By Chris Zumani Zimba
While in anguish and grief, Mark Antony, a feared Roman soldier, army commander and close friend of Julius Caesar was only allowed by the men who had assassinated Caesar (Brutus and the other conspirators) to speak at the funeral of his boss on condition that he does not blame them for Caesar’s death. However, while Antony’s speech outwardly begins by justifying the actions of Brutus and the assassins “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”, Antony cleverly used the moment to ultimately present Caesar as the most patriotic and noble Roman hero such that the crowd were enraged and impulsively demanded for the blood of the conspirators.
As we enter 2019 in the next few days, I want to speak few but intimate things about the personality and political leadership journey of one of my friends and brothers, Antonio Mandala ‘Mourinho’ Mwanza, the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) Deputy Media Director. Firstly, it is important for me to give a detailed personal profile of and for Mwanza because he is one of the few extraordinary youthful politicians and leaders in Zambia, SADC and Africa who deserve this attention as you shall see. Secondly, I don’t want to behave like Mark Antony, who for many years fought and lived with Julius Caesar but only made a passionate praise about his old time friend in his death. Thirdly, I will say the opposite of Mark Antony’s famous phrase at Caesar’s funeral with reference to Mwanza as some may expect because, he is a noble man and true friend to me. Thus, ‘I come to praise him, not to mourn or burry him’, he is alive and sound.
A true perspective of Antonio ‘Mourinho’ Mwanza
From the time I knew him as a friend in 2004 as well as University of Zambia Student Union President (UNZASU) to date, Mwanza has constantly defined his different personality characters and systematically presented his leadership fashions to us. And as a close friend, author and Political Scientist around him, here is my detailed testimony and comprehensive account about him:
Mwanza is like Leonel Messi, a player who perfectly knows his personality strength, exceptional dribbling skills and always position himself to freely score for his team without difficulties. When UNZASU elections of 2005 were on the horizon, he did his homework through skillful public speeches and consequently, monks and momas vigorously campaigned, turned up in thousands and thunderously voted him into power with passion and faith as their student union president. Although we had convinced him to contest as chairperson for a UNPD-ECZ initiative-Young Governance Alliance (YOGA) in 2013, he tactfully opted to contest as YOGA Spokesperson. “I love the media baba and love it to speak for institutions or masses”, he convinced me. When it came to joining FDD in the same year, being a party spokesperson was the most attractive incentive he followed. “Some of us baba are born to speak, this position will make my work very easy”, he insisted. When ruling PF offered him as Deputy Media Director this year, it was 100% speaking to his personal strength and right number in the team. And in all these institutions, he has effectively executed as he is made to engage the masses and naturally speak for his institution, his superiors, his job and himself;
He speaks with extraordinary lion’s courage, elephant pomp and always aims to cut the head of his enemy in ‘political war’ and declare victory. Even the lead opposition leader of the land, Hakainde Hichilema (HH) has consistently paid homage and publicly ‘saluted’ Mwanza and his peer boss, Sunday Chanda for being ‘young men’ President Lungu and PF are using to spit political fire, inject pain and anguish in the country. At this moment, I declared Mwanza as the ‘Best Political Gladiator’ of modern Zambian politics the writings are clear and visible everywhere;
He makes the Zambian youth and student movement proud as the right political representation of exceptional young politicians like Julius Malema in South Africa or Nelson Chamisa in Zimbabwe In Aantonio Mwanza, the Zambian youth and student movement must be proud that they birthed and mentored one of the most successful young leader who squally fits and effectively delivers both in the opposition as well as with the ruling party with distinguished commitment, killer passion and whirlwind impact. Within PF and across the political horizon in Zambia, Mwanza is standing tall and smart as everyone now know that every time he is on any media platform on behalf of the ruling party or government, President Edgar Lungu, PF Secretary General, Chief Government Spokesperson, State House Press Advisor Amos Chanda or indeed his immediate boss Sunday Chanda have the rare political luxury to relax or sleep knowing that all is well in the 3hands of ‘Pompey the Great’;
He takes politics as his life commitment and only career calling on earth. For many politicians and citizens, joining politics is not their priority dream but comes later in life after pursuing other occupations and life engagements. This is not the case with Mwanza. He has always believed and makes it very plain that he was born for political leadership and nothing else. For example, he has always refused to work or declined job offers elsewhere by insisting that “I am not wired to work for NGOs, companies or being recruited as a civil servant because I will enter government through a popular vote or presidential appointment”, he has repeatedly argued when asked why he was not applying for employment at different stages of life. Alvin Chiinga, a Zambia Daily Mail Report described him as “born leader who at primary school was prefect, at church was Adventist youth leader and at university was president for the student union”;
He is a natural and gifted public speaker who can be trusted at any moment by his sponsors or superiors to defend anything before either wailing or happy masses. This is how and why he won the hearts of thousands UNZA students to become their union president as well always gets the attention of politicians both from the ruling party and opposition camp over the past decade. Together with his immediate boss and peer, Sunday Chilufya Chanda, Antonio Mandala Mwanza has made the ruling PF media department as well as PF government to touch cloud nine in terms of triumphing in clear political dominance, policy defence and public visibility;
Mwanza speaks from his heart and understands every word and sentence he throws out to his audience. When he is speaking, close your eyes and follow him with your ears or hear. You will speedily realize that he speaks like President Barrack Obama, a man who listens to himself when speaking and understands each and work or sentence. For Mwanza, I believe his university academic training and profession as a Linguist and Educationalist helps him. Overtly, I am sure this rare but visible public relations gift easily sell him for high profiled engagements with political parties, civil society organizations and business outfits;
He prepares adequately for every public platform or media engagement as if that was his last game to play on earth. On many occasions, he has factually exposed or humiliated both ill prepared political orators, media interviewers, academic scholars and civil society leaders. For those who closely follow him, Mwanza has stubbornly used this engagement strategy and leadership strength throughout his career from UNZASU, YOGA, FDD and now PF as well as government assignments. In less than a year of his appointment as PF Deputy Media Director, Mwanza has proven his distinguished political worthiness, relevancy, potency and fluency as he consistently evangelizes and defends party and government policies and programs on radio, TV, social media and public platforms with extraordinary passion, gospel courage and convincing clarity;
With passion, satire and clarity of speech, he always debates to convince the masses by proving with facts that he is right and his rivals are wrong, a skill he has reliably applied everywhere and always. In our cycles, we unanimously declared and crowned him as ‘Pompey the Great’; some former ‘monks and momas’ describe him as the ‘Best UNZASU President’ of their time, some citizen observers say he is ‘A Gifted Public Speaker’ while others note that he is ‘A Good Young Politician’ or ‘Talented Youth Leader’. Many University of Zambia students of his time call him ‘Mourinho’, in reference to the triumphant and celebrated Portuguese football coach in Europe. Everything speaks to salute his extraordinary political debate tactics; and
His allegiance to friendship, commitment to family as well as dedication to duty or partnership is amazing, reliable and makes him an exceptional political leader. Even when he did not have transport, in 2012 Mwanza was the lead jubilant and dancing MC at my MA graduation party in Libala South after walking for over an hour and being soaked in the rains to reach the event venue- a gesture everyone in my family salutes and respects him for. When Mwanza calls you his friend, then you can count on him all the way. For example, he called me the same day he met his wife and made sure I was updated at every stage. At his ‘Matebeto’ traditional food ceremony in preparation for his marriage, he made sure I was the lead man. “Caesar must accompany me to receive ‘Matebeto’ without fail for one simple reason- he is my true brother and friend, I don’t exchange clothes or shoes with people anyhow, but with you I do as a gesture of our friendship and brotherhood”, told me.
In conclusion, it is imperative to acknowledge that Mwanza is unstoppably emerging and redefining himself as an embodiment of exception political leadership and national youthful asset in Zambia before both young and adult politicians; a rare personality which mainly prevailed during the pre and post-independence era across the region but has rapidly disappeared or is generally hidden among many modern young Africans. Mwanza is indeed like “Pompey the Great”, a brave political and military schemer who during a Roman civil war of 88–87BC decided to controversially support and work with the ruthless Sulla thereby defiling the military alliance of his father, Strabo who was against Sulla and openly favoured to fight with the Marians-Marius supporters. During the said civil war between the traditional rival generals, Lucius Sulla and Gaius Marius, “Pompey the Great” demonstrated exceptional skills and leadership in battle and was praised both by his soldiers and leader-Sulla before he took over as Roman leader and respected republican. When it comes to any political assignments at any level of leadership, Mwanza just like “Pompey the Great” in Roman politics is the man of first and last resort who can be trusted by his superiors to fight, defend and win vicious battles.
Chris Zumani Zimba is a prolific Political Scientist, Analyst, Author, Blogger, PhD Scholar, Researcher and Consultant. Besides being the CEO and Managing Consultant at Chrizzima Democracy University (CDU) in Zambia, he analyses African politics weekly on Voice of the Cape Town, South Africa every Wednesday at 16:45hours CAT. So far, he has authored more than 10 political and academic books as well as published over 100 well researched articles.