Editor's Note

Could we concentrate on real issues!

Only half a year after the general elections in 2016 – and with the result still being disputed in court – the ruling PF party has now started campaigning for the next general elections in 2021. At least this is the impression one gets from the heated debate about whether or not President Lungu is eligible to run for a third term as president following the amendment of the Constitution (see this article). The debate is, roughly speaking, divided between those who support Lungu (yes, of course he can stand!), and those who are against (no, he can definitely not stand!). I wish someone would take the whole thing to court, so we can put a stop to this foolish debate going around in circles, and instead concentrate on the myriad of economic and social problems in Zambia.

Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly
  • agriculture

Armyworms attack again!

Zambia’s 2016/17 maize crop is under threat from pests, this time a combination of armyworms and maize stalk borers. In READ MORE...
  • mining

Government sorts out KCM?

Government claims it has sorted out the problems at one of Zambia’s largest private employers, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), after READ MORE...
  • justice
  • mining
  • environment

UK lawyer arrested in Zambia

A UK lawyer, Oliver Holland, and three Zambians (PF Kabungo councillor Richard Mutale, UPND Kalilo councillor Geoffrey Singu and Chilekwa READ MORE...
  • justice

State takes over Chiluba’s houses

The Supreme Court has ordered several properties allegedly belonging to the late President Chiluba to be forfeited to the state. READ MORE...
  • zambia-in-the-world

David Livingstone writings discovered

Writings allegedly attributed to the famous explorer David Livingstone have been discovered in former slave caves on Kilwa Island on READ MORE...
  • living

Lungu in Ghana

President Lungu has been in Ghana to attend the inauguration on 7 January of Nana Akufo Addo as president of READ MORE...
  • money

Fuel prices drop

The Energy Regulation Board reduced the price of fuel by an average of 8.8% (see table) with effect from midnight READ MORE...
  • money

ZRA has lost 72,842 vehicles

The Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) is looking for the owners of 72,842 smuggled vehicles, which have been registered with the 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.”