Response to Laura Miti’s Questions on Hakainde Hichilema’s role in the Grazier Matapa funeral fiasco

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United Party for National Development (UPND) President Hakainde Hichilema at the funeral of slain UPND member Grayser Matapa
United Party for National Development (UPND) President Hakainde Hichilema at the funeral of slain UPND member Grayser Matapa

After reading Laura Miti’s reported statement in Lusaka Times of 2nd March 2015 headlined “What was Hakainde Hichilema’s role in the Grazier Matapa funeral fiasco” I am compelled to give a response. From the outset I must say that I respect Laura and I support her cause as I identify myself with that cause in all scheme of things political in Zambia. Laura is an important person in the area of shaping opinion on any matter she chooses to comment on. However, allowing her statement to go without calibration is to do injustice to matters surrounding the “fiasco”.

Reading the five questions Laura asked and the rest of the statement as reported left me feeling the volley of bullets were directed at the wrong and soft target. What difference does it make whether the party leadership authorised the carrying of the coffin through the streets of Lusaka or not? It is my opinion that such an act is a choice of freedom of expression. It sends a strong message to those who choose violence as a way of expressing their partisan political victory. Besides, I would seek the position of learned persons on whether there is any law that prohibits funeral processions on foot.

Besides, I would seek the position of learned persons on whether there is any law that prohibits funeral processions on foot.

What is “uncultural” about a funeral procession on foot? What made the end appalling and inevitable if not the overzealous and ill cultured police officers? Why did the police have to order the mourners to put the casket on a vehicle? What law did the mourners break by carrying the casket on their shoulders? I am amazed that the police had tear gas for peaceful mourners when they do not use it on panga wielders when they do what they have been schooled to do by their leaders – violence.

On the question of controlling party cadres we must be honest and give praise where it is due. Between the two major parties (PF and UPND) which leadership has had better control of their cadres in the last three years? Who does not know that PF is the mother of violence in today’s Zambia? One sure legacy of the PF is violence, which has pervaded the party to the extent that there has been volatility within the party itself. The PF Police force seemed to have been incorporated into glorifying violence. Carrying pangas has become the new culture that Zambians must not allow to get into our blood stream.

I find the question directed at the UPND and especially President Hichilema on justifying violence rather condescending. The UPND were the ones that the police tear-gassed. There has been no report from any quarter to the effect that the mourners started the fiasco.

Lecturing HH and his party on the need to do something to ensure their cadres understand whatever “cardinal point” is shooting at a soft target; addressing symptoms and not the root cause of current political violence. What all Zambians must do is discourage any form of violence from any section of our society. Ultimately, those we elect into government have greater responsibility of ensuring that every Zambian understands how democracy works.

By Mapanza H Nkwilimba

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40 COMMENTS

  1. Zambians need to get over their inferiority complex.If we don’t bury the dead the way the white people do it’s called uncultured. How did we bury our dead before whites came here? How do they bury in the villages.I don’t think they hire cars to carry the coffin.They go on foot! UPND mourners broke no law.

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    • Modernity brings changes in the way we do things (Not White People) Advancement in technology and science has enabled has to place our dead relatives in refrigerators for days before burial. In SA and Botswana corpses can be kept even for more than two weeks. The point I am driving at is that ” because we walked from home to the graveyard does not mean we should do that from Kanyama to Leopard Hills commentary. What about other road users, did we consider them? The circumstances and contexts are different. You may have argument here but compare oranges with oranges and mangos with mangos.

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    • SPOT ON MR. NKWILIMBA! SPOT ON MY BROTHER. IN FACT, YOUR ANALYSIS HAS REVEALED THE HATRED WHICH LUNGU AND HIS TEAM HAS ON UPND AND HH. LUNGU FEARS HH SO MUCH THAT EVEN A NORMAL ACTIVITY BY UPND IS SEEN A THREAT BY LUNGU. WE ARE A FREE STATE, HENCE FREE TO EXPRESS OURSELVES IN ANY WAY, AS LONG AS OUR EXPRESSIONS ARE NOT ANTI-CULTURE.
      I HAVE ALWAYS SAID THAT LUNGU DOES NOT MEAN WELL FOR ZAMBIA. LUNGU IS HUNTING FOR A SITUATION IN OUR COUNTRY WHERE HE WILL HAVE TO ORDER MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM TO GO AND KILL INNOCENT CITIZENS, ALL IN THE NAME AND GUISE OF INSTALLING ORDER. LUNGU IS A CRIMINAL. LUNGU HAS BEEN PLANTED AT STATE HOUSE BY OUTSIDE FORCES TO DESTROY OUR COUNTRY. WATCH THE PACE. GET READY FOR AN EVENTUALITY GENTLEMEN.

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    • NEITHER ARE VILLAGE FUNERAL A POLITICAL PROCESSION NOR ARE THEY USED TO PROTEST AGAINST CHIEFS. IF U WANT LET YOUR VILLAGE RELATIVES USE A CORPSE AS A TOOL FOR PROTEST AGAINST CHIEF OR VILLAGE HEADMAN, THEN WE WILL SEE IF THEY BROK NO LAW

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    • Dear author, you need not worry about L Miti. She was writing this article from an angle of wako ni wako. this is the real sad development in this country. If she understood, how feneral processions are done in the villages, she would not even have spoken. This issue is our villages are custodians of cultural practices, so is she questioning the culture of Zambians in the villages where they do not use police vehicles to transport funeral processions?

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    • I know Lara is a level headed woman , she condemned sata when he was wrong , she was the only one who cold do it openly. Her views on the Freema.son are correct.

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    • Iwe naiwe this is the 21st century. Stop the hypocrisy. You want to be traditional when it suits you. Do you see the traffic in Lusaka? Can we afford such confusion on a busy day by foot coffin carriers? You cadres should learn to support your preferred parties within the confines of the law and not inconveniencing others who have busy schedules.

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  2. I am equally disappointed by mama Laura’s reaction and this post just puts things in perspective. The police broke the law by attacking people who were mourning their dead in peace while proceeding to bury their loved one. They broke no law by deciding to walk rather than use motor vehicles. Moreover, mourners do not need any police permit. Laura should reflect on her questions which are clearly misdirected. Obviously, she already had an opinion before putting those questions to paper.

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    • In April 2010 Afrikaans when burying their slain leader paraded the coffin, sang the apartheid national anthem and taunted the police. No tear gas was fired and no one was arrested let alone threatened. The whole thing died a quiet death. The same would have happened if Police had just let the mourners mourn the way they deemed fit. People get angry when someone is murdered. What were the police afraid of? PF cadres attacking the mourners? Most certainly yes. But do you teargas the victim? No. You protect the victim. Just remember that every Zambian pays tax that is used to pay the President, his ministers, the police and all others. Allow freedom of expression and you will have no blood pressure. Let the people vent their steam. Do not stifle them. Mr President, protect your people.

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  3. You UPND supporters get real.Do not justify the unjustifiable.Mourning in such a manner when you have a suspect in mind is provocative and its very demeaning of the dead.You want the police to do their job,but at the same time you are have already judged them that they siding with the suspect.That was breach of peace in the sense that you have a suspect in mind and you are provoking that suspect.Marahaji you spoke bury the dead before the white people came?Come on we are in the 21st century,we don’t need colonial ways now.Its no wonder your women protested half naked challenge.I can see that you guys UPND wants to take us back in the colonial era.Grow up.Some things you do not need law,but common sense as well mannered and mature people.

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    • Mainga Mainga,
      Seriously and what is the polices’ job here? To make sure people use vehicles to carry their dead? Are you sure you actually read over what you wrote, I’m trying to understand how you thought this through and it actually made sense to you.

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    • You are right. We do live in 21st. century. Unfortunately, try to explain that to the police who still believe and worship political patronage at the expense of basic fundamental rights.
      In a free and democratic country, police pay respect to the funeral procession by saluting. In Zambia they use force.
      Free and democratic?

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    • DONT WORRY UPND, U TOO WILL ENJOY THE POLICE TO THE FULL WHEN, IF AT ALL U, GET INTO POWER. SORRY BUT THIS IS THE HARD TRUTH OF EVERY COUNTRY EVEN AMERICA. WE JUST HAVE TO LIVE WITH COZ WE WONT CHANGE NOTHING!!

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    • Wow,

      How many dead people have been carried on the wheelburrows in Zambia. Very sick people are ferried to the nearest clinics on wheelburrows in Zambia and you nincompoops see nothing wrong with that. How many are brought in dead whilst being ferried on wheelburrows, unless things have changed now but back then this was the order of the day. My late aunt once brought her dead husband on a cart driven by an ox from the hospital. She was only 25 years then. What has changed today? Thumbs up to UPND for this initiative and there is absolutely nothing wrong with carrying a coffin over the shoulders. The corps was in a sealed coffin therefore no health hazards, unlike ferrying a dead corps on a wheelburrow or ox driven cart due to lack of facilities.

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  4. Fololish argument, how can mourning be provocative
    If you’re not part of the bereaved why not stay home. In villages even suspected wizards attend funerals without incidents. So if you choose to join the procession stay quite even if you’re the suspect
    Laura let herself down on this. Most people will now start questioning her integrity especially that she straight went to the media to attack HH who is not even a member of the family of Grazier

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    • Police could have only thrown tear gas if the mourners showed violence and vice versa if someone else showed violence. I think they acted before thinking.

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  5. The motive of footing the dead to the cemetery is what was wrong.
    Who couldn’t see that the intention was to use a family’s grief for political ends?

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  6. When people narrow their minds and attention to politicking all time ,they can easily forget to do the right thing but do the opposite. Surely ,we are in town, where on earth have we allowed or seen coffins paraded in streets in the name of culture that is only invked at the expedience of politics. Nature itself refuses. We are in town and so activities in town are dictated by environment you live in. Health Science does not allow the dead to be exposed to the living at the ill motive of the desperate. There are better ways of addressing these issues but not the barbaric way. What do we want to show? To make Zambia ungovernable? Why not respect the systems of governance? Would the people carrying coffins on foot do so to their relatives in town as culture today? Come on ,we can do better .

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    • If is true what you say and if is true that we are all equal in death, then why late Sata (RIP) was paraded up and down Great East Road?

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    • What Health Science are you talking about? Where was your health science when President Mwanawasa’s body was taken around the country for viewing? After all the UPND member’s coffin was sealed. Or does your health science only apply to the remains of ordinary citizens? Haven’t you seen on TV Palestinians carrying their dead in open coffins? Use a different argument, Sir.

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  7. And people sure , how do you allow your dead relatives to be used as pones of politicking? Do you or did you love your relatives to leave them in the hands of double mindedness. We should learn to respect the dead. If not checked people will start hiring thugs to kill at the expense of political expedience. People will say lets kill and say such and such political party has killed this one meanwhile it is all at your hands that the person you pretend to burry with decence was killed at your hands. Lets be careful as a country and learn to respect the leadership in power regardless who has won the seat. we are one Zambia, one nation.

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    • But the deceased was killed in political violence so a politisized funeral fits the occasion.

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    • @7.1 James, you have hit the nail right on the head. When Steve Bantu Biko was killed by the South African racist regime he was given a political funeral. His coffin was carried on an ox-drawn cart and yet there were hearses. There was nothing wrong with carrying the coffin bearing the slain UPND cadre on shoulders. Perhaps the only problem is that the procession would have caused a traffic jam given that it was moving from Mumbwa Road to Leopards Hill.

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  8. Funeral processions on foot are not wrong and its part of cultural norms. However, Doing such acts for political expedience is not good.

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  9. At least the UPND Women had bras to cover their breasts. The N’cwala women were bare breasted! Mama Chikamoneka was in the Tradition, my foot! Wow- chiwamila galu ………!!

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  10. The PF cadres are way out of line, they have stolen, looted, assaulted, done every bad thing but no punishment. In fact they get appointed to positions, currently DC of Vubwi was in charge of the riots of 2013 in Katete. She was arrested temporarily & appointed DC while the looted continue to suffer.

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  11. The writer of the above is certainly a UPND cadre. I think we need the independent minds to comment such as the church. Iam not a member of any party but if my opinion was of any value, i would blame both parties; PF and UPND.

    1. PF because of the involvement of the police in a brutal manner when approaching the funeral procession. The should have read the tempers of the UPND mourners and use civil means of approaching them. Being the accused, PF shouldn’t have indulged themselves so much to cause confusion during the funeral.

    2. UPND failed on their part to ensure a peaceful procession. For those who witnessed the situation can tell that the cadres started becoming unruly and violent. The funeral procession turned into a war zone. Those of us who were independent mourners left.

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    • So how do you blame PF? PF is the party in government and part of its job is to maintain law and order. If the UPND were left to proceed, there would have been chaos along the way and maybe more lives lost. Who would have been blamed then for that? PF again? How do you control unruly citizens without using minimum force?

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  12. This country has a government in place which is in charge of every event. You can not do anything with getting express permission from the power that be unless you are lawless. We have all condemned what upnd wanted to do. Those mourers needed to inform police of whatever they wanted to do and police was going to cover them. What if a truck smashed them them oon the road and killed them? Because upnd don’t respect the current govt they thot they were at liberty to do anything they want. Obey and respect the govt simple. And the writer proves it that they don’t respect authority by calling zambia police as pf police. What a shame to you.

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  13. Crimnals that hide under political parties will always murder each other. THESE people grab plots and kill owners. This man was a criminal under mmd. They grab a farm in KALIKILIKKI and they killed the owner, the white man. Every dog has its day.

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  14. Really sad what our police can do. I can imagine how traumatized the relatives of the deceased are especially the spouse and children. What do they think of the Government after that careless handling of the funeral by the police?? I would have no kind words. Please Mr President, protect your people. You are not contesting an election but running the country. Those cadres will just dent your name. You could say, it does not matter since you already won the election. But the point sir is that as of now you are our defender of the constitution and protector of the strongest and weakest Zambian. The opposition are not enemies. They are competitors. Continue doing the right thing. Cadres are overzealous and have nothing to lose. That is why they move from one party to another.

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  15. Stella has completely messed the Police with her unprofessional but purely partisan policing she has introduced. She is the one who needs to go back to school and learn how to police citizens at the moment she is a disgrace to the Police Force.

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    • What do you expect from someone called mapanza! Obviously, you will support even the nonsense that is perpetuated by your dead party.

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  16. Come on Tonga party, oh sorry UPND. Some of you are saying in other countries they carry caskets on the streets and if it’s Islamic countries that is part of their culture. Second, another one of you HH’s cock suckers said Sata was carried through the city. Yes, he was on a dais pulled by a car. Since when has carrying a casket in the city been normal? Save for the fact that they wanted to make a political statement. Do you all think of traffic in the city when this happens? We are in a modern world and to compare the situation to the villagers is wrong. They may not have means but Grayzier was at St. Ann meaning even transportation was available for his body. UPND politicized that funeral. May Grayzier rest in peace!

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  17. From my perspective to carry someone’s coffin of the shoulder is a sign of respect and an honour to the departed one.
    Warriors do that to a departed comrade. Even the head of state’s is carried on top of the gun not because the nation can not afford a limousine.

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  18. Both Mapanza Nkwilimba and Laura Miti have good points. From the face it, you would think that both are talking because their tribesmen were in the dock. Nkwilimba is tonga whereas Miti is Nsenga . I would like to think they were not enticed to comment because of these tribal concerns. Having said this, when a person dies, the destination should be the burial site and not a display of the coffin in the streets. And I would like to believe UPND have resources to use a vehicle to carry their dead than the display they wanted to show Zambians. Lusaka is not a village. There should be respect for the dead. No dead person should be used for political expedience. What we saw during the burial of this UPND cadre should never be repeated. A coffin being dropped and falling into pieces is not fun…

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