By Alfred A. K. Ndhlovu
The quarrel between The Post newspaper (a media house and institution) and Mr. Hakainde Hichilema (an individual and leader of the United Party for National Development-UPND) is sickening. It calls into question the nature and professionalism of Zambian journalism or specifically tabloid journalism of The Post newspaper. It is wrong for a newspaper to single out individuals to be criticized in the manner Mr. Hichilema has been singled out implicitly as an “enemy of The Post.” Former president, Rupiah Bwezani Banda was treated in the same way, but he was Head of State besides being a politician! The Post, as a media house, exists to provide a forum to all Zambians to express themselves in whatever manner they deem fit. The Post was not created, nor does it exist, for selfish individuals to use to destroy others, especially defenceless individuals. It is not only libel or slander which destroys the subject’s character and personality. Falsehoods, ill-will and negativity are equally harmful to one’s character and person.
I am very disturbed by repeated statements from The Post newspaper that Southern Province, an integral part of Zambia, has been reduced into a “Bantustan” because Mr. Hichilema’s UPND has its strong-hold there. Firstly, let me deal with the term, “Bantustan.” What does it really mean? Let me state from the start that the term is very derogatory and insulting. It was coined by the now defunct Racist Regime of South Africa which believed that Blacks were by God’s design, by nature, created to live simple and cheap lives and that because of this, they should be developed separately- APARTHEID. A “Bantustan” was thus an organized tribal entity devoid of Western Civilization. This is, perhaps, why the term has not entered the English Language vocabulary. I find it extremely offensive, demeaning and insulting to refer to any part of the Republic of Zambia to be like a “Bantustan.” It means in reverse that the other provinces of our country are either racial or tribal entities. The reporter or editor who allowed such a term to be used in that manner should be either a racist or a tribalist, or both. Why should a newspaper be so antagonistic to people who are entitled to choose what they want in the same way The Post newspaper chose to support the Patriotic Front up to today? It is said that “what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.”
Mr. Hichilema will not cease to be a Tonga. He was born like that and is full of what I personally and fondly call, “Tonga republicanism,” the “love of wealth and success”! Similarly, H. E. Mr. Michael C. Sata will not cease to be a Bisa, thus insulting him has the consequence of offending Bisa’s first and other Bemba speaking people. There is nothing tribal about stating these facts. In short, it is not tribalism. In fact, tribal cousinship which is very common in our country partly subsists on these differences.
Tribalism is largely defined by such factors as unfair conduct/treatment, nepotism (favouring relatives), bias against other ethnic groups and the dreaded term, “Bantustan” which The Post uses against the people of Southern Province.
Zambia is a land of migratory ethnic groups (or tribes), except for the Ila, Namwanga, Tonga and Tumbuka (in alphabetical order). These tribes have been in this part of the world from time immemorial. They did not come from Kola, Durban, Bulawayo or anywhere else. This is their land. It is perhaps because of this that they want a Tonga or Ila to share and participate in having one of them being Republican president of Zambia. I find nothing wrong with such an aspiration and ambition. It is normal and truly either an Ila or a Tonga from Southern Province can be president of Zambia sooner rather than later. It is not tribalism to raise such a specific political demand, after all Bemba’s have always wanted one of them to be president of Zambia through the late Simon Kapwepwe, Frederick Chiluba and now Mr. M. C. Sata. Nobody has said they hail from a “Bantustan”. Late Kapwepwe failed to make it. Late Chiluba and now Mr. Sata have succeeded. In fact, Mr. Sata’s renaming the Ndola International Airport as “Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe” smells of tribalism and nepotism. Suffice to say that late Reuben Chitandika Kamanga, Mathias Mainza Chona, Kapasa Makasa, the living Alexander Gray Zulu, Sikota Wina and many others may have contributed much more to the Zambia’s liberation struggle than Kapwepwe may have done. Simon Kapwepwe did not lead a political party before 1964. He belonged to the United National Independence Party- UNIP which Mainza Chona formed and invited and allowed Kenneth Kaunda to lead it. Since Zambia is a democracy, time will soon come to rename the Ndola International Airport to correct errors of judgment.
The suspicion between the Tonga speaking people and Bemba speaking people started in the 1950’s when the late Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula was abandoned in the African National Congress which he had led from 1952. Late Mainza Chona, a Tonga, played a key role in that breakaway, or political rebellion against the ANC. Chona, the first Black lawyer by profession in Nothern Rhodesia, was a unique person. He is the father of Zambian nationalism in word and deed as we know it today. Mainza Chona told me in his Mahachi Chambers at FINDECO House one day that the naming of the new party after breaking away from the ANC, which he said he had not joined, took into account three vital ingredients essential for the future of Northern Rhodesia: Unity, Nationalism and Independence. Thus, the party embraced the three in the United National Independence Party- UNIP in short. Chona stressed that the liberation struggle needed “Unity” and a spirit of “Nationalism” in order to achieve the cherished “Independence” of the country.
UNIP consequently executed the liberation struggle diligently and with determination. Secondly, Chona stated that leadership was also a factor. He said, “UNIP’s founding members had to persuade Kenneth Kaunda to lead it because Kaunda could at the time unify the party and propel the spirit of nationalism to the foreseeable ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ and preside over the nation with a strong moral character which Nkumbula and others like Kapwepwe did not have! Even your friend, Frederick Chiluba is not credible enough to lead Zambia. This precedent of having Chiluba as president of Zambia will give this country a problem of selecting good individuals to lead this country in future.” I did not pressurize Chona to go into details of his analysis. I simply asked him to write the wise ideas he expressed so that posterity could benefit from his wisdom in future. Sadly, Mainza Chona died prematurely, untimely death, before he was 70 years. His death robbed Zambia of a very valuable soul in the development of the country.
The question is: Why did the late Mainza Chona, Elijah Mudenda, Robinson Nabulyato and the living Daniel Munkombwe, Vernon Mwaanga and many other influential Southerners succeed to change the political fortunes of their province to UNIP or later to the Movement for Multi-party Democracy- MMD? The province was only with the MMD from 1991 to 2001.
Harry Nkumbula was a multi-partist throughout his life. His ANC refused to accept the one party participatory democracy which UNIP sought to introduce in the country. The reasons which UNIP advanced for the introduction of the one party state were flimsy, to say the least. UNIP argued that multi-partism was alien to Africa, political violence usually resulted into loss of lives and that people wanted peace which the one party system could guarantee. The ANC was proscribed in 1972 and Zambia became a one party state in 1973. Kapwepwe had formed a party which also was proscribed. The biggest loser was Nkumbula, a Southerner. He lost the ANC without compensation. He did not take up any ministerial position in the dispensation that followed, may be he did not even want to work in that arrangement. Kaunda later appointed Harry to head the Cattle Development Corporation which “Old Harry” turned down! This deepened the rift between the Tonga speaking people and their Bemba speaking counterparts in the country. It is the little things that matter in life. The Tonga speaking people have solidified themselves and think that they should have a turn to govern Zambia in the same way others have done.
Anderson Kambela Mazoka was a product of the MMD’s National Secretary’s resistance against his presence as a fully paid up member of the MMD through a branch in Bauleni. Mazoka went through unimaginable political tribulations which can only be explained as tribalism. I, personally, told one of his handlers to advise Mazoka to persevere and remain in the MMD! However, he decided to form the United Party for National Development in the late 1990’s in order to personally attempt to contest the 2001 presidential elections. Mazoka’s disillusionment with the MMD was clearly understood from the undercurrents. Mazoka hailed from a place called Muzoka, near Choma. He went to school locally and proceeded to Malole in Northern Province. He further studied in the USA. He lived in Kabwe when he managed former Zambia Railways. After leaving Kabwe he entered the corporate world in the private sector and lived in the Copperbelt Province for several years. Later in the 1980’s he became managing director of Anglo-American Corporation and lived in Lusaka. This rough resume indicates that Mazoka knew and understood Zambia well. The myth of Tonga tribalism was not part of Mazoka’s vision for Zambia. His credentials as a nationalist far outweighed petty tribal considerations. Mazoka run the 2001 tripartite elections campaigns remarkably well, in fact far much better than his main rival, the late Levy Patrick Mwanawasa of the MMD who was accused of withholding campaign resources for ulterior motives! Mazoka efficiently deployed campaign resources and popularized himself throughout the country. Mwanawasa scraped through with a 29% lead. Mazoka trailed with 28% which was an outstanding feat at the first attempt in politics after leaving the corporate world in the private sector. I have no doubt in my mind that the 2006 tripartite elections would have been won by Mazoka if he had lived beyond that year! That was what some projections had indicated.
After the death of Mazoka, the UPND had two challenges: Seeking a replacement for the deceased leader and later participate in looming tripartite elections. The party had very little time before the elections. Mazoka had three vice presidents; two from Northern Province and one from Western Province, but with political roots in Livingstone as Member of Parliament there. Ideally, one of these was supposed to be an obvious successor, all things being equal. The assessment of the three vice presidents was that none of them measured up to the level of their deceased boss in terms of intellect and wealth. The calls for a Tonga to succeed Mazoka were loud and clear to all and sundry. This meant that none of the three vice presidents could fit in late Mazoka’s shoes and that UPND would have to look elsewhere to find a Southerner who combined possession of both intellect and wealth. This is what defines what I have called elsewhere in this article, “Tonga republicanism.”
Tonga’s believe that a leader, even at village level, must have wealth, riches. Intellect alone is not acceptable. Tonga’s have no time and respect to be led by a pauper. Tonga’s are not the only ones in the world today who think like that. Americans, for instance, have the Republican Party which always sponsors rich Americans, in fact millionaires, for the presidency of the United States of America. Republicans such as Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush were wealthy American presidents of the USA in recent history. Contrast them with Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barrack Obama of the Democratic Party who are not so rich fellows but very intelligent whereas the former projected wealth first. Mr. Hichilema fitted very well in the republican expectation that he had both wealth and intellect which was why he beat the former vice president of UPND to lead the party from 2006. Being a Tonga was the last consideration in the equation. The Post journalists must learn to live with Tonga’s instead of insulting them through Mr. Hichilema. One day soon a Tonga will lead Zambia as president.
Zambia is a multi-party democracy. I emphasize this because there are some countries which call themselves as “democracies” but fall far too short of the normal practices and traditions which underpin true democracies such as the USA, India, France, South Africa and many others. North Korea, for instance, calls itself the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea- DPRK, when in fact it is a tyranny, or a family estate. The factors that define a true democracy are many. The first in line are the famous FREEDOMS which the people as a whole must enjoy without discrimination or hindrance. These freedoms are paramount and form the basis of human rights.
The Patriotic Front was not elected with a landslide victory on September 20 2011. It was 60, 55, 28, 3 +2. The PF candidate for Speaker of Parliament won the election by one vote. This is democratic language which should be interpreted wisely as the message from the Zambian people. Zambians do not want any dictatorship even when giving them what they want! There is need for building consensus in doing all progressive programmes for this country. I found it strange and much more shocking to learn that the president one day woke up and renamed three international airports at Livingstone, Ndola and Lusaka. Did his cabinet discuss that matter and were the people’s views and opinions sought in accordance with democratic practices and traditions? He went further to rename a new stadium in Ndola and a hospital in Lusaka arbitrarily. Why did an elected president of the Republic act in this manner? A democratically elected president should not take the Zambian people for granted just like that! This is similar to what former president Rupiah Bwezani Banda did by authorizing putting his portraits `on billboards of government development projects. By this act alone, Banda was actually building a personality cult which has no place in a democracy! I, even as a member of the MMD, strongly objected to that type of scheme. Mr. Sata will have to convince fellow Zambians that Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula and Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe contributed immeasurably to the freedom struggle in Northern Rhodesia. Harry Nkumbula did not become president of Zambia, let alone minister after independence in 1964, so why the honour? May be blinding the Tonga people, perhaps! I think that honour should be reserved for a Tonga or Southerner who will actually be president of Zambia! Kapwepwe, no, no, no! Why not Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba or Michael Sata himself? I have similar reservations about the Ndola Stadium and Lusaka District Hospital; Levy Patrick Mwanawasa was already honoured by the bridge in Luapula Province.
The land mass of the Republic of Zambia measures just under 755,000 square kilometers. The average for nine provinces is 83,889 sq km. For ten provinces, it is 75,500 sq km. 50,334 sq km is the average for fifteen provinces. I should state that our provinces are unequal in terms of area. Luapula, Copperbelt and Eastern provinces are strips.
The population of Zambia is 13 million citizens. The average population per province of the current nine provinces is 1,444,445 people. It is 1,300,000 citizens for ten provinces and 866,667 citizens for fifteen provinces.
Zambia has qualified Cartographers and Demographers who must be consulted to demarcate Districts, Provinces and Game Reserves (National Parks). There is everything queer and strange for an elected president to wake up one day and declare a place, “Muchinga Province.” Doing government work is largely slow by tradition because of the processes of consultations with stakeholders and professional references to statutes and documents.
It is exciting to hear and learn that the Sata Regime does things or works in 30 days, 90 days 120 days and will build three international standards universities in 24 months! My research on the subject of universities reveals that one such university needs at least US $3 Billion cash to start with. The University of Zambia may need a similar sum to complete the infrastructure development which has lagged behind over the years. If we have US $12 Billion cash available, the works can commence. Let it not be “…easier said than done..,” as the old adage says!
State House, together with the Lundazi Castle Hotel in the Eastern Province, was built before 1935. This means that State House is over 75 years old. Lusaka became the Capital of Northern Rhodesia in 1935. Zambia was born in 1964 and inherited State House which was the official residence of the Governor of Northern Rhodesia. The Governor was not Head of State! He headed the colonial government of Northern Rhodesia through the Colonial Office in London. By a queer and strange British colonial practice and tradition, the Governor was not even a Very Important Person- VIP! Surely, Zambia needs to build and improve the outlook of our State House as a supreme institution of the land. It needs to be redesigned in order to cope with technological demands of the day. I find it strange that a person can stand up and say that there is no need to build and improve State House, citing poverty as a reason for failing to do so. Poverty in Zambia should not be an excuse to justify failure to improve important government infrastructure such as State House, Supreme & High Courts, Cabinet Office, Parliament Buildings, etc. A legendary friend of the poor, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, actually said, “…the poor will always be with, and among, you…”
The USA has the largest economy in the world. It is also the richest country. With a population of around 300 million inhabitants, the USA has 45 million Americans who are absolutely poor. This is 15% of the population. Can America suspend development initiatives in order to bail out the 45 million absolute paupers? In fact, Republicans have already warned president Barrack Obama not to “misdirect” government resources! Americans generally believe that the best person to discard poverty is the poor person himself or herself through private initiative and enterprise. Handouts to the poor are not permanent solutions.
Poverty is a dreaded phenomenon. Zambia is actually a rich country. It has many natural resources which people can use to create wealth and become rich. The question is, why should some Zambians wallow in poverty? The presentation of the state of poverty in this country is muddled up. Agents, or stakeholders, who are supposed to fight poverty in Zambia, are the non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), the Church as a whole and the poor people themselves. However, the insinuation and expectation that government must fight poverty is misplaced. Government is a consequential fighter of poverty in the sense that its main responsibility and job is to build the economy so that citizens can be employed. Even when people are employed, they can still be poor. In fact, many of Zambia’s poor people are employed in menial jobs where they are paid “peanuts”!
If poverty in Zambia is estimated at 75%, 9.75 million of the 13 million Zambians are poor. If it is put at 65%, then 8.45 million are poor. A total population includes children, very old citizens, invalids, etc. This means that the presentation of statistics must be thorough. If children outnumber older folks by a ratio of 1:4, it means that out of the 13 million, 10.4 million are children who depend on the labours and earnings of 2.6 million older folks. This means that the economy must have 2.6 million good and well paying jobs besides 260,000 classrooms of 40 pupils each to occupy the children in schools, colleges and universities. Accordingly, the 75% and 65% poverty estimates mean that 1.95 million and 1.69 million Zambians of the 2.6 million respectively are poor. This also means that 650,000 and 910,000 respectively are out of the scourge and danger of poverty. The National Office of Statistics is supposed to present accurate figures of these essential statistics. For a change, let us emphasize creation of rich people per year!
In conclusion, I ask the question, why demonize Mr. Hakainde Hichilema? I have not spoken to him nor is he my friend, but surely, why demonize him? I have not heard him appearing in any court of law to answer any charges of impropriety. I have not heard him extol Southerners above other ethnic groups. He did not form the UPND but inherited it from somebody else. A Bemba pal of mine told me jokingly after Justice Ireen Mambilima announced the presidential election results on September 22, 2011, “…mbuya, we have defeated you…” I replied, “…thank you. There is 2016 ahead.” Was this tribalism? The Post newspaper should leave HH alone to build and articulate the UPND vision.