When Father Frank Bwalya convened a conference at Buchi Hall in Kitwe dubbed ‘’Save Zambia Campaign’’ and made radical resolutions to embark on a nation-wide campaign against President Rupiah Banda’s government and the MMD, he expected immediate threats of arrests and protestations from the MMD.
When there was no threat of arrest, he couldn’t believe his luck.
The resolutions are an open demand for a regime change.
It is for this reason that the now expanded 11 Consortium of Civil Society Organizations are demanding for a security meeting with Minister of home Affairs, Lameck Mangani.
They hope that they would be allowed to conduct a revolution with the blessing of the law and with the blessing of a government that their campaign intends to topple!
Many might not see this campaign for what it is but Father Bwalya’s own resolutions provide a window to their veiled radical intentions.
And the hidden presence of the Catholic Church through its NGOs does raise eyebrows.
The resolutions call for the removal of President Rupiah Banda and the MMD from office for three chief reasons they allege;
- Tolerance for Corruption and President Rupiah Banda’s ‘’Political Marriage’’ with former President Frederick Chiluba
- Failure to enact a good Constitution and the need to abolish the National Constitution Conference (NCC)
- To remove the culture of bad laws such as the NGO Bill
The action by the CSOs is unprecedented as they are treading on dangerous grounds that are pioneering a regime change through methods of civil disobedience. The Orange Revolution in Georgia seems to be the template they are using where lawyers and members of NGOs embarked on a nation-wide campaign against authorities and eventually forced a government out of office and the early elections that ensued allowed their candidate to take over.
The forces aligned against the MMD are desperate for change of government. There is limited faith in the electoral process and individuals competing against President Rupiah Banda provide no discernible hope.
In 2006, there appeared to have been the greatest opportunity to beat the MMD at the elections. Many contend that Michael Sata beat Mwanawasa at the elections but Sata sold the Presidency to give in and give up to forces that he had antagonized; the British (with his Mugabe invitation), the Chinese (with threats of chasing them) and the Business and Corporate World (for his brash and anti business tendencies). This deal was brokered by political operator and veteran politician Alexander Chikwanda.
Although the PF/UPND Pact appear strong to take over power from the MMD, the campaigners hope that numerous activities should be embarked upon that strongly unite and rally citizens against the MMD so that this is made possible.
The 2008 elections provided for another window of change. But the MMD candidate Rupiah Banda was a man of superior qualities to their leader. He was affable, educated and promoted unity, reconciliation and peace. The Zambians, Business and the Donor communities loved and preferred Rupiah Banda to Michael Sata.
It is for this reason that the campaigns against Banda have since targeted the strong qualities that made him win the 2008 Elections.
A sustained campaign has been spearheaded that consistently depict him as corrupt, intolerant and a tourist to render him weak and unelectable at the next polls.
WHY THE RED REVOLUTION CAMPAIGN – Change (The MMD) or Die
The 2001 Green Ribbon Campaign (GRC) against Former President Frederick Chiluba was legal and successful for the simple reason that it sought to PROTECT the Constitution against possible selfish amendments.
This campaign instead, seeks to remove a legitimate and elected government from office using civil disobedience means. The methods might appear peaceful and harmless but history shows that they are very effective tools. The collective power of the people cannot be under estimated and is superior to any Constitution and the Law.
While the Green Ribbon Campaign sought to uphold the Constitution, this campaign aims at breaking it and breed an escalating crisis upon the nation where Banda’s government will be forced to call for an early election (while facing a Red Card) or weaken him so much that his image and that of the MMD will be synonymous with a Red Card at the 2011 Election.
So no one should fool anyone that a simple red piece of paper is harmless. The message crafted behind it, like any civil disobedience method is powerful and is mightier than a gun. The Message Father Bwalya and his colleagues are pursuing to implant on Zambians is that the MMD and their government is bad for you and ought to be removed. Father Bwalya’s own words are that Zambians should change (the MMD) or die!
So who do they want to replace the MMD with? Who do they want to replace Banda with?
Zambia is a Democracy. It has a scheduled election in 2011, why would CSOs embark on activities that are designed to undermine elections? Why would CSOs commence proceedings that might promote the break-down of the law if they are promoting good governance in the country?
The NCC has provided the greatest danger for them. They claim that the NCC has undermined and reversed the democratic process of Zambia.
The NCC might bar their candidate through the degree clause. The NCC has further weakened the Pact with their dismissal of the clause for the Running Mate. The NCC has also closed an opportunity for the Christian declaration (which the Catholic and their NGOs oppose) to be expunged from the Constitution. The NCC has refused to adopt gay rights and gay marriages. In their view, the NCC has also diluted fundamental rights of NGOs and other societies.
But should this be the cause for such a campaign that clearly borders on treason? Is the NCC and constitution making process so closed that it doesn’t provide an opportunity for dialogue, for amendments, or for debate? Yet the NCC has avenues for public debate beyond its members.
The NCC also stages such as the Referendum and Parliament legal and legitimate bodies to handle outstanding issues.
FATHER FRANK BWALYA
For Father Bwalya, the campaign is eliciting the very publicity methods he hoped for. He undertook a provocative method by targeting children lined up for a march on Youth Day to popularize the Red Card Campaign.
He knew that such an official function was the perfect place for a reprisal action from the State. The Police and other security wings will be widely present. And he got the very reaction he intended. He got a highly publicized arrest that showed him to be a victim of State harassment.
The State in this case should not arrest Bwalya for reactionary activities. If the Police intend to arrest anyone, their arrests should target the plotters of this campaign that intend to bring down a legitimate government.
The Police should not arrest citizens that are flashing red cards against government and its officials but arrest the plotters that intend to curtail the electoral calendar, the democratic process in Zambia and those that have plotted to undermine the law and order of this country.
DEMONTRATIONS, PROTESTS AND PUBLIC RALLIES
The campaign is designed to be ‘’peaceful’’ and legal. It will purport to be constitutional and follow the law while galvanizing citizens against the MMD. The leaders will be quick to disown flare up events (such as the stage managed Kitwe riots) such a campaign might elicit and escalate.
The Campaign is now moving into phase two. This phase will consist of Public Protests, Demonstrations and Rallies.
The leaders are even readying themselves for arrests. The arrest of father Bawalya and the ‘’support’’ he received has encouraged them to pursue this agenda with fervency. They intend to hold rallies, demonstrations and protests even without the cooperation of the Police.
The Civil Society Groupings have now grown from four to eight. This now include Change Life Zambia, Civil Society Trade Network, Citizens Forum, Caritas Zambia, Anti Voter Apathy, and Zambia Council for Social Development, Transparency International, and Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolutions, Forum for Democratic Process, and National Youth Association in the Fight Against Corruption.
The CSOs have notified the Police that they intend to hold a public rally on Saturday 27th March at Mutambe Grounds in Mandevu to publicize their intended goals.
The CSO feel that an opportunity has arisen that help them re-establish themselves and force a formidable movement on Zambians against the MMD.
This campaign by Father Bwalya and the forces that back him is illegal and is outside the realms of democratic activities. This campaign is aimed at clearly collapsing a legitimate and elected government using civil disobedience means. The CSO leaders are treading on a high wire and government should have no scruples to arrest them for the high crimes they are pursuing and slap the necessary charges on them.
The action by the CSOs brings the question of what the role of NGOs in Democracy in sharp focus. The CSOs in Zambia seem to be groping in the dark and in their firm belief that they ought to promote Good Governance are instead breaking the highest law in the land.
Anyone who threatens the peace, order and security of this country cannot be allowed to even if he is deftly clothing his criminal activities with lofty claims of ‘’constitutional rights and freedoms of association and expression’’.
You cannot break the Constitution using the Constitution! You cannot embark on a program whose sole purpose is to remove a legitimate and elected government and justify such an action because you are using peaceful means!
Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi and other proponents of civil disobedience and peaceful methods proposed such campaigns against dictatorships, illegitimate, tyrannical and illegal governments that subjugated its citizens and provided no forums such as elections for citizens to express and participate in civic and national affairs.
Why would Father Bwalya and his colleagues clothe their criminal activities against a government recently elected and is due for scrutiny in the 2011 Elections? Why don’t they take their wisdom to Opposition political parties who are mandated by law to contest for elections? Or more still why don’t they form their own their political party than risk the charge of treason with this action?