Monthly Archives: December 2013

We Urge George Chellah To Stop Harassing Journalists

George Chellah

Zambian Voice would like to express its concern on the growing trend of attacks on journalists in Zambia. The media is the cornerstone of any nation in fostering good governance and socio-economic development by increasing access to information and public participation platforms.

It is alarming to see a democratically elected government determined to silence and intimidate its critics. One of the greatest leaders of all times, Nelson Mandela’s once said that “a critical, independent, and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy.”

The reported threats and verbal abuse by George Chellah is setting bad precedent. There seems to be a regrettable tendency by some government officials to verbally and physically abuse journalists, especially those perceived to be against the Patriotic Front government. This situation is unhealthy for the development of the nation.

Senior government officials must not be seen to be antagonising the media in this way. Zambian Voice calls on other media bodies to condemn any harassment against the media in the country.

Practicing journalism has become one of the most dangerous things to do in Zambia. Where then is the democracy?

The Patriotic Front was ushered into office after the September 2011 elections on the platforms of enhanced freedom and democracy. However the situation we are experiencing today is the exact opposite of what was promised. Where then is the freedom of the media that was promised to us in 2011? The Patriotic Front government should remember that our eyes are wide open and come 2016 we ask them to look back and see how many promises they would have fulfilled.

Zambian Voice therefore finds harassment and attacks on journalists as a hindrance to the country’s development. There is need for journalists to work in harmony in the interest of developing the nation and media growth.

The attacks on journalists have created unnecessary fear and anxiety among media practitioners therefore limiting the ability of the media to serve the society better.

 

The Way Forward On the Constitution Making Process

The Zambian Voice

Press Statement on the Constitution Making Process

30th December, 2013

 

The Technical Committee (TC) of the constitution making process has said that it will release 10 copies of the constitution which will only be given to President Michael Sata as directed.

This is not in line with the initial Terms of Reference, to release copies of the draft constitution to President Sata at the same time as the general public.

The TC claimed they have no money to release more copies but when asked by the media whether they would make the draft constitution available online the committee said that would not be possible.

Today the 30th of December marks the day when The Zambian Voice once again gets to be vindicated over its concerns on the constitution making process.

From the first day, we have been skeptical about this process and hence very critical. We did not see the political will for the Patriotic Front government to give us the constitution.

As The Zambian Voice, we raised a lot of issues as to the way the process was started. For instance, we were not happy with the way they selected the TC member because it was not consultative, they started without a time frame, as to when the process was expected to be completed, there was no legal framework, the budget was not revealed, there was never enough awareness raised over the entire process.

These and many other reasons led The Zambian Voice not to participate in the constitution making process because we felt that government could not be trusted.

However, we were always open to working with people and organizations who insisted that the right procedure be followed if the people driven constitution was to become a reality. It is for this reason that we participated in the consortium of civil societies that gathered in Chisamba to discuss the issues concerning the constitution making process which we as Zambian Voice had demanded for from the very beginning.

We have however made our stance known that we disapproved of all civil society organizations, the Church and political parties that had joined the constitution process without demanding for the prerequisites needed to enable the people of Zambia get a people driven constitution at the end of the day. From our point of you, if the prerequisites were put in place as outlined, we may not be in such jeopardy today, in terms of this Constitution making process. We needed to be more careful with the Patriotic Front Government because they spoke words sweeter than honey, which makes them unreal.

Now that we are in a situation where the constitution will not be released simultaneously to the government and the people of Zambia, how then do we move forward?

As Zambian voice we still have hope that not all is lost. We can salvage something out of this process, depending on how we move from here. Our suggestion is that first and foremost we unite and then go out there to demand for the prerequisites we had demanded for in the beginning.

These demands include, among other things:

  • Wide consultation concerning the entire process
  • A clear legal framework to protect entire process
  • A clear timeframe from now till the time we have a New Constitution
  • A clear budget
  • Sufficient awareness and sensitisation on the entire process.

All Zambians, Civil Society, the Church and Political Parties should now mobilise to ensure they demand for the above fundamentals required to deliver a people driven constitution.

The agitations and pressure to have the Final Draft will not fulfill our objective because the final Draft, is not a Constitution, until it is subjected to other processes and legalities which cannot be granteed by the PF Government. Therefore we need to fight for power to be incharge of the process while the Government plays a role of facilitator.

So much money has been expended on this process; we cannot afford to just waste it. We have to redeem the process.

 

 

Chilufya Tayali

Executive Director

 

 

ZAMBIAN VOICE WELCOMES GOVERNMENTS MOVE TO HIRE NEW NURSES

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Executive Director for The Zambian Voice Chilufya Tayali says the recent move by government to hire new nurses should be commended as it would help mitigate the impact caused by the dismissal of about 300 nurses who went on strike to demand for better wages and conditions of service.

Tayali was commenting on the statement issued by Ministry of Health spokesperson, Reuben Mbewe yesterday that the Ministry of Health had recruited 305 registered nurses following the dismissal of a total of 594 nurses, early this month.

Mr Tayali was quick to mention that nurses have a right to demand for better wages but that the manner in which they raise their grievances is off concern stating that illegal strikes should never be condoned. He said that the long strike had resulted in a lot of loss of life which could have been avoided.

Tayali added that the move to fire the nurses would instil the much needed discipline among nurses.

He further implored on government to quickly recruit the remaining 249 registered nurses in order to cushion the impact on health provision after the dismissals.

 

GBM Fires on PF Executive in Kasama

GBM on the podium
POLICE in Kasama yesterday prevented Geoffrey Mwamba from appearing on Radio Mano.
And Mwamba has threatened to give the PF in Bembaland Northern Province a tough time.
Mwamba, who resigned as defence minister last Monday, was scheduled to appear on the radio station for a phone-in programme at 10:00 hours where he was supposed to explain his decision to listeners.
But armed state police surrounded the radio station as early as 08:00 hours with a view to stopping Mwamba from going ahead with the said programme.
At about 10:05, Mwamba made a phone call to the station where he made the threats in his native Bemba language.
“Mwapoleni mwebena Kasama, ndesubila mwalisefya bwino. Ilelo naciba nokuba pa mulabasa lelo ba Sata nabatuma bakapokola pakuti banjikate, kanshi nshaise; efyo natumina phone ngabalefwaya bese banjikatile kuno kwine ku ng’anda [Greetings Kasama residents, I hope you celebrated the festivities well. Today I was scheduled to appear on radio but I am unable to do so because President Michael Sata has sent police officers to arrest me. So I am not going to come, that is why I have decided to phone; if they want they can come and arrest me from my home]“,” Mwamba said.
Mwamba said he resigned his government position because he did not agree with the decision to degazette Henry Sosala as paramount chief Chitimukulu.
He said he went into government with riches as opposed to many others who went into government to amass wealth.
“Ba Everest Chellah (PF Northern Province secretary) naba PF executive tebanvotele, abanvotele bantu, party ni ticket fye, kuno ine nalikwata abantu, who is Chellah? GBM is PF and PF is GBM, elyo nshakacite apologise ku muntu. Elyo nga nikuno kwena mwaikata tuleimbana inama mumeno pantu pafwile paba ubupusano pali party na government nomba ngacakuti mwasuminisha ka Chellah na bantu bakwe ebo balepingula government, tukamimina kuno ku Kasama yonse na tuma office twenu tukesala, kuno ku Kasama kwena mwailetelelafye (“Chellah and his executive are not the ones that voted for me. Those who voted for me are the people of Kasama, the PF party was just a ticket. Here I have people… And I will not apologise to any one and this area you have touched, we’ll dig meat in each other’s teeth because there is supposed to be separation between party and government, but if you let Chellah to run things, we shall rise against you, the whole Kasama, and we will lock up your office. You are just courting trouble],” Mwamba warned the provincial leadership.
Mwamba refused to be drawn into discussing his differences with PF secretary general Wynter Kabimba saying: “Awe Wynter bemubikamo wakaele muli issue, mwana wakwa Lesa no, don’t involve Wynter in this issue; he is innocent, a child of God.”
He revealed that provincial minister Obvious Chisala was about to be removed from the province because of ‘lies’ by Chellah’s committee that he was working with him.
Mwamba said he had a lot of support around the country.
He promised to go to Radio Mano some other time to talk to his supporters.
Meanwhile, Mwamba says community development deputy minister Jean Kapata has to survive.
Mwamba said in an interview from Kasama yesterday that even his own brother, Miles Sampa, was entitled to his opinion over the issues arising from his resignation.
Sampa and Kapata, who are the PF legislators for Matero and Mandevu constituencies in Lusaka respectively, questioned Mwamba’s loyalty to President Sata.
Asked how he feels now that some of his ‘friends’ were abandoning him following his resignation from Cabinet, Mwamba said he understands that Kapata had to survive and that he will forgive her.
“My friends! Which friends? Anyway take that way,” Mwamba said. “No, don’t draw me into that. Look, those Edgar Lungu and Kapata are my friends. I don’t want to comment. You know Jean Kapata has to survive, you understand? So let her say what she wants to say, I forgive her.”
Further asked about Sampa’s statement that his loyalty to the PF and President Sata had been doubtful, Mwamba said Sampa was entitled to his own opinion.
“Who was I supporting other than President Sata? So my dear brother, he is entitled to his own opinion,” he said. “Look here, I knew them because of politics and that is all but the people here Kasama I didn’t know them because of politics; it is because I hail from here, that’s all.”
Mwamba said any assessment in Kasama Central would show that he was still popular.
During the week, Mwamba said he would win the Kasama Central seat on any party ticket.
But several Kasama residents say Mwamba failed in his attempt to turn President Sata into a ‘wardrobe’.
Mwamba wondered whether anybody doubted his chances of scooping the Kasama seat on any ticket.
Asked about the meeting and fracas after his supporters disrupted a meeting by PF officials, Mwamba said: “…how can I hold a meeting when I enjoy massive support? Do you think I can lose this seat? Do you yourself doubt my chances of winning this seat?” Asked if he meant winning even if he stood on another political party ticket, Mwamba said: “That’s what I am asking; do you doubt that I cannot win?”
Mwamba on Monday announced his resignation as defence minister citing the stand-off between the PF government and ‘Bashilubemba’ (Bemba royal establishment) over the recognition of Henry Sosala as paramount chief Chitimukulu.
And PF deputy secretary general Bridget Atanga says the party administration will not hesitate to discipline anybody who disrespects President Sata and his leadership.
She says there was a serious need to end indiscipline in the party.
Speaking during the official opening of the PF Roan Constituency Conference in Masaiti yesterday, Atanga said all party members including senior government officials must show respect and loyalty to President Sata if the party was to make progress.
“As party administrators, we shall not hesitate to take action against members in lower organs of the party who do not recognise senior party officials. We shall not hastate as well to discipline anybody who disrespects President Sata,” said Atanga.

Nawakwi Canes Alexander Chikwanda Over Hospitals

ChikwandaNawakwi

The calamity unfolding in our Hospitals and Clinics in the country where nurses have been fired with no solution in sight from the Patriotic Front (PF) Government is a Sin to mankind.

I did request the Minister of Finance Hon. Chikwanda to provide leadership on this matter by making suggestions as to how Nurses were to be paid their promised wages. It is very clear to me that I am singing an empty slate.

My Nominated Brother and Minister of Finance thinks I am “from the streets” hence he can not listen to my advice. Our tragedy in this country is that we have people like Hon. Chikwanda, who have no Constituencies, being in charge of our lives. They have no allegiance to anyone, other than to outsiders.

This is the same Minister who says, “I cant listen to anyone from the streets.” May I remind my Brother that it is the same people from the streets who elected his Excellence President Sata at whose pleasure he is today a Nominated Member of Parliament in charge of our National Treasury which he is failing to manage in the interest of all of us who are on the “streets”.

PF WILL MINIMIZE IMPACT OF GBM’S RESIGNATION AT ITS OWN PERIL

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By Sunday Chilufya Chanda

We wish to salute the decision taken by former Defence Minister Hon. Geoffrey Mwamba to resign his position on a matter of principle. We further call on other Ministers, especially those who are Paramount Chief Chitimukulu’s subjects to make their position known, and that if Government cannot reverse the decision on Chitimukulu and Bemba-speaking people, let them make a choice between keeping their jobs and defending their heritage. We also wish to advise PF not to gloss over GBM’s resignation because President Sata as an individual and PF as an organization know too well the indisputable value that GBM brought to them. PF, as an organization must not be misled by disgruntled elements and malicious tabloids which seek to claim that GBM’s departure from Government is good riddance. If PF seeks to prove the depth and width of the impact created by GBM’s resignation, let them gather courage and expel him from the Party so that a by-election is created in Kasama Central. It is a shame that Government has failed to make a decision that borders on common-sense when it touches on Chitimukulu and the Bemba-speaking people. Government Ministers still silent under the spell of collective responsibility are doing a disservice to the Chitimukulu and Bemba-speaking people and the nation at large and soon, they will begin to reap their harvest.

We doubt the value of collective responsibility Government seeks to raise GBM’s resignation when it is public knowledge that fighting Chitimukulu remains a matter highly polarizing to the nation at large. We ask Government to reflect on the essence and value of collective responsibility. Those with the gift of knowledge within Government know too well that collective responsibility does not extend to unjustifiable actions which pronounce unreasonableness such as barring Cabinet Ministers from interacting with their families. Zambians know too well that the decision to fight the Chitimukulu and the Bemba-speaking people is not meant to unify but weaken the unity of its people and further intimidate weak souls. The essence of collective responsibility comes to safeguard decisions that are made in public interest and public good. It is not make-up designed to cover illegalities and unjustifiable decisions.

On this score, we wish to make another call for President Michael Sata and the PF Government to rescind their stance on the installation of Mr. Henry Chanda Sosala Kanyanta Manga as Paramount Chief Chitimukulu. The Bemba-speaking people, as subjects of Paramount Chief Chitimukulu, will not take kindly maneuvers by government to interfere with its traditional values and heritage. Bemba-speaking people as subjects must reject this agenda by the PF Government to interfere with the installation of Paramount Chief Chitimukulu. This is also a clarion wake up call to other tribes across the country that a trend happening to the Bemba-speaking people can be transferred to any part of the country by the PF Government. It is for their royal highnesses across Zambia to stand together and speak with one voice against any unorthodox maneuvers by PF to fight and seek to control traditional rulers. It is for this reason that we have also called on royal highnesses across the country to reject the ban by Government of customary land because they have not been consulted. Government must be reminded that in this day and age, they will not be allowed to rule by decrees and other forms of arbitrariness.

When a Cobra Spits at Crocodiles: Why President Sata Shouldn’t Fight the “Bashi Lubemba”

By E. Munshya wa Munshya

 

President Michael Sata - The King Cobra

President Michael Chilufya Sata – The King Cobra

 

President Michael Sata in May 2013 used his powers as President of the Republic of Zambia to withdraw government recognition of one Henry Kanyanta Sosala as Senior Chief Mwamba of the Bemba people. According to President Sata, Sosala did “not fully undergo Bemba rituals for him to ascend to the throne of Senior Chief Mwamba.”[i] Just what made Sata to be the arbiter of Bemba rituals is an open question we attempt to ask in this article.

 

After some hesitation, Henry Sosala succumbed to presidential pressure and conceded to President Sata’s demands. He resigned from the Mwambaship andapologized to President Sata for the embarrassment he had caused him.[ii] On the other hand, the Bemba traditional elders were quite displeased with what they perceived to be President Sata’s interference with their traditional matters. In a meeting held with President Sata’s emissaries, Chiefs Affairs Minister Nkandu Luo and Defence Minister Godfrey Mwamba, the Council of Bemba elders (Bashi Lubemba) expressed concern at the president’s action and asked that Sata stops to interfere in traditional affairs.

 

In August 2013, two months later, the same traditional council sat and decided to pick the same de-gazetted Henry Kanyanta Sosala as the next king of the Bemba Commonwealth. This in many ways went against President Sata’s wishes. First, the President had initially degazetted Sosala as Chief Mwamba. Second, Sosala himself had succumbed to presidential pressure and left the throne. Third, it is quite unusual that the Bemba traditional council would go ahead to grant supreme control to a chief who had been degazetted by the president.

 

That this act by the Bashi Lubemba will set of some stand off with President Sata is clear. Some reports suggest that president Sata has personal interest in the Bemba chiefdom that makes him desire to have a close relation of his to ascend to the Bemba chieftainship. In clear defiance of his wishes, the Bashi Lubemba have made perhaps one of the clearest statement to president Sata that they will not succumb to his wishes. As far as they are concerned, they have made the choice of a new paramount chief of the Bemba, and that person will have to be Sosala – the same person, President Sata degazetted.

 

In this battle, it is our opinion that President Sata should desist from causing any further confusion in the Bemba traditional affairs. It is also our submission that if president Sata decides to act any further against Sosala or against the Bashi Lubemba, it will be a battle he cannot win. And this is so, for several reasons.

 

It is important to set aside some misconceptions concerning the Bemba Empire. There has been some reports that President Sata being Bisa of Mpika cannot and should not have any interest in the Bemba traditional affairs. The truth is that in the present state of affairs, while the Bisa peoples and the Bemba peoples remain distinct, there has been incessant blurring of that distinction. As such, the argument that President Sata does not have tribal or familial interest in the Bemba affairs because he is not Bemba is an accusation not steeped in reality.

 

In the Bemba and Bisa ruling aristocracy, there is no distinction between a Bisa and a Bemba. We could take one example: the Chibesakunda chiefdom of Chinsali. Even if the Chibesakunda chiefdom is a chiefdom of the Bisa, Chief Chibesakunda herself is supposed to be a Bemba belonging to the Ng’ona clan. Essentially, then the Bisa people of Chinsali have a Bemba lineage ruling over them. However, with intermarriages and in fact, matrilineal system of succession the distinction that should exist between who is Bemba and who is Bisa in the royal household of Chibesakunda and indeed among their subjects has been blurred further. The auxiliary blurring of these lines happened a few years ago when the Chibesakunda Royal Court appointed Bob Bwembya Luo, a Bemba from the Ng’andu clan to become the Chief Chibesakunda. This brought some protests from a Bisa and former parliamentarian Newton Ng’uni[iii] who in March 2007 wrote that the new Chibesakunda was actually a Bemba from Abena Ng’andu and as such could not ascend to a throne reserved for Abena Ng’ona. President Mwanawasa’s government was swift in gazetting this new Chibesakunda, partly to bring stability to the chiefdom, which had not had a substantial chief for decades.

 

Using what happened with Chibesakunda as an example, the choice of a chief by a royal council is almost sacrosanct; courts of law do not and should not interfere with choices done by the royal council. This being the case then, those who think that a Bisa has no interest in the Bemba traditional affairs unfairly target President Sata.  We must submit however, that President Sata’s interest or interference in Bemba traditional affairs should not go to the extent of meddling with the Bashi Lubemba.

 

Traditionally, the Bashi Lubemba is the Bemba Royal Council that is custodian of Bemba traditions. It also carries out the sacred duty of choosing of the successor of the Chitimukulu throne. In Bemba traditional management the second most senior throne next to the Chitimukulu is the Mwambaship. After Mwamba comes several other chiefs such as Mpepo and Nkula. It was customary that after the death of Chitimukulu it is the Mwamba that accedes to the throne.

 

However, it is not automatic that Mwamba becomes Chitimukulu for it is the Bashi Lubemba who appoints a Chitimukulu. A few years ago, the Bashi Lubemba in favour of a chief Mpepo bypassed a chief Mwamba. Mwamba then decided to take the matter to the High Court. At first instance, Justice Nyangulu declared Mwamba to be the next Chitimukulu and chastised the Bashi Lubemba for not following customary law that made a Mwamba to be the next Chitimukulu. Mpepo appealed against this decision and the Supreme Court reversed Justice Nyangulu’s decision. In that case, the Supreme Court made some very important pronouncements with regard to customary affairs in Zambian traditions.

 

According to the Supreme Court, even if customary practice mostly favored a Mwamba as the automatic successor to Chitimukulu, the decision of the Bashi Lubemba was final with regard to whether Mwamba would become Chitimukulu. For Justice Silomba, “the Bashi Lubemba have the final say over who takes over as Chief Chitimukulu and are not restricted to the system of ladder climbing and seniority.”[iv] Essentially then, the Bashi Lubemba are the custodians and the courts of law should not replace their customary advice and input. Fundamentally, it is the Bashi Lubemba who make Bemba chiefs.

 

The Bashi Lubemba are important in making the Chitimukulu because they comprise both the rulers of the Chiefdom and the priests of the chiefdoms. The Bemba royal house strikes a balance between the ruling clan (Abena Ng’andu) and the ritual priests (Bakabilo). A Chitimukulu can only succeed in leading the Bembas if indeed she has the blessing of the ritualists. Royal birth does not automatically entitle one to being Chitimukulu; it must be supplemented by the approval of a clan different from the Abena Ng’andu. It is in this vein, that the decision from the Bashi Lubemba should be respected.

 

President Sata’s original decision to dethrone Sosala as the Chief Mwamba was that Sosala had not followed proper ritual procedure. The problem here is that the President even if as a Bisa does have an interest in the Bemba chiefdoms, does not have expertise to advise the Bemba royalists about what that ritual procedure must be. President Sata is president of our republic; he is unfortunately not an expert in ritual practices of the Bemba peoples, even if he belongs to the greater Bemba commonwealth. Indeed, if the Bashi Lubemba are wrong in their choice, it is not for President Sata to make that call.

 

In fact, there is precedence where a white Catholic priest, Father DuPont, acceded to the throne of Mwamba with full approval from the Bemba royal household. As far as tradition is concerned, it is what the Bashi Lubemba decide that should carry the day with regard to matters of succession. If indeed, the Bemba royal household had erred to have Sosala as Chief Mwamba, President Sata could not unilaterally decide to reverse such a resolution.

 

Leaving the Sosala and Mwamba saga aside, the recent decision of the Bashi Lubemba to recognise this same Sosala as Chief Chitimukulu makes things even more difficult for President Sata. Sosala has several things going well for him. First, he was the substantive Chief Mwamba chosen by the Mwamba royal household, and secondly, he has become the choice of the Bashi Lubemba to be the next Chitimukulu. With these two going for Sosala, President Sata is in a serious quandary as to what he would do next.

 

For sure, there is no dispute between any competing pretenders to the Chitimukulu throne. The choice of customary practice, going by Justice Nyangulu’s test favors Sosala and so is the supremacy of the Bashi Lubemba (going by the Supreme Court test). This being the case, President Sata in combating the Bashi Lubemba will quickly realize that a Cobra cannot quite win if it fights the Crocodiles. Abena Ng’andu with their colleagues the Bakabilo, in the Bashi Lubemba, will shame the Bisa Cobra, again.

 

© 2013, E. Munshya wa Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.A, M.Div., For more information about our articles please visithttp://www.eliasmunshya.org.

 

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