Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Of Zambia’s president Sata left office today who is the likely man to succeed him? The succession gossip that lingers within the MMD coincides with mass demonstrations in Lusaka on 14 September by PF cadres calling for the resignation of Wynter Kabimba.

It is a sign that after having been in power for barely three years, the PF has started to break at the seams. Manoeuvres for a political succession arise from the knowledge that political statesmen in Zambia have become prone to a short life span. Age and health are the limiting factors. President Sata has surrounded himself with hero worshippers and close relatives. It is barely a week when vice-president told the press that Wynter Kamimba was his real boss.

What he meant was that as vice-president he had no political authority to overrule those ministers below him.

The top brass of the PF is made up of Wynter Kabimba, the justice minister and general secretary of the PF. Alexander Chikwanda, the Minister of Finance. Miles Sampa, the deputy minister of finance. Geoffrey Mwamba, the defence minister, and Mutembo Nchito, the public prosecutor. I have deliberately left out Vice-President Guy Scott because his parents’ nationality bars him from acting as a president. Miles Sampa and Alexander Chikwanda are close relatives of President Sata. There are political skirmishes between Mwamba and Kabimba.

The appointment of Nchito as public prosecutor in February this year gave rise to the suspension of the three High Court judges in April. Indeed, after wallowing in the political wilderness for twenty years – Post Newspapers managing director Nchito was at last awarded for his labours. A political critic and prudent lawyer, Nchito is a controversial personality who had been subjected to selective justice under the MMD.

Thus the suspension of the three judges was a premeditated political affair in the sense that during the previous MMD government under Rupiah Banda –  the three High Court judges had overplayed their hands by nullifying a court order that had awarded damages to Nchito. This was in a court case in which Nchito had applied for a loan from the Bank of Zambia in order to bail out Zambia Airways that was currently in liquidation.

Both Rajan Matan, chairman of Finance Bank and Nchito were only rescued from pending court cases in matters to do with money laundering when the PF came to power in 2011.

During the leadership of the MMD the Zambia Police Service was cited as the most corrupt public institution. The period witnessed an increase in copper and copper-related thefts on the Copper Belt. A copper crime syndicate known as Jalabos stole copper cathodes and concentrates in broad daylight and sold to well-established businessmen. The Jalabos were composed of unemployed youth on the Copperbelt who had taken advantage of the lax security situation prevailing in the copper mines police unit. When the PF came to power, President Sata appointed Stella Libongani as inspector-general of police – to succeed Ephraim Mateyo, who had heavy-handedly stamped out the Jalabos.

Putting more money in people’s pockets seems to be working now, just because of the booming copper prices in south-east Asia. More overseas mining investors are flocking to Zambia and setting up new mines in various parts of the country.

When Dr. Kenneth Kaunda was president of Zambia many people had written books about him, extolling his political and humanitarian attributes. Indeed, many sophisticated intellectuals and statesmen marvelled at his profound philosophical and intellectual capabilities. Kaunda was mere a primary school teacher and had never entered university as a student. He had an imposing personality, charm or charismatic status. He initiated the political ideology of humanism as a guiding political philosophy in national development, in which man was placed at the centre. Kaunda wavered between “state socialism” and capitalism – under his leadership Zambia was described as mixed economy.

When the MMD defeated UNIP in 1991 Fredrick Chiluba became the second Republican president. Kaunda was given a state pension complete with police guards. In 1994 Kaunda started to campaign for president and was nearly killed by a police stray bullet. UNIP declared a zero tolerance attitude and Kaunda was arrested and imprisoned in Lusaka Remand Prison. It only took the now-deceased former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere to persuade the old man to give up politics. This made the MMD amend the Constitution in 1993 – which barred people whose parents are not indigenous Zambians to stand as presidential candidates. In actual fact Dr. Kaunda’s father originated from nearby Malawi. The MMD went on to remove the statues from city squares and public buildings. Even the political syllabus that laid so much stress on socialism and humanism was removed from learning institutions. Deep political animosities existed between MMD and Dr. Kaunda – both Mwanawasa and Rupiah Banda helped to restore Dr. Kaunda the political prestige he had lost. When Mwanawasa was president of the MMD, the MMD had become discredited in Luapula and Northern provinces.

Thus when Mwanawasa died and was succeeded by Banda in 2010 the MMD had lost its former political stronghold among the Bemba-speaking people. Mwanawasa saw an economic potential in Chinese investors. Arguably Chinese economic relations are less tied to political packages. When in opposition Sata had forged political relations with Hong Kong – most Chinese investors left the country when the pF won the general election in 2011. Sensing the ruptured political relations with mainland China, President Sata sent Dr. Kaunda as ambassador extraordinary to China in 2012 to ameliorate political relations between Zambia and China.

The Chinese investors came to Zambia with the came to Zambia with their own labour force – mostly manual workers. The Chinese workforce exhibits an addiction to long and arduous hours of work. The Chinese investors pay less regard to labour regulations and western norms, and are apt to employ less white collar workers.

It is a fact that when President Sata completes his second term in office there shall develop a power vacuum with the PF that in due course will wreck the PF.

The fugitive priest Father Frank Bwalya may have foreseen this political development and he resigned from the PF this year. Indeed Bwalya may win a political following on the Copperbelt should the PF fall apart.

The recent demise of former MMD defence minister Ben Mwila has robbed Zambia of an illustrious politician. Benjamin Mwila it must remembered was the one who funded Fredrick Chiluba’s political rallies across the country. Chiluba was then a mere employee of  Copco and president of ZCTV. During the privatisation of parasitical companies, Benjamin Mwila bought a large chunk of Indeco formed by Andrew Sardinis during the UNIP era. The late Mwila was a brusque political gentleman who still retained his motorcade, complete with bodyguards wherever he went. Let it be remembered that Mwila resigned from the MMD during the political fracas surrounding Chiluba’s third bid for the presidency and went on to form the Republican Party that did well in the 2001 general elections.

There is complete breakdown of discipline in the PF and things are completely out of control. Well known and high-ranking politicians are going around masquerading as supporters and defenders of President Sata and harassing innocent people. Political cliques and factions have emerged within the party structure – personal loyalties motivated by tribalism and hero worship are destroying the PF. It is clear that Sata has not shown any readiness to stem the tide.

The issue dividing the PF revolves around access to financial and material resources – corruption.

Capitalism is said to be a dynamic and democratic society in which the voters have the privilege to decide who shall govern them. That underplays the fact that capitalism is a society in which the majority – the workers, students and peasants believe that there are certain people who are born to be leaders no matter what. We lack the freedom to question the way we have lived and how we might live.

The very word ‘socialism’ is a political scare. It calls to mind the brutal and inhuman excesses of the single party political regimes in the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba and elsewhere.

It is our duty to explain the differences between state capitalism and socialism or dialectical Marxism.

Socialism in the true sense of the word has not existed in any part of the world. We advocate a classless, stateless, moneyless society as the only political alternative to capitalism.
Kitwe, Zambia

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