Editor's Note

Things could be worse in Zambia

In these campaign times, when there is a lot of focus on what is working in Zambia (according to government) and what is not working in Zambia (according to opposition), it is worth remembering that Zambia is a bit of a haven compared to many of our neighbours. Just look at the scale of government waste and mismanagement in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Zambia is nowhere near the same league! In the DR Congo, Moise Katumbi, President Joseph Kabila’s powerful rival in this year’s election, has been charged with undermining state security, and has been in hospital after being tear-gassed. In Mozambique, Jose Jaime Macuane, a notable critic of government, was this week kidnapped and later dumped, but told to run and then shot four times in the legs. Apparently, the kidnappers were told to leave him crippled. In Zambia, government critics are simply harassed with various charges to be discharged later though nolle prosequis. Things could be a lot worse in Zambia!

Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly
  • infrastructure

Over 30 die in road accident

Between 31 and 33 Zambians, depending on reports, have burned to death in a bus accident on the Pedicle Road READ MORE...
  • justice

GBM arrested – again

The police have arrested Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM), former PF minister, current UPND vice-president, for one count of conduct likely READ MORE...
  • politics

The PF team: Lungu and Wina!

President Lungu has announced that he has chosen Vice-President Inonge Wina as his running mate in the general elections in READ MORE...
  • politics

UPND launches campaigns in Kitwe

The main opposition UPND party launched its election campaign at the Freedom Park in Kitwe at a large rally albeit READ MORE...
  • agriculture

Tomato pest hits Zambia

A tomato leaf-miner – Tuta absoluta – is allegedly devastating tomato production in Lusaka, Southern, Copperbelt and Northern Provinces. Zambia READ MORE...
  • politics

PF launches campaigns in Lusaka

The ruling PF party launched its election campaign at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka at a mega-rally attended by READ MORE...
  • living

Antibiotics found in chickens

A survey has found residues of common antibiotics such as Chlortetracycline, Sulfamethazine and Tetracycline in chickens in Zambia. The Competition READ MORE...
  • politics

MMD has 2 presidents

In a curious repeat of last year’s internal power struggle within the ruling PF party following the death of President READ MORE...
  • politics

How many presidential candidates?

Last week, the Daily Nation reported that five presidential candidates had successfully paid half of the presidential nomination fee of READ MORE...
  • development

AfDB holds mega-meeting in Zambia

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is holding its annual meeting in Lusaka on 23-27 May 2016, incorporating the 51st annual 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.”