By Elias Munshya
Subtility is a hallmark of little snakes, or big snakes. They usually charm their way, and before you know it, you have been bitten or eaten, depending on the situation. On the other hand, the brutality of a bull is brazen and explicit. You can see it and protect yourself from its danger. This past week saw the exit of a brazen thug and the introduction of a very charming fellow. In my opinion, between Kaizar Zulu and Chris Zumani Zimba, Zimba is far much more dangerous and could hurt Zambian democracy far much deeper than Kaizar could ever do. What Zimba represents and has represented is extremely dangerous, and if allowed, would dent Zambian democracy in ways we will never know. Zimba is not bringing any freshness to the presidency. He is bringing something dangerous at a very critical time in Zambia’s history.
When Honourable Given Lubinda came up with the National Dialogue Forum to launder his ideas of a new constitution, he had to find pseudo-intellectual quacks who could lend him some semblance of academic sophistication to justify his mutilation of common sense and the Constitution of Zambia. Even though the list of NDF participants had been outlined in the NDF legislation, there was curiously an attendee at the NDF who was not part of the organisations legislated. It came as a shock when a Chris Zimba, a proprietor of the Chrizzima Democracy University, a bogus university, emerged not only as a delegate to the NDF but also as one of the most ardent proponents of the NDF resolutions. Within weeks of the NDF concluding its shoddy work, it was Zimba, Isaac Mwanza, Chilufua Tayali and Andrew Ntewewe who emerged as the people who would push the resolutions of the NDF, including Bill 10.
When we expressed concern at the NDF and its Bill 10, Zimba stood out to oppose us. The problem we found with Bill 10 has already been outlined previously. First, the NDF and its Bill 10 introduced Deputy Ministers. To this issue of deputy ministers – both Mwanza and Zimba justified it by arguing that the government needed the deputy ministers to help with the governing of the nation. These gentlemen did not think that the cost would be an issue.
Second, Bill 10 was also going to introduce the concept of a coalition government – again the NDF’s Bill 10 did not elaborate what that coalition was all about. In fact, the NDF’s Bill 10 left this issue hanging and did not dare even offer a definition. We were alarmed at such a proposal. Our concern was that, for a country that practices a hybrid between the Westminster parliamentary and Washington presidential systems of government, the concept of a coalition government was untenable. How could a coalition government be formed in a country where the President is elected directly and separately from parliament? We asked. The answer from both Zimba and Mwanza was that they had come up with a theory of governance called “multiple modernities” and “multiple democracies”. Under this concept, they advocated that Zambia could adopt coalition governments even if they are unworkable. When Zimba and Mwanza stood by this particular resolution of the NDF’s Bill 10 – we called them for what they were, pseudo-intellectual quacks. We use the word “quack” to express the theories presented by people who pretend to know something when they really have no idea what they are talking about.
Mwanza, Zimba, and Ntewewe became huge advocates for Bill 10. In fact, they formed a united group through which they will travel around the country to tell the people of Zambia about the NDF and its subsequent surrogate of Bill 10. They held meetings in all the provinces trying to justify Bill 10. And meeting after meeting, they received what they were looking for – sham endorsements for Bill 10. These quacks had managed to lie to the people of Zambia about Bill 10, and they saw the results – fake endorsements.
Hon. Lubinda needed these people to try and give Bill 10 some face of academic complexity which it lacked. Bill 10 lacks a proper constitutional framework. The philosophy that informs Bill 10 appears to be so far away from our common-law foundations. Bill 10 ignores years of fidelity to the separation of powers, to judicial independence, to executive accountability to the legislature and to common sense. Obviously, Bill 10 had borrowed its philosophical underpinning from quack political theories that have never worked and that cannot work – vague concepts such as Zimba’s “multiple modernities”, and his “multiple democracies”.
Many of our people are discussing Zimba’s past regarding his anti-Edgar Lungu posts done a year ago. However, what is really concerning with this gentleman is not all of that anti-Edgar Lungu posts, but the position he has taken towards Bill 10. It is his position towards Bill 10 that I believe disqualifies this gentleman from being a credible political advisor to this particular President. When President Lungu was swearing-in Zimba, he mentioned that the political advisor is supposed to help the President work on democratic governance and use principles of the rule of law. Bill 10, which Zimba has championed from the time the NDF passed it, goes precisely against democracy, common sense and the rule of law.
Now that Bill 10 has been deferred to February 2020, I am extremely concerned that Zimba will now use this position to push for its enactment or to use pseudo-intellectual theories to justify its enactments before a clueless president who is thirsty to be a wamuyaya president. Zimba will provide the pseudo-intellectual backing for its justification. It is this backing that we must resist because if it is enacted into law, Bill 10 is going to turn Zambia into a complete banana republic where the President rules like a king and not rule like a democratically elected leader. If Bill 10 passes, it will expand the powers of the executive over other branches of government. If Bill 10 passes, it will undermine the role of parliament in holding the executive accountable.
If Bill 10 passes, Zambians will change the way they elect their MPs from the predictable past-the-post to the undefined and ill-defined Mixed-Member Electoral System. Crucially, if Bill 10 were passed into law – it will relegate important constitutional statutes into ordinary statutes. For example, the composition of parliament which must be outlined in a written constitution will now be subject to the whims and wishes of a simple parliamentary majority. If Bill 10 passes, deputy ministers will return, leading to more expenses for the government. This government is broke, and many workers have not paid their salaries – where will it get the millions to pay the new deputy ministers?
The PF is now claiming that they have come up with a new Bill 10 that has taken care of the concerns noted above. This is a lie. There is only one Bill 10 in Zambia. It is this Bill 10 that was passed at the NDF. It is the same Bill 10 that Mwanza and Zimba championed across the country. It is the same Bill 10 that was restored to the parliamentary order paper. It is the same Bill 10 that is on the parliament of Zambia’s website. To claim that somehow there is a new Bill 10 that does not have deputy ministers, as an example, is a cheap lie.
If Zambians were concerned at Bill 10, the appointment of Chris Zimba to be the President’s advisor should make them feel even more concerned. A pseudo-intellectual quack will now be advising President Lungu with his concepts of “multiple modernities” and “multiple democracies” which is just one way of saying Zambia will be returning to a dictatorship. The resistance must continue.