Chris Zumani Zimba, Political Scientist, Author, PhD Scholar, Lecturer and Consultant
In Ngoni language just like in Bisa, Lunda, Chewa, Lozi, Senga, Tonga, Tumbuka, Luvale, Lenje, Kaonde or Soli, we have many traditional proverbs that are used to justify or defend some localized misdeeds especially when committed by the king or chief. For example, the Ngoni people of Eastern Zambia commonly say “Walya kake Aliye Mulandu”, meaning, ‘he who eats what is his does not commit any wrong’. But even this ambiguous and controversial Ngoni proverb is clearly losing popularity and usage in modern social life as many traditional zealots in Eastern province have converted to Christianity or Islam besides being serious supporters of human rights, gender equality and defenders of democratic values. In fact, there are also many Ngoni chiefs just like many other traditional leaders across Zambia who are now active champions of human rights, political integrity, gender equality and other good governance tenets.
On 10th February, 2018 during a PF fundraising dinner in Ndola, President Lungu made a shocking public announcement in defending the increasing corruption allegations against him, his Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, chief executives of state agencies and PF Senior officials, when he noted in a Bemba proverb that “ubomba mwibala alila mwibala”. This proverb is commonly used among Bemba people to justify pilferage i.e. “he who works in the cornfield eats what is in the cornfield” just like their Ngoni tribal cousins would say “Walya kake Aliye Mulandu” as earlier observed. In practical terms, President Lungu did not only justify abuse of public resources in the civil service, ‘Eagle One’ simply articulated a new public policy in Zambian governance by authorizing ‘kleptocracy’- (rule by theft) under the famous auspices of “ubomba mwibala alila mwibala”. Clearly, this statement is enough ground for the Zambian law makers to initiate and advance a vote of no confidence in Lungu as President as well as start all the necessarily political processes for his eventual impeachment due to the following reasons:
- President Lungu must be reminded that Zambia is not a monarchy, with a royal king, born to rule in whichever way he wants and later die in old age on the throne with his child as a known heir to the highest political office. Zambia is a constitutional democracy, governed by written laws with an elected leader who is a temporal political servant of the people; with the people having the full sovereign powers to define and determine the conduct and tenure of their temporal leader. Based on the solid constitutional basis of this sovereign republic called Zambia, President Lungu’s “ubomba mwibala alila mwibala” public announcement of justifying ‘kleptocracy’ makes him the number one political, legal and moral enemy of the Zambian people, the presidency and the supreme law of the land as he now stands very unfit and misplaced to continue being the Head of State and Government.
- Article 108, (1) (a), (b) and (c), which provides for the impeachment of the President in the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) No. 2 of 2016 evidently states that (1) A Member of Parliament, supported by at least one-third of the Members of Parliament, may move a motion for the impeachment of the President alleging that the President has committed—
(a) a violation of a provision of this Constitution or other law;
(b) a crime under international law; or
(c) gross misconduct.
- What President Lungu said in Ndola constitute gross misconduct under Article 108 (1) (c) for someone who is Head of State and Government as well as Commander of the Armed Forces. One common definition of gross misconduct states that “it is an act which is so serious that it justifies dismissal without notice, or pay in lieu of notice, for a first offence. They must be acts that destroy the relationship of trust and confidence between the employer and employee, making the working relationship impossible to continue”. In “ubomba mwibala alila mwibala”, President Lungu crossed the acceptable political redline of misconduct as no sane elected leader can have the political impunity and immoral courage to openly insult the poor people he/she governs by officially introducing and justifying rampart abuse of their resources in the civil service as President Lungu tried to do in Ndola. In this proverb, it is clear that ‘Eagle One’ committed gross misconduct, an impeachable offence under Zambian laws to which Lungu should not be exempted or protected.
- President Lungu’s statement in Ndola is an official introduction and recognition ‘kleptocracy’ (rule by theft) in Zambia as was the case in former Zaire under Mobutu Sese Seko. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, Kleptocracy is “a society whose leaders make themselves rich and powerful by stealing from the rest of the people they govern”. By accepting and promoting kleptocracy in “ubomba mwibala alila mwibala”, President Lungu violated article 92 (1) of the Republican Constitution on the ‘Executive functions of President’ which states that (1) “The President shall perform, with dignity, leadership and integrity, the acts that are necessary and expedient for, or reasonably incidental to, the exercise of the executive authority”. In line with Article 108 (1), (a) as cited above, this is a serious violation the Zambian Constitution.
- Thus, President Lungu’s open crusade to call upon civil servants and politicians countrywide to continue stealing tax payers moneys and abuse public is politically immorally, malicious and a serious abrogation of our constitutional values and principles of the public service. President Lungu’s “ubomba mwibala alila mwibala” approach to governance violates 173. Values and principles of public service (1) The guiding values and principles of the public service include the following—
(a) maintenance and promotion of the highest standards of professional ethics and integrity;
(b) promotion of efficient, effective and economic use of national resources;
(c) effective, impartial, fair and equitable provision of public services;”…
- This makes him politically ripe for the National Assembly to immediately move an impeachment motion as they resume sitting this month. Should UPND and independent MPs as well as objective PF lawmakers fail to move an impeachment motion in the next parliamentary sitting, then our lawmakers will be in agreement with President Lungu, that ‘Kleptocracy’ is the new acceptable order of the day in Zambian governance and civil service while the existing Zambian constitution must be thrown out or burnt. But the PF officials and all well-meaning Zambian MPs have South Africa’s ANC to emulate for recalling and retiring President Jacob Zuma untimely due to loss of public confidence in his leadership born out of rampart corruption scandals.
- In the very preamble of our Supreme Law, Zambians are clear that “WE, THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA: ACKNOWLEDGE the supremacy of God Almighty; DECLARE the Republic a Christian Nation while upholding a person’s right to freedom of conscience, belief or religion; UPHOLD the human rights and fundamental freedoms of every person; COMMIT ourselves to upholding the principles of democracy and good governance; RESOLVE to ensure that our values relating to family, morality, patriotism and justice are maintained and all functions of the State are performed in our common interest;”… As such, President Lungu’s “ubomba mwibala alila mwibala” overtly violates all these sovereign values and legal provisions in the Zambian Constitution as there is no ‘upholding the principles of democracy and good governance or maintaining to ensure that all functions of the State are performed in our common interest of the Zambians in what ‘Eagle One’ announced in Ndola.
- In addition, President Lungu’s “ubomba mwibala alila mwibala” comes in serious bad test as Zambia’s ‘Eagle One’ has shockingly accumulated massive and abnormal wealth within a short period of time which he has also repeatedly failed to account for in terms of its sources. For example, according to the list of declared assets in July 2016 submitted to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) before the August Presidential and General Elections, President Lungu declared K23, 700,000 (K 23.7 Billion unrebased) as his net worth. To the contrary, President Lungu declared only K2, 500, 000 (K 2.5 Billion unrebased) as his net worth in the January 2015 Presidential bye elections when he first contested following the death of President Sata. And this is Zambia’s topmost civil servant whose monthly salary is only K36, 000. Therefore, when Lungu says “ubomba mwibala alila mwibala”, he becomes a bad living testimony and wrong role model for all civil servants and politicians as he seem to be walking the talk of “Walya kake Aliye Mulandu”, meaning, ‘he who eats what is his does not commit any wrong’. But we know that Zambia is not for Lungu; not his personal maize field for him to get whatever, whenever and however he wants.
In conclusion, it is important to stress that “ubomba mwibala alila mwibala” is an immoral governance model that must be pragmatically ejected by all morally upright sovereign citizens; Lungu must not impose ‘kletocracy’ as an acceptable and normal corruption practice in the civil service. If democracy and good governance is to be consolidated and sustained, the powers are now left in the hands of all well-meaning Zambians to denounce and reject both the ideology and its ideologist. And this cannot become real as long as Lungu is not impeached on this evil political merit. There is need to immediately start the impeachment motion of this elected political leader so that, for God’s sake, free Zambian citizens stand up and refuse to be treated as Lungu’s personal subjects or his chiefdom political slaves. This is where the country’s religious leaders i.e. bishops, priests, prophets as well as political parties and good governance or human rights civil society organizations (CSOs) terribly betray the Zambian poor and voters when they go corruptly mute. In all moral fairness, Lungu must be recalled back to the community and legally removed as he falls below the political belt to continue as an elected leader.