Saturday, 17 December 2011


You got to love Michael Sata, Zambia’s fifth president, or hate him—for his abrasiveness bordering on rudeness tinged with crude language—and now as head of state, disregard for protocol. The case that immediately comes to mind in this “department” is his conduct on his first international trip as head of state when he allegedly defied Uganda’s protocol officials at the Intergovernmental Conference on the Great Lakes Region meeting in Kampala recently.
Another—call it strange—case is when Mr Sata caused a security and protocol nightmare in Livingstone where he went to meet Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in Livingstone, on the border with Zimbabwe. He refused to use regular vehicles in the presidential motorcade which usually comprise Mercedes Benz cars, BMWs, high end Toyota models, an ambulance or two and numerous luxury cars. He demanded a blue and white UTTA type minibus to ferry him from the Harry Mwaanga Airport to the venue of the meeting.
But the story that has prompted me to do this write up is what started off on Facebook but later reported on some Zambian news websites, that the current President of the Republic of Zambia (POTROZ), arrived at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport from an international trip during a downpour but declined to be covered with an umbrella by an aide.
Am I surprised? No! In my younger days as a reporter on the Zambia Daily Mail’s Sunday Mail, I had an opportunity to travel with Mr Sata on some trips outside Lusaka on more than a couple of times where I got at close quarters with the man. I am also one who experienced his abrasiveness first hand particularly when he was MMD national secretary and I as Deputy News Editor and Mr Sata’s mbuya.
The first time was when we travelled to Eastern Province when he was Minister of Health c1995 on a tour of health facilities. Using a Zambia Flying Doctor Service plane, we flew to Lundazi after failing to land in Petauke which was to be the first scheduled stop but the airstrip was overgrown. The welcome in Lundazi was sort of muted because he was not expected to get there when he did. But by the time we arrived at the next stop, Chipata, the organisers had sorted themselves out.
Forget about the visit to Chipata General Hospital which was a very officious affair with Mr Sata taking to task the executive director to task for a few things he thought they were going wrong. Come the political leg of the trip, we were driven to Navutika, a shanty compound to the west of Kapata township. There, party cadres had organised themselves singing and dancing to welcome Mr Sata. The way the man jumped into the action, hugging the dirty looking villagers, shaking hands with them, laughing and singing left me speechless.
For the night stop, we went to Katete where we found cadres gathered at Mphangwe Motel. To cut the long story short, there was a lot of merry making with enough food, drink and jokes with everybody who was there. What was in short supply was the nonsense about “balekeni baMinister bapumule.” In the end it was Mr Sata who ensured we were all safely tucked in our beds for those of us who were to spend the night at the motel.
The Eastern Province trip over, a few weeks later I was to accompany Mr Sata to Chanyanya, to the south west of Kafue. I can’t remember exactly what the assignment was but I think it was to open a clinic or something to that effect. What moved and convinced me that Mr Sata was a man of the people is what he did during the meals that were prepared by the villagers.
Mr Sata washed his hands in the same bowls that everybody had washed and ate from the same plate as everybody. There was nothing like “iyi ni mbale yaba minister”—and this at the time when there were stories of how one aspiring MP used to go to campaign to his constituency carrying Hungry Lion take away and shunning food prepared by villagers he wanted to represent. That aspiring MP lost the elections, no doubt.
From all what is going on in the first few months of Mr Sata’s presidency, Zambians should be happy that the man is redefining the presidency. The office is not occupied by gods but by ordinary men (and women hopefully). I hope we will no longer have to kneel before the president or whisper his name when talking about his shortcomings.
The last four presidents have brought their own attributes to the presidency—Kaunda brought independence; Chiluba brought plural politics; Mwanawasa fought corruption; RB came to finish Mwanawasa’s projects; Sata is opening up the presidency!

Sunday, 16 October 2011



That Zambia has had to remove the immunity of a former president before and ordinary Zambians are at least looking at the possibility of removing that of another former president, it shows clearly the need to make the process easier than having to rely on parliament to do it. Granted that the Constitution grants a sitting president immunity well into his retirement via clause 43 and its attendant sub-clauses which read as follows: “(1) Civil proceedings shall not be instituted or continued against the person holding the office of President or performing the functions of that office in respect of which relief is claimed against him in respect of anything done or omitted to be done in his private capacity. “(2) A person holding the office of President or performing the functions of that office shall not be charged with any criminal offence or be amenable to the criminal jurisdiction of any court in respect of any act done or omitted to be done during his tenure of that office or, as the case may be, during his performance of the functions of that office. “(3) A person who has held, but no longer holds, the office of President shall not be charged with a criminal offence or be amenable to the criminal jurisdiction of any court, in respect of any act done or omitted to be done by him in his personal capacity while he held office of President, unless the National Assembly has, by resolution, determined that such proceedings would not be contrary to the interests of the State. “(4) Where provision is made by law limiting the time within which proceedings of any description may be brought against any person, the term of any person in the office of President shall not be taken into account in calculating any period of time prescribed by that law which determines whether any such proceedings as are mentioned in clause (1) and (3) may be brought against the person.”
When this is done, it will definitely stop people ascending to the presidency from conducting themselves in a potentially criminal manner both in their official and personal capacity knowing fully well that they risk going to jail at the end of their terms. Zambians have lived in poverty for far too long while their leaders have gone on to acquire unimagined wealth most of it in matters not devoid of impropriety.
With the revelations coming out regarding the conduct of Zambia’s immediate former president Rupiah Banda in his three short years in office, it is increasingly becoming necessary for people to demand that Mr Banda be stripped of his immunity just like it happened to Zambia’s second president, Frederick Chiluba. Mr Banda himself inadvertently admitted to abusing public funds when he said “remember that the next election will judge you also. Treat those who you have vanquished with respect and humility that you would expect in your own defeat…. It is not for us to deny the Zambian people. We never rigged, we never cheated, we never knowingly abused state funds. We simply did what we thought was best for Zambia…” The extent of the abuse must and can only be determined when Mr Banda is stripped of his immunity which demands that the matter be taken to parliament going if his statement that he is ready to be investigated is anything to go by. In the case of the ruling party, the Patriotic Front (PF), this may be a tall order as it is short of numbers required to remove a former president’s immunity which requires a two thirds majority. In this case, Zambians must do themselves a favour by making it easy to prosecute former president by limiting the immunity guaranteed by the Constitution especially that we have a chance to work out a new document under the PF government. When this is done, it will definitely stop people ascending to the presidency from conducting themselves in a potentially criminal manner both in their official and personal capacity knowing fully well that they risk going to jail at the end of their terms. Zambians have lived in poverty for far too long while their leaders have gone on to acquire unimagined wealth most of it in matters not devoid of impropriety. When that happens, Zambians must ensure that future leaders are made accountable for their actions both in the official and private capacities. Having leaders ensconced in the bubble of the constitutions will forever leave Zambians mourning after the departure of untrustworthy leaders from State House.

Sunday, 11 September 2011


By Gershom Ndhlovu
“Let us crush them,” an MMD official is quoted in a TV news clip of one of Zambia’s TV channels in reference to opposition Patriotic Front (PF) members who are going about their business campaigning for their party for the forthcoming September 20 tripartite elections that will include presidential, parliamentary and local government polls.
The irony of it all is that the unidentified official made the statement in a police station where the Lusaka Province MMD chairman, William Banda was summoned for interviews for violence which had occurred in Chongwe district, 40 km outside the capital city.
In Chongwe, at the alleged instigation of William Banda, a former UNIP stalwart who used to harass MMD members when they were in opposition in the early 1990s and was later deported by President Chiluba, ordered the beating up of the villagers apparently because they supported the PF candidate and former MMD MP Sylvia Masebo.
A few weeks earlier the PF through its secretary general, Winter Kabimba who is a lawyer, had issued instructions to his members to defend themselves from acts of violence perpetrated against them by members of other political parties.
In the last few weeks, a Facebook group called Zambian Peoples Pact, a forum on which netizens discuss political issues especially those pertaining to the forthcoming elections, launched a petition against violence before, during and after elections.
But with the unfolding events in the country, it seems International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo will be busy with indictments of Zambian politicians after the elections if President Rupiah Banda and his security apparatus do not restrain, even stop, the marauding MMD cadres and others bent on promoting violence.

Sunday, 21 August 2011


By Gershom Ndhlovu
Recently I said on a Facebook page something to the effect that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had reached its “sell by date” in view of how it had handled allegations of corruption involving UPG, a South African company printing ballot papers for September 20 elections in Zambia.
When I wrote that, it did not take long for the ACC director-general, Lt-Col. Godfrey Kayukwa to allow himself to be dragged in the mud by how poorly he handled the whole affair. Unless the ACC modus operandi has changed, it is not the duty of the whole director-general to interview suspects, witnesses and complainants. These matters are left to the director of operations who assigns units and officers under him to carry out these duties.
Among other duties of the director-general is to authorise investigations into allegations of corruptions that get to him on specified forms if he reasonably believes there is a case for investigations. In the case where there is doubt of corruption having taken place or even about to take place, a preliminary inquiry is carried out with a view to take it to full inquiry or drop it altogether.
It is however very strange for the director-general to go out publicly and state that there is no investigation going on. As I have stated above, the best Lt-Col. Kayukwa could have done was to authorise a preliminary inquiry, all behind the scenes and summoning Post Editor Fred M’membe and PF’s Kabwata candidate Given Lubinda as persons of interest to the matter without the involvement of the press.
The UPG debacle has not added any credibility to the ACC by denying any investigations going on when in fact, there is one. If anything, the ACC’s credibility, already shaky on many fronts such as the removal of one of the Abuse of Office clause in the ACC Act, has been eroded even further by no other than its director-general who is the lynchpin of its very existence.
To restore the ACC’s credibility, Lt-Col. Kayukwa will need to step down on his own otherwise government needs to relieve him of his duties immediately. If none of these options happens, government’s commitment to fighting corruption will be in serious doubt especially that it only recently removed one of the key clauses of the ACC Act referred to above.
Or maybe it is time the ACC was disbanded the same way its sister investigative wing, SITET, went the way of the dodo back in 1991 when some of the things it used to investigate became part of everyday life. Corruption is slowly but surely become the accepted way of life in Zambia.
(Also read here and here)

Saturday, 30 July 2011


By Gershom Ndhlovu
“A ZAMBIAN woman has been arrested in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for wearing ivory bracelets. Ruth Mwale aged 46 was arrested at Bole International Airport Tuesday morning upon her arrival from Bangkok, Thailand en-route to Zambia.”
When this story broke out on various Zambian internet forums including Facebook and other social media networks, the arguments for the arrest and against that ensued bordered on separating the patriotic from the unpatriotic. The “patriotic” thought the arrest was wrong as the Ethiopians apparently did not “understand” the Zambian cultural dynamics while the few “unpatriotic”—I was one of those—supported the arrest.
To reiterate the question that was asked, were the Ethiopian authorities right to arrest Mwale for just a piece of ivory on her wrist? Put it in another way, would the Zambian government through the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) arrest anybody wearing an ivory bangle?
For all those who care to remember, around 1992, a few months into the new MMD administration, the then Minister of Tourism, Lieutenant-General Christon Tembo, now late, led government, non-government organisations (NGOs) officials and ordinary citizens, in torching a bonfire of ivory, rhino horns and guns seized from poachers held by ZAWA which was then known as National Parks and Wildlife Service. This public event was held at the service headquarters in Chilanga.
The ivory burning event in Zambia followed on the heels of a similar event in Kenya which was led by none other than that country’s then president, Daniel arap Moi in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park. Both these events were largely supported by World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) with a promise for further funding and logistical support of wildlife management in the countries involved. Whether that was fulfilled or not is a different issue altogether.
These two events were born from the recognition by the two countries and the wider international community of depleting elephant populations in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa wrought by widespread and heavily commercialised poaching that was taking place then. In Zambia, heavy poaching was going on in the Mulobezi and Kaoma/Itezhi Tezhi precincts of the Kafue National Park, Luangwa North and South National Parks and Lower Zambezi National Park.
Brazen Zambian poachers were even crossing into Zimbabwean national parks such as Matusadona, Mana Pools and Hwange national parks where, unfortunately, a lot of suspects lost their lives from uncompromising wildlife rangers who had no mercy for armed poachers.
Although 20 years ago these issues were very much in the media limelight with what was the then Species Protection Department of the Anti-Corruption Commission, I don’t know if it is the case these days as, admittedly, I only read Zambian newspapers on the internet which only post political stories.
Again, those who care to remember will know that in the last three years or so, outgoing Minister of Tourism, Catherine Namugala has been at the forefront of trying to have trade in elephants and ivory downgraded from Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which totally bans such trade, to Appendix II which allows partial trade.
Zambia is supported by Zimbabwe, Namibia and Tanzania, all of which claim to have substantial stocks of ivory that they need to dispose of. But opponents of the proposal such as the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an independent campaigning organisation committed to bringing about change that protects the natural world from environmental crime and abuse, argue that the downgrade will allow contraband ivory find its way into the legitimate system and consequently fuel poaching.
Other critics of the proposal believe that Zambia is being pressured by China, one of its largest trading partners with huge investments in the country, whose noveau riche seek ivory and products of other exotic and equally endangered wildlife species like rhino and tiger as status symbols of their newly found wealth.
It is unimaginable that there is no illegal trade going on in ivory or xanja as the Chinese call it when there are so many Chinese nationals in Zambia than at any other time. It obviously goes on in the streets of Lusaka as it did all those years ago when the onus to export the contraband was left to the Zambian contacts. Poaching with the heavy stakes involved, fuels corruption at many levels—from low level wildlife guards, to policemen manning roadblocks to customs officials who allow the goods out at ports of exit.
Ivory is a proscribed item and therefore Mwale or whoever has possession of it commits an offence under the ZAWA Act. There is no cultural excuse for wearing a proscribed wildlife animal part. If such an argument were to hold, then the Ngonis—of the fwaka yachiNgoni fame—and the old women of Gwembe must be allowed to smoke cannabis at will as they have done so since time immemorial. Here I have in mind my Lozi relatives some of whom are my mulamus, nieces and nephews to desist from wearing ivory for any reason.
Only elephants, and no one else, should wear ivory. As such, not only the Ethiopian authorities should arrest Zambians wearing ivory bangles on their territory, Zambians should also play their part for as long as elephants and elephant products remain on CITES Appendix III.

Saturday, 23 July 2011


ON Saturday July 23, I was going through my twitter messages when I saw a message story in which Home Affairs Minister Mkhondo Lungu was deriding former Solicitor-General Sebastian Zulu as a frustrated individual for allegedly attacking President Banda in the hope of getting favours from the opposition Patriotic Front (PF) if it forms government after the forthcoming elections.
Apparently, Zulu, a former Secretary-General of opposition UNIP, some 10 days before, had charged that President Banda’s administration was condoning plunder of national resources which Lungu described as baseless.
Whatever spat was there between the former—mark the word former—UNIP members was there between the two of them was not my concern, but rather that Lungu inadvertently crossed the floor, that is he changed political parties but still remains an MP and a minister, contrary to the Constitution.
The ruling MMD announced its list of parliamentary candidates earlier in the week and among them was Lungu, who together with a PF rebel MP Besa Chimbaka, had been appointed cabinet minister and deputy minister, respectively, from opposition ranks early this year.
Others on the MMD list of aspiring candidates are PF “rebel MPs” Peter Machungwa for Luapula Constituency Bahati’s Besa Chimbaka who is also Luapula Province Minister, Dr Jacob Choongo (Mwense), Faustina Sinyangwe (Matero), Majory Mwape who was MP for a Kantanshi constituency and Elizabeth Mulobeka Chitika (Kawambwa). Machungwa and Mwape will now run in Kabwata and Munali, respectively.
Other serving opposition MPs who have turned up on the MMD candidate list are none other than opposition Nchelenge National Democratic Focus (NDF) MP Ben Mwila and United Party for National Development (UPND) Namwala MP Robby Chizyuka.
Apart from Mwila who is president of the NDF, all the above MPs have been in trouble with their parties principally with issues related to the National Constitution Conference (NCC) which PF president Michael Sata did not want his MPs to attend but they defied him. As for Chizyuka, the problems he had with his party were internal disciplinary matters.
The choice on which party ticket people stand is entirely a personal matter but the problem I have with Lungu who hold constitutional offices of minister and deputy minister, respectively, and the other MPs in general is that they have knowingly or unknowingly crossed the floor—they have changed political parties without relinquishing their seats.
On the part of the MMD, it announced its candidate list without ensuring that parliament was dissolved first. If the ruling party’s list did not have opposition members on it, it would not have been a problem at all.
The Constitution is clear in article 71 (c) which says that “ in the case of an elected member, if he becomes a member of a political party other than the party of which he was an authorised candidate when he was elected to the National Assembly or, if having been an independent candidate, he joins a political party or having been a member of a political party, he becomes an independent…”
For the eight opposition MPs now cavorting with the MMD, the most honourable thing to do now is to cease, on their own, from enjoying the benefits of an MP and in particular for Lungu and Chimbaka to give up their offices which they are now occupying illegally. Unfortunately for the two, even if parliament is dissolved now, they just have to wait until they are reappointed in the new post-election government.
They can also not be nominated after parliament is dissolved but more so because the Constitution states in article 68 (3) that “a person may not be appointed as a nominated member if he was candidate for election in the last preceding general election or in any subsequent by-election.”
As it is now, Lungu cannot superintend over law enforcement wings of government because he is illegally in office.

Sunday, 17 July 2011



“A lot of people are busy saying the MMD government is abusing ZNBC because ZNBC only covers the MMD government. Yes, ZNBC has to cover us because it shows government developmental projects...Even when Sata comes into power, ZNBC will be covering him alone. This time is our time. Those who want to be feeling bad about themselves when they wake up every day, they should be buying The Post newspapers because it always talks about negative things, saying things are bad in the country when the economy is doing well...
Dora Siliya, Education Minister and former journalist is quoted by the Post as saying in defence of the dismal performance of state-owned and controlled media.
The view that state-owned media is supposed to toe the government, and worse, the ruling party's line is one I have often heard from government officials and, surprisingly, some journalists working for the Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail and the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation. It appears to me, however, that the people purveying such a despicable view have very little understanding of the history of Zambia's media.
Equally puzzling is Siliya's position on the matter. She is one person who should know better as a University of Zambia Mass Communication graduate who should have read the media history in her first, or is it second, year of study.
Talking about the the history of Zambia, I must hasten to say that it is aptly captured in late Francis P Kasoma's seminal book, The Press in Zambia. It captures the development of the media in Zambia from 1900 up to about 1980. Nowhere in it does it say that state-owned media was created to portray government's development projects or, indeed, government's views on issues.
Sadly, state-owned media has been reduced to the ruling MMD's public relations unit. Anyway, first things first, I will not discuss the history of broadcasting, neither will I discuss the privately-owned press represented by the Post which was born in 1991.
The Zambia Daily Mail was the first newspaper the UNIP government acquired in c1969 from Dr Alexander Scott, father of politician and Patriotic Front (PF) vice president Dr Guy Scott. The weekly African Mail as it was known and started in the late 1950s tended to portray the views of freedom fighters fighting for Zambia's independence. Some of the early journalists to have emerged on this paper were Kelvin Mlenga and Bill Saidi.
The Mail transformed into the Zambia Daily Mail around 1970. Along the way it introduced the Financial Mail (1990/1) and the Sunday Mail (1992) to its portfolio of newspapers. For some reason, the Financial Mail was discontinued but the Sunday Mail, the paper I joined as a Senior Reporter in 1992 has continued as a flagship of the company.
I must say that during my time at the Zambia Daily Mail, both papers were quite critical in their reportage and feature writing. Some of the critical journalists to have walked the corridors of the Zambia Daily Mail in recent times include the late Jowie Mwiinga, late Moses Mbewe and late Nigel Mulenga, an uncompromising lot when it came to journalism principles.
As for the Times of Zambia, its history goes back to a bit earlier than that of the Mail. It was started as the Northern News under Lonrho and it was pro-colonial in its outlook serving mostly the white community on the Copperbelt. It was later to change to the Times of Zambia. Government acquired the paper in 1974.
Vernon Mwaanga served at the paper as editor-in-chief around 1972 and 1974. Even though he was appointed by President Kaunda to serve at the newspaper from the diplomatic service, he was surprisingly one of the most liberal editors who allowed journalists express themselves to the full. Actually, the outlook of the Times never changed much from the Vernon he took over from.
Mwaanga took over from Vernon Wright who was deported by the Kaunda administration after some misunderstanding between them. One strange phenomenon is that at some point, even though the Times was privately-owned, Kaunda got to appoint editors-in-chief.
Even then, the Times produced some great journalists among them the late Patu Simoko, the late Bandawe Banda, the late Desmond Mubiana, Arthur Simuchoba and even the iconic “Kapelwa Musonda”, a satire-columnist who wrote under a pseudonym.
In the current environment of fear of loss of jobs in which the ruling MMD has usurped the operations of state-owned media, the journalists I have mentioned above could not have done their jobs as they did. I suppose not even the Zambia Congress of Trades Unions (ZCTU) and its leadership led by the late Frederick Chiluba who went on to become Zambia's second republican president, could not have been covered as to be known and become a factor in Zambian politics.
Because both the Daily Mail and the Times were not quite the papers they are being made to be by the MMD government, both UNIP in government at the time and the MMD in its first days in government, ran their own newspapers which were short-lived. UNIP started the Eagle and the MMD the Herald (if I get the name right).
Things for the Zambia media started going pear-shaped in 1999-2000 when Chiluba started hankering for an unconstitutional third term. Unfortunately, there was a lot of money being thrown around to journalists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to skew people's views in support of the political manouvre. Incidentally, this unprecedented hold on the media by a government and a ruling party has continued just over a decade later.
The media under Kaunda was very critical considering that there was only one party in power and constitutionally, no other party was allowed to exist alongside UNIP. Journalists, between 1979 and 1980, even defeated government's moves to introduce a Press Council Bill that was going to let government control the practice of journalism in Zambia. I am sure the current generation would have allowed themselves to be roughshod.

Saturday, 16 July 2011


I am slowly beginning to think that the MMD government runs a Mafia-type system where for as long as you are part of them and have kept the omerta—the oath of secrecy—you are very part of them and all your crimes are glossed over or covered up altogether.
How else can one explain the allegations of crimes that have been exposed against Kafulafuta member of parliament George Mpombo who resigned his Cabinet and party positions early last year; the threats of exposure of alleged crimes against former Works and Supply Minister Mike Mulongoti who was also expelled from the party; claims by Lusaka Province MMD chairman William Banda that Chongwe MP Sylvia Masebo was involved in illegal foreign exchange dealings or something to that effect and, the latest exposure against newly resigned Deputy Works and Supply Minister Lameck Mangani that he has not been paying rentals for the house his second wife occupies in Chipata?
Mpombo who resigned as Defence Minister, is probably the only minister and government employee to be indicted for abuse of government resources exposed by the Auditor-General’s office. As this matter is sub judice, I will not dwell on it. Be that as it may, Mpombo has suffered even more humiliation by being convicted of bouncing a cheque, making history as the first person to have ever been convicted of that case for the law that was passed a few years back.
The Ndola rural legislator’s woes followed his outspokenness against perceived weaknesses of President Rupiah Banda, the man who took over from Mpombo’s tribesman and close ally, the late Levy Mwanawasa, both as Republican president and MMD acting leader at the time. Within a few weeks of Mpombo’s resignation, he was to be a frequent guest of the state on the other side of the law.
Assuming that Mpombo was still a part of government, the ever quiet and loyal servant of the President, none of us lesser citizens would have heard about his business misfortune of bouncing a cheque, of forging imprest receipts and even owing a bank over K500 million for his farm business on the Copperbelt.
For Mulongoti, the man who had been a loyal MMD member ever since he returned as a prodigal son from the FDD and subsequently nominated and appointed minister by the late Mwnawasa, made a mistake of trying to challenge for the then vacant position of MMD vice president at the party’s convention. President Banda’s preferred candidate was Republican Vice President George Kunda.
Mulongoti’s interest in the position engendered so much acrimony, the party decided to scrap the position altogether. Mulongoti’s nomination to parliament was withdrawn and automatically lost his ministerial position. The party’s former chairman of elections continued speaking out against President Banda and the MMD for losing the democratic compass.
The position of vice president in the MMD seems to be very problematic. In 2006, President Mwanawasa suspended elections of the position, effectively making former Republican Vice President Enoch Kavindele the last elected MMD vice president, the position he assumed in 2001 after another acrimonious convention at which 22 senior MMD members including Mulongoti, were expelled.
A few days after Mulongoti was relieved of his duties by President Banda, the man he helped bring into the MMD from UNIP and later helped to get elected as Republican president, chief government spokesman and information minister Ronnie Shikapwasha asked his former Cabinet colleague to keep quiet as the government reserved the right to commence investigations against him for unspecified crimes.
As I write, do not know if any investigations have been commenced against Mulongoti but he called off their bluff by saying he had deposited some documents apparently about on-goings in government with some lawyers as well as family and friends. Whether this scared his would be tormentors or not, is difficult to say.
Even more outrageous was William Banda’s disclosure after the high profile defection of Sylvia Masebo from the MMD a few weeks ago that government would launch investigations against her for some foreign exchange crimes. Obviously, Banda was anachronistically operating in his former party, UNIP’s mindset, that possession of foreign exchange was a crime. Again, it is difficult to tell whether or not investigative wings have gone in to investigate Masebo who has since joined Michael Sata’s Patriotic Front (PF).
Another victim is former permanent secretary Susan Sikaneta who served in various ministries whom it was disclosed immediately she was associated with the PF that she was being investigated for corruption offences. Again, I am not in a position to comment on what Sikaneta has done or not done to warrant a visit from law enforcement agencies.
For the critical minded, examining these threats and counter-threats coming from the MMD and former MMD members, it appears that the ruling party holds its members hostage, even at ransom, for indiscretions if not crimes that they commit while working in either the party or, indeed, the government.
There is definitely something wrong that crimes or alleged crimes committed by people serving in government or in the MMD are only disclosed after they have left the service of the party or the government usually arising from serious differences. Those who go quietly are reappointed and their “loyalty” praised.
Maybe it explains why Gabriel Namulambe whom it was rumoured was about to defect to the opposition, said it was sweet to be a minister in the MMD government. Ironically, when Namulambe briefly fell out with President Banda, it was revealed that he had acquired seven industrial plots in Mpongwe where he is MP and once served as district secretary.
As Zambians go to the polls later this year, they need to become even more discerning and more demanding of the morality of their leaders. Maybe it is time citizens broke the MMD Mafia hold on them!

Friday, 1 July 2011



I COULD not help but chuckle when a friend on Facebook asked if the funeral of the late second president of Zambia, Frederick Chiluba was a roll call of those who loved him and those who hated him.
The way a certain section of society, particularly clergy aligned to the ruling MMD and the party’s supporters have been coming out against opposition PF leader Michael Sata from the time Chiluba died, one would think Sata switched off the former president’s life support machine.
All sorts of characters, aided by certain sections of the media, want to vilify Sata for the manner he mourned or did not mourn Chiluba, someone who gave him an opportunity to serve at very high levels of government including the position of Minister Without Portfolio, de facto third in the hierarchy of government. Sata also served as MMD national secretary when Chiluba was party president.
Political observers, however, ought to know that there was no love lost, at least politically, between Chiluba and Sata from the time the incumbent president, Levy Mwanawasa died in 2008 when Chiluba declared his support for the then Vice President Rupiah Banda who contested the resultant by-election. Of course, all the time Chiluba was appearing in court for cases of the plunder of national resources when Mwanawasa was alive, no one wanted to be seen near him including George Kunda, now Vice President, who was in the forefront of prosecuting Chiluba’s cases at home and abroad.
Sata and the PF membership was always on hand giving Chiluba all the support he needed, welcoming him home at the Lusaka International Airport coming from South Africa for treatment or when appearing in court. However, this camaraderie nose-dived when Chiluba threw his weight behind Rupiah Banda’s presidential candidature, leaving Sata in a political lurch. Chiluba’s support to anyone was, rightly or wrongly, perceived to guarantee the delivery of the Copperbelt, Luapula and Northern vote.
Whatever deal was struck behind the scenes for Chiluba to suddenly stop supporting the PF which he had publicly supported between 2003 and 2003 is a matter of conjecture, but this was no longer a matter of doubt when Chiluba was suddenly acquitted and other court cases, notably the registration for local enforcement of the London judgment which found him liable for plunder, just stalled.
Sata’s friendship with Chiluba clearly hit rock bottom when the latter started campaigning for Banda, but equally, Chiluba’s support for the so-called rebel PF MPs did not help matters in their friendship. Even up to a few days before Chiluba’s death, Sata was threatening to re-start the court cases once elected president.
Sata’s non-appearance at the funeral house and subsequently at the burial at Embassy Park can be linked directly to the threats issued by Lusaka Province MMD chairman William Banda and other party cadres that those who “insulted” Chiluba when he was alive would be manhandled if they turned up at the funeral house. These threats could not be taken lightly because less than two years ago when a former MMD MP, Lameck Chibombamilimo died, people who were not in good books with Rupiah Banda were manhandled. Former Finance Minister Ng’andu Magande was badly manhandled.
Whatever the circumstances, Sata’s would have just been seen as shedding crocodile tears. However, the wily politician he is, Sata turned up at Mulungushi International Conference Centre where Chiluba’s body lay in state and viewed his body. Obviously, the schemers of the violence they were threatening against him were probably still sipping tea in the comfort of their homes. Of course there could be other reason why Sata did not visit Chiluba’s Serval Road house, Belvedere Lodge and, indeed, Embassy Park burial site. For me that Sata turned up at Mulungushi, was enough to mourn his erstwhile political colleague.
It is just political morbidity that some people want to link Sata’s future political fortunes to straight forward matters of Chiluba’s funeral. The rent-a-crowd mob baying for Sata’s blood need to grow up and understand, first and foremost, that funeral matters are private and two, no one wants to expose himself or herself to violence or the threats of it. It would have been gullible for Sata to walk into William Banda’s trap hoping to come out a hero with a broken nose and a tattered jacket like Magande.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011



The self-confession by Mazabuka resident, Joseph Mfula, of his homosexual dalliances with a Portuguese expatriate, Francisco Vasco Dubrito Vale in the 1980s, once again brings the issue of homosexuality in the Zambian society to the fore. Whether Mfula’s confession is a bid to link opposition Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata to homosexuality and his support for it as being historical is difficult to tell.
Before I go into what is generally known about homosexuality in the Zambian society, I woud like to state what Chapter 87, the Penal Code of the Laws of Zambia, says about homosexuality.
Section 155 (c) states that any person who permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him…the order of nature commits a felony and liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term not less than fifteen years and may be liable to imprisonment for life.
Section 158 (1) states that “…any male who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with a male…person, or procures a male…person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male…person, whether in public or private, commits a felony and is liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not less than seven years and not exceeding fourteen years.”
Subsection (2) states the same as Subsection (1) but in respect of females. By virtue of the above sections of the Penal Code, Mfula has committed or did, indeed, commit an offence at the time he used to have sex with Vale regardless of whether Mr Sata witnessed the sexual activities.
It is imperative to state, however, that this is not a legal write up arguing about the merits or demerits of the case but neither is it a political treatise in support of any politician or political group. This write up, as stated above, is the perception and knowledge, if any, that people have about homosexuality in Zambia.
Apart from knowing that homosexuality is unlawful in Zambia, I doubt that a lot of Zambians know the specifics of the law on the practice. I will, however, safely bet that most Zambians have an idea about what the bible says about homosexuality. The oft-quoted book in the bible on the subject is Leviticus, in particular chapter 18 verse 22 which states: “…do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”
The issue of homosexuality has arisen publicly in Zambia at various times but most notably in the mid-1990s when then outspoken Zambia Independent Monitoring Team (ZIMT) president Alfred Zulu attempted to register Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Association better known by its acronym LEGATRA whose object was to speak for the people who were practicing homosexuality.
One or two people came out to publicly admit their homosexuality and portraying that they were representative of a number of others who were forced to live a sheltered sexual life because of the Zambian culture which does not tolerate or even admit homosexuality.
Zulu at the time said although few had come out in the open, "we have statistical evidence to the effect that there are over 500,000 homosexuals in Zambia, some of them are senior public figures. But they are too jittery to identify with LEGATRA openly." (Read related story here)
The social and political pressure proved too much in this constitutionally proclaimed Christian nation. Blame was, as usual, put on the western donor community for sponsoring LEGATRA with claims that the concerned western countries where homosexuality is legal, wanted to import foreign cultural practices into Zambia. LEGATRA did not last long. It had come with a bang, it fizzled out not even with a whisper.
Another time when homosexuality became a public issue was when Vice President George Kunda as leader of government business in parliament, accused some people he did not name who were critical of the MMD government of being practising homosexuals.
But it is what the PF leader said in an interview with a Danish media team that has taken the homosexual debate to another level leading to the MMD distributing pictures of males kissing and being in sexually compromising positions. The ruling party and sympathetic Non-Governmental Organisations sympathetic to it vilify Sata on homosexuality at every opportunity as a result.
The icing on the cake came this week when Mfula publicly confessed that he used to be engaged in homosexual activities with Vale who was a friend of Sata’s.
The question to ask is, should homosexuality be reduced to Mr Sata (read related story here) , or is it a bigger problem than it is being presented? As stated above, over 15 years ago, ZIMT through LEGATRA had established that there were 500,000 homosexuals in the country. The population was smaller then but with the population at over 13 million, the figure could even be higher.
For as long as I have been conscious of socio-cultural issues, I have heard stories of sodomy in prisons, a matter that is never officially acknowledged. What is equally not known is what support is given to ex-convicts who had been exposed to sodomy while in prison or if they go on into society to practice their new sexual orientation. (Read related story here).
But, equally, there is always chatter about homosexuality in society. For a long time, there have been rumours of homosexuality involving a named late Lusaka businessman of Greek origin who was into property development who is alleged to have been luring male students for sex by lavishing them with cash and other presents. Unfortunately, no one has ever come out publicly to admit same sex liaisons with the businessman.
In Ndola in the 1990s, there were rumours among people working in the crude oil/fuel industry complex of Bwana Mkubwa area of an Italian expatriate they called Santo Petro who is alleged to have had a passion for same sex liaisons. Again, no one ever admitted to have been sexually involved with Santo Petro apart from pub talk about his activities.
As much as homosexuality is a touchy subject, maybe Zambia needs more Joseph Mfulas to come out and share the stories so that citizens get an idea of the depth of the practice.

Thursday, 5 May 2011


Granted, the current Zambian constitution gives the President the prerogative to announce an election date in an election year. However, going by the history of the nation, this prerogative has been taken to ridiculous levels by the presidents that have led Zambia at one time or another.
Zambia’s presidents keep the date so secretively it is almost treasonous to even speculate on it. It appears, especially in the multi-party dispensation of the last 20 years, an incumbent president wants to keep his opponents in the dark and spring the date as a surprise when the ruling party, in this case the MMD, has put its logistics in place.
As the nation hurtles towards the 2011 elections, everyone except the president and perhaps his closest circle of advisors, are just speculating on the date. For opposition parties that want to start campaigning are being told it is illegal to do so while the ruling party’s candidate and head of state, Rupiah Banda has been in campaigning mode since the elections that brought him into office in October of 2008.
In advanced democracies such as America, presidential elections are held on a fixed date every four years such that it is easy for all the players to prepare for elections years in advance. In the UK, while elections can be called at any time, the usual time table is that elections, local government or parliamentary elections, and this year a referendum, are held at the beginning of May.
But even as the constitution stipulates in the Zambian case, there could and in fact there should be an administrative arrangement where an election date is “fixed” say at the end of October when historically most of the national elections have been held before.
The MMD, PF, UPND, NAREP, other political parties and, most importantly, the citizens who constitute the electorate, are important players in the electoral process who should have an idea about what is going on at every stage. This does not in any way make the president who announces the date any more important than all these entities and citizens. This is the more reason who should, by the beginning of the year, indicate when polls would take place in an election year.
The argument that the delay to announce the poll date is to allow the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to put logistics in place for “ smooth” polls does not hold water because the commission has five years from one election to another, save for occasional by-elections that occur in between.
It is these deliberate hurdles that lead to perpetual accusations of rigging of elections by both opposition parties and voters. There is absolute need to curtail such presidential excesses even in such otherwise straightforward matters when the Constitution comes up for review again. So do us a favour Mr President, announce the election date now!

Saturday, 12 March 2011


ACCORDING to Wikipedia, the free internet encyclopaedia, Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) is an election observation methodology that is employed for independent verification (or challenge) of election results. It involves observation of the voting and counting of ballots at the polling stations, collection of official polling station results and independent tabulation of these results, parallel to election authorities. If the PVT is performed on statistical sample of the polling stations, it is called Quick Count.
Organizers from the Philippine National Citizen Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), says Wikipedia, are widely recognized as the pioneers of the quick count, or parallel vote tabulation (PVT), in emerging democracies. During a 1986 election for President, NAMFREL attempted to mirror the official count of all 90,000 polling stations. They performed a remarkable task in collecting data from the majority of polling stations, and they were instrumental in helping uncover the massive vote counting fraud attempted by Marcos supporters.
The will of the people of a country is the basis for the authority of government, and that will must be determined through genuine periodic elections, which guarantee the right and opportunity to vote freely and to be elected fairly through universal and equal suffrage by secret balloting or equivalent free voting procedures, the results of which are accurately counted, announced and respected. A significant number of rights and freedoms, processes, laws and institutions are therefore involved in achieving genuine democratic elections. This according to the 2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observers, a document endorsed by, among others, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (Read full report here)
But, unfortunately, PVT has sent the Zambian ruling MMD government and its supporters into overdrive threatening Civic Organisations that want to conduct it in this year’s upcoming elections, and its advocates with arrest. The government and those against PVT are foretelling fire and brimstone in the event that PVT is allowed to be carried out. The anti-PVT lobby is giving examples of countries where PVT has allegedly brought about problems, among them, Ivory Coast where both, the sitting president Laurent Gbagbo, and opposition leader Alassane Ouattara have claimed victory and declared themselves president.
I, however, would say that PVT which was conducted by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network in Zimbabwe in 2008 prevented the country’s Elections body from manipulating the results in favour of President Robert Mugabe just in the first round. But since the Elections body was caught out, it took it six weeks to announce the results which saw the election going into a second round run-off from which opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirayi pulled out because of violence against his supporters that was perpetuated by ZANU PF supporters.
As for Ivory Coast, the Constitutional Court, chaired by Gbagbo’s crony, overturned the results announced by the Electoral Commission.
Zambia’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Ronnie Shikapwasha who is also Chief Government Spokesman and National Assembly Speaker Amusaa Mwanamwambwa have gone further to say that it is only the Electoral Commission of Zambia that is mandated to announce election results. That, for me, is definitely without doubt but what is at issue is the trust, or worse still, the lack of it that the ECZ attracts.
Much as the argument that there are legal mechanisms in place to challenge elections is concerned, the history of Zambia has been such that once a president has been sworn in, no petition by opposition parties has been ruled against the incumbent president even in the face of glaring evidence of electoral malpractice. To make matters worse, petitions have been known to drag on for years to an extent that by the time they are concluded, it is only a year before the next election.
Election rigging is not so much about stuffing ballots, but what is done before and after the elections. First and foremost, the ruling government which controls some of the media, does not allow such media to give coverage to opposition parties for them to sell their manifestoes and reach out to potential supporters. In the event that the ECZ were to mis-count and erroneously, or most likely deliberately, announced a presidential candidate as a winner, verifying presidential ballots is not easy as PF’s Michael Sata discovered at the last elections when he lost to President Rupiah Banda.
In all this, we are not saying that the MMD should lose elections. On the contrary, we want the MMD to win and win convincingly and the opposition to lose and lose conclusively without crying “rigged”! This is the reason why both the ECZ and the government as the overall overseer of the ECZ, should work on trust that people should repose in the commission. The raving and ranting by government officials and pro-government NGOs is just arousing suspicion as to what the motive of the ruling party is.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


By Gershom Ndhlovu

A few weeks ago, on social network site Facebook, I sent the following message to MMD spokesperson Dora Siliya:
“The MMD has just finished holding a series of provincial conferences at which provincial executive committee members notably chairpersons who are also members of the national executive committee, have been elected.
“In most cases, competition for the position of chairperson was discouraged and most of the rivals stood down at the last minute after being spoken to by the acting MMD president, Rupiah Banda who is also head of state. The move by President to talk out some candidates brings to question the “democratic” credentials of the party which has democracy in its name.”
Siliya sent me the following response: “What is good about MMD is that we are able to have internal democracy through negotiations, compromise, elections and dialogue. At the end, the voice of the majority prevails. Even when one individual tries to believe it's about them the party works out to show them that it is about the ideals of MMD based on a development agenda. In Southern, Northern, Copperbelt and Central there were more than one candidate.”
It is quite shocking that barely a few weeks later, MMD chairman for elections Mike Mulongoti should be dismissed as minister of works and supply and has his nomination as MP withdrawn for trying to stand up for democracy in the MMD. However, Mulongoti may not receive a lot of sympathy because he himself was quite abrasive to people like former defence minister George Mpombo who had been airing their views about democracy within the party.
Mulongoti should have defended the same principles he is defending now that he is gunning for the vacant position of party vice presidency, the post for which President Banda is supporting his Republican Vice President George Kunda. A lot of candidates at provincial congresses were pressurised to stand down and allow those that President Banda desired to work with. It is these people that Mulongoti should have spoken for before he ended up tying himself in knots, setting him at cross purposes with President Banda whom he says he, together with the late Benny Tetamashimba, brought into the party
Whatever the case, Mulongoti raises valid questions about democracy, or more appropriately the lack of it, in the MMD. If President Banda wants to choose the people he wants to work with in the MMD, then there is no point in holding provincial congresses and the national convention at which members are supposed to elect their representatives in the party.
Looking at the MMD now, it is a very different institution from the party that held its first convention at the beginning of 1991 which whose elections were truly and genuinely democratic. Those that have followed subsequently have degenerated into a handpicking circus.
In 2001, up to 22 senior MMD members were barred from attending the convention and challenging for the positions of their choice including that of president, which incidentally then President Frederick Chiluba was still interested in despite serving the constitutionally allowed two terms.
The 2005 convention did not equally go well as the then President, Levy Mwanawasa, froze the elections for the position of vice president apparently because he did not like some of the people that were likely to win the poll. In his words, he alleged that some candidates wanted to buy the position through bribery. The position has been vacant since then and the irony of it is that it is the same position that has burnt Mulongoti’s fingers.
May be the drama unfolding now just goes to show that the run up to the 2011 elections and what goes with campaigning is upon the nation and more drama is in store and as I say “watch this (political) space.”

Friday, 21 January 2011


By Gershom Ndhlovu

The UPND/PF, or is it the PF/UPND, Pact has squandered the people’s goodwill with which it was welcomed when it was announced just over two years ago. Truth be told, this political alliance between the two opposition parties is going nowhere. It is high time the two leaders, UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema and PF’s Michael Sata, faced up to reality and went their own individual ways.
Going by the history of elections in Zambia, which are normally held between October and December, political parties taking part only have nine to eleven months to prepare for the local government, parliamentary and presidential polls. For the two Pact parties to be still talking about the possibility of harmonising, rather than polishing their joint, manifestoes, policies and other strategies is too little too late.
The two political parties squandered their chance to consummate their “marriage” in June of last year when they officially announced the formation of the Pact at a rally in Lusaka. It was there that they should have told the nation their way forward regarding the manifesto, policy, leadership and strategy-wise. The statements coming out of the two parties now are not helping matters at all.
The danger is that if both the UPND and the PF hang on to the Pact which, for all intents and purposes, only exists on people’s lips rather than on paper, they will disadvantage themselves because by the time elections are announced, they will not be ready regarding who is to be their joint candidates at local government, parliamentary and most importantly, their presidential candidates.
If the two parties were serious with their Pact, the citizens would have by now known the presidential candidate picked by representatives of the two parties and the bickering going on, would have been behind them. What should have been remaining at this point in time was to tighten the last bolts and nuts of the government-in-waiting.
The most unfortunate development of the Pact’s existence is that the two parties have rarely held rallies together or at least acknowledged one another at these fora. It would appear to any discerning eye is that there is a lot of distrust between the two parties. Both leaders also think they are better placed to be the presidential candidate.
“While it is true that choice of the PACT Presidential candidate is important, the Joint Economic, Social and Good Governance programme is even more important as this is the basis upon which the citizens of Zambia are pinning their hopes on for a better Zambia.
“UPND believes that reaching consensus on the joint Economic, Social and Good Governance programme and the choice of Presidential candidate (together with other positions) should be taken as a package, not in isolation. In any case, the UPND’s considered view is that whoever is chosen to be PACT Presidential candidate should commit to the agreed Economic, Social and Good Governance programme.”
Principally, the above quote from the UPND’s statement of a few days ago underlines fundamental points making it reluctant to give away its position of leading the Pact. On the other hand, it appears that the PF derives its strength in being the second largest party at least going by the number of MPs in parliament and possibly that its leader, Sata, emerged second in the 2008 presidential by-elections.
Going by media stories, it appears that the PF is in full swing campaigning for itself in almost all parts of Zambia including the perceived UPND strongholds. From this alone, the UPND should abandon the pretence of the existence of the Pact before it is too late, to go out and campaign for itself in areas where it is patently weak such as the Copperbelt, Luapula, Northern, Eastern and parts of Central Province before it is too late.
The PF has also not refuted media stories of its potential cabinet which did not have any member of the UPND in it. This in itself shows how whoever came up with that list views members of the Pact partner party. This error of omission or commission could have been understandable early last year but it coming out early this year, especially unrefuted, is inexcusable.
Both the UPND and the PF should realise that the presidential poll parade is not shrinking, but rather expanding. Before the two parties know it, there will be eleven presidential candidates, obviously most of them pretenders, on the ballot paper. This is the time the two parties take decisive action on what they want to do instead of pulling the wool over people’s eyes about the existence of a Pact that is not there at all.
For now, I say to both Hichilema and Sata, cut the pretence about the existence of the Pact, or come up with something more concrete.
(Read related stories/posts here and here)

Tuesday, 4 January 2011



In one day on January 4 2011, Dora Siliya, the MMD national spokesperson and minister of education has broached the issue of political violence in Zambia three times on her Facebook page. It is obvious that for her to bring up the issue for discussion, it is something that is of concern at the highest level of not only the ruling party but government as well.
In her first posting of the day, Siliya wrote: “As a Zambian I call upon all young people to refuse politics that glorify violence. It's unfortunate that some people are bent on making violence part of Zambian politics and are preaching doom as we head toward election. Real doom is not just a word but violence that can destroy our country. Let our voices be heard to be against violence. God bless.”
In the second posting of the day, Siliya, in response to a contributor on her thread, wrote: “… I could not agree with you more. Unless at family, household level, we condemn violence, vulgar language, hatred, and simply bad manners, we should not expect good values to permeate our society. Let's all look at ourselves and our homes and end violence in all forms. Let your voice be heard in this fight against violence.”
The recent most telling effect of political violence is the recent nullification of the Mufumbwe by-election which had been won by United Party for National Development (UPND)’s Elliot Kamondo by the High Court. The nullification followed the successful petitioning of the elections by losing MMD candidate Mulondwe Muzungu on the basis of violence that characterised the run up to the by-election.
Perhaps, the most ominous harbinger to the violence that has become entrenched in the country’s body politic is that which characterised the Chawama by-election in 2001 when then newly formed Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) fielded Geoffrey Samukonga who was clearly the favourite to win the by-election after the then Member of Parliament Christon Tembo, now late, resigned from the MMD.
His resignation from the MMD had been precipitated by violence at the party’s national convention at which he and 21 other senior members had been barred to attend it for opposing the then Republican and MMD President Frederick Chiluba who had wanted to go for an unconstitutional third term. It was not surprising that there was violence in Chawama shortly after that convention.
Before the Chawama violence, a taste of what violence was to come was unleashed by MMD supporters at Kulima Tower Bus Station who waylaid people who had attended a rally at which Republican Vice President Gen Tembo, MMD vice president Gen Miyanda and other senior MMD members had joined the opposition to denounce Chiluba’s third term attempt.
The Chawama violence is, rightly or wrongly, blamed on Michael Sata who was then MMD national secretary. He himself did not last long in the ruling party after a National Executive Committee (NEC) outsider, Levy Mwanawasa was anointed as Chiluba’s heir. Sata had felt he was the rightful heir having backed Chiluba’s third term attempt and fended off people like Miyanda and Tembo.
Worryingly, in recent times MMD cadres have been issuing public threats to harm people speaking against President Rupiah Banda’s leadership. Those that have borne the brunt of the MMD cadres’ ire have included FDD president Edith Nawakwi who was publicly threatened with rape if she continued verbally attacking Banda, Mongu Catholic Diocese Bishop Paul Duffy for saying that people in Western Province were ready to kick out the MMD, and Father Frank Bwalya, a former Catholic radio station manager, who launched a “Red Card” campaign to kick Banda and his MMD out of power.
Some MMD cadres even publicly claimed that they had a militia with which they would go after Banda’s critics. However, following a public outcry against these proclamations of threats of violence, the MMD suspended two of the most vocal members, Chiko Chibale, a Kitwe district MMD official and Alex Mubanga, a Ndola District official.
Most telling of the creeping violence within the MMD was that which broke out early in December in which supporters of incumbent Lusaka Province chairman William Banda clashed with supporters of his opponent Nolobe Kuliye which forced the postponement of the provincial council at which a new executive was to be elected.
In responses to Siliya’s Facebook posting, William Banda has not been spared the blame of perpetuating political violence within the MMD and against the opposition, notably that which broke out during the Chilanga by-election nominations at Chilanga Basic School late last year in which UPND president, Hakainde Hichilema was caught up.
However, Siliya had this to say in one of the day’s Facebook posts: “And I see that many people want to reduce violence to simply William Banda or Sata's violence in Chawama and Kanyama where people where maimed with panga(s) or even UPND in Mufumbwe. No, this is a fight against violence by all decent Zambians. You have no excuse to excuse any violence. Let your voice be heard.”
The question I ask is, is Siliya taking leadership in the fight against violence and rightly so? Can she take the fight off the social media network into the public domain which the citizens are asking of the MMD?

Saturday, 1 January 2011


By Gershom Ndhlovu

It is now very difficult to follow pronouncements coming from the MMD regarding elections to the National Executive Committee at the forthcoming convention. Some NEC members, provincial executive members of various regions and low-level district and constituency officials have at various times stated “their” positions on which positions are to be contested, which ones are preserved for which candidates and, indeed, those that would be contested by a sole candidate.
Notably, the positions of president and vice president have generated a lot of interest. A number of MMD members at all levels have stated, obviously against the party’s constitution, that President Rupiah Banda who is acting party president would not be challenged at the convention while some cadres have indicated their support for Republican Vice President George Kunda for the position of party vice president.
So far, only Nason Msoni has indicated that he would challenge Rupiah Banda but whether his challenge would have an impact or not, is another matter. It is, however, the position of vice president that has attracted a number of candidates including the last elected MMD vice president Enoch Kavindele who has openly declared his interest.
Others who have been mentioned include Mike Mulongoti who is the current chairman for elections and Captain Austin Chewe who contested the same position at the last convention but it was frozen following allegations of serious vote buying among candidates. The MMD has never had a vice president since.
But what has prompted Mulongoti to come out with the statement that all ruling party positions will be open for contest at the convention? First and foremost, this statement should have been made much earlier when junior officials started talking about the Banda’s sole candidacy because these statements sent wrong signals to political observers and MMD sympathisers. Secondly, it appears that Mulongoti was forced to make the statement--not that it is unwelcome--when the George Kunda lobby started gaining ground.
Another very sober statement was that of MMD legal affairs committee chairman, Bwalya Chiti, who said all MMD positions including the presidency have always been contested. Again, Chiti should have clarified just after the low level cadres started calling for Rupiah’s sole candidacy.
“If you look at every election of the MMD, there has always been contestation of all the positions, the presidency included. That is the MMD, okay! So why should you fear? I think people who fear are fearing their own shadows, or it is a creation by candidates who may want to ensure that some people do not participate by creating that fear,” Chiti said.
This is exactly what happened prior to the 2001 convention when all the provincial councils, except Lusaka led then by Dr Boniface Kawimbe, supported the then Republican and MMD president Frederick Chiluba to not only go for the third term as Republican president but for the same as party president. Unfortunately, the party constitution was even amended to allow for it.
It was the Republican constitution that not only proved difficult, but it also undid all the man had stood for in terms of democracy and his other achievements. The person who succeeded him for both positions, Levy Mwanawasa, now late, even removed his presidential immunity and for the next seven who was to frequent courts of law like a common citizen on allegations of plunder of national resources.
I wonder why some people want to liken the MMD to other parties that have not had conventions or have been led by single leaders since their inception. The MMD to a generation that fought Kaunda’s one party rule is as important as UNIP is to those who fought against the colonialists. It would be good if it held aloft the standards and ideals that its founders and interim leaders such as Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika, Mbita Chitala, Arthur Wina, Humphrey Mulemba and even Chiluba set out with.
If the MMD was to easily morph into what UNIP had been before it, where no one was allowed to challenge President Kaunda, Zambians could have as well allowed UNIP and Kaunda to continue in power. But the irony here is that President Rupiah Banda comes from the UNIP background, a party whose membership he has never officially denounced. With him, is another UNIP stalwart William Banda who only joined the ruling MMD less than six years ago.
Perhaps with more and more sober and wiser voices of people who know the MMD constitution start rising up in the party, people who have been put off by undemocratic tendencies supported even by some of the most educated people within, will start cheering it once again.