Muhabi Lungu’s response to Post editorial

March 1, 2013

To all Fair Minded and Balanced Media Houses

And Other News Organization

Dear Sir/Madam


On Wednesday February 27, the Post News Papers run an editorial entitled “Zambians are Very Easy to Fool.” This editorial was an opinionated view of President of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, Nevers Mumba, on what he is alleged to have said during a radio programme while in Livingstone. In it, are contained a number of assertions, pointing out among others things that Nevers Mumba has no respect for Zambian people because he allegedly said Zambians are ‘so gullible and hence easy to fool.’ Based on this statement, the Post then went on to make a number of conclusions and make a plethora of propositions in order to draw a characterization of Nevers Mumba.

Before, I attempt to respond to the core conclusions and propositions, let me make the readers aware, that upon my reading the editorial comment, I called Mr Biven Salusaki, the managing editor of the Post News Papers, and indicated to him that I wanted to respond to some of the issues raised in the opinion and that it was natural justice and faire journalism practice for the paper to accord the subject of their editorial an equal and fair chance of putting forward their side of the argument. Mr Salusaki, agreed with my position and directed that I can either write to respond or can verbally respond to the said issues. That we would be given a fair chance of right of reply. He then advised that I call Ms Kombe Chimpinde, one of the Post reporters, who will be able to assist me. After having an agreement with Ms Chimpinde on the phone, I subsequently drove to the location of the Post Newspapers, had the discussion, and an undertaking was made to give our side of the story a fair and balanced representation.

Today, Friday, March the First 2013, two days after my meeting at the Post, the story that has appeared in the paper is far short of fairness. The story does not do justice to the core arguments I presented. In all fairness, I would like to congratulate Ms Chimpinde for making what I hope was an honest attempt. However, I am compelled to put the argument I presented to her in the next few pages in the belief that perhaps a second attempt can be made by the Post newspapers to fairly represent our views. I hope that my attempt at defending our position will not annoy the editorial staff of the Post to the extent that they shall never give me another chance at appearing in their newspaper again. If this were to happen, then I would be forced to conclude that those who most frequently put forward conclusions and propositions about others, in their opinionated editorials-without a fair chance for others to respond, obviously believe that their views are supreme, beyond scrutiny and carries a degree of infallibility. This would be most unfortunate.

Editorial Conclusions and Propositions.

The following were some of the conclusions and propositions made by the editorial comment:

  1. That because Nevers Mumba indicted that Zambians are gullible, there are therefore easy to fool and that consequently he has no respect for them and that this is why when he stood for the presidency in 2001, he scored very low votes.
  2. 2.      That Nevers Mumba has no principles, and will do everything to get his way, including accepting to be part of Mwanawasa’s Government, then applying to stand on  a Patriotic Front  ticket, as an MP, and finally managing to “weave his way into the top leadership of the MMD.”
  3. That Nevers Mumba is in the MMD leadership to protect Rupiah Banda’s interest and the Nevers has never made it a secret that he will defend Rupiah’s corruption. Consequently, That Nevers respect, faith and loyalty lie with Rupiah and not the Zambian People.
  4. That Nevers Mumba is himself gullible if he believes that he has the support of the Zambian people, as the only people he has around him are a few hungry mouths ready to go anywhere they can be fed. That ‘we are really fools who in our hearts of hearts are fully aware of our own intrinsic ignorance……’
  5. i.                    Removal of RB’s Immunity

In my discussion with Ms Chimpinde, I first began with the issue regarding ‘Rupiah Banda’s interest’ as itemised in number three above. I indicted to her that the whole editorial has a style and sentiment clearly provoked by the position Nevers Mumba and the MMD, as a party, has taken  on Rupiah Banda and particularly with regard to the suggest that his immunity should be removed. This seems to be the bone of contention in as far as the Post is concerned, and as is exemplified by the editorial of the Post a day earlier in which the clergy, and particularly Father Cleopus Lungu, who were attacked on their position held over the removal of immunity. I reiterated to her that the position of the MMD and that of Nevers Mumba remains strongly the same on the matter of removal of immunity. The MMD is of the view that first and foremost, no credible accusation or evidence has been adduced to suggest that any consideration of the removal of immunity should currently be considered. That if such evidence or credible accusation were to be put forward, members of parliament would be able to assess the weight and magnitude of the arguments and reasonably deliberate on the pros and cons of removing RB’s immunity. It is, however, undesirable for anyone to whip up public sentiment in the hope of encouraging Mob Justice and the neglect of the fundamental principles upon which our Jurisprudence is based.

Further, I pointed out to her, that the historical record in Zambia and elsewhere, in regard to issue of removal of immunity has been predicated upon political considerations and the desire of some selfish individuals to use the immunity question as a weapon to destroy perceived political enemies. That such pursuits are not only financially costly for the country but have a tendency of diverting attention from the failures of the government in power. Unless otherwise proved, that this second motive is the most compelling reason for those that are being used as surrogates to shout loudly regarding the immunity question. In concluding on this matter, I indicted that the respect, faith and loyalty of Nevers Mumba was to the due process of the law and the upholding of the integrity of the constitution and not to any individual person. Several other analogies were made, which for the moment, I will keep to myself.

  1. ii.                  Nevers Mumba has no principles because he has been in many parties and that he lost badly in 2001.

I indicted to the post, that rather than my denying the accuracy of such a proposition, it was more honest for me to point out, that very few politicians in Zambia, both at presidential and at parliamentary level have achieved great success by using one political vehicle or by stopping at one station. A number of examples were given. That although, this may not be the most desirable path,  if we take the example of their most favoured president, Mr Michael Sata, who was in UNIP until the dying hours of it losing power; who is perceived by a great many Zambian as being the driving force towards a change in the constitution to allow for a third term,  who is believed to have made every attempt and largely succeeded in driving out all his colleagues from the MMD in hope that he would be its leader, and that upon the failure of this plan, he then walked out and formed the patriotic front; Subsequently, losing three presidential contests before finally winning on the fourth attempt. I pointed out that in assessing each other, it was extremely important that we do not use different weights of measurement for different individuals. We must all be measured by the same set of criterion and must all play by the same set of rules. Candidate Nevers Mumba losing an election in 2001 is the same as Candidate Michael Sata miserably losing elections in 2001. What is import is that all of us who aspire to leadership learn from our mistakes and improve upon both our character and our strategies.

As to the assertion of managing to, “weave his way into the top leadership of the MMD.” I explained to the Post, that Nevers Mumba won an election at a Convention held within the confines of the constitution of the MMD. That all participants to the elections conducted, agreed to the rules and the format of the Convention, at which Nevers Mumba won both first and second round. The transparent nature of how the MMD has elected its presidents, is more than can be said as compared to other political parties and particularly the PF. Hence, it cannot be said that any one ‘weaved to the top of the MMD leadership’ as perhaps it can be said for other political parties.

  1. iii.                Zambians are Gullible and therefore easy to fool.

In regard to this assertion, I pointed out that Nevers Mumba did not say that all Zambians are Gullible but had indicated that some Zambians are gullible. Further, it was pointed out that this statement, of ‘some Zambian being gullible’ was used in a context of a discussion regarding false promises that were made by some political leaders who now are claiming that such promises were neither made nor where there time frame given for delivering them. A contextual discussion was taken out of its context and placed in a vacuum so as to justify the unfounded accusation that Nevers Mumba does not respect Zambian people. Much like the “useful idiots” saga, deliberately taking out of context words used by others in order to portray that the general public is being insulted, is a tactic used by deceptive people who often have very little regard for the audience for which they wish to deceive. In fact, it is often the case that it is they who are insulting the general public and not the other way round. So the “Zambians are very easy to fool” saga is a false accusation or at best a mischievous and dishonest interpretation.  Equally as false is the assertion or conclusion that one cannot have respect for a person one thinks is gullible. One of the several interpretations of gullibility is ‘innocence’ and there are many examples in the history of the world in which innocent people have been taken advantage of by powerful and dishonest people who are akin of labelling others as ‘fools.’ Ultimately, the protection of the innocent has always fallen on the shoulders of those who most respect the innocent and recognized that the innocent need to be protected from wolves clothed in sheep’s skin.

  1. iv.                That the only people around Nevers Mumba are a few hungry mouths ready to go anywhere they can be fed.

I had indicted to the Post that this assertion was totally false and in fact went completely counter to the wide coverage given to former National Secretariat of the MMD, Major Richard Kachingwe, who announced that Nevers Mumba had no money and was broke, and wanted the party to pay for his way; that the Post covered this story and reported it in such a manner as to lend credibility to it truthfulness when in fact inaccurate. I further pointed out that at no time did Nevers Mumba solicited for votes during the MMD convention on the basis that he was the most affluent of the candidates. That in fact there were, candidates who indicated that they should be voted for on the basis of their wealth and possible funding to the party, and that these candidates did not win. Obviously, the members of the MMD, including NEC members were not looking for a financier that would later claim to own the party. They were looking for a leader who would inspire them to collectively use their combined energies to redefine and reenergize the party. In short, the MMD is not a party belonging to Nevers Mumba or any other individual who is the chief financier and hence majority shareholder in a company or a kantemba. This is the reason the MMD has had four different president which are democratically elected and seek to promote the ideals of a free market and a society governed by democratic principles.   We in the MMD are all shareholders in a public listed organization called the movement for Multi-Party Democracy.

In my concluding remarks, I indicted that I respected the opinion as put forward by the Post even though I did not agree with it nor could I support its accuracy. However, it was important in a democracy that they have their view and express it, while will are allowed to have our view and equally be given the same chance to express it. Preferably we should be given the opportunity to express it in the same media platform the debate was initiated. I earnestly requested for a fair representation of the substance of our discussion and indicted that I was willing to trust. If, however, my trust was misplaced then next time I will trust, but verify. The action I have taken to put my thoughts on paper, and have them released in this manner, has been as a result of a misplaced trust, hence my attempt at verification.

Sincerely Yours

Muhabi Lungu

Communications Director in the office of the Party President & Member of the National executive Committee

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