By Sunday Chanda
I have known Anthony Mukwita for a lot of things in Zambian media starting from being an innovative journalist that could push the envelope and create some of the sauciest newspaper headlines to being an academic and a consummate diplomat.
Today, however, I feel he has redefined himself to perhaps being one of the bravest novelists and documentarists Zambia has had in recent history.
I base my opinion on his depiction of former vice President Guy Scott in the thrilling political book Against all Odds-President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s Rough Journey to State House.
In this book, the author exposes the man we know today as Guy Scott in a shade previously unknown. A political villain of sorts.
Mukwita cleverly shows the immensely divisive role, Dr Scott played in the 2015 Presidential election following President Michael Chilufya Sata’s death on 28th October 2014 and his open contempt for Edgar Lungu esq.
The author doesn’t miss out the messy and hasty plan to grab power from a hapless Edgar Lungu who was then the rightful and legal acting President of Zambia.
I note with interest, the dimension by the author emphasizing that Acting President Edgar Lungu was holding onto the instruments of power from the Scott camp.
Maybe the author should have probed further whether the “forceful” transfer of power the next morning after President Sata death was above board or not. Maybe in his revised edition, Mukwita would answer some ‘mystery’ questions: did the Attorney General at the time Musa Mwenye and former Vice President Guy Scott abrogate the law as per Article 36 of the 1996 Constitution?
Did the Constitution at the time permit for the acting President to cease performing the functions of President without being informed by the Speaker of the substantive President’s return?
Was there any provision in the law providing for the handing over of power by the acting President to anyone else apart from either the substantive President or indeed an elected President?
This was crucial to dissect because when late President Michael Sata left the country for the United Kingdom, the nation was informed that he was going for a routine medical check.
Clearly under that law, President Sata left the country under the then Article 39 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia which deals with Discharge of functions of President during absence, illness etc.
Under this provision, the Acting President could only hand over the instruments of power upon the return of the President, or upon the election of a substantive President.
It did not provide for anywhere that the instruments of power shall be handled to another Acting President.
The question which this great book should ask is what happened to the law on that particular morning? Was it breached?
Lungu wakes up to the fact that not everyone in the PF is his friend in a section the author calls ‘The Candidate and the frenemies’ and alas Scott leads the pack of the ‘United Hates of Edgar Chagwa Lungu.’
Absent in the book in my view are the reasons for Scott’s immense dislike for Edgar Lungu whose reluctant ambition to go to State House are to use Mukwita’s lucid description ‘monkey-wrenched’ at each turn with apparent glee by Scott and friends.
This starts from Scott insisting that the broke ruling party must hold a convention for Lungu to contest against nine other internal ‘enemies’ even as opposition maestro HH stocked up on political canons and dug holes around the PF.
Edgar Lungu was standing on quick sand but Scott kept hitting at him including firing him from the position of General Secretary President Sata stripped of Wynter Kabimba and bestowed onto him (Lungu.)
The author also shows Scott’s immense hatred for Lungu when the estranged vice President also writes the Chief Justice to stop Lungu from filing in papers as the candidate of the ruling PF.
As you read Mukwita’s page turner, you wonder when Scott is going ease the heat on Edgar Lungu who has now gained a huge national following but alas Scott like a restless ghost keeps stealing Lungu’s sunshine right to the very end of the election relentlessly according to the book.
At the end of the book, you ask yourself some questions?
Why did Scott get out of his way to stop Lungu from being the PF president and indeed president of Zambia?
Would Scott have gone to similar breaths and lengths to stop Wynter Kabimba if he had been the one acting President?
Was Scott’s resentment exclusively for the man of the people from Chawama and Chimwemwe—Edgar Lungu?
In great pieces of literature I have read and reviewed during my university days, there often is a villain and a protagonist to keep the story running.
Author Anthony Mukwita passes this literature test by show-casing Scott as the arch-villain.
You must be familiar with villains such as Shere Khan from The Jungle Book stories by Rudyard Kipling? If you are, you will recall that Shere Khan’s sole purpose in life was to lure the innocent boy Mowgli and eat him up.
Or perhaps you recall O’Brien from ‘1984’ the dystopian novella by the celebrated George Orwell.
O’Brien is a cynical and intelligent villain perhaps remembered more for the quote: “One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”
It is all about the villain and the protagonists in the examples I have given above as much as it is in Against all Odds (The Good Guys and the Bad Guys) which sometimes I think should have been the battle between Edgar Lungu and Guy Scott.
Anyhow, Mukwita makes my day, as a reader who followed the events leading to President Lungu’s election closely, so therefore I believe I speak for many readers when I say the “evil dude hit parade of literature” could not be complete in Against all Odds-President Edgar Lungu’s Rough Journey to State House if the author neglected to show the deeply divisive role Scott played and his immense hatred for Lungu.
Read the book and you will learn a lot on how to tell a story and create a plot within a plot if you are an aspiring writer.
If you are a historian, here is a piece of history set in modern Zambian times waiting to be peer reviewed.
At the end of the book, I ask again, “why did Scott play super villain against Edgar Lungu?”
Perhaps, the author Mukwita will tell us more about that in another book.
For now, I close the end page with a sigh of relief that the protagonist, the man fired and re-hired Edgar Lungu gets sworn in as President of Zambia against all odds on 25th January 2015 and proceeds to clinch his first full five year term in 2016. The stone that Scott had refused becomes the head corner stone.
I also observe that Mukwita doesn’t lose sight of the positive role Scott played in getting PF into office with his friend President Sata, before he turned rogue that is. This is commendable.
Against all Odds is a captivating book I would not hesitate to endorse while Mukwita tells the story like no other author can in my view.
The Author has a law degree University of Lusaka and has written broadly locally and internationally on various socio politico economic and legal issues. He has worked as Programme Development Manager, Centre for Leadership Development, University of Pretoria; Programme Development Manager, Afrika Leadership Development Institute, Pretoria, South Africa (a multi-university initiative); He also holds a Certificate in Asset Based Community Development from St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Mr Chanda is a local pundit who at the time of review was pursuing a Master of Science in Project Management with University of Lusaka.
Author: Anthony Mukwita
Formats: Hard cover, Soft Cover and e-books
Available: Bookworld Zambia, Amazon and Exclusive Books South Africa
Genre: Political, biographical and thriller.