Editor's Note

Is Lungu campaigning ahead of time?

President Lungu is busy travelling the length and the breadth of the country. At his so-called ‘working visits’ to this province or that he is launching development projects, and promising even more development such as roads, electricity and mobile phone coverage. He may not be outright saying ‘vote for me!’, but he is making it quite clear to people, that development is closely linked to voting for the incumbent government. I find it a bit difficult to distinguish between these working visits and campaigning. True, the president was not adorned in PF regalia, nor is he accompanied by hordes of singing, chanting and praising supporters, in a road show similar to a carnival. Yet, everyone knows that he is vying for votes. No one, not even the president, is allowed to campaign until 16 May 2016, three months before the election on 11 August, when the official campaign period starts. Until then, the fine line is obviously being stretched as much as possible.

Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly
  • government
  • money

Government stops funding constituencies

Government has stopped disbursing the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) until the economy improves. “When we got into office as PF, READ MORE...
  • development

Universities to open in April

Higher Education Minister Michael Kaingu has announced that government will reopen the University of Zambia and the Copperbelt University “on READ MORE...
  • politics

1,884 elections in August!

Zambia will elect 1 president/vice-president pair, 156 MPs, 103 mayors/council chairpersons, and 1,624 local government councillors in the general election READ MORE...
  • politics

MMD to get rid of Mbulakulima?

The opposition MMD party has suspended its National Secretary Mwansa Mbulakulima. He was charged with disobedience, insubordination and conduct likely READ MORE...
  • politics

PF wants 40% female MPs

The ruling PF party has reiterated that it intends to adopt 40% women and 20% youths as candidates for all READ MORE...
  • politics

Mumbi Phiri challenges Nkandu Luo

PF Deputy Secretary General Mumbi Phiri has applied to become the ruling PF party’s parliamentary candidate in Munali Constituency in READ MORE...
  • politics

11 want to be PF MP in Matero

Two former presidential advisors have applied to be adopted as the ruling PF party’s parliamentary candidate in Matero Constituency in 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.”