Editor's Note

Is it illegal to flash your breasts by mistake?

The story about a half-nude deputy mayor in Mufulira is interesting. Beatrice Kapansa made one mistake by sending a revealing picture of herself to the wrong people, but, honestly, who hasn’t sent an email, SMS or message to the wrong recipient? Often, we realise it immediately, desperately wishing for a magic recall button, but sometimes we never find out. In the best case, we are left feeling anything from amused to completely mortified. In the worst case, it can lead to lost opportunities in life. Just look at Kapansa, whose new job is on the line because of her breasts being flashed in public. Surely, the PF is not suspending her for being an IT-fumbler like the rest of us? Or, for that matter, for showing her breasts by mistake? What would have happened if Kapansa was giving a speech, and the wind had lifted her blouse? And what if her boss, who happens to a man, was giving a speech, and his trousers ripped? Is this cause for dismissal? We probably have to seek the answers in the muddled waters of “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”, eternalised by former US President Clinton. Clinton, eventually, had to admit that he did have a relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky, but the furore was less about the sex than about him giving misleading information. Kapansa is yet to try and claim that she is not the easily distinguishable woman in the picture, in which case we are left with the sex – and the rumours of an affair. Surely the PF is not suspending Kapansa for having an affair, as many politicians walk through life with a string of affairs behind them? Thus, no matter how I turn this, I cannot get around the fact that we are seeing double standards in this case. The ruling party needs to be quite clear about why it is suspending Kapansa, and not just rush to crucify her in a quest to satisfy a hypocritical crowd baying for blood.

And politicians – like the rest of us – must remember to pause before pushing ‘send’.


camilla
Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly
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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.”