THE PRESIDENT-ELECT’S MIXED MESSAGES OF RECONCILIATION, PEACE AND UNITY – TRANSITION versus POWER VACUUM
[By Brig. Gen. Godfrey Miyanda – 31st august 2016]
I am prompted to respond to Mr Amos Chanda’s recent “Vacuum Speech” because his Boss has left a trail of illegal pronouncements and actions. Mr Chanda’s Press Briefing seemingly endorsed the President-Elect’s creation of the Ministry of Religious Affairs announced at St Paul’s church in Lusaka. It is misleading to give a blanket declaration that the President-Elect has a mandate to do as he pleases regardless of the time and season through which the nation is passing; it is also misleading to suggest that he can create ministries, districts and constituencies at will as alleged by his Assistant Mr Amos Chanda.
In Hitler’s Nazi Germany there was a man called Joseph Goebbels who, though long gone, was the master propagandist of all time. But in today’s Zambia there seems to be a Goebbels at work, manipulating information, shutting down media outlets and ensuring that there is no response in the public media to deliberate lies and half-truths.
Today in Zambia the problem is to identify who this modern Goebbels is in the PF political machinery; unless we understand what is happening in the PF’s media strategy we shall never liberate the people of Zambia as promised by the late President Sata when he revealed that he was leading the country to the Second Liberation! The search to identify the Zambian Goebbels must begin in earnest but must take place concurrently with countering the lies without waiting for Z Goebbels to be exposed. I begin my search and contribution by responding to Mr Amos Chanda’s assertions during his “Power Vacuum” speech.
CREATION OF THE MINISTRY OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS
Barely 24 hours after the President-Elect announced the creation of the Ministry of Religious Affairs at a well-attended church function of the United Church of Zambia his assistant, Mr Amos Chanda, held a press briefing whereby he declared that there is no vacuum in Zambia because of the so-called new Constitution. He also mumbled something about violence, unity and tribalism. Like Goebbels he did not contextualise the real issue at hand. I say to him and his boss “You cannot have your cake and eat it”!
As a Christian myself I should be rejoicing about the purported creation of the Ministry of Religious affairs but the issue is NOT the creation of the ministry but why now in the middle of an election petition! I contend that the Chanda “Vacuum Speech” has ignored the context of the intention of Parliament to provide an orderly transition from the just ended regime to the new one for the next five years. Since there is not yet a confirmed winner of the August 2016 election it is mischievous for the President-Elect to be posturing daily in churches, prisons and countrywide tours as if nothing has happened in the nation. His status has been challenged so it is not only in bad faith but is provocative, especially to those who have not accepted the outcome of the last election, to be creating ministries. In God’s name how can his actions create peace, unity and reconciliation in the nation? Let him just seat back patiently and await the outcome of the challenge to his election.
Mr Amos Chanda, or accurately President-Elect Lungu, is wrong to consciously mislead the public that the President is working. The churches that are supporting, hosting and congratulating him are naïve and are ignorant that there is formally “no government” at the moment since the tenure of the former PF government ended on 13th May 2016 when the Parliament was dissolved; but the State continues to exist without a formal “government” for only a period of 90 days!
CHANGE VERSUS THE SPIRIT OF THE TRANSITION
The President-Elect’s Team is in denial but must accept that following the dissolution of Parliament on 13th May 2016 a major change took place that triggered the transition mode. This change cannot be stopped by anyone, not even by the Constitutional Court. The sooner Mr Chanda, alias Lungu, wakes up and stops denying what has taken place the better for us all. The Constitutional Court is not there to stop the change but to affirm that indeed a new regime is upon us, and that new regime will either be a new PF one consisting of a new Cabinet or a new regime of a different political party. Even a re-run, if ever it became necessary, will not change the scenario because only the two top contenders will take part in the run off, unless by some miracle recounted votes disclose that in fact votes were stolen from the other candidates!
The change is that following the dissolution of Parliament on 13th May 2016, there is a government-in-waiting; the Constitutional Court will merely put a stamp of confirmation and endorsement of what that change is after considering the case presented to it by the parties in contention. So lets us bide our time and allow the process to take its course. Thus the President-Elect must not keep sending mixed messages himself or through surrogates to the nation at large, cunningly and subtly communicating that the PF regime is still in place by creating ministries, districts and constituencies; imagine even sending a so-called PF Disaster Management Committee to Namwala with food for the survivors of the “Namwala holocaust”!
I contend that the five-year tenure of the PF regime run from September 2011 and expired on 13th May 2016, when Parliament was dissolved. So, what is the reason for the Goebbels strategy? It is to keep the natives believing that there has been no change in spite of the petition by showing the President-Elect humbly carrying on his normal duties and officiating at functions and creating new ministries. But I call on the President-Elect to be patient and savour the new constitution that he operationalized publicly by his signature at the Independence stadium on 5th January 2016.
The spirit of the Constitution has been relegated to the rubbish pit, vis a vis the transition. Let us wind back to the historic coming on the scene of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MDD) to rescue Zambians from the claws and jaws of the One Party Dictatorship. Team MMD had won a landslide victory in November 1991, following the first multiparty general election that ended the One Party regime. I was standing by Dr Frederick Chiluba’s side at Hon Newstead Zimba’s Rhodes Park house on Lagos Road, when outgoing President Dr Kenneth David Kaunda telephoned FTJ to concede defeat.
It was a joyous occasion but it also produced a vindictive reaction within our circles. “Kaunda must get out and go immediately” urged some members of Team MMD; the purveyors of this diatribe will remain unnamed for now. I was isolated because I advised FTJ to give KK time to clear out, in spite of the Constitution which provided for a 24 hours swearing in schedule. I argued that the perception will be that we were vindictive. The voices for immediate eviction of KK were rather strong.
But in those early days FTJ paid attention whenever I spoke. He agreed with my suggestion; but later a new angle was introduced by the same cabal, that FTJ must enter State House immediately as a symbol to the whole nation that he was now the President. After much private persuasion it fell on me to find an alternative transit camp instead of a hotel, hence the birth of the so-called Government House – this little battle was won without much fanfare and KK remained in State house for some days; I was the only Minister with FTJ when KK handed over to him. The purpose of this brief expose’ is to illustrate what happens when there are gaps in the law and how some people routinely choose to take advantage of those gaps for selfish motives.
There is always a period of a momentary vacuum, to borrow Mr Chanda’s word. But it is NOT a real vacuum because the government system remains intact. I contend that the tenure of the outgoing PF regime ended on 13th May 2016 when the five years term of Team PF (President, cabinet and MPs) ended. We have always had a transition, except during the One Party period. There is an unwritten rule or practice that no new government programmes are initiated as has been done by the President-Elect. The President-Elect and his Team must stand still and patiently await the outcome of the Petition!
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TOO SLOW
The complaint that the Constitutional Court is taking too long and delaying development is not supported but is mischievous, unfair and intended to pressurise the Constitutional Court and to make people believe that the Court is not equal to the task. The Petition of Mazoka and Others, arising from the 2001 Presidential election (Anderson Mazoka, Christon Tembo and Godfrey Miyanda versus Attorney General and ECZ), is instructive.
That Petition took four years to conclude while the declared winner was carrying out the functions of Republican President, making the whole exercise of the petition an academic exercise and a mockery of justice. The Amended Constitution has provided for a shorter transitional arrangement of 14 days to manage the ascension to the Presidency and make the change over smooth. In short the spirit of the Constitution is that there is never a vacuum; but such interpretation must not be to serve a private agenda of the so-called incumbent as stated by Mr Amos Chanda, alias Edgar Lungu.
I totally disagree with those persons, including some NGOs and some churches, alleging that the Constitutional Court is delaying the Petition. They are definitely ignorant of the new system of managing cases. It is an effective system; it is efficient but puts pressure on the parties to the case to be clear in the claims and demands presented to the Court.
Is it rational for anyone today to say that 14 DAYS IS TOO LONG? 14 days versus 4 years? There must be another hidden agenda behind such statements. It is for parties to ensure that they have credible evidence and stick to the case they have put before the Court and confirmed in the preliminary phase of the Petition. I am certain that this UPND Petition will not and cannot take four years as before, not even one month if the Petition rules are followed. Let us leave the Constitutional Court to do its job without conducting running commentaries. Please no more hocus pocus from Team Amos Chanda and his extended family.
A CONCERNED CITIZEN
[31ST AUGUST 2016]