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IMF and Zambia, 30 Years Again, by Gabriel C Banda

 

Zambia and IMF, 30 Years Again

By

Gabriel C Banda

MAY 2017 has been exactly thirty years after Zambia broke away from a harsh IMF-World Bank economic “Structural Adjustment Programme.”

In May 1987, President Kaunda announced that Zambia’s government was stopping the IMF, International Monetary Fund, Structural Adjustment Programme. It had been harsher than expected.

There had been much suffering. The quality of life of most people had worsened. Malnutrition had increased. Many persons had died due to the conditionalities. There was social tension. Riots related to food prices had occurred in December 1986. From the food protests and riots, some persons had died.

Women and children were particularly affected by the harsh conditions. Dr Kaunda had started off hopeful about the IMF programme but the nation had found it very destructive. Some gains made from independence on basic needs for all were being reversed.

Shylock

The debt conditions were like those of Shakespeare’s Shylock, who insisted on taking both flesh and blood, the lifeline, as debt service. Taking flesh and blood would kill the borrower.

Dr Kaunda announced that Zambia would embark on its own Economic Recovery Programme. The programme would be a “home grown” one sensitive and relevant to the local situation. It would be more friendly and at a stable pace.

Debt repayments ratios would be reduced so that Zambia had something for meeting basic needs instead of servicing debt to IMF, World Bank, and creditors at high ratios to national income.

Alternative

IMF, World Bank, and their allied institutions and governments, including Sweden and Norway, the Nordic normally friendly to Dr Kaunda and Zambia, were unhappy about Zambia breaking away from the IMF programme. They said there was no alternative to the harsh IMF-World Bank programme.

Although Zambia made some gains in its own economic programme, IMF and creditors came down very heavily on Zambia’s government. Sanctions were imposed on Dr Kaunda’s government.  Zambia did not have support from other debtors and partners and was thus compelled to get back to an IMF programme.

At that time, the economic powers were not as now and IMF and allies dominated and controlled the much of the lending and debt of many nations.

Riots

Under IMF and World Bank dictatorship, the economic adjustment programme continued to be harsh, leading to further food riots and deaths in June 1990.   As a result of suffering and discontent arising from the IMF programme, in June 1990, there was a coup attempt. The coup attempt failed but things were never the same again in politics and economics.

By the October 1991 elections, Dr Kaunda’s UNIP left office, letting in the MMD government of Frederick Chiluba. As in other places, an IMF programme had led to regime change. IMF was interested in governments that would follow its economic programme, however harsh the effects of the imposition.

From late 1991, the MMD government deeply embraced IMF. Again, for most people, poverty increased.

The IMF aggressively tried to promote private business and control and undermine public enterprise. Public enterprise can be through projects like state owned parastatals and cooperatives.

Yet for the health of a society, we believe that both private and public enterprises are necessary and must respect each other. There must be fairness for both business and members of the public. It is healthy to nourish both individual creativity and public enterprise.

Decline

The IMF economic policies of the 1990s led to the decline of local industries, enterprises, and formal sector employment. Local economic production was being dismantled in a de-Africanisation process.

Zambia became a market for externally produced goods, much from a South Africa just making its transition from apartheid. All sectors of society were greatly affected. And Zambia’s external debt was still very high.

These effects also happened in other places, and continents, the IMF programme was imposed in. Poverty increased. Many persons died. The quality of life declined. The integrity of society and life itself were greatly affected.

Regime Change

And there was regime change, with those getting into office being pro-big business and pro-IMF.

A global campaign against debt conditions helped Zambia and other governments with some relief in debt service. Key amongst the campaigners against debt conditions and unfair debt service was the Jubilee movement. Church and Civil Service Organisations and NGOs were major drivers of the world-wide Jubilee campaign.

Thirty Years, Now

Now, May 2017, exactly thirty years after President Kaunda’s courageous but foiled attempt to move away from a harsh IMF programme, and years after the success of the anti-debt campaign, Zambia and IMF have been preparing for an IMF economic programme.

Lessons Ignored

The lessons of Zambia and many governments of the world over the years are being ignored. Even more recent is the example of Greece, which has had huge difficulties with IMF and creditors.

Over the past two years, there have been discussions and preparations for an agreement. Signs can be noted with the recent, May 2017, introduction of IMF insisted increase in energy tariffs.

World Bank and IMF have already penetrated, and now influence, electricity production enterprises, such as members of the Southern African Power Pool, and energy regulator members of the regional RERA, Regional Electricity Regulators Association, Southern Africa.

World Bank has some projects in these, thus, as an opponent within, devouring and influencing things from within, moving the energy sector towards the IMF and World Bank vision. As before, World Bank and IMF use institutions, agents, and networks within countries to influence things in some desired direction, even if it is against the interest of the Common Good.

                                              Silent

Whereas Civil Society members were critical before and fought for the Common Good, they have now, as with “regulators,” been penetrated by IMF and World Bank. Some receive funds and resources from World Bank or associates of World Bank. Our Brothers and Sisters are now silent as IMF moves against the public.

More serious, they sometimes have voiced support for the IMF and World Bank programmes. They will also say, falsely, that there is no alternative to the programmes and to funding.

Foothold

Meanwhile, to get some foothold, World Bank has needlessly provided government with grants and loans for projects governments can do by themselves or find alternative sources with fair conditions.

The influence of IMF and World Bank will lead societies towards a vision of big business and business leaders controlling governments and politics. For Zambia, this will lead to the pre-1924 situation, where big business ran the country.

Again, after the experiences of Zambia and others, at this time when there ARE alternatives to IMF programmes and resources, why should Zambia go back to Shylock? After surviving Shylock, why would someone agree to go back to Shylock and the knife that will devour both blood and flesh?

Negative Enterprise

Sadly, Zambia’s Finance Minister Felix Mutati has expressed confidence in an IMF programme. He says it will be home-grown. This may turn out to be a naïve, even if innocent or sincere, approach.

One is not sure Felix Mutati has appreciated the tactical complexity of the IMF and World Bank negative enterprise.

I do not think Greece, from their current experience, and others would agree that IMF and creditors will allow a programme that deviates from the IMF script and template.

We wonder if IMF will allow Zambia’s government to change things according to the way things are turning out.

Future Generations

For some $1.6 billion only, the welfare and harmony of Zambia’s people and future generations are likely to be sacrificed to Shylock.

Felix Mutati should realise that, trying to deliver Zambia to IMF, he will bear responsibility for the harsh effects of the IMF programme on the society, now and in future.

From the IMF programme, what might develop in Zambia? The possibilities are that there will be hardship on the wider society. Increased energy tariffs will lead to higher costs of goods and services for the public. The various economic conditions will lead to difficulties in various sectors of life. People will be unhappy with the government.

Because of the effects of the IMF programme, the position of President Edgar Lungu and his administration will be shaky as 2021 elections approach. Some candidates favourable to IMF, World Bank, and big business will become prominent on the scene.

Those men and women may emerge from within the ruling PF party, the government, from other political parties, or from other sectors, such as business and finance.

BSA

The desired IMF-World Bank programme direction will be towards Zambia as at the time of BSA Company, although in some other forms but under the same principle of control of politics by big business. Yet there are alternatives to IMF and its negative programmes.

In May/early June 2017, when the attention of most Zambians was on the Under-20 soccer World Cup event in Seoul, South Korea, and where the Zambian team was heavily rated, the IMF team came into Zambia towards finalisation a loan agreement.

In March 2017, the IMF team also came around when people were busy on the Africa Under-20 tournament in Lusaka.

Reversing Africa’s advances

Now, the month of May enables people in Africa to pause and deeply reflect on Africa’s freedom struggles. To fix some IMF deal that reverses Africa’s advances and compromises the future is of concern.

Thirty years later, in 2017, the experiences of the government of Dr Kenneth Kaunda, other places, and the Jubilee Campaign should not be in vain.

*     Gabriel C Banda, May 2017, LUSAKA

The Author is independently involved in Writing Arts, Social Development, and observation of Conflict and Peace processes.

Following below, we share some more detailed writing we have previously done and published, among many others, on Zambia and its relationship to IMF and World Bank programmes. “IMF and Zambia, Mission March 2017,” came out on WordPress.com, at gabrielbanda.wordpress.com.

 

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IMF and Zambia, Mission March 2017

by

Gabriel C Banda

WHILE many people have their attention focused on the Africa Under 20 soccer tournament taking place in Zambia, the IMF team has come back to Lusaka, seeking agreement over financing Zambia’s government.

As before, the arrival of the International Monetary Fund team will have great implication on Zambia’s economy and the current and future quality of life of Zambia’s people.

It will also enable us to understand how much has been learnt, or not learnt, or even unlearnt, from the experiences Zambia has had, over the decades, with IMF and its twin sister, or brother, the World Bank. It will show how much institutional and collective memories are utilised, or not utilised, in dealing with current issues. It will also reveal IMF and World Bank tactics.

                                                     World Bank, 1950s

Zambia’s relationship with the World Bank was already there in the 1950s, before independence, when Zambia was still Northern Rhodesia and neighbour Zimbabwe was Southern Rhodesia. There were some farming programmes supported.

But the big one, in 1955, was also one of the biggest in the world. This was the joint Southern Rhodesia-Northern Rhodesia Kariba Dam and hydro-electricity project, put on the Zambezi River bordering the two territories, and opened 1959. Kariba was then the biggest financing ever by the World Bank in the world.

There was a better site, at Kafue Gorge, in Zambia, yet a very costly and environmentally and socially damaging Kariba project was preferred. In 2017, close to sixty years after opening, Zambia and Zimbabwe began programmes, externally financed, to pay for the rehabilitation of the Kariba Dam wall.

(We have already written about the IMF and Zambia’s energy programme and how the World Bank, to support Zambia’s dependence on Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, tried to prevent Zambia building the Kafue Gorge power station and, just after 2000, IMF and World Bank prevented Zesco from building some electricity generation projects, thus contributing to the vulnerability recently experienced, in 2015/2016, due to low rainfall.

IMF and World Bank are trying to promote and impose energy sector arrangements that are unstable and are costly for users. Throughout the region and beyond, IMF and World Bank have promoted, and are actually imposing, some invalid basis for the increase of household electricity tariffs).

                                                                Enter IMF

While the relationship with World Bank was earlier, Zambia’s membership of the IMF began in September 1965, shortly after Independence, October 1964.

For many years, the Zambian government did not borrow from IMF. From its own programmes following independence, Zambia had made advances in various basics, like education and training, health, and infrastructure. Quality of life increased. Life expectancy increased. Much of the resources were from Zambia’s own, with some support from partners in the West and the East.

While independent Zambia had some few helpful projects financed by World Bank on basics like shelter and schools, the first IMF lending to Zambia was linked to balance of payment pressures brought about by the Zambia-Rhodesia border closure of January 1973.

                                                                  Southern Africa struggles

Zambia, supporting independence and freedom movements in Southern Africa, was then implementing various international sanctions on neighbouring Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa. Zambia, with its big development programmes, had its economy greatly affected by the impact of the struggles for independence and freedom.

Apart from the effects of the freedom struggles in Southern Africa, Zambia was in the 1970s affected by increase in price of fuel imports. The Arab-Israeli war of October 1973 had effects on the worldwide price of petroleum. Zambia also had reduced income due to low copper prices. Zambia’s balance of payments was thus by the various factors affected.

Zambia then took its first IMF facility, of 19 million SDR (Special Drawing Rights) soft conditions loan. This was equivalent to K14.75 million Zambian currency or US $22.92 million. (The Kwacha was then stronger than the US dollar).

Then in the mid-1980s, an IMF Structural Adjustment Programme came into effect. It was meant to help pay external debt and harsh “austerity” conditions were put into place. President Kaunda pleaded for patience from the public, saying the sacrifice from austerity would lead to things getting better.

                                                                  Conditions

The IMF market forces and commercialisation programme came with particular conditions that restrained various activities. There were measures that liberalised the finance environment. Subsidies and public spending were reduced or removed. State firms were to be privatised.

Wages were frozen.  As a way of reducing costs in public service, retrenchments were done and retirement age brought forward to 55 years. Workers in government, councils, and parastatal enterprises were retrenched. Staffing establishments were reduced. These measures were to later affect institutional memory and capacities in many fields.

Schools and other institutions had maintenance staff laid off.  Councils had their staff reduced. Some important fabric components like Community Development and garbage collection were eventually reduced and even disbanded.

(The reduction of council capacities contributed to the 2017 situation were households are throwing garbage within their premises and residential areas because the commercialised and privatised garbage system is not working well for most.

Before commercialisation, garbage collection fees were added to the rent and councils, who provided the garbage service, were generally performing better in that than what is happening now. Garbage collection is a Common Good that cannot be easily carried out just by profit motivation).                             

                                                              Surgeons not Butchers

But by 1987, in Zambia, the IMF medicine, or surgery, was destroying the patient!  A true surgeon is not a butcher.  And a butcher is not a surgeon.

Thus, in May 1987, due to the worsening negative effects, President Kaunda, to prevent further destabilisation of the society, announced that Zambia was breaking away from the IMF programme while still remaining a member of the organisation.

Dr Kaunda said there was to be a home-grown alternative programme. The local “New Economic Recovery Programme” was in place in 1988. Some advances were made. But IMF, World Bank, and allied governments and institutions said there was no alternative to their killing medicine and surgery and imposed sanctions.

Through sanctions and pressures by IMF, World Bank, and allied governments, President Kaunda’s government was in 1989 forced back to some IMF programme relationship.

The hardship continued. In June 1990, with riots as a result of the IMF programme’s impact on food and basic needs, there was a coup attempt.

President Chiluba’s government that followed in November 1991 was more open and willing towards the IMF programme. In the 1990s, the programmes created much hardship in the general population.

The impacts of the 1980s and 1990s still live on in Zambia now and are in our lives in various sectors. Dubious “Health Reforms” led to the exclusion of many persons from health services and death and suffering of many persons. Maternal deaths increased. Malnutrition increased. Life expectancy declined.

                                                              HIV and IMF

The combination of IMF economic Structural Adjustment imposition with the emergence of HIV and AIDS had deadly impact.

                                                         De-industrialisation      

As in other places of the world where IMF imposed its measures, as a result of the programme, and by intention of the programme, employment in the “formal” sector reduced. The programmes led to some de-industrialisation of some societies and de-Africanisation of enterprise ownership.

                                                                Cohesion

Apart from many persons dying as a result of the measures, many persons and families went into material decline and poverty. Social stability was shaken. And social tension increased. Social cohesion was put under pressure and declined.

Many persons died as a result of the IMF measures. Protests and riots happened, with violent deaths arising. The combination of SAP measures nourished corruption.

The capacities of societies in various fields have declined. In various sectors, Zambia’s current capacities are lower than they would have been without the effects of IMF and World Bank programmes.

The IMF programmes, forcibly imposed, have been instruments of violence.  They fight the balance and integrity of life.

                                                                      Regime Change

In some places, IMF programmes have, through economic pressure and hardship, led to regime change. Governments have been voted out or removed in other ways. In Zambia, there was, in 1990, a coup attempt following riots over high food prices brought about by the IMF programme. The economic hardships experienced contributed to UNIP losing office in the elections of October 1991.

Some rulers agree to the dictatorial IMF and World Bank imposition because of fear of being removed from office.

IMF and World Bank have leaned towards politicians that can deliver economic policy and practice environments favourable to IMF and World Bank “market forces” and strong pro-business positions. Yet, we believe, both public and public sectors are needed in a healthy society.

                                                                Big Business

An extreme and strong pro-business direction may lead Zambia to the situation before 1924, when big business, the BSA Company, was government. Big business in control can decide who rules or controls a country.

                                                             Greece, Disastrous

But even when their programmes have created hardship, IMF and World Bank move away from responsibility and put blame onto the victim government and society. The IMF and World Bank enforcers have been unrepentant.

Overall, there have been bitter experiences with IMF programmes in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and even Europe, in places like Greece.

Greece Minister of Labour and Social Security told BBC Hard Talk in March 2016 that while other lenders have been considering better and more socially sustainable economic and debt measures for Greece, the IMF “insists on further measures. And it is now the IMF which is isolated, not us.”

Continues George Katrougalos: “I have the conclusion that the austerity policies applied last five years were really disastrous and we must change the mix of these policies…”

                                                              IMF in Zambia, Now

Over the recent two years, IMF and World Bank have tried to reach out to Zambia and hook a programme. There was time, especially before the August 2016 elections, those in authority, knowing the consequences experienced in Zambia and elsewhere, were cautious or even reluctant about getting involved with an IMF programme.

But IMF and World Bank are still reaching out, although they will turn things around and say the Zambian government is the one driving the interest to have assistance from them.

This will be helped by local officials calling an IMF programme “home-grown.” If an agreement is made, we do not know whether it will really be allowed to be locally visioned and driven. How far will it differ from IMF templates?

Will IMF sit back and allow Zambia’s government to drive the programme? We do not know to what extent IMF and World Bank will drive it, directly or working at the back as puppet masters. Why don’t IMF and World Bank let local persons, and whoever the local persons decide to work with, to drive their governments’ programmes?

The IMF and World Bank have taken advantage of some errors or inappropriate or inadequate decisions and actions made affecting finance and resource management after President Sata and the PF came into office in 2011.  But, we believe, the errors and their effects can be dealt with and society healed and balanced without going into some IMF programme.  An IMF programme is likely to destabilise the society.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thirty Years Now

May 2017 marks some thirty years since Zambia’s abandonment of the harsh IMF programme.

We must accept that many persons now do not recollect the harsh mid 1980s experiences invoked by IMF and World Bank conditions. Some have forgotten, or let go, the pain and anguish. Some, a huge number, only hear stories from older persons.

Some of these persons currently are in some positions of authority and take lightly the idea of implementing IMF programmes. They do not realise or know that the measures have led to death, riots, social turmoil, and reduced capacity in many parts of the world.

Some members of staff of IMF and World Bank may not be aware of their employers’ role in bringing about great negative impact through imposed policies. Not knowing the results of the actions they are working for, a danger is that they will continue contributing to the same problems their institutions have been growing.

Ill advice from IMF and World Bank, perhaps by persons with, at best, poor understanding of local situations or incompetence when related to the situation, and, at worst, following negative interests, led to inappropriate IMF measures that greatly affected quality of life and capacities of societies.

                                              Organised Hold

The IMF and World Bank continue to have influence on governments through some very organised ways. They have cultivated some sympathisers and agents, in key positions, who will influence their governments and institutions to have relations with IMF and World Bank, even where it is not necessary and will lead to negative consequences.

The IMF and World Bank have put a foot hold into governments by continuing to provide small loans and grants that enable them to stay around and have presence in government policies and programmes.

In Zambia, and other places in Africa, IMF and World Bank have penetrated the energy sector, with its huge potential, and are trying to influence it, even by doing projects with energy generators and energy regulators.

IMF and World Bank are compromising energy regulators, to switch off their role dealing with fairness between energy providers and users, so that the desires of the IMF and World Bank machine are imposed, leading to control of the energy sector by those friendly to the spirit of IMF and World Bank.

                                                                  NGOs

And years before, NGO and Civil Society organisations, including churches, were active in issues of people’s quality of life and did much to campaign against debt conditions. This was done, and to some extent achieved, through activities like The Jubilee Campaign.

These days, civil society and NGO organisations are silent on the effects of IMF and World Bank programmes. Some civil society and NGO organisations receive funding for their activities and thus will not criticise IMF and World Bank for impact of their programmes. They are embedded with IMF and World Bank.

Some organisations do not only avoid criticising IMF and World Bank, but will actively support the imposition and implementation of IMF and World Bank programmes. They will side against governments and take IMF and World Bank as their kith and kin.

Sad is that IMF and World Bank come back and forth and many times do still manage to hook governments into activities that are destructive of economies and society. IMF and World Bank bondage techniques continue to work, leading to enslavement of governments and needless hardship in societies.

Sad that those who survived the shackles and sharp blade of Shylock the money lender will some years later go back to the same Shylock, who still insists on the pound of flesh that will also drain blood from the organism.

                                                               Alternatives

Actually, there ARE alternatives, if you open up your mind. There are alternatives to IMF and World Bank programmes. And there ARE alternatives to getting support, lending or grants, to move out of economic situations. The situation now is not that of the 1980s and 1990s IMF and World Bank monopoly and bullying.

But as IMF and World Bank fear that more and more persons and governments will be seeking assistance and links elsewhere, they are getting more active in reaching persons and institutions they can use to influence the direction of governments and societies.

And a question must continue to be asked: with all hardship from the IMF and World Bank programme self-evident over the decades, and knowing that implementation is even dangerous for their societies and governments, and added the fact that there are alternatives to the conditions and partner helpers or lenders, why do governments still, even in 2017, go to IMF and World Bank for borrowing?

As the Africa Under-20 soccer tournament progresses in Zambia, let us also keep our focus on the IMF-Zambia ball play.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

February, 2017, LUSAKA

 The author is involved in Writing and the Arts, Social Development Work, Social Research, and observation and analysis of Conflict and Peace issues. For over three decades, he has researched and written extensively on basic needs and economic policies, including economic adjustment programmes. This piece is some summary of the writer’s more detailed writing on the issue. 

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Zambia Constitutional Amendment 2015 Issues, the Running Mate

Zambia Constitutional Amendment 2015 Issues, the Running Mate

by Gabriel C Banda

President Lungu’s assenting to the Constitutional amendments bills of 2015 on Tuesday January 05th, 2016, will be a major mark in Zambia’s life.

Those Constitutional contents of Zambia will have various effects, some positive and some negative.

The 50 Per Cent Plus One provision in the presidential elections is likely to contribute to a succeeding Presidential candidate who, because of the second round where voters all over the country will zero in on two candidates and make choice, will have wider national acceptance than has happened in some elections.

There will be wider acceptance of the President ascended and serving in office. Previously, there are those of us that were worried that a candidate with the highest votes may have, say, 30% of the votes cast and will become president yet around 70% of the voters may not be for the person. This was unfair and undemocratic.

But from the 2016 elections, there will now likely be less discontent and hostility towards the elected President because people would have been given chance to select the final candidate, the President-Elect.

One hopes that the provisions on presidential election candidates will not lead to the emergence of a two-party system and some parties going into decline. Sadly, there have been some calls for parties to merge so that they may be bigger and stronger. This may negatively affect political advances in Zambia.

It does not mean that all who head political parties do so because they feel they will win the presidency. It is important to have various political parties as their members and leaders provide the very needed variation. They contribute various ideas, views, and positions. They are needed and should not phase out due to big-party political systems.

And the financial cost of a 50 Per Cent Plus One system should not be excuse not to have it. The cost is a necessary expense, worth it through the wide, national, and more democratic approval of the elected President. The cost is cheaper than discontent and hostility arising from a president that is not popularly elected.

There are other comments to be made about the various parts assented to. We will also be interested in considering practical issues and effects that might arise from some of the amendments done. Among others, practical challenges can be around provisions like minimum academic qualifications for Presidential, MP, and Councillor candidates.

For now, we will consider the Presidential “Running Mate” provision. It is about a Vice President candidate who is legally tied to the Presidential candidate and their term. They are a team.

The Presidential Running Mate clause has both advantages and potential problems. The Running Mate system has worked fairly well in places like the United States. In some places it has not worked well or, rather, it has failed.
The provision can help the public decide who should act as President when the President is not available. At present in Zambia, an acting President, whether the Vice President or another, and whether a good worker or not, is imposed on the public.

Currently, the President chooses the Vice President and, if required, can change them anytime, while still in term. This has both advantages and challenges.

The experience around the Michael Sata administration showed the difficulties of having to select who should be acting President even when the president goes out for a normal visit. This becomes a bigger problem when there is discord within a ruling party and various forces within are trying to take or influence presidential authority.

While there were some challenges around transition at the time of Zambia’s President Levy Mwanawasa’s passing away in 2008, the issue was very serious and disturbing at the illness and passing away of President Michael Sata in 2014.

This was due to weak, unstable, inconsistent, unavailable, or inadequate internal processes. There were challenges around structures, channels, management, practices, and succession procedures associated with the management practices of the then PF party administration.

The experience constitutes some of the weak parts of the legacy of our beloved Big Man, late Michael Sata, in his role as President. It is important to avoid similar situations happening.

In the new system, the Running Mate, the Vice President candidate, will be accepted as President to complete the term when a President, through factors like impeachment, ill-health, or death, ceases to be head of state.

And in the field of political party negotiations and concessions, a Running Mate will help parties in alliance, as the Vice President from another party in an alliance cannot be removed by the President after being voted in. This provides security of position to the Vice President but can also create national instability when the President and Vice President are at loggerheads, as happened in some countries.

Of course, there are many factors to consider over a Running Mate. Because the president will be bound to the person who is Vice President, the selection or choosing of a candidate must consider long-term factors. It must be more than just about the present. The Vice President, who in Zambia facilitates cabinet, parliamentary, and government issues, must be very competent and not just ceremonial.

The Vice President must respect and get on well with the President. For the stability of society, they must get on well throughout the term. It is expected that the Vice President will not attempt to directly or indirectly harm the President and the President’s office and government.

It is not exaggeration to say that it is possible that through differences or ambitions involving the two, a Vice might attempt to take over the Presidency from one who is still in term. Foul play may be attempted.

We also need to ask what happens when a Running Mate Vice President stops their role due to ill health, graft, or death. How smooth will be the process of replacing the Vice President while the President’s term is still on?

For some other limitations over a fixed Running Mate, we can also consider practical examples, such as that in our neighbourhood. The experience of Zambia’s neighbour Malawi provides lessons that are warnings or points to consider and rectify in order to make things smoother.

In 2004, President Bingu wa Mutharika, of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, DPP, had Cassim Chilumpha, of the UDF party, as his Vice President. Later, the President and Vice President had strong differences. But Mutharika legally was not able to easily fire Chilumpha.

And later, in the elections of 2009, Bingu wa Mutharika got Mrs Joyce Banda as Running Mate. And, later, Vice President Joyce Banda and President Bingu wa Mutharika had big differences. But as she had been a Running Mate, Joyce Banda could not be removed as State Vice President, even though expelled from the ruling DPP party.

Meanwhile, because she was the holder of the state office, no one could be actively appointed to replace her. So, the Vice President had differences with the President and the Vice President was not reporting to the President.

She sat on the position and was not removable so that another person could do that state Vice President official role. She even formed her own party, the People’s Party, while being an official Vice President who was in practice not working for the president.

Thus there was some tension when Bingu wa Mutharika died, in April 2012, and she, being the official Vice President even though she had stopped working for the President and had formed her own People’s Party, PP, was lined to take over, by law.

Eventually, after difficulties, she did take over and became President. Now, it also happened that when Mama Joyce Banda was going for Presidential elections in May 2014, she had differences with her Vice President, Khumbo Kachali, who she chose not to adopt as her Running Mate.

Instead, she chose Sosten Gwengwe, a young man who had joined the ruling DPP party from opposition MCP and later, after Bingu wa Mutharika’s death in 2013, joined Joyce Banda’s PP, People’s Party. He became her Running Mate in the May 20, 2014 elections.

Of course, the selection of Running Mate created problems in her ruling party. Joyce Banda did not win the elections. Running Mate Sosten Gwengwe did not even win his former parliamentary seat. In 2015, there was talk of Gwengwe getting back to the MCP.

But clearly, the Running Mate condition was an important issue. The differences also created other difficulties in the country.

Thus, with our neighbours’ experiences as practical lessons, the Running Mate provision Zambia is trying to adopt now must be carefully thought through, with potential challenges dealt with and sealed.

Of course, the Running Mate provision affects political parties in various ways. It will have implications in ruling and opposition parties. Some will find difficulties to field a Running Mate. The provision may shake and divide some parties. The provision will also affect alliances of political parties as they try to offer a common candidate and make deals on who should be President and Vice President candidates.

Because of some of the reasons discussed, I do not believe that the Vice President Running Mate system may always work well in our Zambian situation.

I believe the Vice President should not replace a President-Elect when the President-Elect is unable to take up position. Let the voters choose again. Some Vice Presidents may be alright as Vice President but not as President. In any case, the race is based on the Presidential candidate who comes with a known Vice President candidate.

The key candidate is the President and the Vice is subsidiary. I believe the Vice should not substitute a President-Elect that is unable to be sworn in. Many voters may not believe a Vice President candidate can necessarily be the lead presidential candidate.

The Constitutional clauses for assent in Bills 17 and 18 of 2015 were not made by the Edgar Lungu administration but were extracted from the last Constitutional draft that had open input from members of the public from various sectors.

In Constitutional clauses in earlier administrations and the recent public process, some parts are influenced by persons that are trying to affect some other persons they do not want to succeed as candidates.

Some clauses done in the Chiluba administration were considered unfair and divisive but nevertheless remained unremoved by succeeding administrations. Some had, away from the spirit and motto of One Zambia One Nation, contributed to a nation of citizens and lesser citizens.

Nothing was stopping succeeding administrations from undoing the destructive clauses planted in the Chiluba administration. Later administrations seem to have felt they would come back to the unwanted clauses later.

The Chiluba administration’s provisions contributed to some social stress that still needs to be healed. It is pleasing that the Edgar Lungu administration, through the Constitutional Amendments of 2015, acted to undo some of the divisive seeds sown by the Chiluba administration through the Constitution.

But not all is smooth. For some aspects in the recent draft constitution used as base for the 2015 Amendments will bring unnecessary difficulties. These aspects include some minimum educational qualifications for candidates for President, Vice President, and Councillor.

This will be complex and not easy to settle. Some amendments are in principle progressive and meant to help the Common Good, but may require supporting mechanisms in order to be smooth and not give problems.

It is also likely that Edgar Lungu’s haters and hard tackling opponents may question the issue of number of terms President Edgar Lungu will want to have and whether, because with his 19 months in office finishing late Michael Sata’s term, he will have in August 2016 done less than half a five year term. In the Constitution draft clauses, less than half a term is not counted as a term.

Thus Zambia’s new Constitution may require other supporting details and mechanisms to make its parts smooth, fair, and sustainable.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the author is involved in writing and the arts, social development, and peace issues. He has been on the MA Peace Studies programme of University of Bradford, England.

*                    *                      *

GCB, December 2015/January 2016

Nations and Foundations, By Gabriel C Banda (Gabriel Banda Peace Notes, 13)

 

 

Gabriel C BandaNations and Foundations

By

Gabriel C Banda

HOW, and why, do some nations and governments collapse while others keep on being strong? Some societies keep on being relatively stable even where the same forces affecting them, with similar weights, could have led to some societies and governments collapsing and destabilized?

The recent case of Zambia after the passing of President Michael Sata October 2014 shows us the principle of the foundation greatly affecting the resilience and stability of a society or group. Following the death of Michael Sata in London, and the expected presidential by-elections, his ruling Patriotic Front, “PF,” party became embroiled in internal hostilities.

Of course, part of the foundation of the infighting was to do with cracks and defects in the party’s leadership style, structures, systems, and practices that were evident even when President Sata was alive. There was a lot to be healed even when President Sata, regarded as a very strong person, was alive.

With his passing, the centre removed, as W B Yeats would have said in the poem “The Second Coming” in words used in writer Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart novel’s title, things began to fall apart. Only refinement and healing could strengthen and stabilize the party.

A concern by many of us was that the PF difficulties were bad enough for any political party but for a ruling party, the stability of the whole national governance is shaken.
For in the weeks of late October, November, and mid December 2014, there followed acrimonious actions by differing groupings and interests within the PF. Party officials, cadres, and their supporters openly differed. There were even violent protests.

Guy Scott expelled from the party Edgar Lungu, PF Secretary General who was minister of both defence and justice ministries. In response, other senior party and government officials resisted Guy Scott’s action and Scott announced the re-instatement of Edgar Lungu.

As further infighting happened, Edgar Lungu’s popularity with sympathetic members of the public was rising. Eventually, with various further incidents between the Scott and Edgar Lungu teams, it was announced that Scott was removed from party roles and even acting as state president. The majority of cabinet ministers passed resolution for Scott stepping down from the position of acting president. All this while Guy Scott was playing role of Zambia’s president.

Officials of the PF went to court for rulings over positions and party elections.
In the differences, some officials of the PF left the party while others openly supported some presidential candidates from the opposition. The whole internal PF hostilities were affecting the stability of the government and the nation.

Members of the public were concerned about reaching the point where we could have witnessed:

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,…”

Eventually, the pro-Edgar Lungu side became the one more recognized by the wider party membership and the public. Some in the pro-Scott team eventually came along to the Lungu campaigns and supported their party.

Greatly driven by public support, the Edgar Lungu team had pulled through and were the official PF front driving the party. Although slowed down by weeks of internal quarrels and litigation, PF was now fielding Edgar Lungu as one of the by-election’s prominent candidates.

But the whole experience of the ruling PF party had shaken Zambia. But still, Zambia was standing. Zambia had been resilient where other places would have experienced a general instability which would have taken a lot of time and effort to heal.

It seems the reasons for stability and instability are greatly linked to the foundations of governments and societies.

The foundation factors are around policies, systems, structures, processes, relationships, and practices that have been made in support of social cohesion and harmony. What was first put into place and how it was nourished over the period to the present time is important for our current state of health.

It is evident that the seeds of the past affect the state of fruits of the present. The seeds of the past affect the strength and stability of the society today. The past has a strong link to the strength and resilience of the current situation.

How could such recent events in government have occurred in Zambia and, while people have been worried and concerned, the nation did not fall? Many of the actions would in many parts of the world have led to a failed government.

A key explanation is that Zambia did not fall because of the foundation which had been laid from Independence time. There are many aspects of the foundation. But key amongst them have been first President Kenneth Kaunda and his colleagues’ early independence time emphasis on social cohesion and togetherness.

There was constant focus on the national motto “One Zambia, One Nation,” which emphasized the togetherness, unity, equity, and participation of persons of various backgrounds, from all over the country.

And while it had its critics, the implementation, from the 1960s up to 1990, of the “Philosophy of Zambian Humanism,” a “Ubuntu” forerunner based on traditional and Christian values of co-operation, welfare, and Common Good, contributed to the relative cohesion and stability of Zambia.

Another major contributor to the future stability was the “One Party Participatory Democracy, ” which also had some critics. Then, Zambia’s was more of a unified political system covering persons that previously were from many political parties. Members of the key opposition party ANC, led by Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, made an agreement with UNIP to have one party, using the UNIP name, under which parties would be united.

Active from 1972 to December 1990, Zambia’s “One Party” was different from that found in some other countries where the opposition was banned. In Zambia, members of opposition signed an agreement, with the ruling governing political party, to be in one party. Members of the opposition were taken into governance roles.

When the one party state system was in place, fights, violence, and injuries linked to inter-party conflict stopped.

Quite early, from independence, there were policies and programmes for people in all areas of Zambia to have relevant basic needs, infrastructure, facilities, and services. Zambia had resilience because of the foundation laid by those who played various roles in politics, government, and development.

Also affecting Zambia’s social cohesion was the situation of being a major centre supporting independence and liberation movements. Zambia was under military siege from neighbouring forces of racism and apartheid and, besides active defence by its security forces, its citizens had to get together in support of the cause.

Many persons, in various sectors, have over the decades contributed to building the resilience that Zambia has exhibited.

Because of the foundation, from October 2014, when there were pressures on the nation through conflict within the governing Patriotic Front party, Zambia was alarmed but still resilient. The foundation helped. Many, from various political lines, where concerned and, remembering the social cohesion built in the society, wanted stability.

Sometimes a person may not be thinking about the vaccination or immunisation that their parents gave them many years before. Yet the vaccination has contributed to what the person is today. But when unexpected health challenges come, as happened in HIV and AIDS, the person has to find ways of surviving something they are not immunized against.

Of course, during Zambia’s fifty years of independence, there have been some challenges. Yet lessons for all is that the deeper the social cohesion and togetherness in societies and teams, the easier, and longer, it is to be resilient and withstand pressures.

For the health of societies and teams, it is important for political and governance systems and practices to continuously support social cohesion, creativity, inclusion and participation, and respect for human variation. Respected should be persons of various political leanings.

We must respect as part of our humanity the variation of colour, ethnic link, cultures, language, origin, religion and spirituality, and location. We must embrace young and elderly, female and male. We must accept persons living with disability. We must respect persons in various material and financial situations.

We actually need policies, structures, systems, processes, and practices that nourish social stability. Instead of sitting back and expecting things to happen in whatever way they may turn out, practically working on them makes things happen.

Resilience is a situation of stability under pressure and great challenges. Resilience is linked to social cohesion and togetherness. Stability is linked to the foundation laid. The foundation of the past has contributed to our current situation just as our actions now lay the foundation for the future.

The future arises from Now. The future is Now. The future is here. Societies, nations, and teams are affected by past and present foundations.

Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the writer is involved in social development work, writing and the arts, and is a keen observer of conflict and peace issues.

Author email contact:   <ginfinite@yahoo.com>

*
– GCB, December 2014/January 15th, 2015, LUSAKA.

 

PF, the Divided House, by Gabriel C Banda

PF, the Divided House

Gabriel C Banda

by

Gabriel C Banda

(*Writer Gabriel C Banda is involved in Social Development work, Writing and theatre arts, and understanding Conflict and Peace Building issues. Has been on the University of Bradford, England, MA Peace Studies Programme). This piece appeared on WordPress.com, on     https://gabrielbanda.wordpress.com/.

For author email contact, <ginfinite@yahoo.com> .

 

THE concern of many people has for a long time been that even when President Sata was alive, there were big wrangles and divisions within the Patriotic Front, PF, leadership. For some time, the PF has been a divided house. Yet to stand and achieve a lot, a divided house must heal, mend, and strengthen.

There was concern about how the weaknesses were affecting not only the ruling party but the whole nation. When President Sata was ailing, people were concerned that the problems within the party would affect not only the party but also create problems post-Sata Zambia. For stable transition, we hoped Mr Sata would reach 2016.

The PF had divisions even when in opposition. At one time, a large number of PF MPs had a position, from which they were being expelled, different from that of party president Michael Sata.

But a major problem since our Big Man President Michael Sata, “Ba Kateka,” and his PF came into office in September 2011 has been the continued internal party squabbles and infighting openly affecting the country.

Some squabbles have come out amongst party field cadres. Some have been amongst high ranking party officials and ministers. Some of these fights have been very big. They have affected not only the PF but the country as a whole.

Of course, President Sata cannot be blamed for all the attitude, behaviour, personalities, and even upbringing of the PF members who were in conflict, but he still was expected to be final captain of the boat.

Some of the fights amongst party members and factions have been violent. People wondered how if there was violence within the party, what levels of violence would come about if people of different parties fought.

If fights within PF have been a concern for the party, the bigger concern is how the fights affect the whole country. Yes, what happens within the PF is of concern for many people outside the ruling party because it affects the whole country. It affects present and future stability. There is effect on social cohesion, the economy, and various aspects of life.

The PF fighting and rough squabbles happened not only once or twice but many times. This is of concern. The cadres and officials involved in the fights were so involved in their fights that they did not seem to care about the presence of their president, Mr Michael Sata, who was also the republican president. It would have been enough concern if the fighting was happening within an opposition party. But this was the ruling party.

The concern has been that the infighting continued many times. The concern is also about being a party that is ruling a government. You expect some discipline and respect from ruling parties and their members. But the PF infighting continued right up to the time of Mr Sata’s death, in London, on October 28, 2014.

The tension amongst groups within the party continued after his death was announced. Even during the mourning period, tension and division are coming out. Many people are anxious. Many people are wondering how PF will handle the tensions and fighting amongst its officials and members.

Already, some members of PF and general public are concerned about reports that Mulenga Sata, the late President’s son, may have ambition to be presidential candidate. People wonder how this, and candidatures by others interested in the party presidency, will affect relationships within the party.

Will the fighting within PF increase or decrease? This depends on how PF leaders handle things. This depends on whether, and how, the divisions will be settled. Settling the fighting within PF can be a good way of honoring the president that has died. But how easy is it to amicably settle the divisions and fighting within PF?

The problem is that many of these fights were happening while the party leader was still alive. The fights went on even when the fighting parties knew Mr Michael Sata was there as president. The question now is: will the fighting stop when Mr Sata has died? Michael Chilufya Sata was known to be a very firm man but even then it appears he was ignored by officials and cadres who kept on fighting even when he was present as both party and republican president.

Fighting elements did not respect the presence of the president. The fighting continued because he was ignored. He was a very strong man but he was ignored. This shows the seriousness of the situation for Zambia, especially at the death of Michael Sata.

A question is: if they did not listen to tough Sata when he was alive, will they listen to the next person who will be party president and stop fighting?

There are concerns that continued tension amongst PF members may badly shake the country. Tensions within PF are not a big danger if they stay within the PF party. The problem is when a PF candidate becomes Republican president after elections and the divisions within the party are still there and strong.

Some officials inside PF may be worried that their opponents within the party may take over. They may be more worried than if someone from outside the party becomes president of Zambia.

Right now, the fighting within PF will be subdued because of the mourning time upon us. A normal culture is that during a funeral, people respect the memory of deceased persons and will not fight or do something that can bring tension.

But the truth is that, while in opposition and in government, the internal situation of the PF party has for a long time been weak. PF has been a house divided. Sadly, while there were some helpful things he did, President Sata did not settle the divisions before he died.

These were bound to cause problems within the party and for the whole society.
Because of hostilities amongst the leadership, some members of PF might be more uncomfortable and insecure about opponents within their party becoming Zambia’s president than others outside the party assuming the republican presidency.

Meanwhile, many members of the public are wondering if a PF candidate, from a very divided party, can hold the country together given the fact that there are strong hostilities within the party. People wonder whether, following PF trends, the absence of President Sata, who was strong and tough but was sometimes ignored by those fighting, may lead to further infighting within PF, leading to instability in the whole society.

The PF as currently a divided house greatly affects the whole nation and beyond.

  The Guy Scott Act

A lot will be affected by how the Acting President, Dr Guy Scott, acts. He can go into record as someone who was placed to handle the transition and did it very well, to the benefit of PF and the whole society. To do that, he must focus on the interest of the whole nation, and not the interests of the PF or some fighting groups within it.

Already, in an action most people would not do, his removal, on Monday November 3, 2014, of Justice and Defence minister Edgar Lungu from the position of Party Secretary General, a position given Edgar by late President Michael Sata, did not go well with many members of the Patriotic Front and the general public.

The timing of the removal during the mourning period appeared not sensitive and was bound to build tensions within PF and affect people’s attitude towards Guy Scott and his team. Immediately the statement of removal was announced, there was tension in Zambia. Some PF cadres reacted strongly.

Almost immediately, there were open protests in some places. There were disturbances. Some senior officials and ministers also openly reacted and said they would meet Guy Scott the next morning. In the party and the general public, the action of Guy Scott actually raised the profile of the quiet, generally reserved, Edgar Lungu.

The position of Guy Scott was not helped by the public decline, on television, of Davies Mwila, who Guy Scott had appointed to replace Edgar Lungu. In the situation, when the nation needed to get together around the death of the President and was doing that, there are questions about whether Guy Scott’s actions had been sensitive and appropriate.

He had made poor decisions and words before, some he even apologised for, and this time many people thought he went too far. He showed poor reading of the current situation and overestimated his authority and strength. His action appears to have underestimated the forces against him. The result was predictable.

By early the next day, Tuesday November 4, after some cabinet and Central Committee members met him and in their presence, Guy Scott read a statement announcing the reinstatement of Edgar Lungu.

He said there will be a process of selecting a candidate after the burial. We do not know what was discussed or what was said to him by other officials for him to read the recanting statement.

But although it was honourable to have read the statement reinstating Edgar Lungu, it was clear that the questionable decision or decree by Guy Scott affected the image of Guy and those who may have been with him in the PF. The PF has again shown itself as a house divided.

  Encounters with Guy Scott

Our Big Man Guy Scott I first learnt about when I was a very young child and a relative of ours worked at the Scott Farm behind Bauleni, in present day “New Kasama,” at Walkover farm. Guy Scott’s father, Dr Alexander Scott, who I understand was respected by many, was involved with African interests before Zambia’s independence. He ran the African Mail newspaper, which eventually turned into Zambia Mail and Zambia Daily Mail.

When I was very young, we, with others in my family, would sometimes, go over from our residence in Libala, past the high Leopards Hill broadcast transmitters, on to Bauleni, gently over some hill, down to the New Kasama area farm, to see our relative.

I remember the Scott family had, amongst other dogs, a big dog named Bentley. The very few times I saw him, when I was a child, with his spectacles glasses, Guy Scott appeared calm, reserved, and even considerate. He spoke deep Nyanja.

Later, they went to another farm in the Chelston area. The farm was located near NRDC, the Baptist church, and the new Salama Housing estate. We still would visit our relative there.

Later, when the transition back to multiparty system in 1990 and 1991 was happening and Guy Scott had aligned with MMD, on a few times, with John, a friend of his, he came over to meet me for some analysis of the then development issues around rural Zambia. We had very detailed discussion and debate with him. He was very inquiring, asking many questions, and pushed for responses to various issues.

He eventually said, at some other time, that his friends were suggesting that I become an MMD member. I refused to do that, saying that besides MMD as a party not being very coherent, mentioning to Guy that, as a social development worker and writer, I had a personal policy of not joining political parties but following and considering various issues at hand, in a nonpartisan way. I was a believer in effective plural multiparty participatory processes and systems but did not believe in the MMD party.  I still have not changed my policy about not being fixed to political parties.

Government and Vice

Another difficult situation left by PF for Zambia as Guy Scott is Acting President is that there is no acting Vice President to give some balance. Guy Scott appeared to have all authority. The removal of Edgar Lungu from the Secretary General role had been an expression of that excessive authority, which others in PF and the public have strongly reacted against, leading it to be reversed.

The deep tensions within PF have continued. Many members of the public are still very concerned about the effects of a divided house on the whole society.
November 04th 2014

                                                            More Rivalry

Yes, I believe that, following the passing of Fifth President Michael Chilufya Sata, the big challenges to social balance linked to political balance may be those related to the problems and disharmony within the ruling PF.

Since the tension over the firing and reinstatement of Edgar Lungu, more rivalry has been expressed by various factions within the Party. Worrying to the public was that some of the rivalry and hostilities were happening even during the funeral of Michael Sata, when burial had not taken place.

There was disagreement over processes for PF to use to arrive at a presidential candidate. Most PF MPs and Members of the Central Committee endorsed a petition asking for adoption of Edgar Lungu as PF candidate for the presidential by-election.

In view of various factors, they wanted the Central Committee to choose the method of getting the candidate. Acting President Guy Scott insisted the Central Committee would not decide but the general conference. As things went on, there were conflicting statements made to the public by sides in the ruling party.

It seems Michael Sata had in his ill health still been concerned about the transition in PF and the nation. On ZNBC television, Information and Broadcasting minister, Dr Joseph Katema, respected as a calm, mature, and reasoning person, narrated events before President Sata left for the trip to London.

In a special interview on state owned ZNBC Television on Tuesday November 11, 2014, Dr Joseph Katema said there were signs that President Michael Sata had trust in Edgar Lungu doing presidential duties. (Check also Zambia Daily Mail, Thursday November 13, 2014, p 1, “Sata was insistent on Lungu, says Katema,” by Henry Sinyangwe).

When leaving Zambia for medical attention, President Sata, said Dr Katema, was insistent that before leaving for health attention in London, the President wanted to hand over the State “instruments of power” particularly to Edgar Lungu. Edgar Lungu was flown back from his official Angola trip to come back to Lusaka and be acting President. Handing over the instruments, Sata then left Zambia for the medical treatment.

Together with the fact that, besides Edgar Lungu being Acting President a few times when Sata was out, President Sata at one time left Edgar Lungu with the position of PF Secretary General, after removing Wynter Kabimba, and two ministerial positions, that of Justice and Defence simultaneously, many PF MPs and members of the Central Committee felt Edgar Lungu should be the PF presidential candidate. There was also feeling that Edgar Lungu was respected by many non-PF members of the public.

This was in a situation where the ninety day period in which state elections must take place put pressure on all political parties. The parties had to find, following their own processes, who should be their candidate, find the resources for campaigns, and be ready to have fully presented their candidates to the general voting public.

For PF, because of existing divisions within the Party, it was feared that, in the circumstances, a choosing of the candidate at the national conference, involving thousands of delegates, could bring out friction that would disadvantage the party.

But there were other PF members who may have preferred other candidates. If not against him, they did not support Edgar Lungu, or genuinely wanted a more consultative and participatory process of getting a candidate for the party. So, the reasons why a member of a party may be for one candidate and not for another may vary from person to person.

                                                 Candidates:

By November 19, 2014 and close of receiving of internal nominations, PF had ten candidates filed in for the party presidency. They were, in alphabetical order:

Captain Seleman Phangula Banda
Chishimba Kambwili
Given Lubinda
Edgar Lungu
Geoffrey B Mwamba, GBM
Miles Sampa
Mulenga Sata
Dr Christine Kaseba Sata
Bob Sichinga
Wilbur Simuusa

Then Acting PF Secretary General Bridget Atanga said former First Lady Dr Christine Kaseba was the last to file in.

We note that of the ten candidates, four were current cabinet ministers, with Edgar Lungu holding two cabinet portfolios left him by President Michael Sata. The other current ministers were Chishimba Kambwili, Bob Sichinga, a big brother of ours, and Wilbur Simuusa.

Of the ten candidates, two, Given Lubinda and GBM, had been cabinet ministers who were made to leave their cabinet posts at times of disputes within the PF.

(I remember first meeting Given Lubinda in 1980, when he had just completed secondary school in Kafue and was put as one of my students in a provincial Theatre for Development group I was guiding. He was very assertive. He later, after his studies at agriculture college and his work in social development, became a friend of ours).

And one of the candidates, Miles Sampa, was a current deputy minister, under my big brother Commerce Minister Bob Sichinga, also a contestant in the 2014 PF presidential.
Mulenga Sata, son of late Michael Sata, was Lusaka Mayor and Lusaka PF Chairperson.
One candidate, Captain Seleman Phangula Banda, had in recent times been Zambia’s High Commissioner to Nigeria.

Dr Christine Kaseba’s filing in brought various comments from the public. Some supported her while others said, although drawing sympathy and respect during the funeral of President Sata, there were many issues to be considered about timing of her entry into the contest and whether she could get the PF nomination and, later, the Republican election victory.

Concern was also expressed about members of one family contesting for the position of PF candidate and possible state presidency. Dr Kaseba was widow of the President while Mulenga Sata was son. Miles Sampa was related as a nephew to Mr Sata. Bob Sichinga’s son is married to a Sata daughter.

Although related to some by marriage, I would not put Bob Sichinga in the same relative category as some others.

People in the public were concerned that there would be a contest involving a Mother, a Son, a Nephew, and an in-law. However, whether the Michael Sata name will help some of the candidates may depend on the attitude of the internal and external voters towards the late President and how he acted towards them and how they considered his presidency.

                                                       General Conference

After long heated dispute over whether the Central Committee should make the selection of the official candidate or it be done by the general conference, the key sides in the PF contest for the presidency eventually settled on deciding choosing the final candidate through a general conference involving thousands of PF members.

The conference was scheduled for Saturday November 29, 2014. Previously, some had wanted to find another process that would catch up on the limited time left, and would also limit the possibilities of fighting, great fallout, and decline of the party.

Suspensions and Counter-suspensions

But even then, there were unpleasant incidents involving Acting President Dr Guy Scott, on one hand, and, on the other hand or hands, other members of the Central Committee, Cabinet, and Parliament. A significant number of MCCs, 27, or way over half of the total number of members, endorsed his suspension for his style and actions.

Guy Scott also announced suspensions of some 16 MCCs, including the PF Chairperson, Mrs Inonge Wina! The others were Benson Chali, Rasford Mwale Chipolo, Fabian Chiposo, and Obvious Chisala. Then there was John Chisanga, Lazarus Bwalya Chungu, Stephen Kampyongo, and Jean Kapata.

And there was James Kapyanga, Joseph Katema, Sylvester Mtonga, Mwenya Musenge, Willie Nsanda, and Malozo Sichone, and Freedom Sikazwe.

Dr Guy Scott decreed that, in response to recent political happenings which were of concern to the general public, “… I have today decided to suspend the 16 according to powers vested in me.” (In Sunday Mail, “Scott bans 16 PF bigwigs,” by Kapala Chisunka and Christine Chisha, November 23, 2014, Page 3, and Sunday Times of Zambia, “16 PF MCCs banned,” by Nakubiana Mumbuna, November 23, 2014, Page 2).

Like in Michael Sata’s PF reign, Guy Scott was able to, by decree, change the situation of officials, workforce, and issues. This throws light on the challenges of the PF systems, processes, and practices since 2001.

Even before Guy Scott’s temporary reign, within PF, such action had happened before. The strong differences between the PF figure head and officials such as MPs are not new. Differences happened even under my big man, President Michael Sata.

Some suspended by Guy Scott this time were ministers, deputy ministers, and MPs. But some other MCCs that had not been suspended by Dr Guy Scott called the suspensions “null and void.”

The statement was signed by Esther Banda, Emmanuel Mpakata,Yamfwa Mukanga, Samuel Mukupa, Alfredah Mwamba, Davies Mwila (Sunday Mail, “Scott bans 16 PF bigwigs,” by Kapala Chisunka and Christine Chisha, November 23, 2014, page 3. Post Newspaper of Lusaka also has listed the names).

On Sunday, November 23, 2014, some MCCs were blocked from entering State House for a Central Committee meeting. Other MCCs then joined the barred MPs in solidarity. Guy Scott called meetings of the other Central Committee members illegal while they said Guy Scott could not chair meetings because he had been suspended and a quorum could not even take place.

There had also been issues of who should receive applications for PF presidency. Acting President Guy Scott had received the ones entered. Later, the opposing MCCs were saying the applications should be handled by the Central Committee.

Also, there were some members of the PF who sought High Court decisions on some aspects of the events in the party.

                                           Ceasefire and Battle Lines

However, on Monday November 24, 2014, Acting President Guy Scott said there was reconciliation. On Tuesday November 25, 2014, most members of the MCCs team that had announced Guy Scott’s suspension said they apologized for suspending Guy Scott. The teams from various sides were now ready to meet at the November 29 2014 general conference.

For the public, these were signs for hope. But while the groups talked about reconciliation, members of the public were wondering whether the actual battle lines had been erased or were still there. How would the contest for PF president work out?

Was what had happened just a ceasefire where the battle lines were still deep and not erased or shifted? A ceasefire is not necessarily the erasing of battle lines. All over the world, we find that when ceasefires are made amongst combatants, sometimes the ceasefire leads to stability but sometimes the ceasefire works to be windows for parties in conflict to re-prepare themselves, rearm, dig-in, and reorganize. Preparations may include strengthening one’s self and weakening opponents.

What may have happened in PF was a ceasefire while long term peace and stability still needed to be achieved. Meanwhile, many members of the public were apprehensive about what would happen, given past and current tensions within PF, at the November 29 2014 conference.

Meanwhile, the final positions of expressions of candidature may change as, if happens as it sometimes does in Zambia, some candidates within parties and across parties may pull out and endorse others. Some may leave their own parties and stand on other platforms.

PF and Post-Elections

There are, of course, some problems which are found in opposition parties. But bigger concern are the PF, who are a ruling party and have great effect on the stability of the society. This was always a fear as even when President Sata was alive, the tensions were there and sometimes even very open.

Some members of the public may be concerned that given the acrimony from participants within the PF, whoever wins the PF candidacy and if gets the state presidency, may not be easily accepted by some factions, within PF, which would have not won the candidature. There may be tensions in the national social barometer.

I think a problem is that PF have big internal divisions that may affect the rule of a person from there. At the close of internal nominations on Wednesday November 19th, 2014, PF had ten candidates, including the Sata widow Dr Christine Kaseba and the Sata son Mulenga Sata! (Of course, we may not be fully aware of the reading of the situation within and outside their party, or their late husband’s and late father’s party).

                                                              Refining or Further Weakening?

While there are risks of problems arising at the PF general conference, it is possible that the fears may not fully come to be. It is also possible that from the general conference, some PF might emerge that may be more widely accepted.

The MMD that Levy Mwanawasa led was not the same as the original MMD party under Dr Frederick Chiluba. There was transformation in policies and practices. The MMD of Rupiah Banda moved further away from the MMD existing under Chiluba.

Some of the persons who had been in the original Chiluba MMD administration left Levy and RB to join other groups, such as PF. Thus the “MMD” name became just a vessel that had transformed. When RB was leaving office in 2011, although with the same registered name, MMD was not the same as the 1991 party. When PF came into office in 2011, some of its members were known to have been in the early MMD of the 1990s.

Will the PF 2014 general conference lead to refinement or further weakening?  It is possible that the PF will also undergo great transformation from the Michael Sata one. For politicians and rulers, parties may just be vessels that can be used and changed.

But a divided house or party or team cannot for long stand under internal and external pressure. To stand firm, a divided house must be healed. To heal, those involved must be sincere, respect others, and reach out from the soul. To contribute smoothly to society, a divided house must heal and mend its internal and external relations.

                                                            Polls and Opposition

At the same time, for a stable transition, the opposition would have to work together and stand together in the polls as each of the major opposition groups do not have many seats in parliament. Without a large number of seats in parliament, a president from the opposition may find them self unstable, and could even be deliberately undermined by the other parties.

Thus the opposition can win the polls, using the current unfair simple majority rule, if they combine and can work out an arrangement over pooling together their seats in parliament and sharing ministerial positions.

If UPND’s HH or MMD’s Nevers Mumba or RB stand alone, one might win the presidential by-election but be weak in parliament. Of course, you may then end up with efforts trying to woo candidates from the new opposition set up. If MMD and UPND work together, they have stronger chances of winning the polls.

Of course, it is possible that my big man President RB, Fourth President, may at this time, having been the immediate past Republican president, be well exposed to the public in comparison to some candidates in opposition and ruling party.

I do not have details of how things went, but I believe that the RB team should have discussed issues with my brother Nevers, in whom I am well pleased, and together come up with some consented way, as, just like my brother HH, riding with RB over a weak PF would lead to Nevers and HH getting into office and having the further national exposure and acceptance they need to prepare for their possible times to contest the presidency. “Win-Win” for those involved is possible.

There could be established some two vice-presidents, one from the ruling party and another from the partnership. Or some firm and fair arrangement they can agree on. The two, HH and Nevers, have time on their side and, if patient, can make it president within the next fifteen to twenty years.

Before Nevers Mumba moved to join the MMD as state Vice President, he had been in some strong positioning amongst national parties. I believe that had he not joined the MMD then, he and his party could have gained strength.

There was a time when Nevers Mumba may have been stronger than Michael Sata. I believe that it is possible that had Nevers Mumba not gone over to MMD, to join as Vice President, it is possible that Never could have been strong and Michael Sata may never have grown big.

An advantage of partnership would be the making of some form of government of national unity, which would, if well worked out, be very helpful for stability during transition and the time we reach 2016 for the next scheduled elections.

However, in November 2014, the issue about MMD fielding Nevers or RB would be affected by results of court actions taken to the High Court and the resulting political actions that would be taken.

                                     More Opposition Candidates

From other political parties, expressions of running for the state presidency made included that of, in alphabetical order, our Brother Hakainde Hichilema of UPND, and UNIP’s Tilyenji Kaunda, “TJ.” my big brother and our senior and prefect at Kamwala Secondary School.

There is also my Big Brother Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda, who is considered analytical, independent minded, and a supporter of orderly processes and systems, of the Heritage Party, and my Sister Edith Nawakwi of FDD, and Peter Sinkamba of the Green Party of Zambia.

I understand NAREP’s Elias Chipimo Jr will be standing. There is also my big man, Dr Ludwig Sondashi, of FDA, who, apart from being a lawyer who has had some focus on Constitution, is well known for his Sondashi formula being used by some persons in addressing HIV and AIDS.

My Brother Father Frank Bwalya, as usual fearless and forthright, on November 21, 2014, said his Alliance for Better Zambia will not have a candidate but will support a PF candidate if that candidate is Edgar Lungu.

Christian Democratic Party, CDP, head Dan Pule, who is also a religious preacher who helped to bring the TBN television station to Zambia, is expected to stand.

I have not asked my big brother Tenthani Mwanza, of National Democratic Party, NDP, and a keen observer and analyst of long time Africa and international political dynamics, whether he will stand during by-election January 2015. And I do not know if my brother the ULP leader Sakwiba Sikota, another calm, fearless, and thoughtful person, was going to stand.

We will later learn about positions other political parties will take. The parties include Ng’andu Magande’s National Movement for Progress, NMP, and Mike Mulongoti of People’s Party, and ADD’s Charles Milupi. There is Zambians for Empowerment and Development, ZED, with Dr Fred Mutesa. There is also Langtone Sichone and ZADECO. I do not know if Cosmo Mumba and New Revolution Party will take part. There is All Peoples Congress Party’s Msoni.

    Stability

One prays that the January 20 2015 presidential by-election will lead to stability, whoever gets into office. As the founders of modern Zambia did, we should be building a strong foundation.. A divided house is unstable and does not easily withstand wind and other pressures. Zambia House must be strong and free.

Variation can be very enriching and should be harnessed. It is one thing for people in a party to get as much ideas and contribution from its members as can happen. But difference is not always the same as variation. Differences that are in the region of hostility and antagonism may, depending upon the handling, sap and weaken a party, to the extent of decline or disintegration.

Let people of Zambia choose who should rule.

Zambia is praised as a place of stability. Yet that stability has had to be worked at. Things may be shaken. It is the duty of all politicians, cadres, citizens, residents, and all of us, to ensure that each person acts for harmony, peace, and stability. A divided house or nation becomes weak.

But everyone is capable of retraining themselves to focus on peace building. Many are wondering what will happen with PF. Human actions divide people and work against natural unity and cooperation. But human action can also help improve situations.

We pray that things go well at the PF general conference. We pray that Zambia’s presidential by-election of January 20, 2015 will go well and stable. The actions of politicians and everyone can make life better. Every one can heal and mend if they just allow themselves to, and will themselves to do so.

                                                           By Tuesday, November 25th, 2014.

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                                                For author email contact, <ginfinite@yahoo.com> .