Saturday, July 20, 2024

Mumbi Phiri: The Dilemma of Keeping Quiet in Africa


…a Classic Case of Mumbi Phiri Detention in Zambia

By Anthony Mukwita

More than 80 years ago, the Adolf Hitler led NAZI Germany used various legal and illegal measures to oppress, demonise, ostracise, and annihilate hapless Jews.

History records show that thousands of Jews with means tried to flee the ´Fatherland´ but mostly failed, ended up in ´death factories´ such as Auschwitz, gassed and scorched to ashes by Hitler’s ´dogs. ´ sometimes shot first or gassed then scorched.
I visited Auschwitz in Poland a few years ago as Ambassador of Zambia to Germany and Poland, I could not complete the tour of the Concentration camp because of the harrowing blood trail images left behind by the NAZI´s on a people they regarded as an enemy.

A distant second away from Nazi Germany almost 300 years ago, British settlers invaded ´Terra Australis´ aka New South Wales or New Holland now Australia.

The British slaughtered in cold blood thousands of natives known as Aboriginals without blinking an eyelid, raped their women in broad day light to steal their land in front of their families.

“The mass killings in Australia were first carried out by British soldiers, then by British police and settlers – often acting together – and later by native police, working under the command of white officers, in militia-style forces supported by colonial governments” reads a study in part.

Another study shows that there are many, “known cases of deliberate poisoning of flour (which was a staple food then in Australia like mealie-meal in Zambia) that was administered to deliberately kill Aboriginal people.”

The harrowing stories above aren’t much different or isolated to the incidents of murder of Zambians at the hands of British colonialists and their companies such as the BSAC when they sought to dig copper in the Northern Rhodesia.

The common factor about the above narratives is that, in all of them, it took years before an individual, a privileged community or a regional of continental body openly condemned the atrocities. Everyone was silent in support for the victims.

The local and international communities that have existed for years sat or stood by, wined, and dined and pondered over a solution to stop the rot as Aboriginal women got raped and South African men and women got shot down like dogs on Main Street.
The international community stood by and watched as Jews got roasted in death factories, as Aboriginal women got raped and their husbands got hunted and killed like dogs.

For those of you that maybe wondering where I am going with this as a Zambian first and a global citizen over all; guess no more:

I am talking about Ms Mumbi Phiri, a former Zambian lawmaker that has been under lock and key by the state for 179 days from February 2022 for an alleged mother case, at the time of this missive.

The law in Zambia does not allow a murder suspect to get bail or bond but it stresses that they must appear in court within the shortest period of their arrest that could be within 48 hours or a week.

It’s assumed that on arrest, the state must possess enough evidence to convict or at least give them a fair trial, but this has not been the case with Mumbi Phiri, an ailing grandmother, raising various questions regarding her continued detention.
What has raised discussion around her prolonged detention without trial to national and international media glare above many issues, is the fact that the new President of Zambia has instructed law enforcement to “not detain people (Zambians) without proper investigations.”

President Hichilema´s discourse was widely welcomed when he made it repeatedly on the heels of his election almost a year ago on 12th August because he personally had been detained for at least 127 days under similar circumstances.

Protagonists in Zambia such as main opposition leader Given Lubinda, Sean Tembo, Emmanuel Mwamba, Chilufya Tayali, Miles Sampa including ´minor´ church and rights groups have roundly and loudly condemned the lack of trial for Phiri, no one has declared her innocent—just a call for a fair trial.

The consensus has been that if the state has no evidence against Phiri and thousand others in detention, they must be released until such a time that the evidence is adduced.

Others have gone further to suggest that Phiri is a victim allegedly of the vociferous open criticism she uttered on the current leadership while they were in opposition. She is reaping what she sowed.

I am a fairly intelligent man myself, I do not have access to the facts the state have against Ms Phiri nor her lawyers but something is not right in the State of Denmark.

What concerns me the most is the loud silence of local and diplomatic voices that would normally speak bloody murder over sex, but then maybe they know more than most of us ignorant people that have not been around for a while.

I recall an adage that states that ´when good people stay silent, injustice reigns´ and that if you do not speak for your neighbour today, no one will speak for you tomorrow.

Its re-affirmed in the wisdom of Hitler sympathiser turned critic the Reverend, Martin Niemöller. Tired of atrocities and bloodletting at the hands of the Fuhrer, Niemöller said, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

“Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.
“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
“Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me,” said the Reverend Niemöller

So today it maybe Ms Phiri and several other Zambians under similar circumstances as her, you stay silent.
Ask not whom the bell tolls for folks, it tolls for thee.

God gave us speech to speak for those without a voice, right or wrong, power to help the weak, not punish them.
If only law enforcement could listen to the Commander in Chief of Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema, they will hear his crystal-clear voice: “Though Shall Not Arrest and Detain without building a Case…” said President Hichilema.

Follow the President´s wisdom, free Mumbi Phiri, probe her properly and take her to trial along with anyone else in her shoes, as the President has advised. Zambia is a great country, once you cut through the political noise you will find that what divides us politically and otherwise fadeth into ether compared to what UNITES US.

I hope you now understand my reference at the top of the page to the Jews and the Aboriginals. They were both ignored like Ms Mumbi Phiri.

Allow me to close the chapter from Isaiah´s wisdom that as we pray for Ms Phiri and others in her shoes, remember that, “even youths grow tired and weary, the young stumble and fall,” But God shall always carry us on.


  1. In the previous regime everything stopped at Lungu the head of state then. Zambia has a current mhead of state just like Lungu was. The back surely must stop at HH the current head of state or have we become pretenders and pretend that HH does not know what is going on. Are we now sugar coating his statements? We also seem to have forgotten that one politician said” This regime says the right things in front of cameras but do the exact opposite in private” does that ring a bell? Well it may just get worse before it gets better. God help us.

  2. Do not worry, mumbi our mother and sister is 100times stronger than insecure hh. She will get through this. Hh is only cursing himself and upnd. Soon the Lord will start fixing them. One by one unexpected deaths

  3. This boy Anthony has now started writting articles again after enjoying himself at taxpayers expense in Germany with his wife…just look at how these cadres are crying for Mumbi..they never cared about other inmates for 10 years.

  4. Your comparison of her incarceration to the Holocaust is perniciously nonsensical.

    Your PF mother Mumbi Phiri is a self- confessed accessory to murder. She handed the gun & even commanded the shooter to fire. Ofcourse your pea-size brain can’t comprehend this ( we know Lungu appointed on kin lines, not intelligence so the fact that you were a diplomat won’t matter.

    Murder is non bailable in Zambia, incase you didn’t know that former ‘diplomat’. Time served will be deductible from her prison sentence once she is finally sent to prison. For now she deserves to be in jail.

  5. Typical of a PF cadre or sympathyser!! I’ve never come across a grouping as this. Always them only!!Always.Never about others. Does this writer know how many people are in a similar predicarement today? Even when he tries to pretend, he just cant mask his character. Who is standing for them. How many people were detained during the PF regime? How many such letters did he write to express such sympathy then? Show me one. Even when this murder suspect sees her day in court, do we really expect such a character as this author to continue writing for the oppressed.? This is a chap who wasted our TAX money on Whisky, shoes, pants and ties in Germany and today he wants to sound intellingent. Well, you’re not! Where was your pen when the wife of Chief Mukuni and Ackson Sejani were detained…

  6. What a piece of hogwash from a self proclaimed ‘ambassador’ thanks to lazy / careless ECL…. you had no business being ceo at the Times pathetic record speaks volumes… no business being Z1 in Berlin ….trying to draw an non-existent analogy to the holocaust and Mumbi is misplaced…but as you have said ‘some of you have been away from reality for too long’ as you blew money at southern sun after wrongly parking your merc bought by the taxpayer…as you flew in and out of the country at will under the guise of monitoring elections…we wish you well with your flashy suits and elaborate watches…your kith and kin will well inherit……but please sit in your corner and reminisce on the gold old times Chagwa gifted you…

  7. This article is pathetic.
    I don’t think Jewish people will look on you kindly, how dare you compare their murder and attempted annihilation to someone charged with and probable guilty of murder.
    Her incarceration is legal.
    Zambia is a country of law and order now and many of you can’t live with that.

    Ps. Lusaka Time why do you allow such nonsense to be written your paper. You all have got to remember that potentially the whole world see’s that article not just Zambians.
    Your journalistic content sometimes leaves a lot to be desired.

  8. Let’s mumbi phiris experience be an example of what awaits arrogant , violent cader leaders…….

    Mumbi phiri was the most violent proactive woman in PF……….

    Often leading cader attacks and and insisting and directing opposition leaders be jailed………

  9. Mumbi phiri was more like the evil Nazi women prison guards of concentration camps ……….

    Most of them were hanged by the allies……….

  10. If PF won this woman would still be bragging about the murder even if she was arrested and imprisoned Lazy Lungu would have pardoned her and other bootlickers come independence day.

  11. First they came for KK, you did not speak out. Then they came for FJT Chiluba, you did not speak out. They came for M Sata, you did not speak out. Then they camne for RB, you did not speak out. They came for HH, you did not speak out. Now they have come for Mumbi. Sadly, Zambians have never bothered about their rotten justice system which every Chief Justice promises to correct. They all ask for more judges to meet the backlog but only more incopetent judges are engaged. Some judges are failing to write their judgements. Mumbi is one among hundreds of accused persons awaiting trial. She ws in government when many of them were arrested. SHE SAID NOTHING.

  12. The silence is deafening! Where are the – so called, ‘Human Rights advocates’? From whatever angle you look at this, keeping people in custody; effectively in ‘limbo’ for long periods of time because you are behind in your work, is cruel. You’re punishing someone else for your incompetency. Those who “supposedly” gassed people – held for over two years without charge – imagine that! How can that be?? We are doing this to each other, yet, if white people did this to us, there would be an almighty uproar calling it racism! The lady is not exactly a hardened criminal presenting a danger to the public; yet, even then, everyone deserves humane treatment. Let her be with her family until you’re ready.

    #plant a tree please.

  13. It is ignorance of the stupidest order to compare the incarceration of a murderer to that of the NAZI gassing of Jews or indeed the inhalation of Oborigines by the British in Australia. The incidents of murder of Zambians at the hands of British colonialists and their companies such as the BSAC when they sought to dig copper in the Northern Rhodesia is also a fuss of Mukwita’s own imagination. It really makes one wonder the kind of damage done to the reputation of this country that people with little education like Mukwita and Emmanuel Mwamba were sent as ambassadors to represent us spewing such vile ignorance. And this Mumbi Phiri murder case is still playing out in court, to comment on it like this is pure contempt of court, the judge must incarcerate this ***** to make his realise…

  14. Mumbi Phiri shot someone in cold blood! She thought she was invincible. Wherever she went, she spewing rotten tribalism, in this charade of bigotry she was with her cousin Zinjanthropus Neanderthal Nkandu Lunyokolile and Chimbwili Ulufumo Kashimba. Now they are in “Mwamoneni Nomba”,

  15. Absolute hogwash, nonsensical. It is just amazing the number of self-important turds held important positions in the PF regime.

    Writing this kind of vulgar overwrought nonsense, no one in their right mind will speak on behalf of Mumbi Phiri, much less the diplomatic corps accredited to Zambia.

    If PF and Lungu sent loutish ignoble dweebs into Foreign Service, most other countries don’t, especially the ones this turd is appealing to.

  16. Oh Lord, and this guy was representing Zambia at a high level?!? The audacity of comparison leaves me mauless!

  17. Mumbi Phiri must be taken to court without delay. The author though not respected in Zambia because of openly campaigning for PF as a civil servant without any consequences and the bootlicking of authoring a book of Edgar Lungu, a crystal clear incompetent President rejected by the voters is not the right person to comment.

  18. Where was Antony when HH who was a passenger in a vehicle in Mongu was charged with treason for a traffic offense when he was a passenger and incarcerated for 179 days Where in the world do you arrest a passenger for a traffic offence, and in any case, ‘a traffic offence’ cannot be equated to a murder case. However, I agree that Mumbi must be taken to court urgently. The author was silent when Zambia became a cadre state under PF with innocent people maimed and killed and today he should be a champion of human rights. Just how?

  19. Chabwela mawa chilpamunzako, mailo chili pali iwe ( Hope I have quoted it properly). Let us not rejoice over wrong because vengeance belongs to God.

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