Saturday, September 27, 2008

Letter from Zambia

Zambia is showered in condolences. President Levy Mwanawasa passed away in Percy Military hospital in Paris on 19 August.

Indeed, many ordinary Zambians are troubled by the untimely death of the president in the sense that every individual is unique. The people of Zambia are pious mourners and have turned up in large numbers wherever the coffin of Mwanawasa was being paraded for last farewells. The MMD has declared 21 days of national mourning. But some political think tanks are critical of the government’s motive and have seriously castigated them for parading the coffin around the country. They consider it to be a mere political gimmick aimed at winning the political confidence of the Zambian voters.

There is a succession crisis within the MMD. The current constitution allows for the holding of a party convention when adopting a presidential contender. But the MMD has unilaterally decided to select a candidate through the National Executive Committee. This move is untransparent and undemocratic. There are calls within the MMD hierarchy for the adoption of the current Vice-President Rupiah Banda (UNIP). The following have submitted their names for adoption as presidential aspirants from the MMD:
Willa Muyamba, Enoch Kavindele, Brian Chituwo and Ludwig Sondashi…

All the above-mentioned individuals are well-to-do MMD stalwarts. The wife of the late president Doreen Mwanawasa is proving a hard nut to crack in the sense that she is indirectly campaigning for the MMD through accompanying her husband’s coffin to every part of Zambia. Indeed, she even went to the extent of publicly humiliating the Patriotic Front president Michael Sata during a body-viewing ceremony at Chipata airport (Eastern Province). She railed at Sata in an unbecoming manner for a bereaved widow. It is said that she told Sata to stop attending the funeral. She told him that she had not reconciled with him. Sata had a political reconciliation with the late president in June. When Mwanawasa died in France Sata was among the prominent leaders who received the coffin at Lusaka International airport on 23 June.

Politics in Zambia are strongly influenced by ethnic and tribal loyalties. The MMD is a tribal party in the sense that the late president appointed people on the basis of their ethnic and tribal backgrounds. The current crop of ministers comprise of nephews and cousins of Mwanawasa. The entire MMD leadership is peopled by Lenje- and Lamba-speaking political appointees.

The ruling MMD currently enjoys massive support in rural areas. It is utterly impossible for the MMD to lose a presidential election given the positive economic policies of the late president Mwanawasa. Zambia’s favourable economic development is dependent upon the copper mining industry that is currently enjoying favourable prices on the stock exchange in London. Zambia remains a class-divided society with poverty and unemployment remains unappeased.
K. MULENGA, Zambia

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