THE KASAMA BY-ELECTION – AN INDEPTH INSIGHT
WHY THE BY-ELECTION? The seat fell vacant when Patriotic Front (PF) Member of Parliament, Dr. Saviour Chishimba resigned and formed his own party, the United Progressive Party (UPP).
Chishimba who is a conflicting figure idolises Zambia’s foremost leader Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe. Chishimba is usually seen donning the African Toga that was synonymous with early African politicians such as Kwame Nkrumah and Kapwepwe himself.
Chishimba’s political party actually shares the same acronym (UPP) as Kapwepwe. However many see Chishimba as bastardising and corrupting the rich legacy and image of Simon Kapwepwe.
The Kasama seat is in the Northern Province and is critical in political terms, due to its historical significance to this country. Early freedom fighters and politicians such as first president Kenneth Kaunda and Kapwepwe hailed from Northern Province (Chinsali).
After the 2006 General Elections, the province was divided between the PF and MMD. MMD has captured seats in the areas where Lungu, Mambwe and Namwanga tribes are found, while the PF has mostly captured seats from areas of Bemba and Bisa tribes.
MMD controls Nakonde, Isoka (Isoka East and Isoka west), and Mpulungu, Mbala (Mbala and Senga Hill). The PF controls such areas as Kaputa (Chimbamilonga and Kaputa), Kasama (Kasama Central and Lukashya (Ind- Emmanuel Munaile)), Chinsali (Chinsali and Shiwangandu), Mpika (Kanchibiya, Mfuwe, Mpika), Chilubi, and Mporokoso (Lunte (though the seat belongs to Felix Mutati), Mporokoso.)
The PF and Sata performed very well in the 2006 and 2008 elections in Luapula, Northern and Copperbelt (urban). It is yet to be seen the effect of Sata’s fall-out with his so called rebels and cardinal member former president Dr. Frederick Chiluba.
In 2008 Chiluba only ‘showed’ that he was working with the MMD and Rupiah Banda a week before the polls when he undertook a trip to Luapula to see chiefs and attempted to persuade them and their subjects to decamp from the PF and join the MMD.
Clearly there was nothing much Chiluba could change in a week. However there is a full two years ahead of national elections and his impact against Sata and the PF in Northern, Luapula, Copperbelt and other areas in the country is anticipated and is yet to be seen.
GODFREY BWALYA MWAMBA (GBM)
He is the apparent favourite to scoop this by-election owing to the previous strength of the party and his sheer financial muscle.
However many things stand in his way. He has a violent streak that permeates the conduct of his business and political affairs. He has a terrible business history with Kasama residents. His campaign speeches so far are tribal and full of pride, and wanton and unrestrained arrogance.
Also in his way stands an apparent under-dog in Burton Mugala who has been a permanent resident of Kasama for 26 years. GBM lives in Lusaka.
WHO IS GBM?
Godfrey Bwalya Mwamba popularly known as GBM is the son of Northern Rhodesia’s first black Agriculture Minister Edison Mwamba. GBM was born on 15th MARCH 1959. He comes from Mporokoso. He is the last born in a family of 10.
He went to Lusaka Boys for his primary school; He then went to Chifwama School in Kasama. He finished his secondary school at a private school in Lusaka called Zecco High School.
The family used to live in Rhodespark near Fairview.
His mother was Grace Chileshe (of South African origin), who divorced with Edison Mwamba. She began to run a bakery in Kasama, and later a store in Kabwata, Lusaka. Mr. Edison Mwamba saved in Welensky’s and Kaunda’s government.
He is a nephew to Valentine Shula, First Bank Governor who advised him not to start the business of running a bar(which GBM wanted to do), when he went into business.
He is married to Chama daughter to Lameck Mwenso. She studied Secretarial studies at Evelyn Hone College. The two met in 1967.
The two started a business in 1980 with a loan from GBM’s mother by buying Kapenta and beans from Nakonde. They made a break-through when they supplied foodstuffs to Zambia National Service (ZNS) and earned a K3Million.They later began to supply maize to National Milling.
GBM joined the MMD in 2002 to support President Levy Mwanawasa. At the time he joined MMD, he was owed billions of Kwachwa by the Zambia Army and ZNS for supply of mealie meal to these institutions. It is not clear if he ever got this money.
GBM also bought SAVOY HOTEL in Ndola in a Management Buy-Out (MBO) scheme but Zambia Privatisation Agency (ZPA) repossessed it for his failure to pay the Hotel Purchase Price.
GBM also bought a Milling Plant in Kasama. He realised that the milling plant had high quality equipment and a good brand from Switzerland. He chose to transfer the milling plant to Lusaka purporting that the equipment was too industrial for Kasama. He also stated that residents of Kasama were villagers that merely grind their maize from Chigayo, and could therefore not buy commercial mealie-meal.
He left a lot of disaffected workers without settling their severance packages and benefits. Residents were also left in frustration and they blamed GBM for shifting an industry and support services that were providing economic activities in the town.
He runs the milling plant, a fleet of 28 Luxury buses worth USD5m (on lease), and an opaque beer plant. He is planning to buy another plant in Kitwe.
He also owns GBM Trucking which has 6 X35 ton trucks. He also has a car hire that has 50 cars. All his firms employ about 400 workers.
He is known for meting out violent punishment against his workers, relatives and his wife. His wife escaped death with serious injuries in 2007 when he beat her to near death. He is known to have a violent rage.
He is currently in court facing assault charges for beating his worker.
In July 2007, Amos Malupenga, Managing Editor of The Post reported GBM to police for issuing threats and threatening violence. GBM had phoned Former Minister of Southern Province Joseph Mulyata to help him have one of his buses that was impounded, released.
Mulyata directed Road Development Agency (RDA) to release GBM’s bus and waive (illegally) the necessary fees that the officers had slapped on the bus. The bus was impounded for overloading. When Amos phoned GBM, he reacted violently by issuing threats and also threatened Amos’ life.
Later President Mwanawasa fired Mulyata.
GBM has 6 children; Chilekwa is the eldest son and is 28years. He is a co director in GBM Bus Company and runs the Livingstone Office.
Sibongile is 26 years old and did Hotel Management in South Africa. Then there is Thandiwe who lives in Atlanta Georgia, USA.
Musama is also in Georgia USA and is studying Business Management.
Muma is the youngest and is studying at Baobab in Makeni.
GBM’s brother Chilekwa Munkonge (MMD Kabwata Constituency –Chairman) was charged with attempted murder when he was accused of shooting a party cadre in Kabwata township during the third term debate in 2001. It is unknown what happened to the case.
GBM stood for parliamentary elections in Kabwata (although he lives in Kabulonga- Munali Constituency) in the 2006 Elections under the MMD but was beaten by PF’s Given Lubinda.
THE TRIBAL REMARKS
On Monday 21st September 2009, while featuring and promoting his candidature on Kasama’s Radio Mano, GBM urged voters to elect him as he was a Bemba and ‘son of the soil’.
He accused his rival Burton Mugala of being a ‘foreigner’ hailing from Muyombe. Muyombe is a district off Isoka near Malawi.
He charged that Kasama was for Bembas and the voters should safeguard the land by not allowing ‘foreigners’ to be their leaders. He accused the MMD of imposing a relative to the First Lady Thandiwe Banda.
He insisted that Kasama was for Bembas like Mongu was for Lozis. These remarks are satiating feelings that are responding to the talk of political dominance of ‘Mbalas’ in the MMD leadership of Northern Province. MMD Chairman Grevous Sikasote and most of the provincial leaders hail from a particular area. This is historical as during Mwanawasa’s reign, many Bembas left the MMD to join the PF especially after Mwanawasa issued the infamous ‘Bembas stink with corruption’ remarks at the Ndola Airport.
Rupiah Banda’s approach to politics has since harmonised these adverse feelings against the MMD from the Bemba grouping and many have been re-joining their ‘Mbuya’.
GBM’s tribal and dangerous remarks have riled many who believe that the promotion of tribal politics was offensive and breaches the Electoral Code of Conduct. Some civil society bodies have even called on Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to disqualify GBM. ECZ remains mute on the tribal remarks.
One wonders why GBM is also standing in Kasama Central Constituency instead of Mporokoso where he hails from. GBM even stood in Kabwata a place far away from his Bemba land and a place deemed to be for Solis.
Kasama Central Constituency is like Kabwata, as it is cosmopolitan with many tribes gathered and forming its residents.
Although GBM is Bemba, Like Burton Mugala, he merely just settled in Kasama.
Burton Mugala came to national limelight recently when President Rupiah Banda appointed him to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Board. His name was only withdrawn before Parliament ratification when he expressed interest to contest the Kasama seat after Saviour Chishimba resigned as Member of Parliament on July 27th 2009.
However, Mugala passed the important security clearance and vetting from the Zambia Police, ACC, DEC, Intelligence and commendation from Law Association Zambia (LAZ) and Transparency International Zambia (TIZ).
He requested the President to withdraw his nomination as ACC commissioner.
On 13th August 2009, Chairperson of the Select Committee to Scrutinise Presidential Appointments, Sylvia Masebo and Chongwe MP sought permission from the House to withdraw the ratification of Burton Mugala
However the records show that Mugala was found very clean on all issues relating to criminal activities, drug trafficking, money laundering, drug abuse, and tendency for corrupt activities. How one wishes all candidates could go through this stern test.
Little is known (outside the sports fraternity) about Burton Mugala but sufficed to say that, he has been a Kasama resident for the last 26 years. He was working for ZESCO and was the area manager for Kasama. Upon retirement he settled in Kasama and owns extensive businesses. He owns a luxury lodge, a nursing school and a Primary and Secondary School.
Mugala was one of Zambia’s celebrated football heroes. He used to play football for Ndola United and the national team in the 1970-80 as a striker. Mugala and other players from Ndola United, Levy Simutowe, and Gibbon Chewe had an international stint at Stoke City Football Club in Britain.
Mugala is a very well known figure in the sports fraternity. In 2006, he organised his former colleagues to honour and bestow an award on Sports Council of Zambia (SCZ) Chairman and veteran sports administrator Dr. Julius Sakala for unmatched contributions to Ndola United and sports in Zambia.
The former players honoured JB as Sakala is popularly known in Ndola and in the sports fraternity.
FAMILY AND BUSINESS
Burton Mugala is married to Godfridah Chibawa who hails from Lwimbo in Kasama. The two have children, Nancy-Chishimba, Wazingwa, Chibawa and Mutambo.
Mugala is a qualified engineer (Diploma in Electrical Engineering) who worked for and ran ZESCO Stations, in Solwezi, Kasama, Chishimba Falls and Ndola. He runs Chinchi Executive Lodge, a Day and Boarding Primary and Secondary School known as Chiti School and he is currently constructing a Nursing School and he is a keen Estate Developer. All these investments are in Kasama.
His leadership has been horned by his association with clubs such as Lions Club, Rotary and is a member of the Kasama Golf Club.
He has been a member of the MMD Provincial Executive Committee(PEC) for the MMD and has held the position of Treasurer for some time now.
Mugala has an upper hand as Kasama residents know Mugala very well. He is known to render financial support to the sick and to bereaved families. Kasama residents recount so many times instances where Mugala bought a goat for their functions or during the course of their bereavement.
GBM however is also a strong candidate running on the strength of a popular party in the area. But the residents also remember the fractious relation they suffered with their ex-MP Saviour Chishimba. So the PF as a party might not have a good record in the constituency after all.
GBM has a conflicting image in Kasama. Many remember him with distaste for his decision to relocate the milling plant. GBM is also known for interrupting bus journeys to collect ‘cashings’ or discipline an erring driver. Residents recount how he often beats drivers or workers in full view of members of the public. GBM is a well known Kasama resident as his parents and himself lived and ran businesses in Kasama in the past.
Although GBM appears to be a strong candidate, his candidature is weak at the seams. It is no wonder that he is playing the tribal card to undermine Mugala.
Both Camps have started off on a high note with Michael Sata and Vice-President, George Kunda kicking off their campaigns.
Government through, Kunda has launched a multimillion Kwacha street light and traffic lights project. He has also launched a multi-million kwacha water project. Roads and feeder roads are being graded in the rural parts of Kasama Central.