By Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu Kanyanta-Manga II
Taking A ‘Stand’
It has been brought to my attention that there are certain political elements who have gone on rampage trying to drive a wedge between Honourable Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (popularly known as GBM) and myself by spreading false rumours that I have deserted him. These rumours might have arisen from the fact that Kelvin Sampa has promised to give a motor vehicle to Bashilubemba and this was done while I was in South Africa and anyway why should they not accept the gift?
In the first place I want to make it abundantly clear to political opportunists that I am a traditional ruler and as such in every situation I must always be focused and take a superior moral ‘’stand’’ than politicians. As far as the political game is concerned ‘’there are no permanent enemies,’’ and I must never therefore take an aggressive position when politicians are in conflict because when as usual they ‘’politically reconcile’’ I can be in a very awkward and embarrassing position.
Zambia’s poverty did not just happen; it was caused
We have to understand that a ‘’stand’’ is not necessarily a point of view. Taking a ’’position’’ requires us to choose to either for or against a certain issue, but taking a ‘’stand’’ recognizes all points of view and allows each one to exist and be heard. There is therefore a difference between taking a ‘’position’’ and taking a ‘’stand.’’ The best example, is from South African President Nelson Mandela who is greatly renowned for conciliating the ‘’Blacks’’ and the ‘’whites’’ in South Africa. Mr. Mandela did not take sides. He did not take on a ‘’position,’’ instead he took a ‘’stand.’’ He came to the realization that the oppressors were equally important to be liberated too, as much as the oppressed. Therefore Mr. Mandela took a ‘’stand’’ for the liberation of all races.
Tolerance is a virtue whereby one accepts other people’s views, without necessarily agreeing with them. I personally believe in the liberty of my conscience because I am a freethinker; a predator and not a victim to the whining and victim-type mentality which therefore puts me in total control of my thought-life or one determined to employ my mental faculties to the maximum. I can therefore never be a convert to anybody’s opinions whether political or otherwise. And I feel totally liberated because one of the tenets of being principled is the ability to tell people what they need to know, rather than what they want to hear. I believe in the biblical teaching that all men are equal and this has behooved me to understand that it means matching brain-power for brain-power with anybody.
The GBM Resignation Saga
Honourable Mwamba has risked his own life besides his businesses by standing on the principle of being loyal not only to me personally but to the Bemba people and tribe. Honourable Mwamba being a member of the Bemba royal family failed to betray his tribe for the sake of money and position. In fact before Honourable Mwamba had paid a courtesy call on me in Kasama, he even took a precaution measure by inviting two officers from the Office of the President to monitor our meeting. But President Sata censured him ‘’for failing to show collective responsibility on his part as a Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament for the ruling party.’’ (The Post 24th December 2013).
And consequently Honourable Mwamba resigned as Defence Minister: ‘’
…it’s important for Zambians to know that I hail from the Bemba royal family and it is therefore unacceptable for President Sata to stop me from visiting my grandfather. There is no way I am going to forsake my own blood for the sake of politics. So for me as GBM, I am sorry. I am a very principled person and I resign from government.’’
The courage and conviction he displayed is admirable. His fearless and strongly worded statement stands out as an example of courage rooted in Bemba culture. The Bemba being a born-warrior regards “the innate temperament trait” as his only survival instinct and strongly believes that fear and coward-ness are the gateway to self-destruction. And hence the saying “cibe cibe, umwenso ni mfwa.” GBM didn’t compromise on his convictions and beliefs in-spite of what he was risking.
During the 2014 Easter commemoration, a Catholic priest, Father Charles Chilinda in his sermon said, ‘’…but like in all political spheres, power is femoral, transient and short-lived as well as delusional because reality often catches up with an unexpected vengeance.’’
It is far beyond comprehension that President Michael Sata and being a Catholic Head of State has such intense hatred for me that he had even instructed his cabinet ministers to hate me and never to speak to me.
Zambia’s political formula is based on Britain’s Westminster model and the cabinet therefore emerges as the government summit. The powers of cabinet ministers and of the executive are generally without restrictions. This in actual fact means that his intense personal hatred for me has even been translated into Zambia’s national policy. What is amazing is that when President Sata took the oath of office, he pledged that he would rule the country in line with God’s Ten Commandments!
Cabinets collective responsibility of hatred
Honourable Professor Nkandu Luo took the opportunity of the ‘’cabinet collective responsibility of hatred’’ to settle her personal scores with me, but unfortunately her enthusiasm to destroy me totally blinded her to reality. She accused me of ‘’masquerading as Senior Chief Mwamba’’ (The Post 1st May 2013). And on 8th instant The Post came up with the front page headline: ‘’Sosala masquerading as Chief Mwamba-Sata. ” (ibid.) My Cambridge Advanced Learners’ Dictionary defines the word ‘’masquerade’’ as ‘’behaviour that is intended to prevent the truth about something unpleasant or not wanted from being known.’’
In the Supreme Court Judgement No. 25 of 2008 between Chief Mpepo (Ackson Chilufya Mwamba), appellant and Senior Chief Mwamba (Paison Chilekwa Yambayamba), respondent reads on J18__ 623:’’In the case of the Bemba customary law of succession, it is generally agreed by the parties that a chief below Chitimukulu, it can be Senior Chief Mwamba, Senior Chief Nkula or indeed any other, is chosen or appointed by the Paramount Chief-in-council. When the choice of a Chitimukulu is an issue, the body mandated to make the appointment is known as Bashilubemba. The composition of the two bodies, including the necessary quorum for transaction of business, was not part of the evidence. Besides, what the evidence failed to establish is the role of Chandamukulu, the Queen Mother (including Mukukamfumu, the Queen for Chinsali side), in the selection process of Chitimukulu and the chiefs below Chitimukulu,’’
And accordingly, the Bemba Royal Electoral College (inchenje Council) held a meeting on 6th October 2007, which was chaired by Mwinelubemba Chitimukulu Chilufya Mwango and twenty-one Bashilubemba were in attendance. And also in attendance was the then PrincipalLocal Government officer, Nixon Nkwapu, Provincial inspector of Government transport, W. Wilombe and the Administrative officer, Kasama Municipal Council, Abias Sikamanga. I was subsequently recognized as Senior Chief Mwamba of the Bemba people through Statutory Instrument No. 93 of 2008.
I later learned that another contribution to my hatred arose after Africa Opportunity Co-ordination Organization Board in Nairobi wrote to me: ‘’ With your royal position and high level of traditional knowledge and experience of the traditional norms and culture in Zambia, Africa AOCO board has appointed you to spearhead the formation of Pan African Development Committee in chiefdoms not only in Zambia, but in Africa as a whole.’’ And since her preferred candidate was not picked and so she decided to destroy me internationally by accusing me of masquerading as Chief Mwamba.
Professor Nkandu Luo also went on to mislead the Commissioner of Lands that I had not been gazetted but was only masquerading as Senior Chief Mwamba. And in turn the Commissioner of Lands in his letter dated 8th May 2013 to the Kasama Municipal Council Town Clerk wrote: ‘’It has been brought to my attention that Mr. Henry Kanyanta Sosala was just sitting-in as Senior Chief Mwamba was in fact not recognized as chief by the Government and therefore had no mandate to give out land…….there must be an immediate repossession of all pieces of land which were illegally given under his hand.’’
My reply to the Commissioner of Lands in my letter of 16th instant was very simple: ‘’If I had not been recognized, why then have I been de-gazetted as per Statutory Instrument No. 34 of 2013 dated 8th May 2013.’’
Andrew Roberts in A History of the Bemba wrote: ‘’…..Amid the upheavals of the twentieth century, the Bemba have retained a sense of corporate continuity and communal pride through the survival of their political structure, a living testimony of their imperial past.’’
It is therefore the responsibility of every genuine Bemba (umu Bemba inkonko) to instill into the hearts and minds of our youngsters the fearlessness and resolute firmness spirit of Bemba culture since extremism is a virtue in defence of personal and tribal liberty; to uphold Bemba values and consciousness and be ever-ready to stand on guard for Bemba sovereignty which is sacrosanct. They must never allow the Bemba transcendent revolutionary enthusiasm to be quenched. Chairman Mao said, ‘’The specific content of patriotism is determined by historic conditions.’’ (Selected Works Vol. II p. 196).
Zambia’s Principled Political Heroes
Honourable Mwamba’s name is etched among principled Bemba politicians of conscience. Mr. Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe resigned as Zambia’s Republican Vice-President because ‘’The people from Northern part of Zambia, the Bemba-speaking people have suffered physically and sometimes been beaten. They have suffered demotions and suspensions because of my being Vice-President. I cannot sacrifice any longer these people. If such activities continue, they would lead to difficulties in the nation.
I, therefore, refuse to be part and parcel of any bloodshed that may be the result of self-aggrandizement.’’
22nd August 1970 is still very vivid in mind when we assembled at the government house lawns and the colossus announced the formation of the United Progressive Party (UPP):
‘’This is a very historic moment, the revolutionary spirit adopted before independence has gone. Independence is good, but it is meaningless and useless if it does not bring fruits to the masses.
Most of the leaders have turned into opportunists. We have lost the love for the people and political direction. We have fallen victims to flattery from imperialists and we no longer mind what happens to the people of Zambia or to their children’s future. We have lost our national objectives: we have lost the revolution, we have killed UNIP, it may be there in name, but it has no spirit and has no strength. It has no democratic principles and stands empty and stagnant. The whole leadership is corrupt. The nation has no discipline, neither has it got a disciplined party to carry out the revolution. Revolution demands sincerity, dedication, selflessness, devotion and pure sacrifice…’’
UPP was banned in order to pave way for UNIP’s one-party dictatorship. Even after being banned the phoenix-like UPP was causing sleepless nights within UNIP. For example, after former UPP members were disqualified from standing as UNIP candidates in Luanshya for the Roan-Mpatamatu Mine Management Board, they stood as independents and won, thereby proving the hold Mr. Kapwepwe’s party had in the country.
We at the tail-end of history are witnessing what Mr. Kapwepwe prophesied. An international organization, the National Citizens’ Coalition reported in Social Watch Report 2002: “When former President Chiluba took office from President Kaunda in 1991, the poverty rate was 56 per cent. When he left government, poverty had risen to upward of 80 per cent. Large-scale corruption had diverted resources meant for the people of Zambia, while they watched in sorrow and desperation as their country headed towards becoming the poorest in the world.…..Former Chiluba’s government was the most corrupt in the history of this country. Resources that should have been used to improve the people’s quality of life were misappropriated in grand corruption episodes..”
And on Mr. Kapwepwe’s assertion: ‘’We have fallen victims to flattery from imperialists and we no longer mind what happens to the people of Zambia or to their children’s future.’’ The Social Watch Report noted: ‘’A characteristic feature of Zambia’s poverty is that the government and the international institutions bred it. Zambia’s poverty did not just happen; it was caused.’’
The Zambian society is split into the minority class of economic winners who inhabit a cosmopolitan world of affluence and a growing underclass with little or no hope of economic ascent. A Catholic priest, Father Peter Henroit warned of ‘’Zambia moving towards economic apartheid…poverty is not just a political and economic issue, but also a moral problem which can segregate citizens on lines of the apartheid regime of South Africa. We had a problem of apartheid, which divided people on racial basis. We are moving towards economic apartheid in Zambia which can divide us on poverty lines..’’ (The Post 31st October 2004)
According to BBC Focus on Africa programme on12th April 2002, Zambia was counted among the ten most corrupt nations of the world. Corruption has produced a new breed of politically important middlemen, brokers and liaison officers since crooks know that it’s only through politics that they can become rich overnight through kick-backs on large international deals.
Isaac Chipampe wrote:
‘’Indeed after 1991, I saw few of the original wealthy people maintaining their riches. To the contrary, a new crop of wealthy people emerged. They never borrowed from financial institutions; they never discovered anything comparable to Bill Gates’ Microsoft; they never owned any business that had a workforce or machinery or even buildings to show for, and never invested in anything apart from being co-opted in government as political appointees. Government became their major source of wealth.’’
Chibamba Kanyama wrote: “One of my most serious challenges as a business journalist is to find entrepreneurs worth profiling. On the face value, it looks easy to find a man or woman to feature in a television programme. But there are not many people possessing the courage to discuss their businesses. Many know that their businesses have no business genealogy. A number of properties and assets have been acquired through corruption, drug trafficking and fraud. Simply put, they have no business story worth documenting.”
John Phiri sarcastically asked: “….which universities did these educated fools go to where they were given out degrees, masters and PhDs on how to plunder a nation’s funds.” The late Honurable Mundia Sikatana said, ‘’We are rotten as a nation.’’ (The Post 7th March 2003).
After the death of the colossus, the observer in a column of the Times of Zambia entitled ‘’New Chapter’’ vindicated Mr. Kapwepwe’s stand:
‘’In his 1971 speech, Kapwepwe came openly on what he felt about his tribal group. If he hadn’t left UNIP, he would have continued in power. The fact that he spoke openly is a measure of his honesty. He was a tough nut to crack, a restless and uncompromising fighter for rights…..Kapwepwe disliked anything that disturbed the people of Zambia and made them into virtual slaves. He was prepared to fight and die for Zambia. Kapwepwe’s best asset in colonial days was his worst liability after independence.’’
Mr. Victor Chisanga Ng’andu (later Senior Chief Nkula VIII) resigned as agriculture minister and he wrote to President Kaunda: ‘’I have been fighting my conscience for a long time and I thought things might improve in this government. The UNIP government has produced corruption and economic chaos. And I have no intention of being dishonest to myself, to you or to the people of this country.’’
Mr. Michael Chileshe, then District Governor for Choma said: ‘’Had we wanted, we would have remained silent in the corrupt government and would have been earning very large salaries, but there comes a time when silence means betraying your own kith and kin – so we quit.’’
The Davidson Nyambe Muttendango Commission
President Kaunda was at variance with Senior Chief Nkula (alias Dickson Mutale Chitabanta) of Chinsali District. Senior Chief Nkula grew up together with President Kaunda during their childhood at Chinsali. In the opinion of many people, Senior Chief Nkula stuck to traditional values which required President Kaunda to pay a courtesy call on him and not vice versa. Besides, the chief knew in detail the background of President Kaunda’s parents who came from Malawi. On the other hand, in an exhibition of power, President Kaunda suspended Senior Chief Nkula for being disloyal to him.
In March 1975, President Kaunda appointed a one-man Commission of Inquiry headed by Mr. Davidson Nyambe Muttendengo. The Report was presented in February 1976 to President Kaunda, but its contents were not publicly disclosed.
It was an inquiry into the question of the withdrawal of recognition accorded under the Chiefs Act to Dickson Mutale Chitabanta as Senior Chief Nkula of the Bemba people of Chinsali District, with the following terms of reference:
- Inquiry into the standing, among the people in his area, of Dickson Mutale Chitabanta, as Senior Chief Nkula, and in particular whether or not he has ceased to be entitled under African customary law to hold the office in respect of which recognition was accorded.
- Inquire whether or not the said Dickson Mutale Chitabanta is or has been loyal or respectful to Government and if not the reason or reasons prompting the same.
- Establish, where the said Dickson Mutale Chitabanta has been found to be or to have been disloyal or disrespectful to Government, whether he so acted on his own or jointly with others or in response to external influence, and where this is the case, identify the significance and sources of the said influence.
- Make specific recommendations, giving supporting grounds for the same, whether withdrawal of the recognition accorded to the said Dickson Mutale Chitabanta is necessary in the interest of peace, order and good government.
Article 95: The Commission found it convenient to deal with its findings or conclusions under four headings relative to its terms of reference as follows:
(1) Standing of Suspended Chief and Whether or Not He Ceased to be Entitled Under African Customary Law to Hold the Office of Senior Chief Nkula.
Article 96: The overwhelming view in the evidence received by the Commission was that unless the suspended Chief is stripped of his office by the Paramount Chief and the Bashilubemba, in consultation with other Bemba chiefs, he retains it, whatever action Government may take. In other words, he remains the keeper and guardian of the Babenye (tribal relics) with the right to be buried at Mwalule – a right which no Government appointed successor would enjoy.
Article 97: It is clear from the evidence received that Mr. Dickson Mutale Chitabanta has not ceased to hold the office of Senior Chief Nkula and that he will continue to be so until and unless the Paramount Chief and the Bashilubemba in consultation with all Chiefs decide otherwise.