Saturday, June 15, 2024

Where are the Intellectuals?


By Fred M’membe President of the Socialist Party

Before 12 August 2021, there were several intellectuals who risked their careers and even lives to express outrage against the many wrongs that were happening under the previous government. There was Dr Grieve Chelwa from University of Cape Town, whose opposition to the economic reform measures sponsored by the IMF and World Bank was conveniently ignored and often frustrated. There were others like Ms Felicity Kayumba, Dr O’Brien Kaaba and Dr Pamela Sambo found in the School of Law at UNZA whose constant criticism of the judiciary and the executive were thought to be a matter of principle, not sheer opportunism. One or two such as Dr Julius Kapempwa and Dr Cleopas Sambo from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences provided illuminating insights that raised public awareness and fed a greater understanding of the government’s policy failures.
And who can forget the courageous voice of Dr Sishuwa Sishuwa who was subjected to threats on his life, faced the threat of prosecution for sedition and was disowned by his employer, the University of Zambia, over his critical writings in both print and online media? There was also Dr Munyonzwe Hamalengwa at Zambia Open university and Professor Muna Ndulo in the United States of America who never missed an opportunity to criticise the government, especially on matters that touch on human rights and the violation of the law. Even UNZALARU, the body of lecturers and researchers, at UNZA, recovered its voice and appeared to regain its lost credibility on matters of public interest such as Bill 10.

Which of these intellectuals who stuck their necks out to challenge undemocratic practices and confront human rights violations have continued with the same spirit or zeal of holding the government to power today? Except for one or two such as Dr Chelwa and Dr Sishuwa who continue to identify with the suffering of the people and have remained generally critical of the same things they condemned under PF, the intellectuals who previously spoke truth to power have become willing collaborators in the wrongs of the UPND. The record is there in the public domain for all to see. Today, most of these intellectuals have joined the incriminating silence of those who cannot speak with food in their mouth because they are enjoying the perks that come with serving on several government bodies, though they will go to great lengths to convince unsuspecting victims that it’s not about the money or that the money is actually very little.

Other intellectuals are now deathly silent and simply looking away when wrongs occur because of a certain allegiance to the party in power, one that has anointed itself with the sanctity of a religious faith. If some of the wrongs occurring in this government had happened under the previous administration, these intellectuals would have been in the forefront of speaking out against such vices. Can anyone imagine these academics keeping quiet under president Lungu if ordinary people were jailed for insulting the president, or PF cadres took turns to sue the state for malicious or wrongful prosecution under the MMD and the Attorney General rushed to reach a minimum of K500, 000 settlement with each of them and even more money paid to their PF aligned lawyers?

Those who yesterday were in the front seat of condemning wrongs and injustices whenever they occurred are the ones who are today giving legitimacy to and rationalising the wrongs and injustices of the UPND. Some within group even say, ‘things are not yet as bad as they were under PF’, as if the PF wrongs are now the threshold we must reach before raising our voice against injustices. Others shamelessly say ‘there is no county or government that is immune from wrong doers’! How can people lose their self-respect and dignity this way? Anyway, as former president of South Africa Thabo Mbeki once said, empty stomachs can be good or bad teachers. The problem with our African intellectuals is that they too have stomachs, in addition to their excellent brains.


  1. Mwansa kapinga = John chinena
    = cde Membe

    The intellectuals are there ……….but,

    see what others like your self see as major transgressions, they see minor job on training learning or necessary purges of the utterly corrupt and morally bankrupt PF by the new GRZ…………..

    You are on the wrong side of history by jumping in bed with a murderous, utterly corrupt , ruthless former ruling party.

  2. The thought of the nightmare scenario of the return to power of PF with their brand of tribal persecutions and marginalisations driven by corruption and cader violence………that underpinned state capture by a clique of tribal theives

    Is enough to allow some, shall we say , adjustments to the rule of law for the sake of the country as a whole…………

  3. Dr Mmembe you write very good articles. But personally I find it very difficult to trust you….
    You have not explained why the Post Newspaper was not remitting taxes, Napsa and other statutory contributions
    You made sure that Richard Sakala suffered after the death of FTJ. He was imprisoned, he did his term but you ensured he went in again
    You bankrupted the once vibrant Zambian Airways… you and your friend Nchito.
    There are other evils too numerous to mention that you committed…. which left many people destitute.
    Please address these issues before you attack other people.

  4. Icine cha nkashi cishipula bufi bufi. The UPND managed to infiltrate almost all institutions and spheres of life. It’s on this forum that I said most of what Muna Ndulo expressed weren’t expert opinions but partisan thoughts meant to prop up the UPND and its candidate. Today they’re all quiet because its their baby, they sired this government. They deceived many. What the UPND won wasn’t a national election but a tribal war. What has changed? NOTHING! Why are they quiet about ZP shootings of illegal gold miners? It’ll come to pass. The fact is we should brace ourselves for more hard times ahead

  5. Well articulated Dr. Mmembe, some people thought that your brother in-law was going to rise above the under five tag but alas this was not to be. You forgot to mention one woman who headed a so called civil society organisation or was it an NGO, that woman is not on the list where is is she? She was very vocal they have all sunk into the iniquitous pot. Is Sishuwa in Zambia? Those others were all known to be surrogates of UPND anyway. Hence their mute syndrome now. You will not hear a word against their god no matter how bad he behaves.

  6. 1. Most of those that criticised did not do it on principle. They were job seekers hoping for their turn after a “change goal”.

    2. Some with GRZ jobs have snoozed, now mouthful, needing some time to chew and swallow the food. “Don’t talk with your mounth full”

    3. Much of the opposition is stuck in the UPND Pact while the remainder are one man army groups. “Don’t bite the finger feeding you”

    5. The church and CSOs were mainly funded by the West. They can’t just start talking without first receiving a signal from funders. “Don’t reveal your hand to your opponent”.

    6. At least we have SC John Sangwa, LAZ, Alick Banda and Linda Kasonde to rely on for the meantime. ” A Few Good Men”.

  7. Insulting intellectuals is Michael Sata’s cheap type of politics to win over the masses. It should never be allowed to come back. Shame on you Fred Meembe

    • So it is untenable to put intellectuals under a microscope?
      Intellectuals are human beings with a stomach in front of them and a family on their side to take care of.
      Sometimes, someone we view as an intellectual can choose be a lackey (or a cadre).
      Michael’s politics served a purpose. Let’s see what Hakainde’s achieve.

    • Actually I have been asking myself how does this article serve the objectives of the socialist party
      How does criticizing the intellectuals advance the socialist manifesto? Will the socialist party function better if the intellectuals react to this by starting to critique the ruling party? Or is Mr Mmembe just rabblerousing?

  8. Intellectuals na Njala. Deformation of the president was bad under President Lungu and it still bad under President Hichilema. But the so called intellectuals are quiet even when a person is jailed for simply stating an opinion that HH was not a Christian. Surley can it be deformation if one said another was not a true believer?

  9. I dont know why anyone would think this man’s articles are 5 star…I would forgive you if you were born in the 90s because you don’t how this vile spider weaves its webs.

  10. Those who have entered a college classroom should help promote good governance values. It is awful that most of our intellectuals are emotionally unintelligent.

    • The majority of voters are the uneducated and they are the ones with power to make change. Foolish to focus on intellectuals

  11. He keeps on condemning the UPND caders who were constantly arrested for no cause but just because they were UPND. Yes, these people have the right to sue for wrongful imprisonment, just like any other citizen who has been wrongly imprisoned. And also, this man is the worst hypocrite. Him, he sued the govt for wrongly closing his newspaper and he was conpasated. What makes it wrong for others to sue but only good for him? Selfish chap. And before we forget, this is the man who started that useless tribal campaign in Zambia. So disgusting

  12. Fred, start organizing what is a semblance of a party, you can not continue on a key board though you are entitled. Look at how your Fred ST has expired as a politician even before becoming a politician

  13. Dear Fred if your definition of an intellectual is one who holds a Phd then indeed ask where are the academics? You were once a vibrant checks in balances at the helm of a newspaper…alas once your saw an opportunity you gave way to none reason and under LPM you were the almighty ..later you ushered in MCS you and your cronies suddenly had the keys to power…most of your unpaid work force made PS or went into foreign service…you ‘grew’ your business and went into trucks and bus ‘business’ …you were hoodwinked to ‘invest’ close to 2 million dollars in an ‘airline’ little did you know your so called partner got it for a song…the rest is history…you were not paying taxes …indeed where are the intellectuals who like you have Phd after their names.

    • And suddenly he calls himself a socialist with that profile…really laughable…the man has never publicly cleansed himself yet he has aspirations for the highest public office in the land.

    • Bu socialist bwamu Zambia! He just looked for a name to dress himself in for a political battle. He has always been a politician. He just masqueraded as a journalist so as to easily propound political messages

  14. Ask the editors of Lusaka Times, Zambian Observer, Daily Nation, etc.
    They are highly selective in what they publish. Many letters to the Editor go begging.

  15. Mr Mmembe you lost credibility the time you heavily campaigned for the kaponya Sata, at the expense of a gentleman Rupiah Banda.
    You are never to be trusted.

    • Please remind the young ones whom he is trying to dupe and hoodwink…how he wrote those lovely articles to prop up his mate Michael.

    • Iwe na iwe Rupiah wasn’t a gentleman. Perhaps you got fooled by his European suits. Don’t judge a book by the cover

    • Spaka … you sound like one rural Tonga I was with in college. He criticised everything Bemba..
      You could be the one.

    • Deja Vu – You couldnt help yourself but type such tribal drivel…shameless little man I bet your little fingers were itching to type out such utter nonsense. Lets promote unity here not stupidity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Intellectual (not to be mistaken with intelligence) A thinker, one who utilizes intellect rather than empirical solutions a person who places a high value on or pursues things of interest to the intellect or the more complex forms and fields of knowledge, as aesthetic or philosophical matters, especially on an abstract and general level. an extremely rational person; a person who relies on intellect rather than on emotions or feelings.

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