By Henry Kanyanta Sosala
I entirely agree with Dickson Jere that the above clause should be revisited. And I appeal to the delegates to the National Dialogue forum to seriously examine the running mate clause with a view of the deadly consequences it would have in future and please do not listen to those Judas Escariots who are on foreign payrolls. They are given programmes by their paymasters on strategies – they are boxed in a coffin-like narrowness of vision and thereby suffocate their creative imaginations.
I got the attention of President Levy Mwanawasa in 2005 during the Constitution Review Commission. He got hold of something I had written about the relationship between the Catholic Bishops and the Oasis Forum in which I had pointed out why these two bodies were insisting that the Constitution should be adopted through the Constituent Assembly:
‘’The Oasis Forum describes itself as a ’Church-led’ movement. And so, what are implications in this declaration? Which particular church is actually leading the Oasis Forum and why? Why have the Catholic Bishops in exclusion of the other church fathers issued a pastoral statement in support of the Oasis Forum, when such declaration had already been made through the Catholic’s own Mother body? And it was at this point that His Grace Archbishop Mpundu who was Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) President as well as Lusaka Archdiocese Coadjutor declared: ’…. The involvement of the Catholic Church in the Oasis forum is to ensure that a people-driven Constitution is enacted.’ (Saturday Post 24th December 2005) .
‘’Why have the Catholic fathers authorized the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace to be campaign ‘crack unit’ for the Oasis Forum throughout the country? From 9th to 12th January 2006, the chiefs from Mpika, Luwingu and Kasama districts attended a workshop at Chilubula mission, which was organized by the Catholic Commission for Justice and peace in order to soften our hearts on the constituent assembly.
‘’Can the Catholic Bishops just by themselves allow the Church to embark on such a massive political mobilization of the entire country without the whistle from the ‘holy see?’ can the Oasis Forum on its own really raise the staggering sum of over K700 billion locally for the Constituent Assembly or is the local fundraising campaign merely a camouflage for the real source?
‘’Do all these not imply that the Church of Rome is determined to form the next government in Zambia through the Oasis Forum? Since the Catholic Church is opposed to the Declaration in the Constitution for Zambia to be a Christian nation, why has the Church particularly opted for the Oasis Forum to run its government? Is it not when God is recognized in the administration of the nation that the people attain to the maximum of their potential?
‘’In view of the above, the Church-led Oasis Forum has transferred its goal posts from the level grounds of the political battlefield into the sanctuary of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. This is a deliberate and calculated move because the underlying combined political and spiritual maneuvers only leads to what is called Old Testament Terrorism (OTT) and which can be summed up in this way: to oppose the Church-led Oasis Forum is to be opposed to the Catholic Bishops; to oppose the Bishops is to be opposed to the Catholic Church; to oppose the Catholic Church is to be opposed to her teachings and to oppose her teachings is to be stigmatized as a heretic.’’
President Mwanawasa having been brought up as a Watchtower was very surprised that I, being what is known as a ‘’staunch Catholic’’ was able to write such. But I explained to him that I was a free-thinker and one of the tenets of being a free-thinker is to tell people what they need to know rather than what they want to hear. And I went on to explain that the Catholic Church was the freest religious organizations which accommodates even it’s bitter critics. And I quoted what a Jesuit Catholic priest, Father Gerard W. Hughes had written in his book ‘’God of Surprises’’: ‘’The Church must encourage the critical element in its members. If it fails to do so, then the individual will not be able to integrate religious belief with everyday experience or, put in other words, God will be excluded from most of the individual’s life until religion comes to be considered a private but harmless eccentricity of a minority…..So a Church which really trusts God is not afraid, but encourages its members to search and question, guiding them in her wisdom and warning them of routes which she knows from long experience to be cul-de-sacs. Her teachings will never be delivered as the last word on any subject, but rather as signposts, encouraging her members to explore the route further for themselves. Otherwise, undue emphasis on the institutional element today is likely to produce a Church of dwindling numbers, loyal, obedient, docile, uninspired and passive members, God’s frozen people.’’
It was from there that I wrote a document for President Mwanawasa titled: DO NOT BE FOOLED ABOUT THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY: A CONFRONTATION WITH CLASS COLONIALISTS. And in chapter VI under the title: ‘’The Constitution Could Ignite Political Chaos,’’ I wrote quoting from the Interim Report of the Constitution Review Commission: ‘’ Article 149 (1) of the Mung’omba Draft Constitution states: ‘’There shall be an office of the Vice-President of the Republic.’’ And (3) states: ‘’An election to the office of Vice-President shall be conducted at the same time as that of an election to the office of President, so that a vote cast for a presidential candidate is a vote for the Vice-Presidential candidate, and if the Presidential candidate is elected, the Vice-Presidential candidate is elected.’’
In Article 18.104.22.168 of the Interim Report of the Constitution Review Commission, the people rightly submitted: ‘’A large number of petitioners said that the Vice-President should be appointed by the President amongst elected Members of Parliament or nominated from outside Parliament as is the case currently. It was argued that having the Vice-President elected by universal adult suffrage would make it difficult for such a person to be moved and may promote insubordination.’’
The Commissioners’ view on political rivalry was that specifying functions of a Vice-President would avoid friction and minimize this…. Besides, the Vice-President would have sworn allegiance to the Constitution, which created his position and any act of insubordination would be a reason for his removal.
I then wrote that it was a pity that the Commissioners exhibited the characteristics of an eye that sees everything before it, but does not see itself. How can an African show allegiance to a piece of paper other than to the people who voted for him and in such cases it could even be claimed that people actually voted for the Vice-President other than the President, and that it was the Vice-President whom the people voted for. The Commissioners overlooked that the fact that the Vice-President could not accept his dismissal, since it’s the people who had voted him and therefore it’s only the people who could remove him from office. And this could definitely cause a split in the nation.
I went on to state that had the Commissioners made an effort to critically the African political history in this respect, they could have realized that there was always some power struggle between the two top powerful people in the African nations. And here are some examples: In Zambia: Messrs Nkumbula and Kaunda; Messrs Nkumbula and Job Michello; Messrs Kaunda and Kapwepwe; Messrs Chiluba and Sata; Messrs Chiluba and Mwanawasa. In Algeria: Mr. Ben Bella and Colonel Gaddafi. In Kenya: Messrs Kenyatta and Odinga Odinga. In Tanzania: Messrs Nyerere and Oscar Kambona. In Congo: General Mobutu and Nguza Kai bond. In Malawi: Dr. Kamuzu Banda and Mr. Henry Chipembere. In Zimbabwe: Messrs Joshua Nkomo and Nabaningi Sithole; Messrs Nabaningi Sithole and Robert Mugabe; Messrs Robert Mugabe and Edgar Tekere.
And in closing I wrote that what we must bear in mind is that there would always be people who would support the Vice-President inspite of whatever genuine reasons he would be dismissed from his position if he is backed by the Constitution. The problem is that we have in our midst certain people who stubbornly just want to witness ‘’apatotelwa iminang’u’’ i.e., they are a sort of people who have to burn their fingers first, before learning to respect fire.
And please note that I wrote the above in my document in 2005 and fortunately I am still at the tail end of history and can see what has since transpired and the problems other nations have gone through in this respect. Chika Onyeni, a Nigerian resident in America wrote in his book, ‘’Roar of the African Lion’’: ‘’The dismissal of Deputy President Jacob Zuma in June 2005 could have generated a great crisis in South Africa. Instead, Zuma went on to become the country’s democratically elected President. The situation has been quite different in Nigeria and Malawi…… In reacting to his dismissal, Zuma had this to say: ‘I believe [Mbeki] has taken this decision not because he believes I am guilty of any crime but because of considerations relating to the constraints within which government operates.’ It is the mutual understanding and respect that these two individuals had for each other that made the dismissal less of an issue than it would have been elsewhere.’’
But did that issue end there? The problem arose when on 8th May 2006 that the Judge acquitted Mr. Zuma of rape charges. And in April 2009 the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) withdrew charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering against Mr. Zuma, that Mr. Zuma conspired with Julius Malema and successfully ousted President Mbeki from office. And as usual Mr. Zuma and Julius Malema later became bitter enemies.
Dickson Jere, the former Presidential press aid in the Rupiah Banda regime wrote: ‘’…. As the National dialogue Forum starts deliberations on the Constitution, the running mate clause must be re-looked given the lessons leant so far. In Malawi where they have a similar running mate clause, all the three running mates who became Vice-Presidents of Malawi ended up differing with the sitting President. For example, President Bingu Wa Mutharika had to send his running mate and Vice-President Cassim Chilumpha to prison for treason, but he remained VEEP while in remand prison.
‘’In his second term, Mutharika differed with his new Vice-President Joyce Banda. He kicked her out of the ruling party but she remained constitutionally a Vice-President of Malawi even after she formed her own party. Currently President Mutharika has differed with his Vice-President Saulos Chilima. In Zambia, the running mate clause appears to be working largely because the current Vice-President Inonge Wina is not power hungry.’’ (Quoted by Oliver Samboko, Daily Nation 22nd April 2019)
Let us look further into the Malawi episode again. President Mutharika had accused Vice-President Chilumpha of running a parallel administration. And unlike Mr. Zuma, Vice=President Chilumpha had this to say: ‘’As far as I am concerned I can only leave this office through impeachment, resignation or my death and none of those things has happened, so I am still the elected Vice-President of this Republic.’’ You may recall that this was exactly what I had actually told our Commissioners in 2005.
Chika Onyeni wrote: President Olusegun Obasanjo announced on Saturday 23rd December 2006 that he had sacked his Vice-President, Abubakar Atiku. The sacking was the result of a long-running feud between the two men. Obasanjo was campaigning for the third term and equally Atiku was vociferously campaigning against the President’s running for the third term.’’
What was interesting that I was in Nigeria this year before the elections and Mr. Abubakar Atiku was challenging President Muhammadu Bahari and Mr. Obasanjo was in support of Mr. Atiku whom he has accused of many crimes when he was his VEEP.
The problem we are currently facing in our nation is that the nation is swallowed up with tribalism everywhere. For example, when former Public service pensions Fund (PSPF), Dr. Richard Mwiinga’s contract was not renewed, UPND chairperson, Mutale Nalumango accused President Lungu of not renewing the contract of Dr. Mwiinga because he was Tonga. However, Dr. Mwiinga distanced himself from the clique which included former Secretary to the cabinet, Dr. Sketchley Sacika that he had never discussed his dismissal with anyone.
Meanwhile, a former PSPF employee, Joseph Zulu whose contract was also terminated wondered why President Lungu was being accused when it was the board that proposed such action. He said his contract was not renewed inspite of coming from Eastern Province. (Daily Nation 18th January 2018).
And let me digress to point out that Mrs. Nalumango who comes from Northern Province never uttered a word when after 2016 elections Bembas were beaten and their properties destroyed in Southern Province.