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Zambia is moving towards economic apartheid- A letter to Hon. Brian Mushimba


A combined team of Zambia Air Force (ZAF) and Zambia Army officers carry the caskets during the burial of Hillcrest National Technical Secondary School accident victims at Villa Grounds in Livingstone.Picture by KELVIN MUDENDA
The caskets of pupils from Hillcrest National Technical Secondary School who died in a bus accident that occurred during a night trip.Picture by KELVIN MUDENDA

16th December 2016

Honourable Brian Mushimba,
Minister of Transport & Communication,
L U S A K A.



I refer to your statement in the Sunday Nation of 11th December 2016: ‘’In view of the concerns received regarding the reported negative consequences of Statutory Instrument No. 76, any changes or adjustment to this regulation may be undertaken upon receiving a report with recommendations from the task force constituted to monitor and evaluate the impact of SI No. 76.’’

I understand that ‘’the negative consequences of the Statutory Instrument No. 76,’’ has originated from the rich business women and men who feel that the ban of night movements of passenger and heavy vehicles has affected their high profit margins. In fact this superior class has adopted the upper-class arrogance to dismiss the people’s feelings with impunity. This domineering clique of the powerful has become like a cork on the bottle, stopping the contents from going anywhere. And it is quite clear that the Ministry is ready to reverse its early decision since it quickly constituted a fake ‘’task force to monitor and evaluate the impact of SI No. 76,’’ immediately after receiving complaints from the powerful rich. The question is: why didn’t the government constitute the task force before the issue of the Statutory Instrument if they genuinely wanted to gauge public opinion from the general public?

I would not hesitate to state that Zambia has undoubtedly become one of the most unequal societies in the world. Zambians rank differently on the social status-ladder which means that the pent-up feelings of ‘’them Vs us.’’ The Zambian society is split into the minority class of economic winners who inhabit a cosmopolitan world of affluence and a growing underclass with little or no hope of economic ascent. A Catholic priest, Father Peter Henriot had warned of

‘’Zambia moving towards economic apartheid……poverty is not just a political and economic issue, but also a moral problem which can segregate citizens on lines of the apartheid regime of South Africa. We had a problem of apartheid, which divided people on racial basis. We are now moving towards economic apartheid in Zambia which can divide us on poverty lines…….’’
(The Post 31st October 2004)

And in this respect, we have second and third rate category of stakeholders who use public transport, i.e., those in the middle-income bracket and the long-distance travellers to and from urban areas from rural areas and who are usually referred to as ‘’villagers,’’ the new derogatory version implies crudity, un-sophistication and gullibility.

Am I exaggerating? Then listen to David Punabantu:

‘’After independence the control administration and development of Zambia remained in urban Zambia and was defined by urban perceptions and values of development. Consequently, it was not surprising that when cyclone Japhet hit Gwembe valley, the affected Zambians were not called ‘Zambians’ but ‘villagers’ by the urban based Zambian media organizations, indicating their discriminatory attitude much like the colonial whites towards blacks.’’ (The Post [supplement] 24th November 2004).

The issue at hand is: ‘’what is of more value between money and third-rate human life?’’ The issue of banning night movements of passenger and heavy vehicles was brought to light by the Acting President, Her Honour the Vice-President Inonge Wina, when we had the usual road carnage and she told the nation that the Statutory Instrument No. 76 was lying unexecuted at some government office. And we are now learning why it had been blocked and not implemented.

However, we are dealing with the ‘’sophisticated clever’’ and when there was no way to further block it since the high office was involved, they allowed it to go through, but immediately created the fake ‘’task force to monitor and evaluate the impact of SI No. 76,’’ that would pretend to receive submissions from the one-sided stakeholders since the majority of the people are not even aware that there is such a task force and then eventually ‘’legally’’ shoot it down, ‘’after the people had spoken.’’

Let us examine the arguments from both the government side and the powerful rich. Before the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation, the country was being guided by the Philosophy of Humanism, which depicted Man to be at the centre of society. And every individual who matter of what status was regarded as ‘’Common Man,’’ and generally the nation adopted the word ‘’comrade,’’ which does not refer to females or males. And Commonocracy defined ‘’Common Man’’ as ‘’that person or individual who without state protection is bound to suffer.’’

And in fact the UNIP administration had banned the movements of heavy vehicles at night and again the government intervened on behalf of the peasants who are mostly accident victims on long-distance passenger buses. It must also be noted that there has never been at any-time in the history of public transport accidents where a bus victim was accorded a day of national mourning. And even when they perished enmass there has not been a single minute of national silence. They are so unknown that the police have to appeal to the general public to come and identify their dead. I suppose we can now clearly see the status of the people who generally use public transport.

They seem to have no public identity. And in what radicalized freethinkers refer to as ‘’militant philosophy,’’ it is said that in algebra, one does not work out X, but operates with it as if he knows it. In politics of exploitation, X stands for the anonymous poor masses and this accordingly means operating using X without worrying about its actual nature. They remain profoundly alien on their own God-given soil i.e., persons apart, for such people lacking alternatives are victims of every exploitation that appears on the horizon. And as a result of the deliberate policy of poor education in rural areas, the people are unable to defend their interests; to somewhat unionize; to petition; to speak out and to challenge, for example, as in the unfair case at hand.

Every autocratic and authoritarian scheme of social action rests on the belief that the needed intelligence is confined to a superior few, who because of accumulated wealth or their high level of education are automatically endowed with the ability and the right to control the conduct of others; laying down principles and rules and directing the ways in which they are carried out. The type of ‘’homo oeconomious’’ emerges here whose egotism and hedonism are the driving forces of society and whose individual gain becomes a measuring rod for what is regarded as socially acceptable.

The powerful rich have accused the government of shedding crocodile tears on worthless and valueless human beings since they receive a lot of money from the rich which greatly contributes to their emoluments through taxes by ZRA. Here is a classic example to slave trade where, in order to fulfill the insatiable desire to accumulate vast sums of money, millions of people terribly suffered and many others are still trapped in its aftermath.

A social system that was adopted after 1991, which enabled individuals to rise from the impoverished circumstances of their origins and succeeded economically and socially by dubious means does nothing but to perpetuate poverty and inequality. And here is what Isaac Chipampe wrote: ‘’Indeed after 1991, I saw few of the original wealthy people maintaining their riches. To the contrary, a new crop of wealthy people emerged. They never borrowed from financial institutions; they never discovered anything comparable to Bill Gates’ Microsoft; they never owned any business that had a workforce or machinery or even buildings to show for, and never invested in anything apart from being co-opted in government as political appointees. Government became their major source of wealth.

Government became their major source of wealth

If one was not in government, one became poor and hence the culture of people failing to stay out of politics. And who can argue against the reasoning that it pays to be in government when one looks at the wealth that the Task Force has exhibited so far. A Zambian owning a Lincoln limousine in a country where ninety per cent of the population is poor? Even in America, many wealthy people only hire limousines.’’ (Zambia Daily Mail 10th September 2002).

Chibamba Kanyama wrote:

“One of my most serious challenges as a business journalist is to find entrepreneurs worth profiling. On the face value, it looks easy to find a man or woman to feature in a television programme. But there are not many people possessing the courage to discuss their businesses. Many know that their businesses have no business genealogy. A number of properties and assets have been acquired through corruption, drug trafficking and fraud. Simply put, they have no business story worth documenting.” (Business Post 26th June 2008).

What then can we expect to come out of the foregoing? The Post observed in the editorial:

‘’We have lost a lot in terms of our sense of humanity over the last 15 years. The man-centred society that KK and his comrades tried to build has been substituted by a society of wolves, hyenas and jackals which is centred in greed and vanity where those who are shrewd, who are daring, the most crooked who steal everything and become rich, leaving nothing for the poor.’’(ibid. 18th September, 2006).

And of course I am likely to face vehement accusations from individuals and groups that have allowed greed to control their entire lives, however, reality falls entirely within the passage from Atkins Court forms, 2nd ed., Vol. 25, which states that”…

the scope of the defense of justification does not depend upon the way in which the plaintiff pleads his case, but on the meaning or meanings which words are capable of bearing.”

By Henry Kanyanta Sosala


    • Well written, Zambian leadership should be proactive, than always want to be reactive based on what the President said. Brian is a Young minister educated in the US, and should put up problem solving solutions, and not creating another problem. Facts are Zambian traffic has increased, yet the government still want to have single lane roads hence these accidents.

      We need to change for the better..

  1. What should be done then sir to undo this evil created by the past administrations and being perpetuated by the current admin?its a lovely article..ooh my Zambia 🙁

  2. Dear Mulena (King) Chanda Sosala
    You and General Miyanda are unassailable in the way you understand and articulate issues. The Zambia of today is run like a mulaka (a herd of cattle) where cattle owners (those who lead us) can drive cattle in any direction and cattle sheepishly follow unquestionably. It is truly an economic apartheid and one only needs to visit any service department (RATSA, Passport office, Ministry responsible for land, hospitals etc) to see that the national psyche and its moral fibre where citizens cared more for people and less for money has been shredded. Thank you Ndate for your clarity..but IS ANYONE listening?

  3. Indeed the paramount chief deserves honorary doctorate. Zambia is led by small clique benefitting at the expense of the majority Zambians. These during the time of elections, convince the majority of the poor to vote candidate of their choice in the end their status is unchanged. They continue eating and majority continue in their poverty. Cry my beloved Zambia. Look at load shedding, abnormal situation has been normalised in Zambia. People were celebrating when Lungu was announced in Komboni areas and yet are the ones hard hit with load shedding. The whole of SADC region is burning. No proper leadership. DRC is burning. Zimbabwe is burning. Zuma is just barely hanging at least their the party knows what it wants and is driving change within the party.

  4. Chief, while your article properly analyses the current political & economic situation, banning of night driving is NOT the best solution to curb road accidents. Before the ban, we already had laws that, if enforced, would do that nicely. As things stand now, fatal accidents are still occurring proving that the solution is not in banning night driving.

  5. ….. It must also be noted that there has never been at any-time in the history of public transport accidents where a bus victim was accorded a day of national mourning. And even when they perished enmass there has not been a single minute of national silence…in August 2013, Sata declared 3 days national mourning in honour of 51 post bus victims….
    ..I wonder what is the author’s point of view on this article…

  6. A well articulated article which we hope some of our leaders have read! Please do the right thing to turn Zambia into a great nation.

  7. This well articulated position of the Zambian cizenry has been said time without number. “Stockholm Syndrome”, where the led majority poor Zambians have been made to like, love, adore and covet with envy by the rich few. ‘Slavery concept’. The suffering majority are deceived clevery by the few, by way of appeasing the poor with words as Atkins 2edn. Vol. 25 rightly puts it. Those who suffer from the words said by those who torment them tend to like it. Remember PF said was a pro-poor government. Poor Zambians like it. This confirms the resistance of night ban bus business. To the rich like Chishimba Kambwili, a few lives lost as a result of night bus accidents at the expense of huge profit is nothing to Kambwili and such like rich few. Come election time poor Zambians vote for them…

  8. In America road transport is 24hrs and this is ok due to the perfect roads and strict and incorruptible police force.

  9. While it seem that there is more risk at night than day time factors attributed to night driving should be criticallly analysed other wise the economy will slowly be affected when goods and services are not moving intime. You may ask and answer one of the question..How about the post Bus that claimed over Fifty people on Board did the accident occur during Night time?or it was day time?These buses carry passenger who should be empowered to effect a citizen arrest on any driver who is drunk,fattigued,or overspeeding or report such a driver upon arriving at a police check point or roadblock and the bus can be impounded untill daybreak.

  10. Well said… But what can we do to change things, seeing that the article has gone well beyond the issue of night travel?

  11. @14 My attention is on the party that talks about “sudden wealth “. This phenomena has greatly contributed to high poverty level in the country. Resources are in very few hands leaving the majority gaping with surprise wondering how they have remained so poor. Money meant for hospitals, development etc is stolen by the “clever ” few. Zambia is by no means a poor country if you totalled the wealth in the hands of the few looters you’ll discover that there is enough to go around. The wealth where one works hard adds value to the citizens ‘ well being as compared to wealth which is created by stealing from public coffers.

  12. Great article and reads well. Economic apartheid is not New in Zambia. Nut did exist under UNIP – and the slogan was Go BACK TO the Land!! Who was this meant for? It was a design by government to KEEP the rich in cities while middle class citizens retired to their villages.
    Zambia is run by rich people who do not care about the poor

  13. The fundamental issue we have in this country is the poor quality of roads of road construction and yet very expensive for nothing. Poorly finished work such no road markings; the few that have markings no paint used is not roads and hence the markings are no reflective at night. Use of substandrd paints for road markings is widely used on trunk roads. Worse still the markings fade a few months. Very narrow hard shoulder on the roads. RDA are perpetuating the construction of poor quality roads.

  14. If the post’s exagerations of calling people hyenas and jackals and pete henriot’s misguided ascertions that Zambia is moving towards apartheid are what people call well written, then we are going no where.
    apartheid is racial segregation. does our economy look anything like that? Of jackals and hyenas who are they? if we do not have an inkling who they are then the essence of communication has been lost by an institutions that exists solely for that purpose.
    Its these incitations which end us up in circles. Let us clear understanding of the problems in which are instead of comical and nonsensicle commentaries which serve to excite rather than educate. we will go nowhere in the end!

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