By Austin Mbozi
Excuse me this week. Let me explain what I believe in and my background of political commentary and associations. Sorry, it may bore you. I too don’t like talking about my self because there is really nothing significant about me. But I am forced because some readers question my ‘biases’; others my tribal ‘hatreds’ or preferences. But to some allegations, unless the bloggers reveal their true identities, I will not respond. For example one blogger, trying to kill my moral after finding it hard how to debate with me, (typical of the majority of PF small minds) went as far as lying that I went mad while at UNZA and ended up at Chainama! Well, say anything. I have really nothing to lose in this world; that is why you won’t find me smartly dressed. I don’t eat a good reputations or being liked. I eat justice. Bring facts. Then we can talk.
After this article, I hope in future you will judge my articles or discussions in the light of my mental paradigms which I will explain below. The questions you have usually asked about me appear as Blogger. My replies appear Socrates SOA (Son of Andrew Mbozi).
On risking my job
Blogger: Don’t you fear losing you job for attacking the PF government the way your friend Clayson Hamasaka was fired from Evelyn Hone College?
Socrates SOA: Was I employed by PF? Am I paid PF money? Which PF character knows what I know for them to employ me when even President Sata said in parliament that he had no degree despite Wynter Kabimba before elections claiming that Mr. Sata had two degrees? Anyway, anyone who fires me will do me favor so that I go back to my Namayani village. I don’t like this chi-town of yours where dishonestly is the order of the day.
Blogger: You don’t fear losing your job? What of your children?
Socrates SOA. You my children! What more do you want? You are already lucky that I brought you up here in town. If I had begotten you up from my Namayani village would you have eaten those crisps? Would you not have been eating imbula instead? I came to town by sheer accident. From grade one; my role model was a mere local village LINTCO cotton buyer. All the village tu myooye (young ladies) seemed to swallow saliva for him. He rode a motorcycle while serving part-time as village secretary to headman Shandiongo. Being in town is a bonus to me really. There mere fact of living in a malaiti house gives me a ka status which I never had in my wildest of dreams. Yet, in my village they call me bai baba mai (teacher of teachers). I am simply happy and not any more ambitious.
On Bemba ‘hating’
Blogger: In all your articles you write as though you hate Bembas. Why?
Socrates SOA. If those accusing me of hating Bemba people discovered that my own children have their mother from Northern Province, they would wish they were tortoises so that they pull their heads in their shells to hide embarrassment. Produce the article that ever stated I hated Bembas. Why did you not say I hated Tongas when I wrote in the Post against Tonga fundamentalists who insisted that only a Tonga should rule UPND? Why would I hate Bemba’s?
They have never conquered or ruled by Lenje-Tonga tribe. They don’t even threaten my existence in Namayani since they don’t generally thrive to grab my farming land. Linguistically, they have not dominated Lusaka with their Bemba language and will never dominate my Lenje and Tonga languages.
Even if Sata, the worst tribalism to ever ascend to the presidency, is favoring them in terms of appointments or channeling resources to their region, I don’t see how this will make the majority of them more economically viable than me personally. I only attack tribalist Bembas, who do not want to vote for other tribes, who support the tribalist Sata and don’t want to speak non-Bemba languages. Lusaka-bred Bembas generally don’t have these bad attitudes. We speak Nyanja with them and in my village we all speak Lenje/Tonga with them. They ran my football club and they manage my kama plot.
Principles of fairness and justice entails that all tribes must have equal access to language rights, state economic resources and access to state power. Many Bembas are using their numerical power to bully others to speak Bemba and since independence they always voted for a party headed by a Bemba.
Now Sata is the worst tribalist but they are supporting him. Don’t they know that Sata is putting them at risk and damaging their good Bemba name? I want them to join progressive and civilized forces in this country and disassociate themselves from this old man; the way Chanda Chimba tried to do. This is the true Bembaness I cherish.
I will attack every tribe that wants to dominate other tribes.
Throughout my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the Zambia people. I have fought against Bemba domination and I have fought against Tonga or Lozi domination. I have cherished the ideal, of a free and fair society in which every tribe; race and culture shall live in peace and harmony. It is an ideal which I hope to live for in the remaining days of my life. And it is an ideal for which, if needs be, I am prepared to die.
On UPND love
Blogger: We thought you were UPND? Yet in your last article you had the audacity to say you would only be voting for UPND for the first time in 2016?
Socrates SOA: Yes, I have held a UPND card after Mazoka lost the 2001 elections because I was out of the country in Ireland for studies when he stood. In the 2006 elections I stayed away from voting for any party as a protest. I had applied to stand as councilor on UDA. But the same UNPD ward official, whom I handed my application to, Never Muyoya, decided not to submit my application and got himself adopted instead without holding any primary elections.
Blogger: What of 2011?. Who did you vote for?
Socrates SOA: I voted for RB as President, Derrick Chakaina as Independent MP and voted for myself as Independent councilor.
Blogger: Is that not indiscpline? And you call yourself a UPND member?
Socrates SOA: Well, at that time we thought the ones who behaved undemocratically undisciplined were UPND NEC. Honorable Jonas Shakafuswa had resigned from UPND to join MMD prior to the 2006 elections and called us UPND members names and tried to dismantle UPND structures. We remained in UPND, nursing it with Derrick Chakaina.
Then suddenly Shakafuswa was booted out of MMD by the Rupiah Banda administration and went back to UPND. He lost the primary elections to Chakaina. I won the primaries myself as councilor. But UPND still adopted him. Personally I eventually understood the UPND management situation, since he was the incumbent. So I was quite ready to work with him. But disappointingly, he abused his power as an adopted candidate and removed my name from the councilor’s UPND candidates even when I won the primary elections! So, I and Chakaina stood as Independents.
We divided up Shakafuswa’s UPND votes and made him lose the elections. He learnt a lesson and I am happy. I am feeling makalaka maka grubbe, to use comedian Diffikoti’s phrase. I am even surprised that in my ward I come second to MMD, beating Shakafuswa’s hand-picked councilor candidate.
Now I think, after similar incidences countrywide, UPND is likely to amend these issues and we will vote for the party in 2016.
Blogger: But if you were frustrated to ward level why did you vote for RB as president and not HH, even if even you stood as independent?
Socrates SAO: Simple. I wanted to add to RB’s vote so that Sata, the incompetent tribalist, fails to win the presidency. As I said in my last article I was opposed to the PF-UPND alliance. When it broke up I wrote a lengthy proposal for a possible UPND-MMD alliance; roughly along the lines which Professor Clive Chirwa wrote for the UPND-PF one. My argument was that UPND needed a partner because it would not win the elections because of tribal voting patterns and because of the presence of MMD’s RB. MMD was a lesser evil. But when this was ignored I tried to save Zambia from the current PF embarrassment by voting RB.
Blogger. But why can’t you advise UPND secretly? Why wash dirty linen in public?
Socrates SOA. But if you have no private tap, can’t you wash dirty linen at the only pubic tap? If you have no access to politicians’ audience privately, you advise them publicity through the media. I tried that before and it did not work. That MMD-UPND proposal was private. Not a single person in UPND or MMD ever asked me to discuss the proposals. Instead, we ended up in fierce arguments with some of those who saw it. They argued, from no data at all, that UPND would win those national elections alone. Besides writing publicly helps one read public opinion, like my last article on Watchdog did. Anyway, I will try private advice in future. People need not have to agree with all proposals but at least now UPnD are showing openness to diversity of views unlike in the past.
On neutral writing
Blogger: As a writer, why can’t you be neutral, not supporting Sata or UPND?
Socrates SOA: Show me any neutral writer in the world. Even journalists only report stories that favor their editorial policy. Forget that idealistic crap they teach about media neutrality in journalism or Mass Communication schools. A human being cannot be interested in politics but still be neutral! He can be useless! What you should be asking for is media plurality, not neutrality. Ask the Watchdog editors to be publishing articles that attack my opinions so that the blogger chooses the correct view. Not asking me to give a view and then attack it myself! Would I be normal.
On HH as a person and leader
Blogger: What do you think about HH as leader?
I have always thought that he had the best credentials around. But I had reservations with his campaign strategy. I think now, especially after he announced that UPND has stopped alliances after Mufumbwe, he has found a workable approach and he is worthy backing. When he joined the UPND party presidential race in 2006, I wrote two articles in The Post requesting him to stand as Vice President, and let Sakwiba try as president. My proposal was that if Sakwiba failed to win the UDA presidency then HH could have taken over. This was to prevent UPND from being abandoned as a tribal party, especially given some public calls that a Tonga should take over.
I believe that to avoid tribal tensions the Republican Presidency must move to regions that have never held it. This does not necessarily have to be Southern Province; since it’s not only southern that has never held the presidency. At that time in 2006, Western, Northwestern and Eastern had not had it. This time around, it’s only Western, Southern and Northwestern that have never help the Presidency. Since Western and Northwestern provinces as at now have not yet mobilized a candidate capable of challenging the national presidency I believe people can back UPND, where HH is already has huge support.
I think if the presidency rotates around the provinces just once, people from all regions can reduce on preferring voting for leaders from their tribe. As Luapulans realized during Chilubas rule, Lenje/Lambas during Mwanawasa’s rule and Easterners during RB’s rule, all Zambians will realize that apart from the sheer pride, having a president from your region does not necessarily lead to his/her tribe being better off than other tribes; unless of course the president abuses his powers to promote his tribe like President Sata is doing. So after a round, people can all vote for quality and not tribe.
I also believe in tribal balancing of appointments. If today a party were to assume power and sideline the Bemba speaking people in appointments or stop them speaking their language in their regions, I would be the first to oppose it.
So whatever I write or say in future, see my view as coming from a multiculturalist; a person who believes in co-existence among all races, languages and ethnic groups on the basis of economic, opportunity and cultural equality.