Stories from Quick Reads and Zambia
Pan African Vision's Ajong Mbapndah talks to Gershom Ndhlovu about the politics around the sickness and death of Zambia's president Michael Sata:
President Michael Sata recently passed away in London and it appears his health and medical condition where shrouded in secrecy, why were Zambians not notified of the Presidents failing health?
[Gershom Ndhlovu]: An online publication, Zambian Watchdog, alerted the nation to President Michael Sata’s failing health more than two years before he passed on. It is the same publication that could expose the secretive treatments abroad that he used to take. Both senior government officials and ruling party cadres were not happy with the publication for keenly following and exposing Mr Sata’s condition and there were many attempts to shut down the online publication which was at times blocked for access to people in Zambia.
On the question of why, obviously the government and the party wanted to show that the President was healthy and discharging his functions. They probably did not want to admit the fact because of a constitutional clause which calls for the removal of the office holder, once declared unfit by a medical board if called by Cabinet. In fact, one citizen attempted to compel Cabinet to call for such a board through the High Court but his application was dismissed.
In view of widespread rumors regarding the health of Zambia's president, Michael Sata, Gershom Ndhlovu argues that the constitution mandates the cabinet to probe his health:
The last time Zambia’s President Michael Sata was seen publicly was on or around June 20 when he hosted a Chinese government delegation led by Vice President Li Yuanchao at the Presidential Palace. At that time, Sata’s appearance was that of an ailing man, a confirmation of his scraggy appearance at the High Court a couple of weeks earlier.
When pictures of a seemingly sick Sata went viral on social media, one online publication, the Zambian Watchdog, reported that the President had been evacuated to Israel for treatment.
Obviously, the expose did not go down very well with government whose senior officials at the level of vice president and ministers issued all manner of statements ranging from the president being on a working holiday to wooing investors and meeting that country’s President Shimon Perez.
Upon his return to Lusaka, the president’s office tried to show him as working normally and even posted pictures of him chairing a Cabinet meeting. The people were not convinced and called of the bluff, alleging that the pictures were photoshopped.
However, the most disastrous public relations stunt that spectacularly backfired was the picture of President Sata swearing in then Solicitor General Musa Mwenye who had been ratified by parliament for the position of Attorney-General but had been unsworn for weeks on end. There had been concerns that Mwenye would not perform in his new role without being sworn in.
The picture which was published on the Presidential Palace Facebook page, supposedly with the aim of showing that Mwenye had been sworn in as Attorney-General, had in it a deceased individual and another one who had been posted to the diplomatic service two years earlier.
Gershom Ndhlovu explains why it is a tough job being an opposition leader in Zambia:
It is really a tough job to be an opposition leader in Zambia. You have to daily face the police, risk being teargased or even locked for doing the job that you must do — meeting potential voters even when elections are five years away or performing the most important function, that of providing checks and balances. Opposition Members of Parliament are equally poached at will by the head of state.
If there is a cliché that applies in this situation is that of “history repeats itself.” The process of harassment, for that is what it is, tends to bake the leaders for when they take over government and apply the same methods to those who fall in the unfortunate role of being opposition leaders especially if they are popular.
In commemorating Zambia's capital city’s centenary this year, Gershom discusses the origins of Lusaka township names:
Obviously, a number of other writers have written about some of the names of some of the townships and residential areas such as John Laing, John Howard, Kuku and others having been farms belonging to those people and Kuku having been a cooks’ quarters. I will not talk about these names.
Do you know who Zambia's gossip girl is? Read Neelika's post on Africa is a Country blog:
We’ve grown to love serious reportage coupled with compromising photographs and cheeky headlines, such as “Kambwili grabs Roan golf club, turns it into grazing field for his cows,” replete with a stock image of the enormously pot-bellied Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili, and a story supplied by ‘concerned citizens’ detailing how he appropriated the Luanshya-based Roan Antelope club to feed his crew of cows and goats.
Zed Blog Social Media Awards identify and celebrate the best in blogging and social media in Zambia:
Meet our Judges| Bwalya Chileya or @MissBwalya as she is known by most is founder of the twitter based chats ‘Insaka’ which can be described as targeted at discussing cultural and societal issues in Zambia. Bwalya is also a freelance writer who has penned articles for Voices of Africa. She is also a blogger.
Meet our Judges| Merushka Govender is a travel blogger, social media strategist and freelance writer. In 2013, she was named one of the top 10 Travel bloggers in South Africa. She has been handpicked by brands like Samsung to test their products, as well as selected for numerous blogger campaigns, including a recent #GoToReunion trip.
Gershom Ndhlovu looks at the reasons why ailing African leaders wont step down:
There have been rumours, innuendoes and even insinuations regarding the health, or the lack of it, of Zambia’s President Michael Chilufya Sata, in office since September 2011. These have been spread by the largely unregulated online media that the Patriotic Front (PF) government is intent on controlling or even shutting down altogether.
The government has not particularly responded to these rumours apart from issuing one-liner statements refuting the stories about the health status of the 76 year-old head of state and veteran politician.
However, when Sata appeared at a May 1 Labour Day parade to receive a traditional salute from workers in the land, the appearance was very brief and only accompanied by a one minute address before getting into his motorcade for a three kilometre drive back to the presidential palace, a lot of people were convinced the President was not well.
“Is Crimea referendum a good model for Africa?” asks Richard Dowden:
Africa’s arbitrary borders, mostly drawn by people who had never set foot in the continent, have always been an obvious target for renegotiation. But Africa’s first rulers, who foresaw chaos and disintegration if the nation states were reconfigured, ruled it out. “Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State” was one of the founding principles of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the forerunner of the African Union. Despite all the wars, internal and external, this principle has been pretty much adhered to by both presidents and people.
Loyalty to an African state is not always related to the ability of that state to make the lives of its people better. Patriotism, an emotional thing, does not take these benefits into account, even in countries where the majority of citizens are marginalised or oppressed by the government. Even in the catastrophic recent meltdown of South Sudan after just two years of independence, no one is advocating return to rule from Khartoum. In the dying days of Mobutu’s Zaire (now the DRC) I was astonished to find that people felt it to be a great country. I asked why Katanga, the rich south east province, didn’t secede – as it had in 1960. My suggestion was greeted with shocked surprise.
Mr. Ndhlovu explains the purpose of his book in the last pages. He states that he was motivated to write this book because pastors and politicians who had been abusing the Christian faith to advance their personal agendas had disillusioned him.
Munshya wa Munshya reviews Gershom Ndhlovu's new book titled The Declaration of Zambia as a Christian Nation: Blessing or Curse?.