Editor's Note

Red carpets are just too alluring

When President Sata assumed office in 2011, he said he would do away with all the red carpets, pomp and circumstance of the presidency. But he quickly settled into the reverie, and his successor, President Lungu, has taken to the red carpets as well. At least judging from the media coverage of his latest arrival home. Lungu was received by hordes of people and numerous officials from the ruling PF party and government, including at least five ministers. There were cheering cadres draped on buses, singing and dancing women, banners highlighting our president’s virtues, and happy smiles all around. However, I am still trying to figure out how these (expensive – both in terms of money and time) airport rituals benefit the country?

Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly
  • environment

Rhino freed from snare

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife has removed a snare from Inonge, the matriarch rhino in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National READ MORE...
  • justice
  • environment

Poachers arrested

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife has arrested James Tembo and Margaret Banda in Kavalamanja Village in Feira, Luangwa READ MORE...
  • justice
  • environment

6 arrested with pangolin

Six people, including a police officer, have been arrested for trying to sell a live pangolin for K80,000 in Manungu READ MORE...
  • living

3 more Zambian productions on DStv

Three more Zambian productions made their debut on Zambezi Magic (DStv channel 160) this week.  ‘Dependents’, a comedy series about READ MORE...
  • infrastructure
  • living

The last Defender?

The last of Jaguar Land Rover’s iconic Defenders rolled off the production line on 29 January 2016, ending 68 years READ MORE...
  • politics

Did HH demean Zambia – again?

Opposition UPND party president Hakainde Hichilema (HH) was a key speaker at the Mining Indaba in South Africa, upsetting government READ MORE...
  • government

Lungu in Europe

President Lungu has returned from his week-long trip to Europe. He started in Italy on 4 February, where he had READ MORE...
  • justice

Councils to stop issuing plots

Government has directed councils countrywide to stop issuing new plots until they have sorted out a backlog of applications, stated READ MORE...
  • development

Govt on lookout for Zika virus

Government is putting in place measures to detect the Zika virus at all border posts. A current outbreak in Central READ MORE...

This Week’s Exchange

Nic Cheeseman, professor of democracy and international development, Birmingham University, UK, stated:

“Until now, Zambia’s progress under multi-party politics has been quietly impressive. Over the last year, though, things have changed. (…) According to the Conference of Catholic Bishops – one of the most influential bodies in the country – Zambia doesn’t deserve to be called a democracy (…) it has become a dictatorship – or getting there. Many Catholic leaders were seen to be sympathetic to the PF, when it won power under Michael Sata in 2011, so what has changed? This is not the first time that a Zambian president has sought to consolidate his authority by manipulating state institutions. Nor is it the first time that opposition leaders have been arrested, or civil society groups intimidated. In the recent past, these moments of high political tension have often been resolved peacefully, (…) but it’s unlikely that Lungu will cede his quest to remain in office. First, key civil society groups such as the trade unions have been weakened by privatisation, informalisation and unemployment. Second, the Constitutional Court, that’s responsible for interpreting the constitution, was handpicked by Lungu. Third, Lungu’s case is more complicated than Chiluba’s. In 2001, the second president had served two full terms in office and wanted one more. Today, Lungu is arguing that he should be allowed to have a third term because his first period in office did not count, as he was just serving out the final year of Sata’s term. All of this means that Lungu is likely to get his way. (…) Opposition protests are inevitable, as is some civil society criticism. If past form is anything to go by, Lungu’s government will respond with threats and intimidation.”

Ruling PF party deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri reacted:

Cheeseman is nothing but an attention-seeking professor, who thinks he can lecture us about democracy. The people of Zambia spoke through the vote, and their wishes must be respected by all, including Cheeseman. Cheeseman creates the impression that there was a letter authored by all Catholic bishops, which labelled Zambia as a dictatorship. For the record, that was an opinion expressed by the archbishop. (…) It is irresponsible for Cheeseman to compare ours with late President Frederick Chiluba’s third-term bid. The view that the current constitution allows President Lungu to seek re-election (…) is before the courts of law. (…) the PF will respect the outcome of the court system. President Lungu’s good governance record remains solid. It was President Lungu’s administration that took the referendum on the proposed Bill of Rights to the people. (…) it was UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema who campaigned against it. It is President Lungu’s administration, which allowed for the 50%+1 clause in the constitution, the running mate clause, and reduction of presidential powers. President Lungu believes in an independent judiciary. (…) Today, Zambia has a Constitutional Court, something that was unheard of in the history of our nation. While the opposition petitioned the Constitutional Court, President Lungu remained calm until the matter expired. We wish to correct the view that human rights of politicians in trouble with the law are being violated. Citizens, who are also politicians, and on trial, have appeared in court within a week of being charged, and (…) for continued trial. The due process of the law is clearly being followed to the letter. Professor Cheeseman‘s daydream, that Zambia is falling from grace because of HH’s arrest, is a lie. Zambia remains a shining example of democracy not only on the African continent but world over.”