Monday, June 24, 2024

Lesson 3 from America: With a bit more loyalty, Nevers Mumba might have ruled Zambia


By Dr Parkie Mbozi

ONE OLD adage says, “Patience pays”. I would add another one, “Loyalty pays more.” A third one goes, “A vulture is a patient bird” (because it waits for an animal to die on its own and rot before it pounces).

All these adages apply to the ‘thesis’ of this article. It is that if only Nervous Mumba, the current President of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), had been as patient to the cause and loyal to the appointing authority as Joe Biden has been, he might have ruled Zambia. Biden’s election as the 46th President of the United States of America offers to our local politicians a lesson about the rewards of loyalty, patience and perseverance.

Mumba and Biden have a few things in common. First, both kicked off their working careers in different fields before ending up in politics. Second, both saved as vice President and were both unexpectedly hand-picked by their boss. Third, before their unexpected appointments as Veep both failed their respective individual shots at the Presidency, twice in Biden’s case. These similarities notwithstanding, the two guys have different approaches and experiences in a variety of ways. Of interest to this article is that: 1. Biden stayed loyal to the appointing authority and saved in the position for the two full terms of his boss while Mumba was fired within 17 months of his appointment. 2. Biden has been rewarded with the highest post in his homeland. 3. Mumba, on the other hand, is fighting for the Presidency of Zambia which I argue that was within his grasp on a silver platter.

Let’s look at Biden’s case first before we contrast it to Mumba’s. He was raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Delaware. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware in 1965 and a law degree from Syracuse University in New York in 1968, Biden began his career as an attorney before quickly turning to politics, serving on the New Castle county council from 1970 to 1972. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 at the age of 29, becoming the fifth youngest senator in history.

About a month after his entry into the US senate, Biden’s wife and infant daughter were killed in a car accident, and his two sons were seriously injured. In a recent CNN documentary Biden reveals that contemplated suspending his political career and even committing suicide after this tragedy. However, Biden was persuaded to join the Senate in 1973, and he went on to win reelection six times, becoming Delaware’s longest-serving senator. In addition to his role as U.S. senator, Biden also was an adjunct professor (1991–2008) at the Wilmington, Delaware, branch of the Widener University School of Law.

As a senator, Biden focused on foreign relations, criminal justice, and drug policy. He served on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, twice as its chair (2001–03; 2007–09), and on the Committee on the Judiciary, serving as its chair from 1987 to 1995. He was particularly outspoken on issues related to the Kosovo conflict of the late ’90s, the Iraq War (2003–11), and even on apartheid in South Africa.

Biden pursued the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination but withdrew after it was revealed that parts of his campaign stump speech had been plagiarized from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without appropriate attribution. His 2008 presidential campaign never gained momentum, and he withdrew from the race after placing fifth in the Iowa Democratic caucus in January of that year. On August 23 2008 Barack Obama officially announced his selection of Biden as the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee, and on August 27 Obama and Biden secured the Democratic Party’s nomination. On November 4 the Obama-Biden ticket defeated the John McCain-Sarah Palin ticket. In November 2012 Obama and Biden were reelected for a second term.

As vice president, Biden played an active role in the administration, serving as an influential adviser to Obama and a vocal supporter of his initiatives. In addition, he was tasked with notable assignments. He helped avert several budget crises and played a key role in shaping U.S. policy in Iraq. In 2015 his eldest son, Beau, died from brain cancer; Biden recounted the experience in Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose (2017). Biden, who enjoyed high favourability ratings, announced that he would not enter the 2016 presidential election, noting that the family was still grieving. Instead, he campaigned for Hillary Clinton, who ultimately lost the election to Donald Trump.

Biden’s close relationship with Obama was evident when the latter surprised him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with distinction, on January 12, 2017, just days before they left office. When Obama presented the rarely given honour, he referred to Biden as “my brother.” Later that year Biden and his wife established the Biden Foundation, a charitable group involved in various causes. Biden remained very close to the Obamas even while out of office.

During the primaries for 2020 Democratic Party nominations, Biden did not hide his wish that Michelle Obama would be his running mate. Biden’s unwavering loyalty to Obama was a key factor in his endorsements for nominee of the Democratic Party by influential African-American groups, such as the Black Caucus and Black Lives Matter, and individuals, such as House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Obama was also a key factor in Biden’s campaigns especially in key swing states, most of which Biden went on to win. “Michigan, Joe Biden is my brother. I love Joe Biden and he will be a great president,” said Obama during a joint campaign in Michigan.

Obama’s sharp criticisms of his successor Donald Trump were catalytic to the public resentment of the Trump administration. Obama passionately accused Trump of failing to take the coronavirus pandemic and the presidency seriously. His eloquence is said to have helped energize voters across the country, especially black voters, at a time of hopelessness due to the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic. It ultimately helped deliver the 46th Presidency of the US to the Biben-Harris ticket.

Mumba was born in 1960 in Chitambo at Chitambo Mission, northern Province. He grew up with his parents and 11 siblings in Chinsali, in a religious home. His father Sunday Mumba was a teacher and pastor at the United Church of Zambia. He was baptised as a member of the UCZ by Rev. Paul Mushindo. Mumba had his primary education at Chinsali Basic School. After getting very good grades at his Grade 7 examination, he was selected to go to one of the best schools in the country, Hilcrest Technical High School. Whilst there, he joined the Zambia Cadet Cooperative Force (ZCCF) and rose to the rank of Provincial Commandant for Southern Province.

He then went to the Zambia National Service for one-year compulsory training. Here he had hoped to become a full military man, but he changed his mind, left, and went to work in the mines on the Copperbelt province. Whilst on the Copperbelt he joined the Pentecostal Movement and joined Maranathan Church where he became a church elder under Bishop Sky Banda at age 19. The following year, in 1980, he left and founded Victory Bible Church and Victory Ministries International where he excelled as an evangelical television preacher.

In 1997, he founded the National Christian Coalition (NCC), a Christian political movement. It was registered as a political party in 1998. It participated in the 2001 Zambia general election, where Mumba emerged as 5th out of over 11 candidates.

In May 2003 President Levy Mwanawasa appointed Mumba as vice-president, ignoring dissent within his own party. Mumba took over from Enoch Kavindele who sacked together Finance Minister Emmanuel Kasonde, Information Minister Newstead Zimba and Inspector General of police Francis Zonda.

On October 4, 2004 (17 months after his appointment) Mumba was sacked as Vice President for Insubordination. He was accused of sparking a diplomatic row with neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over claims he made that then fugitive Xavier Chungu, the former Zambian intelligence boss, was being hosted in the DRC and Congolese businessmen were funding Zambia’s opposition. Mwanawasa had admonished Mumba over the accusations and apologised to the Congolese government. Mumba, however, refused to acknowledge that his comments were imprudent, much to Mwanawasa chagrin.

“I am Mr Mumba’s boss and I am entitled to some form of respect in line with the oath that ministers, including the vice president, take when I appoint them. Since he did not regret what he said, I regret that I appointed him and I have with immediate effect removed him from office,” the Daily Mail newspaper quoted Mwanawasa as saying. Lupando Mwape took over from Mumba. However, Mwape was unavailable for re-appointment as Veep having lost his Lukasha parliamentary to the PF in the 2006 general election. This paved the way for Rupiah Banda’s equally unexpected entry as nominated MP and subsequently Mwanawasa’s Veep for the 2006 – 2011 term. Banda ‘resurrected’ Mumba’s political career by appointing him Zambia’s High Commissioner to Canada from 2009 until 2011.

On 25 May 2012, Mumba was elected as President of the MMD, which had been in opposition since its defeat in the 2011 presidential election. He had a go at the Republican Presidential in January 2015 where he amassed a paltry 14,609 votes (0.88%). He missed out on the 2016 elections due to court actions over the Presidency of the MMD.

It can be argued that had Mumba remained loyal to his appointing authority, he would have been with him for the second term (2006 – 2011) until Mwanawasa’s untimely death on August 19, 2008. He might have gone on to win the 2008 by-election, as Banda did, and, who knows, the 2011 general election.

Only time will tell whether the likes of GBM, Canisius Banda and Richard Kapita will not wish they had remained loyal and persevered a little longer.

The author is a Research Fellow with the Institute of Economic and Social Research, University of Zambia. He is reachable on pmbozi5ATyahoodotcom. Some of the data used is lifted from Wikipedia and other online sources.


  1. Leaders are born, they are not made. It was written from beginning that takatekepo. Same applies to the likes of HH. Edgar c lungu is a naturally born leader. Ask even those who went to school with him, they will tell you that they always knew he would lead this country one day.

  2. You’ve given us excess info about Joe Biden. Nervers Mumba has left a trail of betrayal on his journey to his current position. I won’t catalog everything beginning with his stint at Evelyn Hone as an interpreter for cfan’s pastor Bonkey. He’s dishonest, even his ascension to the MMD Presidency was crooked

  3. Nevers Mumba over rated himself. He was naive to believe because he was from the pulpit, it automatic that every Christian would give him a vote.
    If only he had remained loyal, he had a real chance to rule; but thanks to him RB, was resurrected.
    ECL is president today because of loyalty. Before Sata was taken seriously ill, he bequeathed all the key positions, to a not so well known ECL, who was overtly loyal and could be trusted.

  4. The day Nevers Mumba stops saying I was vice president there fore I am suited to be President, he will have made headway, by the way, he has never said I achieved this as Vice President, he just says I was vice president and he has annoyingly said it several times. Now we all know being Vice President is not an achievement. If a President likes you or he is your friend, as incompetent as you are or maybe he could still appoint you as Vice President, especially from the old constitution, somebody close to him quickly needs to whisper to him that being a vice president can never be an achievement

  5. Mumba has no royalty or respect for others, only himself. Yes, Levy raised him, & he disrespected him in return. Next as stated RB resurrected his political career, and it didn’t take long for him to disrespect RB. Now you can see him & his approach, he thinks he can win on his own despite just getting less than 20,000 votes last time he stood for elections. Mumba is useless.
    Ba Kaizer Zulu, lungu is not a leader. He does not command respect – even when he dribbled at the convetion, today after the thieving in govt he is not respected. You can see from the many videos of people insulting him that you are arresting. Even Kambwili does not respect him because he has witnessed ubukopo

  6. Alucinating!!! You think becoming President of Zambia just come like a loaf bread? Nevers Mumba will never be Prrsisdent of Zambia. He missed an opportunity…..God Positioned him there but UMULOPA WAKU CHINSALI Made loose a Goldern opportunity…..a prophet from nigeria prophesied mumba will be President…..but Nevers never handled the Prophesy bwino bwino…..he misfired. He should God to Zambia shall be saved CHURCH.

  7. Brother Nevers Mumba would been a President but the problem with our man is pride. I personally used to enjoy his preaching especially Zambia Shall Be Saved. The other thing which brings down is the characters of their wives. There is still chance for Nevers to make it. In short Nevers is very over rated and can’t make a good leader. He knows it all.

  8. Mamba’s record of failures:
    Zambia Shall be saved- FAILED
    National ChristIAN Coalition-FAILED ( Lack of trust by fellow Christians)
    Attempt for plot 1: FAILED (a Paltry 20,000 votes)
    Vice Presidency- FAILED (Fired after 17 months- Lack of Trust by the appointing authority)
    RP party-FAILED
    High Comissioner- FAILED and ended up in court.
    MMD presidency- FAILED
    New Hope MMD -FAILED (There is no hope and the party is going down the UNIP way)
    Way foward- ????????


  10. @ja: what a mind job the useless opposition have done on you!! You seem to ignore what people who’ve grown up with ECL say and choose to follow hhs and other opposition hateful version. Even those who knew him from UNZA will tell you about him. As a lawyer, he gave his services to the Gabon disaster families for free. Kambwili hates Lungu because Sata chose Lungu over him. The “thriving” you speak about is pure social media speculation that can’t get a hearing in a respectable Court of Law in Zambia. Simply put, the opposition don’t respect and hate Lungu while rational Zambians have accepted and respect him as their president-2015 & 2016 will be remembered in history as an unknown novice best a veteran loser twice!!!

  11. Nevers Mumba is a f**king as whore will h zero ability! Had by any misfortune the presidency landed on this *****’s lap, Zambia would have disintegrated! Only in Chinsali can baboons like Mumba even dream of aspiring for office!

  12. ECL has been a disaster as President with both governance and economic status of the country graded as junk by respected international rating agencies. All economic benchmarks are battered by reckless borrowing and very poor leadership. The sad part of democracy is as evident as this failure is vivid, there are others who are clapping for a man who has lamentably failed. Much as ECL has been a proper disaster as President, I think Nevers would be a worse. Being a former Vice President with no capacity in that hand picked position he had cant make somebody a great leader.

  13. I am not very worried with Nevers, because he is at the end of his political shelf life and traitors like that argumentative guy who is a PF MP are not in the picture, but truth be told, the new hope MMD needs to disband and join the only two real parties in the Country, UPND and of course the failed PF project. Just like Peter Chanda, YALI, Mulemwa and others who are self appointed PF spokesperson and never talk about their own party. Even Cosmo who decided to faint at Satas funeral also needs to disband as well.

  14. One notable flaw in this article is not recognizing that Biden was ELECTED Veep, not APPOINTED, as was in the case of Mumba. There is no guarantee that even if Mumba were loyal to levy, he would have stayed on in Levy’s second term as Veep. The Vice Presidency was used as a political tool to appeal to different demographics. That said, it is evident that what propelled Biden to build much needed support was that he had a virtually presumptive endorsement from Obama.

  15. Thats also what happens when someone says, the Holy Spirit told me to become President. The founder of CBN or Christian Broadcasting Network { Pat Robinson ] tried the same song in the 80’s. He convinced the Evangelical Christian Communities in USA that the voice of God told him to become President.

    We’ve had so many Americans using the calling from God to stand for presidency. Yet they fail miserably. This includes Jesse Jackson, a Preacher and Black Civil Rights Leader in USA, who even visited Zambia in the 80’s . When Jesse Jackson run as a Democratic Candidate in the 1984 and 1988 US Elections, he said it was Gods calling.

  16. Mumba is just a stupid and overrated, conceited, egomaniac who thinks too highly of himself.

    Just wonder hiw hus followers cannot see through this miserable wreck.

  17. It is better to die standing than on our knees. Who said that? To some people eating dust off the boots of someone is more important than sticking to your principles. The long serving Tonga politician was a typical example.

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