Editor's Note

It’s convenient to keep universities closed

Is government going to keep Zambia’s two largest universities closed until the general election on 11 August 2016? Both the University of Zambia and the Copperbelt University have been closed for over a month since students rioted over meal allowances not being paid in full amidst the usual commotion of innocent motorists being stoned in Lusaka. Government made it very clear that it closed the universities to teach the students a lesson, but since then, everything has gone suspiciously quiet. Does government see the closure as an excellent opportunity to prevent troublesome youths from causing problems ahead of the election? The ruling PF party will need all the support it can muster to win this year’s election, as the main opposition UPND party is snapping at its heels, if not its toes, and students are always a thorn in the side on incumbent governments. About 1.5 million new voters will vote in this year’s election in Zambia. They are mostly young people, who happen to be the hardest hit by unemployment and the ailing economy. Government is worried that economic concerns will matter more to them than ethnicity.

Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly
  • development
  • living

Teachers flee witchcraft in Mkushi

Three teachers have deserted Mishingo Primary School in Mkushi over witchcraft – and more are allegedly threatening to follow suit. READ MORE...
  • justice

Killer dogs put down

The two Boerboel dogs that killed a seven-year-old girl in Ndola last week have been put down by the Veterinary READ MORE...
  • justice
  • environment

Four arrested with game meat

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife (formerly the Zambia Wildlife Authority) has arrested two men in Mpongwe on the READ MORE...
  • justice

Defiler jailed 40 years

Leonard Kabamba of Chimwemwe Township in Kitwe has been sent to jail for 40 years for defiling a two-year-old girl READ MORE...
  • justice

Minibus runs over police officer

A disgruntled minibus driver, Steven Phiri, who refused to pull over at a roadblock, instead running over Police Constable Marjory READ MORE...
  • environment

Children killed by lightning

Two children, aged 5 and 8, have been killed by lightning in Maamba in Choma, Southern Province. Their bodies were READ MORE...
  • environment

Crocodiles kill six women

Crocodiles have killed six women in Zambezi District, Northwestern Province, within the last month, reported the Times of Zambia. The READ MORE...
  • environment

Children drown in drains

Two children have drowned in separate drains after a heavy downpour in Kitwe. A 3-year-old boy drowned in Mindolo Township, READ MORE...
  • agriculture

Fish hatchery washed away

Government’s fish hatchery in Kaoma District, Western Province, has been washed away after the Mahilo Dam collapsed during heavy rains. 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.”