government has lamentably failed to destroy my character and crush my spirit thanks to independent and objective electronic and print media in the country and abroad that have given me fair coverage to rebut the notorious and poisonous falsehoods that Mr Banda’s government has been spreading about me. Without these media outlets the state would have succeeded in destroying my reputation.
Against this background, I am an ardent proponent of free media in Zambia and I am totally opposed to statutory regulation of the private media. I also advocate the transformation of state controlled ZNBC into a public service broadcaster. I urge all private media to resist attempts by the MMD government to compromise them and turn them into propaganda tools.
RUPIAH BANDA MUST BE STOPPED
If Mr Rupiah Banda is allowed to continue using threats and intimidation to limit the space for social dialogue and liberal democratic engagement he will succeed in crippling all governance institutions including civil society organisations and the media. When this is done Zambia will have to forget about keeping in check the excesses of government let alone demanding transparency and accountability in the way it manages public affairs. Against this background, Rupiah Banda’s attempt to silence critical and divergent views in our country should be stopped before it is too late. It is even more inevitable to stop him now that the 2011 tripartite elections are around the corner. He must be made to understand that the behaviour of his government is at variance with the democratic culture we have been entrenching since 1991
THE RED CARD CAMPAIGN
The red card campaign is not Fr Frank Bwalya’s campaign. If it were, no one in Zambia and the world at large would have paid attention. As a matter of fact, the Red Card is a peaceful public expression of discontentment over the manner our corrupt government has failed the Zambian public on a number of issues. The major issues that serve as the basis for the campaign were outlined in the 2010 Buchi Declaration which was promulgated on Saturday 27th February 2010 at the first ‘Save Zambia Conference’ at Buchi Hall in Kitwe. The declaration was published in the Post Newspapers for a number of days and received fair coverage from independent and objective media in Zambia and abroad.
Unfortunately, our corrupt government has made fundamental errors and they are determined to hang on to these errors such as the refusal to appeal against the clearly dubious acquittal of Dr Frederick Chiluba for embezzlement of public funds. As such, their response to the red card campaign has been senseless, arrogant and abusive. Mr Rupiah Banda has called it madness and a recipe for confusion and violence. The appeal of Zambians to him and his government is to focus on the issues the red card campaign has raised and address them. So we call upon Mr Banda not to panic. We urge him to stop spiting abuse against those taking part in the campaign. We demand that he exercises mature and responsible leadership by addressing the real issues at stake.
However, we wish to assure his government that we are law abiding citizens and we shall not engage in any unconstitutional means to remove his government.
THE RED CARD CAMPAIGN CONTINUES
Zambians are determined to continue red carding the foul behaviour of government.
Thousands of people have so far secured a red card and I am sure that if government doesn’t address the issues that have been raised before the end of this year, close to 3 million people will join the campaign. Against this background, Mr Banda’s recent statement that people on the Copperbelt had refused to take part in the campaign was wishful thinking. I challenge him to stop using the police to block us so that we can publicly demonstrate the popular support the red card campaign has received in the province.
Nevertheless, Mr Banda will soon be shocked. Since he has started using the chopper to avoid seeing red cards, we are going to encourage our children to make red kites and fly them the next time Rupiah tries to fly around in Copperbelt air space. At the Kuomboka his reaction was white beret. We can’t imagine his reaction to red kites in the skies maybe he will stop flying around wasting our money. I ask him to look forward to a red card welcome when he comes to the Copperbelt Agriculture Mining and Commercial Show in Kitwe and the Trade Fair in Ndola.
DANGER OF WIDESPREAD VIOLENCE IN THE RUN-UP TO 2011 GENERAL ELECTIONS
The parliamentary by-elections we have had have exposed the levels of panic and desperation on the part of Mr Rupiah Banda’s government and their resolve to retain power at all costs. I fear that our country will be plunged into chaos instigated by those who want to hang on to power in total disregard of the will of the people. Against this background, it is accurate to say Zambia hangs over the pit of chaos and total confusion by a slender of thread. It is therefore urgent to implement measures to deter political parties especially the ruling party from acts of electoral violence. The government and its puppet Electoral Commission of Zambia has no capacity to handle this matter especially that the ruling party has vested interest and it is the main culprit in instigating electoral violence and corruption.
We should therefore appeal to the international community and SADC in particular before it’s too late bearing in mind that the elections in 2011 have the sure potential to build or break Zambia. Moreover, free and fair elections next year are a must and one sure way to maintain law and order after the polls.
I FEAR THAT I WILL NOT GET A FAIR TRIAL
The general public is now aware that I have been appearing in the Kitwe Magistrates court facing a charge of conduct likely to breach the order of peace and I will appear next for continued trial on 8th June 2010. I fear that I will not get a fair trial because of the clearly prejudicial comments by President Rupiah Banda. During his shameful and grossly embarrassing press conference on Tuesday 20th April 2010 in Kitwe, President Banda commented on my matter before court and said he was annoyed with me for promoting violence and he accused me of causing confusion at the celebration of Youth Day in Kitwe on 12th March 2010. This is not the first time he has made such clearly prejudicial statements regarding my case. It seems to me that the position of Mr Banda is that I am guilty until proven innocent. This is contrary to the law of our land. It is clear that Mr Banda means to send a strong signal to the magistrate handling my matter to convict me and send me to jail for the misdemeanour I allegedly committed. This is a violation of the law and my right to a fair trial. I will instruct my lawyers to raise these issues accordingly.
YES MY FACE IS UGLY
My face is ugly because it bears the marks and scars of our poor people who suffer in our country at the hands of an inept, corrupt, heedless and selfish regime. Mr Rupiah Banda and his friends have access to the good things of life that enhance the dignity of a human being.
For them, they look good even when they are taking T.B. drugs and or life prolonging ARV drugs because they eat well in a country where one out of every two children is malnourished. They look good because they sit in planes and air conditioned offices swinging in expensive chairs at the expense of reducing unemployment and poverty especially rural poverty which now stands at 80 percent.
Their wives and daughters can buy expensive skin care products to make them look good whereas my Zambian sisters and mothers are bitten by the sun every day as they struggles to sell sugar cane, groundnuts, maize etc. My face bears the scars of these who suffer hence I can’t afford excess flesh on my face like Mr Banda neither can I afford fatty skin fed on sumptuous and exotic foods, distilled alcohol and sweet cakes etc.
My appeal to Mr Banda is, please improve the economy, create jobs for our people and maximise opportunities for local people to ran successful businesses. Only then will I also access the good things of life and be as good looking as Mr Banda and his friends. Otherwise, I continue to play my role as “John the Baptist” preparing the people for the kind of change that offers the promise of a better life for all, a change that will restore social justice and respect for economic rights of all Zambians.
Against this background, I will never agree to challenge Mr Banda in a beauty contest. Besides the man has been a champion in his kind of games from the time he was a boy in school. He publicly brags about it.
ULTIMATUM TO APOLOGY IS OVER
The ultimatum given to Mr Rupiah Banda and his government to apologise over the genocide accusations levelled against the Catholic Church in Zambia has expired. It is now time to make them feel unwelcome at our functions. We need to treat him and his government as “pagans or tax collectors”.
“If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community treat him like a pagan or a tax collector”
MY LEAVE OF ABSENCE
My initial one year leave of absence ends today. I have written to my new Bishop Right Reverend Dr Alick Banda but I can’t say the contents of my letter. In the next coming few days, I will inform the public about what will follow. Until then my leave continues. I must state that I will respect and obey the decision of my Bishop and I will inform the public accordingly. So, please don’t buy Mr Rupiah Banda’s lies and cheap propaganda that I am not a Catholic priest anymore. Statements that I have been suspended by Mr Mwansa Mbulakulima are also just a heap of political rubbish. I have been on leave and I will soon announce the way forward.
I must also mention that I love my priesthood and despite my weaknesses I have tried to be a good priest for my Church and the wider community. It is my firm belief that God will continue to show me the way.
I thank God for sustaining me through the kindness of various people. I am indebted to my immediate family and the Christian fraternity for their love and care. I appreciate the support given me by independent and objective media such as the Post Newspapers and others.
I say thank you to all that have supported me in various ways such as saying a prayer or sending an encouraging text message. God will reward you all a hundredfold.
The wheels of change have started turning in Zambia. So let us continue collecting fire wood so that we can generate as much steam as possible to drive this change. We should all sacrifice to guarantee a better life for our children and their children.
We should be confident that change is on the way because the people have spoken. Let us remember the Latin dictum “Vox populi vox Dei” translated as “The voice of the people is the voice of God”.
God bless Zambia.
Fr Frank Bwalya
Friday, 16 April 2010
Something very strange happened to me in Lusaka last month:
I'm responsible for a family residential unit which has been under renovations and expected to be rented out. My church reverend [acting as an agent] recieved an anonymous call from some "prospective tenant"; whom we agreed to meet at noon that day. At the rendezvous point, five men and a white lady turned up; physically dragged us [my reverend and I] to their vehicle and seriously assaulted us when we tried to run away -- they even threatened to shoot us with two pistols if we resisted. As this white lady drove; from Chilenje - Interland - State House - Kabulonga - Mass Media - Arcades Mall - Ngombe Police; we demanded an explanation of what was happening. They turned out to be cops and accused my Reverend [BG] swindling the white lady out of millions of Kwachas. After some back and forth, they released us with the officer in charge stating as follows: "It's unfortunate that we got the wrong man, we instead are looking for a Mr AG. You may not have noticed but one of those people you found at our offices identified you as negative. Please understand that it is necessary form time to time for us to be aggressive because we have no clue over the kind of people we're dealing with. Furthermore, your identity was forwarded to us by a private investigator so it's not exactly our fault."
I couldn't believe my ears and was shocked at the level of incompetence. More so, when we tried to use standard procedure to lodge a complaint [and an assault charge] against the officers involved, we were told that such events were "very usual" and " very common" in their line of work. Clearly, nothing would come out of our effort to bring these fellows to retribution -- therefore,our only option is to take them to high court in their individual capacities and hope something can be done about this. I believe that such men do not deserve the badge of our beloved police force.
Sunday, 4 April 2010
ZAMBIA today is at an important economic and political crossroads. Many patriotic citizens are asking what has happened to our great nation? In 2010 we face a dangerous uncommon breed of Zambian advocating anarchy and violence to remove a properly elected Government with a ‘red card campaign’. Politicians are daily hurling insults and threats against each other forgetting the suffering masses? Where is our country going? Where are the patriotic national leaders to speak up on behalf of the people? Many are cowering hiding away while others behave as minions daily praising their leaders. The country is in a shameful state where we do not respect the rule of law and, parts of the media and civil society have become toothless mouthpieces’ of local and foreign interests. It is important that we acknowledge the truth and not bury our heads in the sand.
At independence in 1964, Zambia had one of the most vibrant economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, which was supported by a strong mining industry. Today, Zambia has more than two thirds of its people living below $1 per day and GDP per capita is now one of the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa. We are now classified as a Least Developed Country and a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC). The Government has in the past been bold enough to undertake severe fiscal and monetary policies to achieve the HIPC Completion Point and generate more foreign aid. However, this success has been on the basis of a foreign imposed austerity programme that bears no relation to the reality on the ground for the ordinary Zambian.
Zambia is not poor and we can reverse all these negative statistics within 10 years if we unite and use our natural resources in a prudent manner. What is required is a locally owned and developed National Plan of Action (not foreign prepared and donor dependent Vision 2030) and the Political Will to implement the right policies over a sustained period of time to create the conditions that will allow the country create wealth and through that defeat poverty.
I urge all peace loving progressive Zambians to rally around this plan and let us focus on securing the future of our children rather than fighting over power. Our plan should be to restructure the economy to: create jobs, provide adequate incomes and to meet the basic needs of our people. The current political discourse in Zambia calls for progressive citizens to articulate and embody their values, embracing the metaphorical, cultural, and emotional quality of political thought rather than to focus on gaining power no matter the cost to the nation. The question one would pose is, what exactly has Rupiah Banda done that is so wrong that he must be removed from power using unlawful means? Why will the so called civil society and Pact not wait for 2011 and use the ballot to gain power?
Someone once said that “let us follow the Prince of Peace, not the dogs of war” because “those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” – Voltaire. We are being daily bombarded by negative misleading headlines promoting tribalism and making Zambians think in tribal lines rather than as national citizens. The big question is why are the men and women who are tasked with security in Zambia sleeping on the job and allowing known people to continue to subvert and circumvent our nation’s freedom and unity? There is need for the President to act decisively and ensure Zambia remains ‘One Nation, One Zambia’.
It is true that there are a number of Government officials that need to be removed as they are not adding any value to the Government but this requires sensible objective criticism and not advocating violence. We should not be afraid of speaking out where we see wrong in Government but at the same time when we see wrong in the Opposition and in Government we must speak out as well.
Let us reflect on a Kenyan prayer that says: “From the cowardice that dare not face new truth, from the laziness that is contented with half truth, from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, Good Lord, deliver us”. May the good Lord deliver us and our country from evil forces. It is time for the Churches, business associations and all progressive Zambians rise up and speak against this deadly red card campaign and denounce this Priest speaking hatred and evil. Father Bwalya must be unmasked for what he really is and he if there was any principle in him, he would stop hiding behind a Priestly garment and state very clearly what he aims to achieve from this evil campaign. It would be best for Father Bwalya if he truly wants to play a positive role in the nation to go out there and encourage as many youths to register to vote and use their vote wisely in the next elections, instead he is inciting them to flash red cards against a democratically elected Government. That is wrong in any language of democracy.
Every Zambian knows that God teaches us to respect authority and to love one another just as Jesus loved us. Where we disagree with the Government we can do this without rancour and insults. If we truly believe we have a better deal to offer to the Zambian people lets go out there and campaign on issues not on how many trips a President takes. What petty politics we are allowing in the country. It is time for all political leaders in Zambia to tell us why they would like our votes in 2011. Tell us how you will improve health care, education and ensure that every Zambian has at least a decent basic standard of living. Our people have been patient enough, its time for true leaders in Zambia to emerge. Twachula pafula!! God bless Zambia.
*I thank Trevor Simumba for allowing me to use his write up on my blog.
Saturday, 3 April 2010
PRESS STATEMENT BY FR. FRANK BWALYA ON PRESIDENT RUPIAH BANDA ATTENDANCE OF GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE AT ST. IGNATIUS CHURCH
SATURDAY 3RD APRIL 2010
President Rupiah Banda’s attendance of the Good Friday service at St Ignatius Catholic parish in Lusaka was an act of mockery and should be seen by all Catholics as another slap in the face. It is not different from the action of Dr Frederick Chiluba to receive Holy Communion at the same church knowing too well that it was not in order for him to do so. I make this statement against the background of the grossly unfair and evil things that Mr Banda’s government has consistently accused the Catholic Church of. He presides over a government whose members including the official spokesperson Rev. Ronnie Shikapwasha has accused the Catholic Church in Zambia of planning genocide. Rev Shikapwasha even stated that members of our church are more Catholic and Christian. We all know that the government of Mr Banda is behind the machinations of persons that have been using state controlled media to vilify and scandalise the local and universal Catholic Church. Even the salvo that these people have been unleashing on Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu is packaged and fully sponsored by Mr Banda’s government. This explains why such people have access to unlimited space and airtime in state controlled print and electronic media respectively. Moreover, some MMD officials have directly attacked Archbishop Mpundu.
I wish to remind my fellow Catholics that on Tuesday March 30, 2010 the state controlled Times of Zambia published a feature article under the title “The great shame of the Catholic Church” by one of Mr Banda’s proxies in his government’s smear campaign against us and specific members of the Catholic family in Zambia. It would be very naïve of anyone to believe that the said feature article which repeated the genocide allegation among other evil accusations was by an individual exercising his constitutional freedom of expression. It’s all propaganda and only children and naïve people would be fooled.
As a matter of fact many Zambians know that state media has been reduced to mouthpieces of the MMD government and is being used to splash cheap propaganda against those perceived to be threatening Mr Banda’s plan to win elections in 2011 so that he can continue to be president and finish visiting countries in the world.
The MMD is on recorded instructing some of its members to apologise to individuals or groups of people they offended. But this is the same party that has not apologized over malicious remarks made against Catholic Church. Up to now Mr Banda’s government has not apologised over the genocide accusations made by Rev. Shikapwasha let alone condemning them.
Against this background, I think that the only source of Mr Banda’s guts to go to St Ignatius parish on Good Friday was that he would not be snubbed or prevented from attending the service. But time has come for us to challenge Mr Banda’s government and demand that they explain why they keep slapping us in the face. I know that shortly after this statement comes out Mr Banda’s hired people will accuse me of not promoting reconciliation and that my statement does not represent the official position of the Catholic Church in Zambia. Let me address these two expected responses. I am ready to forgive Mr Banda’s government and I am sure that many other Catholics would like to do so. But these people want to treat us like fools and they expect us to forgive them regardless of the stubbornness and insolence with which they continue to injure us. They should be reminded that Jesus demanded to know why a guard slapped him for being forthright. This is recorded in the passion narrative by John in chapter 18 verses 19 to 23. Regarding the issue of an official position of the Catholic Church on these matters, I believe that there is no such a thing as an official position against evil. Evil is evil and no prophet or any sensible person needs permission to condemn it or wait for an official spokesperson to do so. Moreover, there is no such a thing as an official position on attacks directed at members of a united and loving family. For instance, how can the Catholic Church say to the MMD, “It is okay because you have just scandalised a few members of our family such as Bishop Duffy, Bishop Mpundu, Fr Miha, Fr Mwewa etc and not the entire family. So you can continue attacking them and they should defend themselves and our official position is that we enjoy a cordial relationship with your government.” This would only have been possible if the Catholic Church were not a united and loving family concerned about the welfare of its shepherds and members. As a matter of fact, the Church is the Body of Christ and all parts in this body love, support and feel for one another.
Finally, as a baptised Catholic who was confirmed and promised to defend my faith I give president Banda seven days to make a public apology over his government’s unwarranted attacks on the Catholic Church especially regarding accusations of genocide failure to which I will make sure that Mr Banda is made to feel unwelcome at Catholic functions including official ones to which he may be invited as republican president. We shall protest against the presence of president Banda and members of his government at our religious functions. I urge all confirmed Catholics to defend our faith against attacks by Mr Banda’s government. It is time for us to stand up and defend our faith before our children begin to believe the evil propaganda being spread about us. An effective and powerful way of expressing ourselves on this matter must be found.
Frank Bwalya (Fr)
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Republic of Zambia
Dear Madam First Lady,
RE: OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT RUPIAH BWEZANI BANDA
On Saturday 12th March 2010 I was arrested and detained at Kanfinsa state prison until Monday 15th March 2010 when I was released on bail. I will appear in the Kitwe magistrates court for commencement of trial on Wednesday 31st March 2010. As Christians throughout the world reflect on the agony of our Lord Jesus Christ during this holy week and the trial he underwent at the hands of a bunch of hypocrites they will prayer for me and those who suffer for proclaiming the truth.
While in detention I interacted with over 70 percent of the 1,600 inmates at Kanfinsa and a good number of other people that I can’t mention. During these interactions critical issues came to my attention and I wish to make them known to your husband, our president Mr Rupiah Bwezani Banda. However, I have decided to do so through you Madam First Lady because I think that Mr Banda may listen to you. So far it seems that he has been listening to wrong people who smile as they watch him getting into a ditch. This explains why the Red Card Campaign is succeeding. If it were possible for the Zambian people to reclaim the power delegated to members of parliament your husband would have been impeached long ago.
The following are the issues I wish you let your husband know about;
1. PRISONERS AT KANFINSA STILL MOURNING LEVY
Please, let your husband know that many prisoners at Kanfinsa state prison are still mourning late president Dr Levy Patrick Mwanawasa SC, may his soul rest in peace, who they describe as a good man. They told me that Dr Mwanawasa SC regularly pardoned prisoners that had served the greater part of their long prison sentences. They convinced me that many inmates that had spent many years in prison had reformed and needed to be pardoned after remaining with a few years to finish their terms. Unfortunately, since your husband came to power after hoodwinking Zambians that he would maintain the legacy of Levy, he has not shown the same love and compassion towards prisoners that deserve pardon throughout the country. Instead your husband has been pardoning those with shorter sentences who return to jail for similar offences shortly after being released.
2. MR BANDA DEFENDS THE RICH AND UNREPENTANT CRIMINALS
Your husband is labelled as a defender of the rich that have money to buy their innocence and freedom. He is also disparaged as a committed advocate and protector of one unrepentant serial plunderer of public funds. Many prisoners wondered how some of their colleagues found themselves in jail for stealing a tin of shoe polish or toothpaste while somebody who had stolen millions of US dollars continued to enjoy eating cake at state banquets. They wondered how a certain white man who brutally murdered a defenceless Zambian woman in 2005 was pardoned and released this year after serving only about six years in prison. This prompted me to start asking some prisoners about the offences they committed and how long they had stayed in prison. I cried as I listened to their testimonies and I convinced myself about the significance of the Red Card. Indeed the Red Card that your husbands fears like death is a sum total of the frustrations of millions of Zambians.
Dear Madam First Lady, please understand that the point is not that prisoners that committed grave crimes should be pardoned and released. Not at all! The issue is that there seems to be a different law for the rich and powerful who enjoy the favour of your husband and his government. Convicts that committed similar offences to the said white man continue to languish in jail having served far more years. In fact some prisoners that committed less serious crimes have stayed in prison beyond six years. So you can understand why the Red Card Campaign has found fertile ground.
3. GENERAL CONDITIONS AT KANFINSA PRISON
Madam First Lady, I am sure that prison authorities through out the country write reports about difficulties they encounter in their work. I am sure that relevant authorities are aware about congestion in our prisons and the need to implement programmes to decongest prisons and above all address the root cause of petty crimes that land our people in prison. Please plead with Mr Banda to do something about this. Also plead with him to ensure that prisoners have the basic necessities they are entitled to such as clean water, food, proper health care and beddings. As a mother of the nation I urge you in the name of Jesus our Lord to convince your husband to pardon terminally ill inmates especially those with little hope of surviving. I visited at least two of such ailing inmates.
I also urge you to speak for those taking ARVs so that they can have required food supplements.
4. NEED TO SAVE MONEY FROM TRAVELS ABROAD
Madam First Lady, please be informed that when prisoners are released they are not given transport money to go back to their homes. Some of them get stranded and start begging for transport money. Kindly ask your husband to cut down on trips abroad and allow relevant authorities allocate some of the savings to prisons as transport money for prisoners when they are released.
5. NEGLECTING THE POLICE
My heart bleeds and tears collect in my eyes as I write about the cruelty of your husband’s government regarding the in human conditions that our police officers are subjected to. Be informed that as the police made arrangements to take me to Kanfinsa prison, I was driven to Wusakile police station to be locked up in the cells. Before getting into the cells I requested to go to the toilet but I was advised to use the toilet in the cells because it was in a much better condition. To prove the validity of the advice I insisted until another officer convinced me. This is just one simple example to show that our police officers are neglected and subjected to conditions that are inhuman. But your husband presides over a blotted, selfish and greedy government. Your husband and his friends are enjoying life and getting all the good things of life while poor people including police officers and their families wallow in poverty that can be avoided. This explains why these people do not vote for the party your husbands claims to belong to. As a matter of fact many of them have collected red cards from me and when I joke that Mangani will arrest them, they just laugh sarcastically. Please Madam First Lady, intercede for these people as well. Selfish people in government will never speak for them.
It is my sincere hope that Mr Banda will not start witch hunting to establish who interacted with me and make them face state-managed reprisals but that he will concentrate on the issues raised and respond accordingly as a mark of true leadership.
I am hopeful that you will intercede effectively for prisoners throughout the country.
God bless you and your family.
Fr Frank Bwalya – Prisoner for Justice
Sunday, 28 March 2010
The late Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, when he was first sworn in as Zambia’s third President, told the nation that his would be a government of laws and not of men. This became the mantra of all those he appointed to serve with him and so it was for the seven years he led the nation.
Barely 18 months after his demise in August 2008, it appears that the “government of laws” has been thrown out the window and “the rule of men” is back. I refer here to the fragrant disregard of the Constitution with regards to PF leader Michael Sata’s apparent incarceration in the late 1950s or early 1960s for unknown reasons which the MMD government wants to use to bar him to contest next year’s presidential elections.
Unless the Chifumu Banda-led NCC is in the process of altering what has always been a fundamental part of Zambia’s past constitutions including the 1996 one, a simple search of the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia (as amended by Act No. 18 of 1996) on the National Assembly website reveals the following provisions on the requirements for the eligibility of contesting the presidency.
Clause 34 states that “(1) The election of the President shall be direct by universal adult suffrage and by secret ballot and shall be conducted in accordance with this Article and as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament.
(2) An election to the office of President shall be held whenever the National Assembly is dissolved and otherwise as provided by Article
(3) A person shall be qualified to be a candidate for election as President if-
(a) he is a Zambian citizen;
(b) both his parents are Zambians by birth or descent;
(c) he has attained the age of thirty-five years;
(d) he is a member of, or is sponsored by, a political party;
(e) he is qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly; and
(f) has been domiciled in Zambia for a period of at least twenty years.
(4) A candidate for election as President (hereinafter referred to as a Presidential candidate) shall deliver his nomination papers to the Returning Officer in such manner, on such day, at such time and at such place as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament.
(5) A Presidential candidate shall not be entitled to take part in an
(a) he has paid such election fee as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament on or before the date fixed by the Electoral Commission in that behalf;
(b) he makes a statutory declaration, of his assets and liabilities, which shall be open to public inspection at such time and at such place as may be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament; and
(c) his nomination is supported by not less than 200 registered voters.”
Clause 65 further states that “(1) A person shall not be qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly if-
(a) that person is under a declaration of allegiance to some country
other than Zambia;
(b) that person is under any law in force in Zambia, adjudged or otherwise declared to be of unsound mind;
(c) that person is under a sentence of death imposed on him by a court in Zambia or a sentence of imprisonment, by whatever name called, imposed on him by such a court or substituted by a competent authority for some other sentence imposed on him by
such a court;
(d) that person is an undischarged bankrupt, having been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in Zambia;
(e) that person's freedom of movement is restricted, or that person is detained under the authority of the law; or
(f) that person, within a period of five years before his nomination for election, has served a sentence of imprisonment for a criminal offence. (My emphasis).
(2) A person who holds, or is a validly nominated candidate in an election for, the office of the President shall not be qualified for election s a member of the National Assembly.”
As far as the nation can remember, Mr Sata has not been in jail in the last five years as clause 65 (f) above states which means that he is eligible to contest the election to the office of the President or Member of Parliament. It is wrong for Mr Mangani or whoever it is that is directing this operation, to waste national resources to unearth dusty files of a case that is five decades old.
These resources in terms of time and allowances, can be directed elsewhere seeing that our nation faces a lot of challenges immediate of which are the floods and the concomitant cholera outbreak which is afflicting the flood victims. It is a shame that the new Constitution that is in the process of being formulated is being tuned to fix an individual and at the same time, the existing Constitution is wilfully being ignored.