I had no intention of expanding or revising this book beyond just mere typos or some minor updates. However, as I followed and participated, via article contributions and discussions, I could not ignore why President Michael Sata’s legacy should not be revisited. By the fifth anniversary of President Sata’s death, corruption, under the Lungu administration, had grown rampant and reached unprecedented levels. 

I decided to update the book in three key respects: First, I have used both English English and American English styles interchangeably. This is because on the Internet, where most books are read these days, American English is routinely used. I still used English English because the themes covered in this book relate to Zambia.

Second, and as indicated above, corruption is rampant in Zambia. The updating of this book is a contribution to the corruption debate in Zambia. The issue of corruption is the present and urgent danger in Zambia. It is also an extension of my coverage of global corruption as I have written in Zambia: Struggles of My People.

Last and third, I needed to provide a Kindle version of the book so that it is available and accessible to a larger, global audience. 

On April 4th, 2012, I met with the late President Michael Chilufya Sata at State House in Zambia. The appointment to meet with Mr. Sata was made possible by the then Chief Justice of Zambia, His Lordship Justice Ernest Sakala. Access to His Lordship Justice Sakala was facilitated by Lawyer and Lecturer, Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa, who had known His Lordship for several years. The purpose of my visit was to introduce the manuscript I had written about President Sata’s remarkable rise to power in the 2011 presidential elections. Michael Sata had vituperated all common sense and political apathy to ascend to Zambia’s most decorated office. I wanted him to be the first to see the manuscript, and perhaps the very first book written about his victory. 

“Is this my book or your book?” the late president asked me. “Yours, I guess,” I responded. From there the president and I exchanged all the pleasantries. He was very uplifted to learn that although I resided in Canada temporarily, I was able to remain afloat with Zambian events. He was impressed with the idea of recording history as it happened.

Late President Sata was a very personable individual. He had made State House a house for every citizen.

“As you can see, I am busy writing a letter,” the president hinted, “So, Mr. Mwewa, can we go to the heart of your visit.” That`s just how blunt and straightforward President Sata was.

“First, it is to congratulate you in person on your recent presidential victory,” I said.

“Are you a Mwewa from Luapula or Northern?” the president asked.

“From Luapula,” I answered.

The issues I brought before the president were also my heartfelt concerns about the state of Zambian politics. “The book is my conversation with you,” I said. In it I had asked pertinent questions – about the necessity to translating his electoral victory into economic prosperity for the people. I was also concerned about the strength of democracy and corruption in Zambia.

The issue of tribalism in ministerial appointments was something I wanted to discuss had time allowed. I was concerned that the president’s legacy would be mired in controversy if the tribal trends he had set between October 2011 and April 2012 in appointments were sustained. 

The president then opened the drawer and locked in the manuscript, King Cobra Has Struck: My Letter to President Michael C. Sata. Although I did not have another chance to meeting, and perhaps discussing pertinent Zambian issues with the president again, I continued to follow his presidency closely.

On October 28th, 2014, President Michael Sata died in London, England. He had only been in power for exactly three years.

This book is not an indictment on President Sata’s legacy; it is a review, and to some extent, a sequel to the themes I raised in Zambia: Struggles of My People. Had Mr. Sata succeeded in ruling according to the law, and with a cogent vision, and if so, were there results to show for it after his demise? Surely it will go into the annals of Zambian history that Michael Sata ended his presidency the same way he began it: popular. 

After five years since President Sata died, and was succeeded by President Edgar Lungu, President Sata’s legacy can be framed as one that set a foundation to fight corruption in Zambia. Since his death, corruption has not only increased, but it has been popularized. Before President Sata’s death, corruption was carried out in the night and in secret. However, as of 2019, corruption had become fashionable in Zambia and took place in broad day light. 

On July 25th, 2019, President Lungu denied that his government was corrupt. But he had agreed that some public officers had been found wanting, not only at ministerial level, but in the civil service as well. President Lungu also mentioned that he had parted company with the corrupt elements.

The Lungu administration’s success in fighting corruption may only be measured relative to the legacy of President Sata. Indeed, as of 2019, there was nothing that could objectively suggest that the Lungu administration had succeeded in the fight against corruption. In fact, it could be said that the Lungu administration had not only failed, but had tolerated corruption and elevated it to levels that would shake President Sata in his graves. 

It can be mentioned, though, that President Lungu may not personally be corrupt. However, President Lungu, in 2019, was the president of the nation. Any corruption obtaining in the country ought, of necessity, to be attributed to a person who, at that particular time, occupied the presidency. 

Zambia has a very small economy relative to most nations in the world. And an administration that allows corruption to mushroom in its borders in such as nation, has failed its people. President Lungu, in as far as fighting corruption in Zambia is concerned, failed. President Sata was a very successful president in the fight against corruption.

Charles Mwewa

Toronto, Canada

October 2019


Get this book for free on Kindle from September 29, 2019 to October 3, 2019, no strings attached.





A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume. And the day you die is better than the day you are born – Ecclesiastes 7:1

The Victory


IT was 4:00 p.m. in Toronto, Canada, September 23rd, 2011. Mr. Kashila, from Lusaka, Zambia called: “Charles, the PF is winning.” Five hours earlier, this author had just emailed his eager readers an article titled, “Zambia without MMD.” He was not predicting an MMD defeat; he was simply recapturing the mood among the Zambians at home and abroad. He had already expressed the general feeling of the Zambians in that mailer, namely, that the win for the MMD would portend a perpetuation of a de facto One-Party State in Zambia. The MMD had been in power since 1991. It had inherited power in a landslide electoral victory after dethroning President Kenneth Kaunda who had been president for over twenty-seven years. Now the MMD was at the verge of winning another five-year term, consolidating a twenty-five-year reign in power with a win. 

It was not to be, this time. Indeed, the 2011 elections had shown that the Patriotic Front (PF) party’s support-base was larger than that of the MMD; it had grown from strength to strength since its formation in 2001.[1]Shortly, I received a text from Mapalo Mwape. She summed it up well in vernacular: “The cobra has struck!”[2]

Judge Irene Mambilima announced that with tallies completed from nearly all of Zambia’s 150 constituencies, Michael Sata had won with 43 percent of the total. Former president, Rupiah Banda, had 36.1 percent. Eight other candidates shared the remainder of the votes.[3]September 20th, 2011 marked the end of the MMD twenty-year rule, and the beginning of a PF rule with its charismatic leader, Michael Chilufya Sata. 

Who is Michael Chilufya Sata?

And who is Michael Sata? On September 23rd, 2011, the UK Telegraph carried a story about president-elect, Michael Sata, titled, “Victoria Station Sweeper Becomes New Zambia President.”[4]I thought that, that title was demeaning in view of the democratic achievements of the nation of Zambia which the Sydney Morning Herald designated as “one of the few countries in Africa to have two democratic transitions of power since independence.”[5]The Telegraph carried that story shortly after the announcement by the former Chief Justice, Earnest Sakala, that Michael Chilufya Sata was the winner of Zambia’s 2011 tripartite elections on Friday, September 23rd, 2011. 

Michael Sata, indeed, once worked as a porter for the now defunct British Rail in London, England. He was regarded there as an outstanding worker. He is quoted as saying, “I never got any complaints about my work. I want to sweep my country even cleaner than I swept [the British] stations.”[6]

Michael Chilufya Sata was born in Mpika in 1937 and was brought up there, in the then Northern Province, a rural district of the British Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia.[7] The New African magazine described him as “The son of a cook, he came from humble beginnings and his career includes being a police constable, and then porter and taxi driver in London, before returning home to go into business and politics.”[8] 

Illustrious Political Career

There is very little said or written in terms of his educational background, except that “President Michael Sata has got a degree in Political Science he obtained in London.”[9]He trained as a pilot in Russia. He later went into business as a consultant on property and other deals. Sata began actively participating in the politics of Zambia, then Northern Rhodesia, in 1963. He began as a municipal councillor in 1981 and in 1985 was appointed Governor of Lusaka by President Kenneth Kaunda. Sata also served as Kaunda's Junior Minister for Local Government. In 1991, he resigned from Kaunda’s UNIP and joined President Frederick Chiluba's newly formed MMD. Chiluba defeated Kaunda in the elections of 1991 when Zambia was restored to multiparty politics for the first time since a Single Party State had been imposed in 1972.[10]Michael Sata served as an MMD MP for ten years and as Minister for Local Government, Labor and Social Security, and Health.

In 1995, President Chiluba appointed him as Minister without Portfolio, MMD’s National (Organizing) Secretary. In that capacity, Sata was MMD’s Chief Executive Officer. His leadership style as MMD’s National Secretary was increasingly abrasive and infuriated many, although some people regarded him as the favourite to succeed President Chiluba. In a surprising move that frustrated Michael Sata in 2001, President Chiluba nominated Levy Mwanawasa as MMD’s presidential candidate for that year’s election instead of Sata. Sata left the MMD and set up the PF. As the PF puts it, “PF was born out of the partial disintegration of the MMD in 2001, when then President Frederick Chiluba delayed choosing a successor as part of his ‘third term’ bid.”[11]Shortly after its formation in 2001, the PF participated in that year’s elections. It fared very poorly, but with a plausible justification: “The PF did not do particularly well in the crowded field of the elections, which featured eleven presidential candidates, trailing other MMD-breakaway parties that had been formed earlier and also, perhaps, suffering from the effects of electoral irregularities that the EU monitoring team detected”.[12]

In the 2006 election, the PF won 46 out of 158 seats in Parliament. Initially, Sata was winning. However, further results placed him third. Mwanawasa won just over 42 percent of the vote. Hakainde Hichilema came out second with 28 percent. Michael Sata was third with 27 percent. On hearing this sudden turn of fortunes, PF supporters rioted in Lusaka. Final electoral results released by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) on October 2nd, 2006, announced Mwanawasa as the winner putting Sata second with 29 percent. Sata conceded defeat, but he continued the campaign fight.

 In August 2008, President Mwanawasa suffered a stroke while attending a summit in Egypt. He was hospitalized in France where he later died. In the October 30th, 2008-presidential by-election, Sata was chosen as the presidential candidate to compete against Rupiah Banda who was acting-president after the death of Mwanawasa and who also was nominated as MMD’s presidential candidate.

A similar fate awaited Michael Sata. After an early lead, he succumbed to another electoral defeat on November 2nd, 2008. Banda won with 40 percent of the vote against Sata’s 38 percent. This was Sata’s third defeat in presidential elections.

Zambia’s third biggest party, the United Party for National Development (UPND), fielded Hakainde Hichilema. Since the last vote in 2008, an extra one million people had registered to vote.[13]Many of these were young and unemployed. Banking on the promise that Sata would turn their livelihood around in 90 days and boosted by the high copper prices and economic growth which, many ordinary Zambians said had not benefited them, thousands rallied their support behind the PF.

The MMD, although occasionally accused of fuelling some bouts of violence here and there,[14]had, in the main, guaranteed a smooth and violence-free election. Thousands of policemen had been deployed to prevent violence. The sale of axes and other potential weapons was banned during the election period.[15]

Three days after the poll, on September 23rd, and as mentioned earlier, then Chief Justice Ernest Sakala announced Michael Sata the winner of the election with 43 percent, with 95.3 percent of votes counted. Banda received 36.1 percent, and other minor parties trailed in the poll.[16]According to the official ECZ results,[17] 2,689,540 votes were cast in the 2011 elections. The PF received 1,028,793 and won 60 seats in the National Assembly.[18]The MMD got 902,619 votes and managed to salvage 55 seats. UPND got 456,873 votes and racked up 28 seats. The independents received 208,294 votes and sent three MPs to the National Assembly. The only other two parties to each win a seat in the National Assembly were the Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) and Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), each with 31,638 and 20,243 votes, respectively. UNIP got 18,444 and did not win any seat. There were two vacancies and fourteen[19]other parties did not win any seat.  


[1]Zambian State House website, retrieved Thursday, November 10th, 2011

[2]On September 23rd, 2011, the BBC also ran a story about president-elect Michael Sata titled, “Michael Sata: Zambia’s ‘King Cobra’ Finally Strikes.”

[3]The Guardian, “Challenger Michael Sata Wins Zambia Elections,” Friday, September 23rd, 2011; the eight others who shared the remainder of the votes are: Hakainde Hichilema (UPND); Charles Milupi (ADD); Elias Chipimo Jnr. (NAREP); Tilyenji Kaunda (UNIP); Edith Nawakwi (FDD); N’gandu Peter Magande (NMP); Godfrey Miyanda (Heritage); and Frederick Mutesa (ZED).

[4]The Telegraph, “Victoria Station Sweeper Becomes New Zambia President,” Friday, September 23rd, 2011

[5]The Sydney Morning Herald, “Sata Declared Zambia's Next President,” September 23rd, 2011

[6]Silobreaker, “Michael Sata: The Victoria Station Sweeper Turned Zambia Presidential Hopeful,” September 21st, 2011

[7]Mpika is part of the districts which now form Zambia`s tenth province called Muchinga. All districts in Muchinga Province are located east of Chambeshi River, and including Mpika, they are Chinsali, Isoka, Nakonde and Mafinga. Chinsali is Muchinga Province`s headquarters.

[8]Reginald Ntomba, “’Man of Action’ Makes His Mark,” New Africa,November 2011, p. 24

[9]Lusaka Times, “Sata Has a London Political Science Degree – Kenny Siachisumo,” January 26th, 2010

[10]Carolyn Baylies and Morris Szeftel, “The Fall and Rise of Multi-Party Politics in Zambia,” (1992) Review of African Political Economy No. 54: 75-91. See also Munyonzwe Hamalengwa,Class Struggles in Zambia, 1889-1989 and the Fall of Kenneth Kaunda, 1989-1991(Latham: University Press of America, 1992).

[11] “Origins of the Patriotic Front,” <> (Retrieved: November 12th, 2011)


[13]ZNBC, “Zambia Holding Elections,” September 20th, 2011

[14] Although two persons died as a result of the riots in Kitwe and Ndola during the 2011 election (one person died after being hit by a mini-bus during the riots, while another was apparently shot dead, according the Copperbelt Police Chief Martin Malama), the 2011 elections were relatively peaceful.


[16]Al Jazeera, “Opposition Leader Wins Zambia Election – Africa," < (Retrieved: September 23rd, 2011)

[17]Electoral Commission of Zambia, “2011 National Assembly Election Results,” September 28th, 2011

[18]By February 16th, 2012 after winning by-elections in Eastern, Western and North-western provinces, the PF had a total of 71 MPs. The MMD had 54 and UPND 29!

[19]These are: National Movement for Progress; National Restoration Party; Zambians for Empowerment and Development; New Generation Party; National Revolution Party; Heritage Party; Unified Party for Democracy and Development; National Party; Zambia Direct Democracy Movement; Zambian Conservative Party; All People's Congress Party; Citizens Democratic Party; United Liberal Party; and Federal Democratic Party.





A SQUITH, on greatness, said: The first element of greatness is fundamental humbleness (this should not be confused with servility); the second is freedom from self; the third is intrepid courage, which, taken in its widest interpretation, generally goes with truth; and the fourth - the power to love - although I have put it last, is the rarest.[1]

The Lincoln of Zambia


Michael Sata has many similarities with Abraham Lincoln, the US’s sixteenth president, except for one. Lincoln was assassinated; Sata died on October 28th, 2014 from natural causes. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12th, 1809. He came from a poor background. He had about one year of formal education, but loved to read. Like Sata, Lincoln began by doing menial jobs – he worked as a clerk before joining the military.

In 1832, Lincoln ran for the Illinois legislature and lost. He worked as a postmaster of New Salem before he was elected as a Whig to the Illinois legislature where he served from 1834 to 1842. A self-made person, Lincoln began to study law and he was admitted to the bar in 1836. Before running for the US Senate, he also served as a US Representative from 1847 to 1849. 

Like Sata, Lincoln fought for the poor and the under-privileged. After being nominated to the US Senate, he gave what has come to be known as the famous "House Divided" speech. Lincoln debated his opponent, Stephen Douglas, seven times in what became known as the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.[2]Lincoln was concerned about the morality of slavery. He did not believe that slavery should continue. And when he finally ran for president on the Republican Party ticket, he called for an end to slavery in the territories.

In an epigraph dubbed Abraham Lincoln Didn’t Quit, politicians, poets, academicians, motivational speakers and students all recite these famous lines: “Probably the greatest example of persistence is Abraham Lincoln. Born into poverty, he lost eight elections, twice failed in business, and suffered a nervous breakdown.”[3]Yet, in 1860, Lincoln went on to becoming one of the greatest presidents of the US. He was 51 years old when he became president.

A Decade’s Journey

Michael Sata’s journey to the Zambian presidency effectively began in 2001. Ten years before September 23rd, 2011, it would be unheard of in the African formations for a single man to begin a political party and unseat the incumbency. Ten years before September 23rd, 2011, it would be impossible in Zambia to think of Michael Sata as president under another party other than the MMD. Ten years before September 23rd, 2011, Sata was the heart and soul of the MMD brand; he shaped and implemented policy and he was an ardent defender of the Chiluba administration.

Undermined by Chiluba as possible successor and motivated by a democratic sense not to see Chiluba succeed in his third term presidential bid, Sata embarked on what would become one of the greatest journeys of his life. Michael Sata, flanked by veteran politician Guy Scott, believed that it was possible to rally the masses for political change. However, that journey was not to be easy; it was filled with pain, rejection, loss and sorrow. The Sata camp was not discouraged. It soldiered on. It was unstoppable. 

The populist Michael Sata began his presidential journey at 64 years of age. He hoped to do so despite failure, thrice before he finally was successful on September 20th, 2011. His were battles of the challenger against the incumbents: First and second, in 2001 and 2006 against Mwanawasa, respectively; third, against Banda in 2008. The fourth attempt against Banda in 2011, he won.

In August 2006, Sata had declared his assets mandated by the Zambian law as a prerequisite for running for presidency. In December 2006, the police accused him of making a false declaration of his assets. Sata dismissed the accusations as a political gambit by his opponents in the ruling MMD and the charges were dropped on December 14th, 2006.[4]

On March 15th, 2007, Sata was removed from Malawi shortly after arriving there. Sata went there to meet with the business community. It is alleged that the Mwanawasa administration had caused the removal by falsely claiming that Sata was in Malawi to assist that country’s former president, Bakili Muluzi. The Zambian government denied this, while the Malawian government accused “Sata of having a hand in Muluzi`s scheme to undermine late President Mutharika`s administration, when he accepted to visit the opposition.”[5]On April 6th, 2007, Sata filed a lawsuit against the Malawian government for violating his rights. After becoming president of Zambia, Sata retaliated by refusing to accept an invitation to attend a COMESA summit in Lilongwe. The story is captured by Zambia Weekly: “President Sata has turned down an invitation from his Malawian counterpart Binguwa Mutharika to travel to…[the] 15th COMESA Heads of State and governments summit in Lilongwe. Instead he is demanding an apology for being deported from Malawi when [he was] in the opposition.”[6]

The two leaders were reported to have “reconciled” during the celebrations to mark 100 years of the ANC on January 8th, 2012. This took place in the City of Manguang (formerly Bloemfontein), South Africa, where a group of African intellectuals founded the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) on January 8th, 1912.[7]

After losing his passport in London in 2007, Sata was issued another one by the Zambian government. However, on November 10th, 2007, then Minister of Home Affairs Ronnie Shikapwasha announced that Sata’s passport was withdrawn temporarily because Sata had obtained it without following the necessary procedures and without proving that he needed a new passport. Shikapwasha promised to launch an investigation and possibly arrest Sata. 

On April 25th, 2008, Sata suffered a heart-attack. He was evacuated to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. Shortly after recuperating, in May 2008, he is said to have reconciled with late President Mwanawasa. However, this so-called reconciliation would be tested in less than two months’ time.

On July 15th, 2008, Mwanawasa suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in France. Sata questioned the official claims about Mwanawasa’s health. Sata called for a team of doctors to be sent by the Zambian Cabinet Office to examine Mwanawasa. This team should then unveil Mwanawasa’s real health condition. This instigation infuriated the Mwanawasa family.

In August 2008, Mwanawasa died while serving as president. When Sata attempted to attend Mwanawasa’s funeral on August 25th, 2008, he was stopped. Maureen Mwanawasa, Mwanawasa’s widow, ordered Sata to leave, saying that Sata was politicizing the event. She insisted that Sata had not reconciled with the Mwanawasa family. Sata maintained that his reconciliation with Mwanawasa himself was sufficient to justify his presence. He also said that Maureen Mwanawasa had acted inappropriately. However, it was too late; the Zambian security forces escorted Sata out of the procession.

Following Mwanawasa’s death, the presidential by-elections were called for October 30th, 2008. Sata was unanimously chosen as PF's candidate for the presidential by-election at a meeting of its Central Committee, two months before the elections. The former Victoria Train Station sweeper promised to “to scrub this country [Zambia] and wash it.”[8]Sata, who had himself survived a heart-attack in April 2008, refrained from campaigning until Mwanawasa was buried.

Michael Sata was seeing a clear-cut victory in the October 30th, 2008-elections. He did not see any reason why Rupiah Banda, who had been nominated to stand on the MMD ticket, could win. According to Sata, Banda would only win if the ECZ and the police colluded to rig the elections. 

When the election results began to trickle in, Sata was winning. This was expected, because the support for Sata, especially in the urban areas, was overwhelming. However, suddenly, this early lead began to dwindle, giving way to Banda who had prodigious support in the rural areas. On November 2nd, 2008, Banda was declared winner with a two-percent margin. Banda won with 40 percent of the vote against Sata’s 38 percent. The Sata camp did not rule out fraud.

In a historic election on September 20th, 2011 that saw Sata emerge winner with 43 percent of the vote cast and Banda with 36.1 percent, Sata had achieved his dream of becoming president. Zambia’s relatively peaceful handover of power was praised by everyone from the US President Barack Obama to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Becoming the first UN Secretary-General to address the Zambian Parliament on February 25th, 2012, Ki-Moon said: “You have deepened democracy and set a high bar for the continent, and indeed the world. Last September, once again, you conducted free and fair elections. Once again, you managed a smooth and dignified transition of power.” 

Former President Rupiah Banda stepped down voluntarily. Since 1991, Zambian presidents have handed over power both peacefully and without major incidents. This prompted the president of the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), Alex Ngoma, to educate other African leaders, thus: “We hope other African leaders can emulate his magnanimousness.”[9]Ngoma was referring to former President Banda who, in his farewell speech, had said: “Speaking for myself and my party, we will accept the results.”[10]

President Sata promised to perpetuate the spirit of smooth transfers of power in Zambia. Addressing Zambians during the inauguration ceremony in Lusaka, the late president said: “It will be amiss of me if I did not acknowledge and thank my predecessor President Rupiah Bwezani Banda’s contribution to this transition. This a virtue which I will treasure and respect.”[11]

Shortly, President Sata announced a much slimmer Cabinet than his predecessor had.[12]He had instantly fulfilled one of his election campaign-promises of svelting down government. This, he stated most movingly in his inauguration speech: 

[M]y first pledge as president is to fully commit myself and my party...truly to the spirit of democracy and respect for the proper functioning of the institutions of the law, the executive and the institutions that are intended to safeguard the rights of all citizens….I stand by my promise in initiating development projects within 90 days. We will begin by reducing the size of government and government expenditure.[13]

One journey for Michael Sata, the journey to State House, had been completed. Now came another, and equally difficult journey, the journey to rebuilding structures, providing a good life to the majority poor Zambians and consolidating the spoils of election into viable developmental actualities for all.

Foundation for a Corrupt-Free Society

However, even before he had had a chance of strapping his presidential seat-belt in place, President Sata had a near-clash. Within less than a year into his presidency, Michael Sata had reverted from a smaller Cabinet precedent. He began a series of reshuffles, and by the time of his death, he had one of the fattest cabinets ever assembled in Zambia. That being the case, however, President Sata never wavered in the fight against corruption in Zambia. His public statements, like “Allergic to Corruption,” and his proactive and militant nature in the fight against corruption, became the rallying clarion to all future administrations.



[1]Margot Asquith, 1864-1945, British Socialite < > (Retrieved: November 12th, 2011)

[2]Martin Kelly, “Abraham Lincoln – 16th President of the United States,” < > (Retrieved: November 12th, 2011)

[3]Lincoln’s race to the White House is famously depicted in this fashion: 1816 His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them; 1818 His mother died; 1831 Failed in business; 1832 Ran for state legislature – lost; l832 Also lost his job - wanted to go to law school but couldn'tget in; 1833 Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt; 1834 Ran for state legislature again – won; 1835 Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken; 1836 Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months; 1838 Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated; 1840 Sought to become elector – defeated; 1843 Ran for Congress – lost; 1846 Ran for Congress again - this time he won - went to Washington and did a good job; 1848 Ran for re-election to Congress – lost; 1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected; 1854 Ran for Senate of the United States – lost; 1856 Sought the Vice-presidential nomination at his party's national convention - got less than 100 votes; 1858 Ran for US Senate again - again he lost; and 1860 Elected president of the United States. 

[4]Sourced from Wikipedia (Retrieved: November 13th, 2011).

[5]Lameck Masina, “Can They Kiss and Make-Up,” New African, February 2012, p. 31

[6]Zambia Weekly, “Historic Moment Blemished by Attacks on MMD,” Week 39, Volume 2, Issue 38, September 30th, 2011, p. 1

[7] See Masina, “Can They Kiss and Make-Up,” supra, p. 12

[8]Wikipedia, supra

[9]Zambia Weekly, “COMESA Summit: Sata Stays at Home,” Week 41, Volume 2, Issue 40, October 14th, 2011, p. 1

[10]Rupiah Banda, Farewell Speech,” Lusaka, September 23rd, 2011,

[11]Michael Sata, “Inauguration Speech,” Lusaka, September 23rd, 2011

[12]President Sata’s original 19-member Cabinet – down from 22 ministries under the MMD government – comprised: Vice-president (PF party Vice-president and Lusaka Central MP Guy Scott); Minister of Finance (economist and appointed MP Alexander Chikwanda); Minister of Mines (mining engineer and Nchanga MP Wilbur Simuusa); Minister of Foreign Affairs (Roan MP Chishimba Kambwili); Minister of Justice (appointed MP Sebastian S Zulu); Minister of Defence (Kasama Central MP Geoffrey B. Mwamba); Minister of Home Affairs (Mansa Central MP Kennedy Sakeni); Minister of Health (appointed MP Dr. Joseph Kasonde); Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (Bwana Mkubwa MP Emmanuel T. Chenda); Minister of Labour, Sports, Youth and Gender (Fackson Shamenda); Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry (appointed MP Robert Sichinga); Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Tourism (Kabwata MP Given Lubinda); Minister of Education, Science and Vocational Training (appointed MP Dr. John T.N. Phiri); Minister of Lands, Energy and Water Development (Malole MP Christopher Yaluma); Minister of Local Government, Housing, Early Education and Environmental Protection (Munali MP Prof. Nkandu Luo); Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health (Chingola MP Dr. Joseph Katema); Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs (Nalolo MP Inonge Wina); and Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications (appointed MP Willie Nsanda). Provincial ministers included Central (Phillip Kosamu); Copperbelt (Yamfwa Mukanga); Luapula (Davies Mwila); Eastern (Solomon Mbuzi); Lusaka (Miles Sampa); Northern (Freedom Sikazwe); North-Western (J. Limata Limata); Western (Nathaniel Mubukwanu); and Southern (Lukulo Katombola).

[13]Michael Sata, supra



 DAVIS, on intrigue, said: The secret to creativity is to say an old thing in a new way or a new thing in an old way.[1]

How King Cobra Behaves


A King Cobra[2] is the world’s longest venomous snake, with a length up to 5.6 metres. The King Cobra is a large and powerful snake, typically weighing about six kilograms. It uses its keen eyesight (King Cobra is able to detect moving prey almost 100 metres away. It is also able to hunt at all times of day, although it is rarely seen at night). It can be aggressive if provoked. It can be easily irritated by sudden movements. It strikes rapidly and its attack range can be as far as two metres. People can easily misjudge King Cobra’s safe zone and it is known to bite and hold on to its prey. King Cobra is responsible for many deaths each year - it lifts its head off the ground and spreads its hood, making it more menacing. The world’s longest neurotoxic venomous snake causes respiratory paralysis and damages tissues in its prey. In addition to displaying its neck-hood, it exhibits caution and hisses when threatened. 

Why Michael Sata is Called “King Cobra”

The characteristics of King Cobra above, notwithstanding, Michael Sata was celebrated, not only for hissing his critics away, but for his “enormous skill in the art of rhetoric, he had succeeded in projecting himself as a spokesman for the poor.”[3]Michael Sata was known by constituencies most politicians overlook: the poor, the vulnerable, the marketeers and the cigarette-sellers (also known as “Mishanga-Sellers” or the Ng’wang’wazis or simply known as “Kabovas”). He could “bite” at his opponents, but not always for ugly reasons. Many times, Michael Sata spoke for those without a voice, the neglected of society. Ntomba described Sata as one who was:

Not given to discussing high sounding or abstract concepts. What he lacks in his realm, he makes up for relating well to the common people. His language is well understood by the labourers, the street hawker, the bus conductor, and the disenchanted slum dweller – a constituency that has always massively voted for him. Although Sata is an upper-class citizen, the poor see him as one of their own.[4]

In Zambia, the poor constitute between 50 and 60 percent of the Zambian population. According to the Borgen Project, “In Zambia, 60 percent of people live below the poverty line and 42 percent are classified as extremely poor.”[5] In political terms, to be popular among the poor, in principle, means an easy ticket to the presidency. However, it has never been so. The ruling elite in many African formations, including Zambia, have dominated since the 1960s. These usually constitute the old-guards and the so-called career politicians. They have played political rhetoric without delivering the result thereof. In Michael Sata, nevertheless, the poor[6]saw one of their own; one who spoke their language, ate in their not-so-standard compounds, and one who was able to stand up for them. Since 2001, Michael Sata had been their choice, although thrice the poor believed the elections were rigged to prevent Michael Sata from inheriting State House. Despite that, “‘King Cobra’ has lost none of his bite, even after losing presidential elections in 2001, 2006 and 2008.”[7]

One of the major characteristics of the King Cobra is that, “People can easily misjudge King Cobra’s safe zone and it is known to bite and hold on to its prey.” Sata’s political career after falling-out from Chiluba was, indeed, misjudged, but he held on to the dream until he won. Ntomba captured this scenario well:

When the late Frederick Chiluba’s presidency neared its end in 2001, Sata positioned himself for succession. But Chiluba had other plans. He brought in a successor, Levy Mwanawasa, his vice-president from 1991 to 1994. Sata, a Chiluba confidante, lost out and at that point his political career seemed to have reached a dead-end.

Two months before the 2001 general elections, Sata formed the Patriotic Front (PF), but the party lost badly, picking up one parliamentary seat and just three percent of the national vote. However, by the next general election in 2006, Sata had grown to be the strongest challenger to the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). A good number of the politicians and their supporters who fell out of favour with Mwanawasa, including Chiluba, found a home in the PF.

Although the PF lost the election, the party had grown in size and strength, giving the MMD and Mwanawasa a tough time. The PF increased their parliamentary seats from one to 43 and dominated municipalities in four of the nine provinces.

When the country held a snap presidential poll following Mwanawasa’s death in 2008, Sata missed the presidency by a whisker. In its election report, New Africa said, “Only time will tell whether the country has seen the last of him in the ring but what is known is that he is a tireless fighter and will continue to be a thorn in the flesh of the party in power.”[8]

 In his fight for the nation’s most powerful office, Michael Sata showed all the characteristics of the King Cobra. Sata`s venomous tongue silenced all critics and found a panacea in the poor of the Zambian social strata.

The King Cobra beat and crushed the indomitable MMD class. But was President Sata’s venomous tongue also his downfall, especially in relation to his stance on the Chinese? Indeed, in the run-up to the 2011 election that strong rhetoric against foreign mining firms was tapered, but would his victory cloud Zambia’s investment outlook?

Unpredictability – The Nature of a Cobra

In politics, unpredictability is both a virtue and a flaw. However, in the animal kingdom, unpredictability is a defence. And it is here where King Cobra thrives. “It can be aggressive if provoked. It can be easily irritated by sudden movements.” A salient characteristic of King Cobra is that it feeds on other smaller snakes; and not on other animals. It is only in self-defence that it spreads its hood and strikes.

Of President Sata, it is said, “Also nicknamed `King Cobra’ for his tough talking and abrasive style of politics, Sata`s personality means different things to different people: he is seen as controversial, dictatorial, arrogant, brave, a voice of the voiceless, a man of the people, etc.”[9]Herein lies his unpredictability. To those who opposed him, he might be “controversial, dictatorial, and arrogant.” However, to those who believed in him; the poor, the disadvantaged and the people of lowly background, he was “brave, a voice of the voiceless, and a man of the people.”[10]

Zambia is constitutionally a Christian nation.[11]President Sata`s nickname of King Cobra must, of necessity, have proven controversial from the Christian fraternity. But it did not. In part, this was informed by the peaceful nature of the Zambian heritage. A culture of tolerance and religious co-existence has explained why even under national distress, Zambia has continued to conduct itself unperturbedly and cordially within and without its neighbours.

 Ironically, the harshest judgment on President Sata`s character came from the Kenyans, and not from Zambians. Kipkoech Tanui of the Kenyan Standard Media,[12] had avowed that Zambia did not need a King Cobra. Comparing Zambia to Kenya, he lamented that although Kenya might have more than its fair share of political serpents, it should interest Kenyans how Zambia's 'King Cobra' was getting on at State House. According to Tanui, President Michael Sata proudly kept the spitting image of the slithery reptile on his desk, as a reminder of his venomous tongue. (This author did not find one when he paid President Sata a visit in April of 2012).

Tanui argued further that President Sata`s nickname was symbolic. He insisted that there were those who had warned President Sata that his choice of symbolism was a double-edged sword. It might stand for the fierce and striking nature of the cobra, and also it might signify how slippery and elusive President Sata could be. Tanui admitted that President Sata was lucky to be a Zambian, and nota Kenyan. Because if he was a Kenyan, even drunkards, thieves and rapists would be calling for a judicial commission to inquire into whether he might be a devil-worshipper and, therefore, unfit to rule. The Christian fundamentalists would be over their heads calling for his resignation and praying to God to “Effect a bloodless coup, just like he did with Nigeria’s villainous ruler Sani Abacha who died adulterously between two mistresses.”

Tanui then went on to making a stealthy comparison of President Sata, the King Cobra, to Mwai Kibaki of Kenya. “Sata has a tongue so loose and unbridled.” He asserted that President Sata, like Kibaki, and to a large extent many African leaders, was elected on anti-graft and change platform. His first task was to write the epitaph of the merchants of corruption and tribal tin-gods. Kibaki also strove to delink, albeit most unsuccessfully, Kibaki’s regime from the old grip of KANU’s corrupt kingpins, by sacking almost everyone who even had had a brush with the cockerel’s feathers, except of course himself! That was what President Sata was doing in his first three months in power, and as if ‘xeroxing’ what Kibaki did, he fired his own anti-graft chief, head of military, police commander, and sent home top security officers recently promoted by his predecessor, Rupiah Banda.

Tanui charged that President Sata`s firing of the military elites was not marked by the desire to fight graft as much as by his disposition to replacing them with his own people. “Because he is no fool he is replacing them with his own ‘special breed’…his may soon be another of Africa’s tragic stories.”

Was Tanui prescient in his predictions?

Tanui believed President Sata was bent on declaring a Fourth Republic. “He has also declared a new republic, with overhaul of tattered road network. He has also chided the former president over wastefulness and extravagance in terms of cars bought at State House, and also subjected Banda’s children and the former president himself to graft investigations.”

In addition, President Sata was zealous in undoing the contracts made by his predecessor. One case involved the disappearance of some diamond cache under police guard. The police snatched it from smugglers. The other involved the sale of a public bank to South-Africans and Zambia Telecommunications Company (ZAMTEL)[13] to the Libyans.

Tanui did not think that Sata`s fight against corruption would last. He was of the view that Kenya and other African nations offered irrefutable evidence of that premise. He believed Sata would end up entangled into the old corruption networks, “that Justice Aaron Ringera described as specialists in fighting back. Former British High Commissioner Sir Edward Clay and Kibaki’s first and only anti-corruption advisor John Githongo, put it better – the old corrupt networks have a way of outstaying regimes.”[14]

Did this happen in Zambia, especially during the last twelve months of President Sata’s rule?

“The tragedy of every new political order is the incestuous greed anchored to the misnomer, ‘It is our turn to eat,’” Tanui indicted. Accordingly, “When leaders get into office, the script changes and so their tolerance levels.”

The Standard Media reporter would not be surprised if someone in Zambia did not tell President Sata once the euphoria had settled to “put through a call to Kibaki and seek advice on how to survive in an African State House!” The urgency of that call would rise the moment President Sata realized he needed a second term (fortunately for President Sata that did not happen; he died two years before completing his first term). By then, “and hopefully not, Robert Mugabe would look like an angel,” Tanui is on record.

Tanui challenged anyone who thought that his analysis of President Sata side-by-side with Kibaki was illusory to factor in the issue of constitutional reforms which the Zambian leader promised would be accomplished in 90 days. “The starting point is his promise of a new constitution for Zambians, written by his handpicked committee, in three months, just ten days short of the elusive target Kibaki gave himself, forgetting that constitution-making takes the effort of more than…State House.”

(President Sata had, indeed, named a 20-member Technical Committee to draft the new republican constitution on or around November 16th, 2011, exactly within three months of his inauguration as he had promised. The committee was headed by Annel Silungwe).

Tanui`s scepticisms were echoed by UPND president Hakainde Hichilema who described President Michael Sata as “an opportunist vulture.”[15]Tanui, though, believed that President Sata`s fate lied in his names, “… whose name would sound worse than cobra’s were you to mistype an ‘n’ at the end.” This last charge, could have prompted the president`s own priest to propose a name change. The priest was very much aware of the old Jacob whose name meant “conman” and God had to change it to “Israel” or a Prince with God![16]Sooner rather than later, however, the nickname of King Cobra might be the thing of the past. This was all done, thanks to the encounter President Sata had with his First Priest very early in his presidency. The man who was known to “bite” might, afterall, be ready to embrace.

Call Him “Servant King”

The BBC described President Sata as a “Catholic married to a doctor.”[17]Indeed, President Sata had been an assiduous member of the Roman Catholic Church in Zambia. He attended mass at Saint Ignatius Catholic Parish in Lusaka. On September 25th, 2011, “Father Charles Chilinda blessed the first couple - President Sata and his wife, Christine Kaseba, as they knelt at the altar…and prayed to God to give President Sata wisdom, knowledge and right judgment for him to effectively govern the people of Zambia.”[18]

It was during that same mass that Father Chilinda decided to change President Sata`s nickname from “King Cobra” to “Servant King,” noting, “Never refer to him again as King Cobra.”[19]

In Christian mythology, a snake is considered an agent of evil, and King Cobra is itself the king of evil. In its report the BBC had stated that President Sata`s nickname “conjures up two views on him – ready to strike or slippery and dangerous.”[20]

President Sata should change and rule as a Servant King, rather than as King Cobra. He should be innocuous and loving, rather than sleazy and dangerous. He should “embrace all Zambians and desist from seeking retribution but love, peace and reconciliation.”[21]In response, President Sata pledged to “Adopt the Catholic doctrine and discipline of service to the people.”[22]Moreover, the late president promised that his government would govern by biblical teachings based on the Ten Commandments, noting, “Because one of the Ten Commandments states that `thou shalt not steal.’”[23]

If the Christians in Zambia were worried about the nicknames of President Sata, notwithstanding his sanctified new name of Servant King, that worry should have had no effect upon divine dynamics as exemplified in King Cyrus. In the Christian Bible, God himself anoints a “Non-Jew”, a non-Christian, in fact, to be Israel`s deliverer. This man, Cyrus, is called “My anointed…whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him…I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.”[24]

The following passage, taken from a script called Cyrus Cylinder discovered in 1879 by Hormonz Assam during excavations of Babylon, illustrates, first, that, Cyrus an idol worshipper, was a chosen servant of God; second, that he was a leader of tremendous military ability and high moral and ethical values; third, that he was not inclined to extreme brutality or cruelty; fourth, that he perpetually conquered new territories; and fifth, that he was extremely tolerant of the customs and the religions of the nations he conquered:

I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, mighty king, king of Babylon, king of the land of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters, son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, great king, king of Anshan, descendant of Teispes, great king, king of Anshan, progeny of an unending royal line, whose rule Bel and Nabu cherish, whose kingship they desire for their hearts' pleasures. When I, well-disposed, entered Babylon, I established the seat of government in the royal palace amidst jubilation and rejoicing. Marduk, the great God, caused the big-hearted inhabitants of Babylon to love me… The citizens of Babylon…I lifted their unbecoming yoke. Their dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes. At my deeds Marduk, the great Lord, rejoiced, and to me, Cyrus, the king who worshipped, and to Cambyses, my son, the offspring of my loins, and to all my troops, he graciously gave his blessing, and in good spirit is before him we glorified exceedingly his high divinity. All the kings who sat in the throne rooms, throughout the four quarters, from the Upper to the Lower Sea, those who dwelt in…all the kings of the West Country who dwelt in tents, brought me their heavy tribute and kissed my feet in Babylon. From…to the cities of Ashur and Susa, Agade, Eshnuna, the cities of Zamban, Meurnu, Der, as far as the region of the land of Gutium, the holy cities beyond the Tigris whose sanctuaries had been in ruins over a long period, the gods whose abode is in the midst of them. I returned to the places and housed them in lasting abodes. I gathered together all their inhabitants and restored to them their dwellings. The gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabonidus had, to the anger of the Lord of the gods, brought into Babylon, I at the bidding of Marduk, the great Lord made to dwell in peace in their habitations, delightful abodes. May all the gods whom I have placed within their sanctuaries address a daily prayer in my favour before Bel and Nabu, that my days may be long.[25]

It can, therefore, be deduced that, as far as the Christian Nation is concerned, President Sata, despite his nicknames, could steer the nation according to God`s high ordinances. It was, needless to say, immaterial to good governance to what religious affiliation a president adhered. Democratic ideals prescribe that every Zambian president should vow to rule by the constitution in the magnanimous spirit of tolerance and fairness. He or she must, however, be tough on morality without which no meaningful policies could be successfully implemented, and without which the majority of poor citizens would be the sole losers.

The God-factoris an indispensable portrait of Zambia’s democracy. There is no better place to refrain that ideal than from the remarks made by Richard Kachingwe in his book, The Last Hours of R.B. Kachingwe recollects how former President Banda sought for the intervention of the Catholic bishops to curb violence during the 2011 elections. It is testament to the Christian heritage of Zambia and its role in the preservation of peace and harmony. 

Any president worth his or her salt, in Zambia, must subscribe to the God-factor. The people of Zambia have, from time to time, relied upon the supreme providence and graciousness of God in times of ominous national stress. In fact, Zambia itself was officially declared a Christian Nation by the late president, Frederick Chiluba, on December 30th, 1991.

_ ________________________

[1]Richard Harding Davis (April 18th, 1864 – April 11th, 1916) was a journalist and writer of fiction and drama, known foremost as the first American war correspondent

[2] King Cobra is scientifically known as Ophiophagus Hannah

[3]Reginald Ntomba, “’Man of Action’ Makes His Mark,” New Africa,November 2011, p. 24


[5] Alexi Worley, “10 Facts about Poverty in Zambia,” The Borgen Project, May 5th, 2017

[6] Mike Mulongoti has, however, argued that the PF has, since assuming power, preoccupied itself with political ideologies and has not striven to put food on people`s tables. See The Post of Wednesday, April 4th, 2012, on page 8.

[7]Africa Confidential, “Michael Chilufya Sata (The Cobra / King Cobra),” <> (Retrieved: November 12th, 2011)

[8]Ntomba, supra


[10]See Chapter Four of this book

[11]For a thorough discussion on Zambia as a Christian Nation, see Charles Mwewa, Zambia: Struggles of My People & Western Contribution to Corruption and Underdevelopment in Africa (Lusaka: Maiden Publishing House, 2011), Chapter 19

[12]Kipkoech Tanui, “Sata's Venom Not Good for Zambia,” Standard Media, October 27th, 2011

[13]On Monday, January 23rd, 2012, Zambia took back a 75 percent stake in local fixed-line operator ZAMTEL that was at that time being held by Libya’s LAP Green Networks.

[14] See Chapter 29 of Zambia: Struggles of My People, 2011

[15]Chibaula Silwamba, “Sata is an Opportunist Vulture, Charges HH,” Friday July 18th, 2008

[16] See Holy Bible, Genesis 32:28

[17] BBC, “Michael Sata: Zambia`s King Cobra Finally Strikes,” September 23rd, 2011

[18]Chief Editor, “President Sata Thanks Church for Peaceful Polls and Promises to Base His Rule on the Ten Commandments,” Lusaka Times, September 25th, 2011


[20]BBC, “Michael Sata: Zambia`s King Cobra Finally Strikes,” supra

[21]Chief Editor, supra



[24]Holy Bible, Isaiah 45:1 ff

[25] A partial translation of cuneiform script on the Cyrus Cylinder, dated 538-529 B.C. and housed in the British Museum


chapter 4: MAN OF ACTION

 LEONARDO DA VINCI, on action, said: I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. Hemingway informs: Never mistake motion for action.

The Morality of Action

They called him a man of action. President Michael Sata had enchanted his constituencies with the manner in which he did things, even when he only served under another president. The accolades were heaped upon a man who was known to many as “King Cobra,” a term which is synonymous with impulsive rhetoric. The man could talk; but the man could also walk! On action, Leadership Turn[1]captures it this way:

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.

Watch your words, for they become actions.

Watch your actions, for they become habits.

Watch your habits, for they become character.

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Indeed, thoughts or ideas, many times become actions – and they better must be – because if they remain only ideas in the head, they accomplish nothing. There is a problem if thought becomes ignorant action. And Goethe sums it up, thus, “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.” Ann Radcliffe once said, “One act of beneficence, one act of real usefulness, is worth all the abstract sentiments in the world,” while Brian Koslow educates, “The more you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions, the more credibility you will have.” Colleen C. Barrett is on point in addressing the problem we face today, “When it comes to getting things done, we need fewer architects and more bricklayers.” 

Would President Sata find enough bricklayers as he architected the foundations that would promote development and alleviate poverty in Zambia? Indeed, from day one in Plot One, President Sata began to live up to some of his appellation, Man of Action! But it was not until many doubted his ability or fitness to rule, including former President Kaunda (who, ironically, became Sata’s nimble confidante!).

“Unfit to Lead” Debate

On September 20th, 2011, Michael Sata was elected president by 43 percent of the Zambian electoral vote. 43 percent of the registered voters found him fit to lead, while about 57 percent did not. Among those who believed Michael Sata was unfit to lead Zambia was the nation`s founder president, Kenneth Kaunda. On September 14th, 2006, former President Kaunda declared Michael Sata unfit to govern Zambia: “Patriotic Front (PF) leader, Michael Sata, is not presidential material.”[2]Kaunda argued that the PF leader could not lead the country and would not fulfil the promises he was making to the people because the promises were not achievable.

It is alleged late President Chiluba decided to overlook Michael Sata and pick late President Mwanawasa as his successor because Michael Sata could not lead. This allegation was fomented by the MMD during the 2011 campaign. Then MMD national youth chairperson, Moses Muteteka, said former President Frederick Chiluba could not anoint Michael Sata to succeed him because he knew Michael Sata lacked leadership qualities befitting a Head of State.[3]

In addition, former MMD spokesperson, Dora Siliya, cautioned Zambians against voting for the then opposition PF leader Michael Sata because the latter allegedly betrayed freedom fighters during the liberation struggle. Siliya accused Michael Sata of acting as an informer for the colonial masters. Sata is alleged to have been exposing all schemes by freedom fighters among them Kenneth Kaunda and Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe. She wondered why a politician who allegedly betrayed the cause of Zambia’s liberation struggle should then rise to aspire to lead the nation. Addressing scores of people at Chitulika village market in Mpika, Siliya said the PF leader’s fight for the presidency was misplaced in the light of his questionable political background.[4]

Former MMD vice-president, Enoch Kavindele, even predicted war if the Zambians voted for Michael Sata. According to Kavindele, voting for PF would result in people fleeing the country because the PF and Michael Sata would bring trouble; Zambia would start going backwards.[5]

President Sata led Zambia for three years, and there were no initial signs that he could not lead. Despite his allegedly lack of diplomatic niceties, did President Sata prove that he was, afterall, a presidential material? In the 1960s, it was widely believed that Kapwepwe was unfit to lead, too, thanks to political innuendos orchestrated by then president Kaunda. Could it be that Zambia had missed an opportunity to getting men of action into the presidency because, ab initio, those persons were prejudged unfit to rule? Or was it only a matter of time before President Sata began to display qualities unbefitting a president? Kenneth Kaunda’s misjudgment of Michael Sata’s capability to lead is informed by the first Zambian president’s allegation that Simon Kapwepwe was also unfit to rule. President Sata did lead Zambia and would have continued to rule had it not been for his demise.

No-one could tell, but what was clear was that, with credible and well-informed advisers, President Sata was as good as any to lead the nation to even greater exploits than his predecessors did. Zambia had under the previous four presidents attempted to win a major tournament but failed. With President Sata, less than 300 days in his presidency, Zambia emerged the winner of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. If it was just a mere coincidence, it was, indeed, a good augury of, hopefully, good things to come! 

Why Michael Sata Won the 2011 Elections

This author will address the “how” Michael Sata won first. He did not win with a landslide like Chiluba did in 1991. He got only 43 percent of the vote. Over 55 percent of the registered voters rejected him. However, he had perched where only eagles dare; like Chiluba, he was able to unseat a reigning incumbent. By 2014, only Chiluba and Sata had that record. Kaunda, Mwanawasa, Banda and Scott only inherited their presidencies.

On why he won, psychologists suggest that the youth vote helped President Sata to win. They also drew parallels with the 2011 ousting of the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt. In the 2001, 2006 and 2008 elections, the candidate Sata's rhetoric on foreign investors worried some quarters. However, in the 2011 election, he had toned down his rhetoric, and in that sense, he did not differ much from Banda. He also benefited from a crowded ballot of candidates. Michael Sata did well in the urban areas.[6]

Michael Sata could also have benefited from his long roots in all the major political parties in Zambia. In essence, Sata was not competing against strangers; he was in contest with colleagues he knew very well. He had served with both presidents Mwanawasa and Banda in the Chiluba administration. He was also both a Minister and Governor under UNIP in the Second Republic. Ntomba notes:

Sata`s political roots have meandered through almost all the previous governments. Under founding President Kenneth Kaunda, he worked at the grassroots level as section chairman and ward counsellor, before rising to District Governor and Minister of State for Decentralization. In Chiluba`s administration, he served stints as Minister of Health, Local Government, Labour, and later Minister without Portfolio – then the third most powerful position after the president and vice-president. Sata twice served as an MP for his home town and in the Capital, Lusaka. For six years he was national secretary for the MMD, until he quit in 2001.[7]

In all his ministerial escapades, Sata proved himself as the man of action. In fact, the PF only drew upon this long and proven track record and trumpeted it during the election. There was no doubt among the poor majority that given a chance, Sata would deliver, banking on his no-nonsensical approach in his prior assignments.

The former ruling party miscalculated on its depth of popularity in Zambia and thought its slick campaign would win the day. Public acknowledgment and well-wishers of Sata's candidature were across party-lines and stakeholders. Paramount Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people in Eastern Province, then a stronghold of the ruling MMD, said: “Michael Sata was a good man who was trustworthy and visionary.” Elias Chipimo Jr., President of NAREP, congratulated Michael Sata on wining the elections and said that NAREP would remain vigilant in ensuring checks and balances. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that Zambia had set an example for the rest of Africa and the wider world about how power could be transferred peacefully. The President of the European Union Jose Manuel Durao Barroso said he was pleased to note that once again, the citizens of Zambia were able to express their democratic choices as enshrined in the constitution.[8]

After 20 years of MMD rule, the party was seen as an elitist party, was consumed into “the luxury of their offices”[9]and had lost touch with the masses, particularly the 1.2 million newly registered voters. Moreover, the fallout of Chiluba from Mwanawasa had injected into the MMD party an element of corruption, which had boomeranged and caused destruction to the MMD brand itself. The dissolution of the PACT between the PF and the UPND also contributed to the PF win; the UPND vote ate into the MMD's returns. The attempts by the former President Banda to dislodge the PF from its bedrock of support - the Copperbelt, Lusaka, Luapula and Northern provinces - proved unsuccessful. The MMD’s share of the vote substantially declined in other regions, except in Eastern Province.[10]

 The MMD lost partly because of the Post-newspaper factor. The MMD could not have lost the elections had it listened to the criticism from the Post. Moses Muteteka during Radio Phoenix's “Let the People Talk” program, said he wished the MMD government had not been harsh to the Post; it should have sought the Post`s advice: "We were stubborn. We were harsh to the media. Some media organizations did not like the way government was being run especially the Post. We should have said, `Okay the Post we don't make sense in your eyes, advise us and we could have implemented. And we could have still been in power.’" Muteteka agreed that the MMD harassed the media.[11]However, it was discovered that the Postitself also owed the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) millions of Kwacha in taxes!

The win by the PF party reiterated the fact that people have a democratic right to choose their own political party. Membership in a political party is based on mutual belief and understanding. The synergy between a political party`s leadership and its operatives must be completely mutual. Where leadership believes it has a natural right to administer privileges, and dispense favours without regard to its base or the grassroots, it becomes blinded to what matters politically – the electorate.

This was the case with the MMD. There were reports where former President Banda was jeered upon by youth in the MMD t-shirts. Driven by the Donchi Kubeba [12]mantra, young people booed at the MMD leader with clenched fists chanting, “Don`t Kubeba”! Malama Katulwende in a Letter to the Editor of the Post accused the MMD of having “destroyed our industrial base…the country’s leaders choose not to own the means of production such as mines but allow foreign capital to control their critical resources.”[13]

Then republican vice-president, Guy Scott, believed the PF would rule Zambia for the next twenty years. He thought that the MMD mistook a social contract for a marriage covenant with the people. “Political party is not like a wife or husband where you swear at the church that you will live together until death, no! One day your children will chase the PF but they are too small. People who will chase the PF are not yet born; we still have twenty more years of PF," the then Vice-president, and Zambia`s first White man to hold a high office, as president of the former colonial powers, said. After a succession tussle involving Guy Scott and Edgar Lungu, Scott succeeded Sata as interim president of Zambia pending the outcome of a January 2015 presidential by-election.

Scott`s Twenty-Uninterrupted-PF-Rule theory is based on the premise that people who were born after UNIP was already in power were the ones who voted UNIP out in 1991. Similarly, "Now it is those people who were babies in 1991 [who] chased MMD in 2011, so babies who are behind your backs or those who are not yet born are the ones who will chase PF maybe after 2040. Now is the beginning of PF's time." By December 2014, the PF only settled the issue of party president, either Miles Sampa or Edgar Lungu, after the ECZ warned, thus, “Where there are issues to be resolved… [the] PF and the MMD [should] resolve them before the nomination dates.”[14]Edgar Lungu eventually emerged the PF’s presidential candidate and Nevers Mumba for the MMD. In fact, trouble in the PF party had started even before the remains of President Sata were put to rest on November 11th, 2014.

Scott said the MMD government lost power because it lost touch with the people and became corrupt. "Nafutinafutito what, corruption, poverty and unemployment? I am very happy that they lost, they confused themselves. In the past ten years I have been in opposition, I was so scared of the police, thinking that they would put me in cells for a weekend but now here they are guarding me and if you try to shake my hand, you will be in trouble,"[15]giggled the then vice-president. (After he became acting president of Zambia in November 2014, he told a UK tabloid that the sudden elevation to the office of president was, “bit of a shock to the system…. Everyone is getting used to calling me ‘Your Excellency,’ and I’m getting used to it”[16]).

In 2006 and 2008, both Lusaka and the Copperbelt provinces voted overwhelmingly for the PF. It is no wonder that it was these two provinces which put the last nail into the MMD coffin in the 2011 elections: “Former president Rupiah Banda has accused the people of Lusaka and Copperbelt of having caused his defeat by voting overwhelmingly for Michael Sata.”[17]

The 90-Days Promise

President Sata`s election promises are better summarized in the congratulatory message Hakainde Hichilema, President of UPND, sent to President Sata on his election victory: “We also want to remind our colleagues the PF that their ninety (90) days promises are being anxiously awaited for. In the meantime, we intend to give them sufficient time to settle down in government and begin to deliver. For ease of reference, the following are some of Mr. Sata’s election promises: deliver constitution within ninety (90) days; free education; jobs for youth; more money in your pockets; windfall tax; Barotse Agreement restoration; housing; free fifteen (15) bags of fertilizer per farmer; upgrading shanty compounds; liberalization of air waves so that private media houses can broadcast national wide.”[18]

The PF under President Sata paraded itself as a party of the poor. However, it, vehemently, denied that it was pro-nationalism. “We are not like the MMD. The difference between the MMD and the PF was that the MMD was for the elites, the PF was founded to be the voice of the poor in the country.”[19]Accordingly, “Nationalization of private property is not one of the PF`s programs.”[20]

While the opposition was itching to see the late president account for his election promises, the man of action had done more in his first two weeks in office, per capita, than former President Rupiah Banda did in his three-year presidency, albeit, only in as far as administration directives were concerned. (President Sata did very little in terms of legislation as is the case where the Rule of Law is supreme). New African[21]abridges well the strides of the late president in his early days:

§ Sata`s Cabinet, which he has slashed from 26 to 19, is a mixture of sorts. Old guards from the bygone era, party zealots, technocrats, political novices and family members are all in. The Vice-president is the British-born Guy Scott. Having been Sata`s right-hand man for many years, his appointment came as no surprise, although the Western media were quite mesmerized by it.

§ Boards of several parastatals have been dissolved and some of them condemned as “conduits of corruption.” CEOs of the central bank, the national power company, and the grain marketing agency have all been replaced, while the head of the revenue authority has been suspended pending investigation.

§ The heads of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Drug Enforcement Commission, Army Airforce, and the police have all been replaced. Some positions in the police have also been abolished, while the government has promised to realign military ranks.

§ Contracts which the former government entered into to build new State House and an international airport have been cancelled. The current State House “is more than adequate,” says Sata, and “if the need for another international airport arises, it will be subject to open tender.”

§ A probe has been ordered into the sale of the telecoms company, ZAMTEL, to the Libyans, while a local private bank which the former government had taken over and later sold for US$5 million (ironically, when it has assets totaling US$200 million) to South Africa`s FirstRand Bank, has been repossessed and handed back to the owners.

§ Three commissions of inquiry have been established to probe corruption in the energy sector, the revenue authority, as well as extrajudicial killings by the police in Western Province.

§ Fighting corruption has been emphasized. “I am allergic to corruption,” Sata has repeatedly said. His government will reintroduce an “abuse of office” clause which the former government had abolished.

§ A new constitution has been promised within 90 days.[22]

It is important to note, however, that the sweeping changes, or intentions were not new or quintessential architects of President Sata and the PF; they had been the concerns of the Zambian people for decades. President Sata was merely putting them into action. Whether they translated into genuine and sustained benefit for the poor majority, even after Sata’s death, was still yet to be seen.

Before he was elected to the Zambian presidency, Michael Sata told a British newspaper that he would sweep clean Zambia of corruption, just as he once swept the Victoria Station in London, England. And, indeed, after his inauguration on September 23rd, 2011, President Sata embarked on a sweeping campaign through the corridors of Zambia's state bureaucracy. In his first week, he fired Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director Godfrey Kayukwa and Bank of Zambia (BOZ) Governor Caleb Fundanga. Many people believed that Fundanga's dismissal had more to do with his cozy relationship with the outgoing MMD than his economic credentials. 

President Sata also reversed a decision taken by BOZ to sell the Finance Bank of Zambia to South Africa's FirstRand Bank. However, some quarters were disgruntled with President Sata's choice of a new Cabinet. They thought that it was composed of party functionaries and close comrades. Moreover, they accused the late president of giving a nod to former allies from UNIP. They cited President Sata`s appointment of veteran economist Alexander Chikwanda as Finance Minister and former President Kaunda's son Colonel Panji Kaunda as Deputy Defence Minister as testament to this allegation. 

 In October 2011, President Sata removed all of the country's District Administrators (DAs) and replaced them with civil servants, who were mostly PF cadres. This, however, could be seen as a sign of ambivalence on the part of the late president, taking into consideration the fact that once when he was the strong man of MMD as its National Secretary and Minister without Portfolio, he relished the DA prudery and nourished it with defiant superfluity.

Mahatma Gandhi once said that poverty is the worst form of violence. It can be said, too, that poverty may be blind to truth and is fuel upon which ignorance thrives. Between 50 and 60 percent of the Zambians live in poverty, in fact, on less than two dollars a day. In politics, poverty can be a weakness, but it can also be seen as pathway to power for some politicians.

President Sata made daring promises to the people of Zambia. These promises, weighed on the scale of pragmatism, were unfeasible. Indeed, President Sata had brilliantly summed it up, thus, “If talking was an industry, Zambia would have prospered.”[23]What was more, during campaigns he promised to deliver all of these promises in 90 days. But during his inauguration speech, he reversed himself that he would only begin the process. To tell a poor woman that she would have money in her purse in 90 days is, indeed, buying an express ticket to a free and easy vote. But is that promise sustainable? To promise a new constitution in 90 days is unfeasible for the same reason as promising a woman to conceive and give birth in 90 days! The baby may be born, but it might be still or premature.

And here is a stack contrast between Western and Third World politics. Sata epitomized the best of African tacticians – that’s, politicians who know how to win elections – who are agile at the art of persuasion. Most African politicians do not deliver on the promises; they become mean and corrupt once the instruments of power have been handed over to them! The people remain, if lucky, the same as they were before elections. They could be worse!

Just a month old in office, President Sata made radical shake-ups in government mainly with brusque sackings, radical pronouncements and establishment of anti-graft probes. These undertakings were justified in as far as President Sata was seen to be a man of action, especially if the new government had to be seen to be fulfilling its election campaign promises.

 To most of President Sata`s compatriots — especially those who followed his campaign messages, sometimes taken as jokes, over the last ten years as opposition leader — the changes were not surprise packages. They were in line with his day-to-day talk.

 A good talker, President Sata was not short of terminologies that moved the masses. Addressing Parliament for the first time as President of Zambia, he made what came to be his famous quote: The “I am Allergic to Corruption”[24]Speech. And after making the pronouncement, he fired parastatal heads and dissolved boards — many of which he accused of corruption. Some judged that President Sata was in a hurry to prove a point. However, to the majority, including investors, Sata was creating a corrupt-free environment in which development, human rights and the Rule of Law thrived.

To some, still, these changes and pronouncements seemed more like a man under pressure than a man of action. President Sata was under pressure to live up to his campaign promises to deliver tangible developments within his first 90 days in office. Presidents do not live a legacy through administrative pronouncements. These are usually unilateral decisions which are not in the purview of general interest. They could be politically-motivated and do not usually stand the test of time.

Administrative decisions like uncharacteristic sackings and replacements of all heads of the four defence wings, chiefs of three key state-owned media, the Central Bank Governor, all politically-affiliated DAs, diplomats, ZESCO boss and food reserve chief, may be necessary but they do not define one`s presidential bequest.

Dissolution of boards of several parastatals may be construed as drastic clean-up because all these institutions are “corrupt” or are “conduits of corruption” or are a quest to “sweep and remove all the cobwebs,” but they still remain administrative decisions and their impact is as strong as the same president remains in power. With the death of Sata, all the unilateral administrative changes died with him.

Real changes are instituted by democratic institutions empowered with such duties, like Parliament. Legislation is durable and it leaves legacies that all those who follow are bound to. However magical the PF administration might have desired to be under President Sata, they could not deliver tangible change for Zambia in 90 days, or even in one year (as it became clear after September 2012). 

Zambians began to accept their fate – learning to be patient with President Sata and his government and to give him a chance to plan, control and execute. Otherwise, Zambians realized, Sata was just another of the many politicians who promised the world and delivered a nip! 

The pressure to deliver in 90 days pressed the late president into both constitutional and administrative gaffes. To cite two examples, President Sata nominated an undischarged bankrupt person, Panji Kaunda, as MP against the dictates of the Zambian Constitution. The constitution states clearly that a person declared bankrupt by the court is disqualified to be elected or nominated as MP. Panji Kaunda, a nominated MP and Deputy Minister of Defence was declared bankrupt by the High Court of Zambia in January 2004.

The second gaffe hinged on the constitution as well. Rather than nominating eight members as the constitution stipulates, President Sata nominated ten MPs, instead. He later rescinded the decision and revoked the nominations after public outcry.

President Michael Sata remained a minority president – with more people voting against him than for him. Therefore, there are a lot of disillusioned people out there; people who did not believe in the PF.[25]President Sata was not only the president of a political party, namely the PF, he was also expected to be the president of the entire nation – of those who voted for him and those who voted against him alike. It would be in the best interest of Zambia to give him time to succeed or fail. And the Zambians did do just that, and no-one can tell for certain if President Sata would have succeeded had he lived to the end of his tenure.

President Sata should not be judged based on whether he delivered his promises or not within 90 days. That would be grossly unfair, although it would give the opposition a weapon against the PF in subsequent elections. No-one can fulfil all the campaign promises in 90 days. However, Zambians must learn not to be duped by political machinations that make bold and unreasonable statements about what they would or would not do within an unreasonable period of time once elected into office. 

President Sata’s Greatest Contribution

On the 90-days campaign promise, did President Michael Chilufya Sata fail the Zambians? Many Zambians think he did not. Some will argue that corruption still remains the most important issue in Zambian politics. There is truth to this assertion. In a country with a small economy and emerging from the vagaries of colonial plunder, it is vital how the country manages and distributes its meagre national resources free of corruption. In order to give every citizen a chance to succeed in the economic marketplace, the public must have unhindered access to available resources. With corruption, however, the means of production and the realization from the tax-payers’ contributions are swallowed up by the greedy and avaricious few. The majority of the people, who in Zambia hover in the poverty doldrums, continue to be defined by need and indigency. The prevalence of corruption in Zambia, therefore, is a present and urgent danger. It has the potential to shrinking the economy and to relegating the country to unmanageable poverty levels. The greatest contribution of President Sata is what will be discussed in Chapter 5.



[1]Leadership Turn, “Quotable Quotes: Actions,”

<> (Retrieved: November 16th, 2011)

[2]Times of Zambia, “Sata Can't Rule – KK,” September 14th, 2006

[3]ZNBC, “MMD Claims PF is Using the Slogan ‘Don’t Kubeba’ to Promote Homosexuality,” May 19th, 2011


[5]Kabanda Chulu, Fridah Nkonde and Darious Kapembwa, “‘Don't Kubeba' Greets Rupiah in Chifubu,” The Post, September 18th, 2011

[6] In an article titled “Why We Lost,” Reginald Ntomba summarises the reasons as: (1) the MMD had overstayed in power; (2) the MMD leadership got consumed in the luxuries of their offices; and (3) there was a lack of intra-party democracy; see The Post, March 25th, 2012, p. 11 

[7]Ntomba, supra

[8]Fleishman Hillard, “Zambia’s 2011 Tripartite Elections,” Lex Africa,, (Retrieved: November 27th, 2011)

[9]Edwin Mbulo, “Mutati Explains Why MMD Lost,” The Post, Monday, March 19th, 2012

[10]Chiwoyu Sinyangwe, “Zambian President Sata the Sacker,” The African Report, November 7th, 2011

[11]Brina Manenga, “MMD Couldn't Have Lost Had it Listened to Criticism – Muteteka,” The Post, November 27th, 2011

[12]Donchi Kubeba is discussed in Chapter 5 of this book

[13] See “Why MMD Should be voted Out,” The Post, Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, p. 21

[14]Ireen Mambilima, as reported by Justinah Mukuka and Moono Chungu, “ECZ advises MMD, PF to get organised,” The Post, Thursday, December 4th, 2014, p.3

[15]Moses Kuwema in Nakonde, “Those Who Will Vote PF Out Are Not Yet Born – Scott,” The Post, November 21st, 2011

[16] Interview with The Telegraph

[17]Christopher Miti in Chipata and Thandizo Banda, “Rupiah Blames Copperbelt, Lusaka for His Defeat,” The Post, November 23rd, 2001

[18]Zambia Weekly, “Election Reactions,” Week 39, Volume 2, Issue 38, September 30th, 2011, p. 5

[19]The Post, “Nationalisation Not in PF`s Plan – Kabimba,” Monday, February 2012


[21]Ntomba, supra.

[22]On November 17th, 2011, President Michael Sata named a 20-member Technical Committee to draft the new Republican Constitution. The Technical Committee would refer to all previous constitutional review commissions - the Chona Constitutional Review Commission, the Mvunga Constitutional Review Commission, the 1991 Constitution of Zambia, and the Mwanakatwe Constitutional Review Commission Report and Draft Constitution. The Technical Committee would also review the Mung’omba Constitutional Review Report and Draft Constitution as well as the Zaloumis Electoral Reform Technical Committee Report and the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) Report and Draft Constitution. The Technical Committee would review the Mung’omba Draft Constitution and would use it as the basis upon which to develop the new constitution. The Technical Committee was expected to consult widely and take into account the submissions forwarded. It was to be headed by Justice Annel Silungwe, former Chief Justice of Zambia.

[23]Kenneth Mwenda, “Discerning the Immorality of Politicking in Zambia,” Zambia Daily Mail, April 5th, 2012

[24]Austin Kaluba amends the “10 Commandments on Fighting Corruption” as (1) re-introduction of the Special Investigating Team for Economic Trade (SITET); (2) hand-in-hand work of the Zambian Police with the Intelligence Unit, ACC and the public; (3) civil society`s re-education on graft; (4) barring for life of corruption convicts from holding political office; (5) redefinition of corruption as a serious crime; (6) separate prisons for corruption convicts; (7) public circulation of present and past corruption convicts; (8) broadening of corruption to include churches, political parties and educational institutions; (9) clearance by ACC of every political aspirant; and (10) declaration of an anti-corruption day in Zambia.

[25]Zambia Weekly, “Election Reactions,” Week 39, Volume 2, Issue 38, September 30th, 2011, p. 5



chapter 5: “DONCHI KUBEBA”

Niccolo Machiavelli, on corruption, said: Each candidate behaved well in the hope of being judged worthy of election. However, this system was disastrous when the city had become corrupt. For then it was not the most virtuous but the most powerful who stood for election, and the weak, even if virtuous, were too frightened to run for office.[1]

Does the End Always Justify the Means?

This author is not a Machiavellian, but it seems to him that Machiavelli’s philosophy has pretty much been misunderstood. When he wrote that, “The ends justify the means,” did Niccolo Machiavelli mean that any action, no matter how unethical or immoral, could be justified for the purpose of any reasonable or needed outcome? Didn’t Machiavelli suggest this pragmatic philosophy for the sole purpose of stabilizing and improving governments? Didn’t Machiavelli also state that this philosophy could not be ethically used for individuals` personal greed, profit and self-improvement? Likewise, didn’t Machiavelli believe that any possibly "cruel actions" by governments should be "swift, effective, and short-lived" so as to decrease the harmful impact on citizens and to minimize the probability of rebellion?

“Don`t Kubeba,” a Machiavellian Triumph

“Don’t Kubeba,” popularly whispered as Donchi Kubeba, a slogan adopted by the PF party in the run-up to the 2011 election, is quintessentially a Machiavellian postulation. It is attributed to President Michael Sata. It is a transmogrification of the English “Don’t” and the Bemba “Kubeba (tell).” It literally means “Don`t Tell.”

Don’t tell or don’t say a word, understood plainly, may denote that the PF party members could accept campaign favours intended for other political party members. PF members might accept inducements, kick-backs or indeed, any other forms of lures offered by other political parties without the PF members disclosing their allegiance to the PF party. 

The expression is particularly common in the Zambian justice system. Child molesters use it; money launderers are fond of it; and drug traffickers have made shrines around it. Those who cheat on their spouses also use it. To all these groups it means only one and the same thing: indulge but do not reveal. The Words of Agur puts it correctly: “This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, `I have done no wrong.’”[2]However, the “Don`t Kubeba” slogan during the 2011 election, was not used in this sense. This subject will be discussed further later in the book.

Omertà: Is it a Form of Corruption?

There is no denying, across the board, that Donchi Kubeba delivered results for the PF. To many, Donchi Kubeba was a winning proposition. To some it was repugnant as it was corrupt. Those who did not agree with the PF slogan contended that it was a theory imbued in corrupt practices. Someone wrote: “What scares me is not that PF sympathizers embrace it; what scares the hell out of me is that an entire party president such as Mr. Sata can embrace such an evil slogan and encourage his members to practice it.” In fact, Donchi Kubeba was also embraced by former President Banda.[3]

Some have equated Donchi Kubeba to Omertà. Wikipedia defines Omertà[4]as an,

…attitude and code of honour and a common definition is the "code of silence." It is common in areas of southern Italy, such as Sicily, Apulia, Calabria, and Campania, where criminal organizations defined as Mafia such as the Cosa Nostra, 'Ndrangheta, Sacra Corona Unita, and Camorra are strong. It also exists to a lesser extent in certain Italian-American neighborhoods where the Italian-American Mafia has influence and other Italian ethnic enclaves in countries where there is the presence of Italian organized crime (i.e. Germany, Canada, and Australia).

Zyambo[5]argues that Omertà is hugely embraced by the Mafia, and it implies “The categorical prohibition of cooperation with state authorities or reliance on its services, even when one has been victim of a crime.” Even if somebody is convicted of a crime he or she has not committed, they are supposed to serve the sentence without giving the police any information about the real criminal, even if that criminal has nothing to do with the Mafia.

Abrogating Omertà is punishable by death. Like Omertà, Zyambo argued that, Donchi Kubeba portended evil for Zambia. It was immoral as it was negative. It had the propensity to tearing homes apart, aggravating morality and encouraging corruption. Zyambo made a charge: “It is sad that it is officially advertised now and as the old saying goes ‘charity begins at home,’ seeing a political party embrace such slogans at the party level simply implies that even at national level they will have no difficult in doing likewise.”[6]

Was Zyambo’s prediction spot on?

Some Zambians failed to understand the thought behind Donchi Kubeba. However, they understood the importance that language plays a very important part in politics. In the art of politics, the so-called enemy can be good, beautiful, and even economically profitable, only if the powerful do not build their castles on the sweat and chants of the poor. Bottom-line, however, is that there are no real enemies in politics. Criticism is very helpful to either the ruling party or the opposition. The thunder of Donchi Kubeba and Nafuti-Nafuti (meaning ‘again and again,’ a reminiscing of the MMD that the party was wired to keep returning power) were, in that regard, not disturbances to the Zambian political taste.

The slogans of Donchi Kubeba and Nafuti-Nafutieffused a sense of national pride in the 2011 election campaigns. They pitted two strongest parties on pseudo-ideological lines, and one won. Some compared their impact to the Zambian National Anthem itself. Each time Zambians chanted it, it reminded them of the struggle they went through and the freedom they achieved. Zambians are all brothers and sisters in one nation. As such, they should guard, with pride, the peace that they have enjoyed since independence. 

Zambians have discovered the magic of concocting peace with national politics. They have learned that it may take only a day to lose peace, but years to recover it. The ruling party and opposition both understand that Zambians need peace at all costs. Peace is a need for every citizen. Politics should give hope to the people, and not create chaos. And in the two slogans, Zambia`s hope could be seen to smog the skies. To some in Zambia, Donchi Kubeba and Nafuti-Nafuti exemplified the peace that Zambia has enjoyed since independence: “Every individual must answer and meditate on the value of peace we have in Zambia.”[7]

Others in Zambia interpreted Donchi Kubeba literally. They associated it to corruption. They insisted that Donchi Kubeba meant getting bribes for votes but then voting for someone else. The phrase confirmed the prevalence of the ‘brown envelope’ culture that dominates Zambian politics during election time. It is some sort of Omertà for the electorate to keep quiet about under-hand methods that the ruling party uses to woo votes. Some accused Zambians of reaching a stage where they were applauding corrupt leaders as heroes. The assumption was that if one held a political position and came out empty-handed, then that someone was deemed to have been a big fool who did not use his or her head to make quick money. 

Zambians in pubs, minibuses, and markets were allegedly seen to openly admire politicians who left power with some ill-gotten money. Surprisingly, one would not hear those corrupt leaders being condemned for such practices. In Zambia, it seemed, one was only condemned for being caught, as it were in flagrante, red-handed or in the act of theft, and not for participating in the act itself. Someone adjudged: If your misdeeds are not exposed, it is the Donchi Kubeba culture at work.[8]This allegation, however, ought to be questioned.[9]

Those who interpreted the PF slogan literally strongly associated it to corruption. Someone vehemently objected: “I will not eat at the table of corruption in the name of Donchi. I will not let our women be silenced in the name of Donchi,”[10]Others accused the PF of mismanaging national resources in future in the name of Donchi Kubeba.

But fast-forwarding to 2014 and the predictions of some commentators began to come true. It was believed that corruption and various forms of wrong-doing had continued to reign supreme in the PF government.[11]To illustrate the point, an Auditor-General’s report on the Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) indicated that out of a provision of K196 million for Water Sanitation Program Support Phase One, K47.74 million for 10 contracts awarded to consultants had no tender documents for audit and the funds had not been accounted for.[12]In its first full year in office, President Michael Sata’s government began taking some outwardly positive steps to fight corruption, open up the media environment, and reform the constitution. However, it had not followed through with many concrete measures by the end of 2012. Meanwhile, it was alleged that Michael Sata proved to be highly intolerant of dissenting viewpoints, using questionable legal tactics and politically motivated prosecutions against the opposition and critical journalists.[13]

To a keen observer, Sata could be accused of dictatorial tendencies rather than of tolerating corruption. After all, earlier on, the president had declared that he was allergic to corruption. In 2011, Katele Kalumba challenged the PF to tell Zambians how PF would fight corruption when the party had been encouraging the scheme of “Don`t Tell, Don’t Say.” According to the former MMD executive, the slogan was synonymous with corruption: “‘Don’t Kubeba’ is a discourse of immorality and untruthfulness. If the PF can teach people to be untruthful in principle in terms of political practices, how can they fight corruption because the principle of ‘Don’t Kubeba’ is the same principle as corruption?”[14]

It would not take long before the Post began to reveal that corruption was, in fact, already rampant in the PF rank and file. Former Minister of Defence, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, was accused of pressuring the public utility ZESCO to award contracts to his company.[15]Wynter Kabimba (then Minister of Justice and who also served as the PF’s secretary-general and acting president at one point), was implicated in the scandal as beneficiary.[16]

According to analysts, “These corruption issues have surfaced in the media only because of the infighting, which has allegedly been tolerated, or at least not prevented, by President Sata.”[17]These sentiments seem to line well with the mantra of Donchi Kubeba. One would ask, was something more going on in the PF which, subject to Donchi Kubeba,would never be known?

However, shortly before Sata, the protagonist of the Donchi Kubeba mantra, was incapacitated (and would die shortly after on October 28th, 2014), the nuts began to asphyxiate and loosen. This prompted Munyonzwe Hamalengwa, a criminal and constitutional Zambian-Canadian lawyer to ask: “Is Zambia an Organized Criminal State?”[18]

 Then there were some strange interpretations of the Donchi Kubeba. The then MMD task force spokesperson Chiwele Maimisa construed the PF slogan as support for homosexuality. The chairperson broadly interpreted the slogan as encouraging homosexuals “Not to speak now but wait until PF leader Michael Sata comes into power.”[19]

The Church, too, had a voice in questioning Donchi Kubeba. Many Christians questioned the morality of the slogan. How could Christians respond to a slogan that supposedly encouraged corruption? How could Christians make a difference in politics when one party encouraged taking bribes and another party used dishonest means to gain power? Some Christians saw the PF slogan as an oxymoron; claiming to prevent and tolerate corruption at the same time:

One-way Christians can contribute to the transformation of society is by getting involved in politics to fight corruption and injustice and by providing good governance,” says a Nigerian Christian Development worker Danladi Musa.  But, outside of the New Jerusalem, Christian politicians will face many challenges. Challenges like “Don’t Kubeba.” On the surface, it may appear that the PF has plainly encouraged corruption. But, how do you face a process that is characterized by intrigue, political maneuvering and deceit? What do you do when those responsible for conducting elections may be coerced into supporting the ruling party by falsifying figures in favour of preferred candidates?[20]

Temfwe,[21]believed that while politically Donchi Kubeba delivered results for the PF, for Christians, in general, it raised serious questions. He saw the role of Christians as that of obeying the laws of God. But “What does obedience look like when the system is unjust?” he asked. Do you say, “Don’t Kubeba” during the election and then, “Do Kubeba” if you win the election? Or “Is obedience your only hope no matter what?” 

Temfwe, then preached: “We have testimonies in the lives of people like Joseph and Daniel who remained obedient to God and in the end, God vindicated and elevated them to the highest leadership positions.” Then he challenged, “How are you helping Church members in politics show allegiance to God? Are you telling Christian politicians that they cannot be effective in anything unless they learn how to obey God no matter the consequences?”

Donchi Kubeba: Strategy, Not Corruption Appeal

Although in principle, “Poverty levels…are so high that people can be compromised with little things,” critical review of the slogan of Donchi Kubeba reveals that it was used purely as a strategy for dislodging the MMD from power, and not as a refrain for corruption. Lawrence Temfwe[22]puts it in context:

The PF knew the MMD had considerable financial resources they could use to entice Zambians to vote for them.  The MMD knew that high poverty levels create great vulnerability, and that many Zambians would be sympathetic to and even vote for MMD if they received gifts. The MMD also knew that no one would ask about the source of funds. The strategy was clear: the more gifts we give now; the more votes we get on Election Day. This was not a secret strategy. I overheard one man say, “that province could be won with rock-buns and beer,” to which his friend replied, “it would only take the rock-buns.”[23]

The MMD was allegedly intent on buying the vote at any cost, a form of election fraud. In response, the PF, which was of necessity out-funded by the MMD, devised a strategy of defiant co-operation. The gist was to, “Accepting money or gifts from government officials during elections,” and which the PF knew was “breaking the law.” It was some form of “If you can’t beat them, join them.” And Donchi Kubeba was necessarily born from this persuasion. 

 The PF reasoned that the MMD would use its incumbency power and the access to resources under its management. Admittedly, banking on the tempting nature of poverty, decided to use the MMD strategy against the MMD party itself. So, it raised a nationwide campaign: “Accept money from government officials, just don’t tell them you won’t vote for them.” This proved to be a very shrewd and effective strategy. On the Copperbelt, people thronged to MMD political meetings to get money, chitenge clothing and t-shirts. 

 People from both the PF and the opposition understood the idea of Donchi Kubeba, and it certainly contributed to the PF win. In certain instances, the slogan was so effective that it turned the MMD party against itself. 

The above happenstance was intensified in Chifubu Township on the Copperbelt where residents gave former President Rupiah Banda a signal that they did not want him and his government. They raised clenched fists while chanting “Don`t Kubeba,” as their own president`s motorcade passed through the township. A huge number of youths clad in MMD campaign regalia joined in chanting the slogan.[24]

If the PF’s campaign slogan of Donchi Kubeba encouraged people to get what they were offered but not to tell who they would vote for, it worked.[25]Prior, the MMD had banked on exuberant campaign hand-outs. They had also grown the Zambian economy, averaging 6.2 percent over the last six years before September 2011. They were blessed with record copper prices on the world market. Against this backdrop did the PF invent the slogan; it curved into the MMD advantage and, to some extent, allowed the citizens to “Accept the ruling party's freebies but vote PF.”[26]

In recognition of the role the slogan played in rallying the masses towards the PF, President Sata, on October 24th, 2011, honoured social commentator Dandy Krazy for his contribution to democracy and promotion of unity. Krazy, whose real name is Wesley Chibambo, was honoured with the Companion Order of Freedom First Division for bringing the PF into government through his popular song, “Donchi Kubeba.” The track became a household song in the run-up to the September 20th, 2011 general elections, and became the PF’s theme song for delivering its campaign messages.[27]

Krazy`s song reverberated with pro-PF supporters because it “mentions how youths are walking around with diplomas in their pockets but cannot find jobs.”[28]The song reinvigorated the PF themes by urging nurses, doctors and others not to tell the MMD or government that the people would not vote for the MMD party.

(When this author visited a shanty-compound of Chibolya in Zambia in 2012, the same people who had sung “Don’t Kubeba” were now singing, “We have no money into our pockets!”)

Munyonzwe Hamalengwa has stated that the Donchi Kubeba concept is enshrined in the very notion of democracy. Voting is based on the principle of secrecy in the ballot box. No one knows except the voter how that voter actually voted. They could tell you that they voted one way while, in fact, they voted otherwise. In the USA and elsewhere, individuals and corporations give equal amounts of election donations to all presidential candidates not knowing who would emerge victorious. Whoever emerges victorious may favour these practitioners of American Donchi Kubeba even though how they actually voted maybe otherwise but simply because they donated money. In door to door campaigns, people are more inclined to simply stating that they would vote for the canvassing party even though they may vote differently. This is Donchi Kubeba per excellence. And this is where the discussion of Donchi Kubeba, which was used brilliantly by Michael Sata in the 2011 elections, is left.

Donchi Kubeba Legislation

Donchi Kubeba has already borne fruit in defeating the MMD regime that was on a course to setting another record for longevity in power. It was a brilliant idea that encouraged the solicitation of “corrupt votes” but without succumbing to corruption.  Zambia must pass the Corruption Reporting and Compensation Act (CRACA). The rationale of the legislation will be to encourage people in the nation to accept corruption offers and then be rewarded at twice the accruement when they report corruption to the relevant agency. For example, if a person is offered K400,000.00 and successfully reports the corruption, that person should be rewarded with K800,000.00. 

CRACA should be administered by an independent agency that does not report to the president or any government ministry. The agency should be completely autonomous and should serve independently of the mandate of the Anti-Corruption Commission.  This will eliminate excessive red tape and fiat. In the process, it will ensure anonymity and confidentiality. Those who report’s identities cannot be disclosed to any branch of government or even to the president.  

CRACA will apply only to the public sector: Government, government ministries and departments, and government agencies. Anyone who serves in the public service, including the president, should be subject to CRACA.

Parliament should set aside a fund each budget-year for the management of CRACA. The Director of CRACA-created-agency should be required to report the activities of the agency to the National Assembly every year. The report so presented to the National Assembly must then be published in order for every citizen to have access to it.

If implemented properly, CRACA will significantly reduce public and political corruption in Zambia. Whistleblowers and informants will feel extremely safe to report corruption while they benefit from reporting. People will feel comfortable to fight and attack corruption because they will have an incentive for doing so. 


[1]Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian writer, statesman, Florentine patriot and author of The Prince.

[2]Holy Bible, Proverbs 30:20

[3] See page 61 of this book

[4]Omertà is an Italian word pronounced as ɔmɛrˈta

[5]A. Zyambo, “The Evil Behind “Donchi Kubeba,” Lusaka Times, September 7th, 2011

[6]However, as it has been shown in Chapter Four, President Sata in his Parliamentary speech declared that he was allergic to corruption, proof that the “Don`t Kubeba” slogan was only a strategy to win the elections.

[7]Martin Mwango, “The Philosophy of “Donchi Kubeba” and “Nafuti… nafuti” (the thunder in Zambian politics),” Lusaka Times, August 24th, 2011

[8]Dorothy Mainza, “Count Down Elections 2011 – The Donchi Kubeba Culture-Zambia’s Own Version of Omertà,” UKZambians, August 9th, 2011

[9]See Chapter 29 of Zambia: Struggles of My Peopleunder “Universality of Corruption.”

[10] “Why I Find it Hard to Embrace the ‘Donchi Kubeba’ Concept,” available online: October 3rd, 2011, retrieved: November 27th, 2011)

[11]Charles Sakala, “Zambia’s Patriotic Front Members Linked Oil Corruption?” Afk Insider , October 28th, 2014 (as originally reported in the Zambia Reports)

[12] Editor’s Choice, “Rampant Corruption Shows PF Hypocrisy – Mbulakulima,” Zambian Watchdog, September 2nd, 2014

[13]Freedom House, “Zambia – Freedom in the World 2013,” - – retrieved on December 7th, 2014

[14]Zambian Watchdog, “Katele Says ´Donchi Kubeba ´ is Pro-Corruption,”, July 11th, 2011

[15] James Kimer, “Corruption Accusations Fly as the Power Struggle within Zambia's Ruling Party Escalates,” Think Africa Press, December 17th, 2012

[16]Kimer, ibid.


[18]Munyonzwe Hamalengwa, “Is Zambia an Organised Criminal State?” Zambia Reports, September 11th, 2014

[19]Lusaka Times, “MMD Claims PF is Using the Slogan ‘Don’t Kubeba’ to Promote Homosexuality,” May 19th, 2011

[20]Lawrence Temfwe, “Don’t Kubeba,” Monday Issue, October 31st, 2011




[24]Kabanda Chulu, Fridah Nkonde and Darious Kapembwa, “‘Don't Kubeba' Greets Rupiah in Chifubu,” The Post, September 18th, 2011

[25]Fleishman Hillard, “Zambia’s 2011 Tripartite Elections,” Lex Africa,, (Retrieved: November 27th, 2011)

[26]Chiwoyu Sinyangwe, “Zambian President Sata the Sacker,” The African Report, November 7th, 2011

[27]The Zambian Inquirer, “Donchi Kubeba!” October 25th, 2011

[28]Elvis Zuma, “Music and Campaigns,” The Post, September 9th, 2011


chapter 6: PF POLICIES

HU JINTAO, former Chinese President, on mutual cooperation, said: We should keep our relations on the path of equality, mutual respect, mutual trust, mutual benefit and common development. And to do that, we should increase high-level exchanges, deepen and expand communication at all levels, better appreciate each other's strategic intentions and development paths, and further increase mutual trust, dispel misgivings and build consensus.[1]

Eight Misconceptions about the Chinese

Sarah Meik[2]documents eight misconceptions about China and the Chinese people: 

Misconception 1: Chinese People are Uncreative 

 It may be a general truth that education in China focuses on memorizing and testing, and Westerners are generally taught to be creative, but to say that Chinese people are mostly all uninventive and boring would be a lie.

Misconception 2: Chinese People aren’t Funny

They are funny. Just learn the language, and then you’ll get their jokes.

Misconception 3: Chinese Government Officials are Corrupt

Maybe it’s because the ideological effects of the Cold War are still lingering…, but we sometimes think that China is a country of inescapable, institutionalized corruption. Before I came to China, my bomb-shelter baby boom parents thought I would be kidnapped by either corrupt officials wanting ransom money, or by human traffickers who were protected by the corrupt officials.

This didn’t happen; and although I have read media reports of both happening, I think it is pretty rare. The fact is that government officials here are certainly not perfect. You do hear stories of corruption, and your Chinese friends can tell you more. But as a foreigner you shouldn’t expect to find corruption, unless you go looking for it.

Misconception 4: China is Still in the Stone Age

While it is true that life can be boring, slow and poor in the remote countryside, the urban areas are rapidly developing.

Misconception 5: Chinese Women are Subservient

NO! Not even remotely true. In the past, Chinese women kowtowed to the men with bound, folded feet, but those broken feet have been unbound! Parents still sometimes prefer to give life to a son rather than a daughter in this crowded country, but the girls that are born are tough! They have to be in a country where competition is the only way to success.

Misconception 6: All Chinese are Very Smart

Well, who doesn’t like being told they`re smart? Many Chinese people are creative and smart, but not all of them.

Misconception 7: China is More Different Than It is Similar

When interviewing people about what misconceptions they had about China, foreigners often said the only misconception they had was that life would be very different in China. And while China does have its differences, those differences are not greater than the similarities. Life in China can be just as comfortable, normal and even boring as your life back home.

Misconception 8: Anything You Experienced via Movies, TV or Your Local Chinese Restaurant is Really Like China 

Before I moved to China, I thought it would be grand. I loved Kung Fu movies and, I loved the egg-rolls at my local Chinese restaurant that were made by Mexican cooks. Well, what a surprise it was to discover that very few Chinese actually study Kung Fu, and nobody in China actually eats egg-rolls. (And there are very few Mexicans). The real China is different from the Americanized one.

There are twelve ignominies that the Chinese are accused of in regards to investment:[3]

(1) Chinese goods are held up as examples of shoddy work; 

(2) Politics has crept into encounters; 

(3) The word "colonial" is bandied about; 

(4) Children jeer and their parents whisper about street dogs disappearing into cooking pots; 

(5) Poor business practices imported alongside goods and services; 

(6) Chinese construction work can be slapdash and buildings erected by mainland firms have on occasion fallen apart;

 (7) A hospital in Luanda, the Capital of Angola, was opened with great fanfare but cracks appeared in the walls within a few months and it soon closed; 

(8) The Chinese-built road from Lusaka, Zambia’s Capital, to Chirundu, 130 kilometres (81 miles) to the south-east, was quickly swept away by rains; 

(9) Chinese business culture cares little about rules and regulations; 

(10) Chinese mines pollute rivers and the environment, raise safety concerns, have their managers bribing union bosses, and their workers are condemned to poor conditions of service; (11) When miners in Sinazongwe, a town in southern Zambia, protested against poor conditions, two Chinese managers fired shotguns at a crowd, injuring at least a dozen. Some still have pellets under healed skin; and 

(12) In the South African town of Newcastle, Chinese-run textile factories pay salaries of about US$200 per month, much more than they would pay in China but less than the local minimum wage.

China: A Rising Power House

 China is a rising super-power,[4]the second largest economy in the world. China`s invincibility and why Africa and Zambia should not be left behind, has been well-summarized by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first female president, the president of Liberia: “China brings…diversity in our partnerships….Each country has to manage the process well so that there is no disadvantage, in for example job competition – you know that when Chinese firms come to Africa they often do not hire local employees. But let us not forget that even though China is making heavy investment in Africa, it is also doing the same in Europe and the US as well.”[5]The Chinese have also shown interest in fostering African peace.[6]

President Sata is on the right track to embrace the Chinese. With the Euro-Zone in crisis, and Christine Legarde`s IMF seeming to be doing less and less to curb the lurking global economic crunch, the BRICS nation will prove to be a welcome partner.[7] In fact, China has always been there for Zambia.[8] It is possible to turn the Chinese weakness into strength. Johnson-Sirleaf advises African governments to (1) manage the process well and (2) provide for legislation that ensures that the Chinese firms hire local employees, and treat such employees well.

Indeed, Zambians suffered to build their systems, so they cannot just give them away for nothing.[9] For most under-privileged Zambians, candidate Sata throughout his political career has always identified himself with them. His campaign predominantly focused on job creation, empowering the youth, better working conditions, an increase in salaries for all civil workers and improving the quality of life for all Zambians.

The former government under President Banda focused on attracting foreign investors, infrastructure development and the privatization of most state-owned entities. Though locally criticized, these were necessary measures in the interim. President Sata intended to implement capital controls aimed at keeping foreign‐exchange earnings in Zambia. Under the promise of “more money in your pockets,” President Sata was putting tremendous efforts towards “regulating the financial sector so that interest rates charged by commercial banks are lowered.”[10]

For many, including the Federation for Free Trade Unions of Zambia (FFTUZ), the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), these were timely and welcome pronouncements.[11]That was understood in a nation rich on paper but “where despite record growth rates, more than 60 percent of the population live on less than US$2 a day.”[12]

Zambia is Africa’s biggest copper producer. Between 2008 and 2011, the nation saw strong economic growth averaging six percent. That trend continued with projections at seven percent at the time of President Sata’s death.[13]Foreign‐exchange controls would prevent foreign companies from sending their profits home. During his inauguration speech after being sworn into office, President Sata reiterated that foreign investment was important to Zambia and that his government would continue to work with foreign investors who were welcome in the country. The president, however, stressed that such investors needed to adhere to the nation`s labor laws.[14]

President Sata campaigned on a pro-poor platform. A better deal was demanded from outside investors, particularly Chinese companies. Exploiting the anger of the urban poor and unemployed youth, he pledged to improve the lives of the many:

When you have lower taxes you have more employment, and when you have more employment, you have more money in the pockets of the people and that can only be done when you have good laws, not selfish laws," Sata told The Africa Report in an interview.[15]

The president`s commitment to foreign investments was confirmed in two actions he took early in his presidency. First, he met the Chinese representative in Zambia. The president met Chinese Ambassador to Zambia, Zhou Yuxiao, at State House where he reaffirmed his commitment to Chinese investments: "Your investment should benefit Zambia and your people need to adhere to local laws."[16]The Zambian people took the president`s word literally. Zambia was rocked by wildcat strikes from copper miners who ignored union leaders. Workers at three Chinese-owned mines went on strike demanding better wages and even won a 100 percent pay rise in early October 2011. Since then, the lowest-paid workers would receive ZMK2 million (US$400) per month. Since the pronouncement, a group of Zambians awaited the implementation of the promise.

Second, he asked former President Kaunda to go to China and mend relations with that country.[17]Kaunda assured the Chinese government that the PF government under the leadership of President Sata was ready to engage China as economic development partner. The former President told the Chinese government that President Sata did not hold any anti-Chinese feelings as the world tended to believe. In the past, in the run-up to the September 20th, 2011 elections, President Sata was seen as aversive to Chinese investment interests in Zambia. Kaunda reassured the Chinese that President Sata was “A truthful, genuine and honest man who always stands for the truth.”[18]

President Sata`s radical shift in policy over the Chinese investments had some viewing him as a flip-flopper or even a de facto implementer of the MMD policies, policies he even campaigned against. Zambia, according to Sata the candidate, was not prepared to do business with China. But shortly after winning the presidential race, the PF administration embraced the Chinese:

Zambia is ready now more than ever to do business with China,” [former] Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources Wylbur Simuusa said in an interview…following a meeting with some 150 top Chinese business executives held with President Michael Sata at State House….“The meeting the President had with Chinese business executives is very symbolic in determining how we do business with China from now on,” Simuusa said, “to me the President sent a clear signal to the world that he does not have any anti-Chinese feelings as the world tended to believe in the past as he campaigned for elections. The meeting means we are ready to engage China as an economic development partner.” Simuusa said China now “cannot be ignored because it is about to become a super-power,” that must be closely engaged instead of “shunned.” He said Chinese investment in Zambia, especially the economic back-bone which is copper mining, will be protected but at the same time Zambia shall ensure that Chinese companies “treat their workers well and pay them well,” so that both parties benefit.[19]

Simuusa`s sentiments were acknowledged by some as a sign of pragmatism: “The PF government can make fewer mistakes and achieve more within a short time if only they consider learning from their friends.” However, “learning from friends” and vacillating on policy was seen by others as a weakness.

To the PF critics, President Sata`s commitment to radical changes, promised to be initiated in the magical 90-day duration, seemed to be both the new administration`s Achilles’ Heel and its downfall. As early as November 23rd, 2011, Muzyamba wrote,[20]“I can almost relive that day, the day Chief Justice Ernest Sakala declared Patriotic Front leader Michael Chilufya Sata duly elected President of the Republic of Zambia at exactly 00:34 hours. Zambians from all walks of life woke up from their slumber and found themselves caught up in a record-breaking euphoria.”

Muzyamba was analyzing the performance of the new administration in the first 60 days in office. “They celebrated Michael’s victory, Dandy Crazy’s award-winning song could be heard everywhere, `Don’t Kubeba Wilalilalila Eeshi...,’” Muzyamba continued. Muzyamba further narrated that cars hooted, people clad in their PF garbs and others almost half-naked celebrated in the streets of Lusaka. It was a big party, indeed, a joyous moment for Zambia.

When the PF won the election, Muzyamba paused, “A stranger could jump on a bus from town to Parliament buildings for free as long as he chanted the ‘Don’t Kubeba’ slogan. It was as though Zambia had just become independent from the pawl of colonialism. Comrades from the old school described Michael Sata’s victory to be sweeter than the day Zambia got her independence in 1964.”

Then Muzyamba enumerated the real reasons why the people celebrated. Zambians celebrated: a) the break in the monotony of the MMD, a party which ruled Zambia for two decades; b) because they had put in power a “Man of Action,” a man who had promised them more jobs, lower taxes and more money in their pockets; c) because they felt they had defeated a tyrannical regime which was embroiled in corruption; d) because they envisaged structural changes within 90 days, infrastructural development in the name of roads, buildings, rail-lines, and etc.; e) because they were going to be given a new constitution within 90 days; and f) because they were going to see the re-introduction of windfall tax within 90 days.

The 60-day-monitoring and evaluation of the PF was sub-divided into three objectives. The first objective was the fight against corruption. An on the face evaluation of the PF performance on corruption, according to Muzyamba, did not live up to the “Allergic to Corruption,” mantra, for three reasons: single sourcing of Apollo, a company belonging to Alexander Chikwanda, to renovate State House was not fighting corruption; and appointing people who defended and were involved in corruption scandals was not fighting corruption. “While prosecuting former MMD comrades who were involved in corruption might send a stern warning to would-be perpetrators, it should, however, not be a witch-hunt. Let it not be a means of settling political scores”; and appointing people who were directly or indirectly related to the president, was definitely not fighting corruption.

The second objective involved lowering taxes, creating more jobs and putting more money into people`s pockets. Muzyamba denounced the second objective as a contradiction in terms owing to the intention of the 2012 budget. “The 2012 budget is void of any form of framework intended to create jobs, especially among the youth who put Michael Sata into office.” Muzyamba continued that the announced tax regime fell short of meeting the expectations of the Zambians of lower taxes, more jobs and more money into their pockets. Those in formal employment were “still heavily taxed leaving them with very little disposable income to invest in a quest to have more money in their pockets.”

Similarly, VAT, a tax on consumption, remained constant, “meaning that everybody in the country is subjected to this tax and it has a significant effect on the cost of living. The tax-base still remains very narrow, contrary to the PF’s promise of expanding it.” But then Muzyamba accorded the PF credit for “increasing the tax threshold to ZMK2 million.”

The third objective was the promise of 90 days. “People expected to see structural changes within 90 days including the finalization of a new constitution.” Muzyamba judged that the late president had flip-flopped on this objective. “We have seen a serious digression on this one. The PF is now even accusing us of misquoting them saying they did not say they will give us development within 90 days but rather that they will only kick-start the process.”

And, indeed, President Sata was right. He had clarified this point at his inaugural ceremony where he pledged, “I stand by my promise in initiating development projects within 90 days.” Hence, President Michael Sata was on track; he intended to initiate developmental promises, and not to fulfill them in 90 days. Common-sense and sheer practicality vindicated the president.

Moreover, Muzyamba accused the PF of having U-turned on both the promise of delivering a new constitution and re-introducing the windfall tax in the mining sector within 90 days. After only 60 days of the PF`s ascendance to power, Muzyamba charged, “The honeymoon is over, the euphoria has despaired into oblivion and all we are left with is the reality of unfulfilled promises by the PF government. The people who voted and celebrated the PF’s government are left wondering and asking questions yet nobody is there to give them answers to.” 

 Muzyamba’s analysis of Sata’s first 90 days in power was a personal reaction to the euphoria that the people of Zambia had given to the electoral victory of Michael Sata. It was not an objective analysis of what ought to be unless Zambia was not governed by the Rule of Law. The Rule of Law demands that every government action be in accordance with law, and anything that must be accomplished by law, could not be accomplished within three months.

“It is clear that Michael Sata has defaulted on his promissory note to the Zambians,” Muzyamba began his conclusion, “And we will not allow him to make the gullibility of the majority of Zambians a lynchpin for his political and personal aggrandizement.” 

And his strongest criticism came when the PF`s spent ZMK3 billion on each of the commissions of inquiry despite the fact that there were regular bodies such as the ACC, DEC, and the Auditor-General’s office mandated to carry out such investigations.

On April 10th, 2012 President Sata described the Commission of Inquiry report by the then Justice Minister Sebastian Zulu investigating the radar contracts for three international airports as useless.[21]Neo Simutanyi of Centre for Policy Dialogue observed that it was wrong for the president to conclude that the commission of inquiry was useless when public funds were used.[22]To many commentators, including Muzyamba and Simutanyi, Sata’s massive spending on the commissions of inquiry was the waste of public funds. And this was the president who had promised to end the MMD’s abuse of national coffers.

During his maiden speech to Parliament in 2011, President Sata said his government was committed to delivering a people-driven constitution within three months. This was one of his campaign pledges, which drew widespread praise.[23]Before his death, President Sata’s government sparked a furor over the draft constitution after instructing the 20-member committee working on it to print “only 10 copies” for the Executive. Subsequently, President Sata changed his mind on the new constitution, after millions of Kwachas had been spent on it. He back-flipped and “maintained that Zambia already has a constitution and there is no need for another one.”[24] The draft constitution was finally released to the parliament after a long time and demands from the public. And this was released by the then acting president, Edgar Lungu, while President Sata was incapacitated with an illness.

There is reason to suggest that President Sata’s U-turn on the constitution remains his greatest failure. For one, it was one of the primary grounds on which the PF both formulated its manifesto and campaigned for over ten years. In the foreword to the manifesto that handed the PF the power and mandate to rule, President Sata stated most movingly:

The MMD government has shown many a time that it is not accountable to the people of Zambia. The constitutional making process through the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) on which the MMD government spent a colossal sum of over K135 billion, the sale of the Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel) and the repeal of the abuse of office provision in the Anti-Corruption Act in 2010, were processes opposed by the people of Zambia but which were undertaken by a government acting with impunity and contempt towards its citizens. Once again, the dream by the Zambian people to enact a legitimate constitution has been betrayed by the regime in power. We cannot continue to witness the deliberate and systematic destruction of our country at this rate.[25]

 For another, the failure to fulfill this promise can be construed as injecting the same level of impunity Sata claimed the MMD government had exercised. As proven by Lungu’s actions, the level of impunity President Sata exhibited was arbitrary and purely a deliberate misuse of the nation’s finances. There is no difference between the K135 million and the over K115[26]million the MMD and PF, respectively, are allegedly to have spent on purely fruitless constitutional processes. 

While the nation continued to reel from poverty, lack and disease, large sums of money were being paid to technical committees and constitutional conferences which did nothing but produce documents with no use. This caveat applies to both the MMD and the PF. This, too, explains why Zambia has not benefited from political rhetoric. Good judgment and brave actions seem to be a rare commodity among the Zambian ruling elites. Wastefulness, mendacity and abuse of public funds seem to be rife in the corridors of power.

Accusations of Back-flipping

Critics accused the late president of back-flipping both on his electoral promises and policy. First, former and 2010 winner of the Best Minister of Finance Award, Situmbeko Musokotwane, accused the PF of raising the people's expectations “beyond the party's ability to fulfill them.”[27]He predicted that, sooner rather than later, the people of Zambia would “discover were lies. Look at the issue of the windfall tax, for example…the PF accused us of so many things but here we are, have they re-introduced the windfall taxes on the mines…the PF said they would not accept anything other than windfall tax."[28]

To Musokotwane, the MMD stayed on track with their promises, especially on the windfall tax. The MMD were seen to be truthful with the Zambians. They had told the people of what was and what was not reasonable. However, the PF told the people what was impossible. They had U-turned on their promises and this could cost the PF the 2016 elections.

Second, the PF were accused of back-flipping on a number of investigations. The president mentioned an alleged gold sale scam. President Sata had instituted investigations into transactions which he claimed the Banda regime corruptly undertook. The transactions included the privatization of ZAMTEL. President Sata had launched an investigation into the controversial sales of ZAMTEL to LAP Green Networks of Libya. President Sata was also investigating the procurements of fuel and the January 14th, 2011 killings in Barotseland. Moreover, the late president launched a probe into the Banda government’s sale of privately-owned Finance Bank for US$5.4 million to South Africa’s FirstRand. However, before the start of the investigations, the late president had called-off the investigations and instantaneously reversed the transactions.

 Third, and perhaps, the most significant volte-face of President Sata`s policy was his relationship with the Chinese. With Chinese companies investing US$2 billion by the end of 2010 in the Zambian economy, the status of Chinese business ties with Zambia grew significantly, according to data from the Chinese embassy in Zambia. Earlier in his campaign, candidate Sata accused the Chinese mining firms of having slave-like labor conditions and ignoring safety standards and local cultural practices.

 President Sata saw the presence of the Asians, especially the Chinese, in Zambia as a conduit for his leap to the presidency. The mood in Zambia towards the Chinese investments, wrongly or rightly, was exacerbated by campaign pronouncements that highlighted the infringements of labor laws. Sata the candidate repeatedly saw the reduction in food and fuel prices as his mainstay. He saw the increasing Asian commercial presence as a threat to equitable distribution of the national wealth. Such was the virulence of his 2006 campaign that Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong threatened to cut ties if Sata won the election. 

Okiroro Oumo, may his soul rest in peace, Uganda’s Former Ambassador to Zambia, cautioned that any aspiring presidential candidate in Africa has to be vetted by Washington in order to succeed in winning an election. Sata’s anti-Chinese nationalism may have been animated by this reality check. Sata’s success in the presidential election of 2011 was preceded by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Lusaka. Sata had been vetted positively by the West and his earlier anti-Chinese rhetoric helped.

It is alleged that the PF received campaign contributions from China's diplomatic rival Taiwan. Despite that, in 2006 and 2008, the PF were unable to convert their ties with Taiwan into a victory. The 2008 elections, however, saw candidate Sata tone down his anti-China rhetoric. This could have been necessitated by the heart-attack that Michael Sata had suffered. Zambia's relations with China continued to deepen despite the rhetoric of the opposition front to the contrary. Although opposed by Sata's PF, China Nonferrous Metals Mining Company (CNMC) took over the state's failed Luanshya Copper Mines (CLM) in May 2008. In late July 2008, the Zhonghui Mining Group announced plans to invest US$3.6 billion over five years. 

Candidate Michael Sata opposed the ruling MMD's policies of free-enterprise development and following of IMF monetary doctrines. He favored cutting taxes on oil and gas to alleviate poverty. Zambia has the narrowest tax base in the SADC region and Sata believed with prudent home-grown policies, government could reduce the heavy tax burden on the limited corporate base and the ten percent employment rate.[29]

Zambia is a harbinger of the Chinese investments in Africa. “If you want proof that China has arrived in Africa, look no further than Zambia…. Its Capital Lusaka has recently become the first African city to offer Chinese currency banking services.”[30] The Bank of China branch in Lusaka handles counter deposits and withdrawals in Yens, the Chinese currency. “It is expected longer term that Chinese businesses operating in Zambia will start using the currency amongst themselves to reduce the amount of commission paid when changing from the Zambian Kwacha via the US Dollar.”[31]

Chinese investors now work in Zambia and Zambians are importing goods from China. The Chinese bank in Zambia makes money through transactions where people change currencies. This is then construed as offering the best interests to the Chinese`s clients and trade by the sheer reduction of the additional layer. This, too, makes it more convenient for clients dealing with Chinese investors in Zambia.

China's relationship with Zambia dates back to the building of the TAZARA in the 1970s. This relationship was boosted between 2000 and 2010 when the Sino-Zambian trade took-off, growing from just US$100 million (£63 million) in 2000 to US$2.8 billion in 2010.

In the run-up to the 2011 elections, the influence of China in Zambia was a debatable issue. The PF accused the MMD of bankrolling the Chinese money to then president and presidential candidate Rupiah Banda.

Banda campaigned banking on infrastructure investment. There were rumors that the Banda-branded lollipops were being given out to potential voters by the MMD. These lollipops allegedly were made in China. Many, too, accused the Chinese of being the source of the MMD`s campaign funding.

These allegations, however, were dispelled. Simuntanyi of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) said that Zambian party financing was totally opaque and it was hard to know where money was coming from. “Although there's no way to prove it, there are a lot of suspicions that the MMD may be benefiting from Chinese support just because of the sheer scale of their campaign,” is quoted as having said. According to Simuntanyi, the MMD had never had that kind of money before and one could see that in how well-oiled their campaign machine had been and how big their presence was everywhere around the country.

Former head of Zambia's overseas investment at Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), Muhabi Lungu, played down claims that the MMD had received Chinese funding. He did not endorse such sentiments. He believed that the MMD raised its money from donations from Zambians and people in business who were happy with the MMD`s performance in government. Lungu accused the then opposition PF of funning such allegations. The MMD lost the 2011 elections. President Sata began the daunting task of isolating all those he alleged were connected in some way to the dubious ways of raising money under the MMD. The former London sweeper put the ultimate broom to the test. Would he sweep deeper or simply scratch onto the surface? Time did truly tell.

The China Factor

The 2011 election, unlike the 2006 and 2008 elections, was not primarily centred on the Chinese debate. But China was still a factor. The MMD believed China had a legitimate interest in supporting the party. Chinese companies would maintain the preferential investment climate they had enjoyed in Zambia in the MMD years. 

China's main area of interest in Zambia is mining. China bought up all the cheap copper, cobalt and nickel mines, which had been mothballed by Western investors when commodity prices fell. Beyond mining and manufacturing, there was also growing Chinese presence within Zambia's retail sector, from imported textiles and electronics, to chickens farmed locally and sold in city markets. 

Zambia is home to two of China's six African Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The first is in Chambishi in the Copperbelt, and the second is outside Lusaka. These are designated geographical areas with liberal policies and tax incentives to attract foreign companies. Although there had been repeated allegations of poor labor conditions and low salaries in Chinese-run mines and factories, the MMD government was pleased with China because its investments had driven economic growth to unprecedented levels.

 To reiterate, President Michael Sata had in the past been very critical of Chinese labor conditions, and promised to shake up the way contracts were awarded once elected. With the promises of jobs and better education, the PF won over young voters and the urban poor. The MMD campaigned on the back of its infrastructure investment - new schools, roads and hospitals - agriculture input programs, which led to bumper harvest, and the mine-driven economic growth which averaged 5.6 percent since 2001.

As stated above, in the 2011 elections, China and its role in the country was less of an issue than it had been in 2006 and 2008 elections. Despite that, however, Chinese investors watched the election results very closely. And President Michael Sata knew; he had to apologize in one form or the other. Thus, “His lunch with 150 Chinese investors at State House was more than enough for him to apologize for his anti-Chinese stance during [previous] campaigns.”[32]

When President Sata made a policy shift by welcoming the Chinese investors to Zambia, many quarters were impressed. The Private Sector Development Association (PSDA) said President Sata had made a right decision to work with China in advancing Zambia’s economic development. According to PSDA chairperson Yusuf Dodia, “China has the technology, roads, bridges and investment which Zambia needs. Zambia cannot wait to develop but we should use every opportunity from countries like China to develop our country.” China had, by December 2011, US$3.2 trillion in foreign reserves and Zambia needed to benefit from such resources. Zambia needed to use China to develop. Countries from the developed block were also garnering for Chinese ingenuity and resources to develop their countries. Since the Euro-Crisis in 2011, the “super-powers” had begun to rely on China, and not only on the IMF or the World Bank, for stimulus help.

President Sata was aware of the economic dominance of China; he was adept at tapping into what the rest of the world was seeing as the emerging super-power. The opposition Zambian front might see this policy shift as a weakness, and even as a sign of flip-flopping, but in the larger interest of the nation, President Sata was making a positive shift. Zambia needed development and not perfection. And every leader in the opposition worth his or her salt should have followed the same route. This being so, it is important to point out that flip-flopping is liability in politics. It may show that a party is still in search of direction and purpose.

There seems to be an assumption that China’s human rights record is appalling, and therefore, whenever and wherever China conducts business, there will be such abuses. This view, with deep Western roots, has been at the core of whether African governments should accept or reject Chinese investments. The Chinese scholars and advocates across the board frantically and, in no uncertain terms, dispute such claims. 


[1] Hu Jintao, “Quotable Quotes from Visiting Chinese President in U.S.,” Xinhua, January 21st, 2011

[2]Sarah Meik, “Eight Common Misconceptions About China Debunked,” (accessed: December 4th, 2011)

[3]Charles Mwewa, Zambia: Struggles of My People (Lusaka: Maiden Publishing House, 2011), p. 510, footnote 1387

[4]Arvind Subramanian defines China`s dominance in terms of its “ability to get others to do what you want or to prevent them from forcing you to do what you want” (“The Great China Debate” in Foreign Affairs, January/February 2012, p. 177)

[5]Charles Mwewa, Zambia: Struggles of My People, p. 506

[6] See Friday Nkonde, “Chinese Envoy Underscores Value of Peace,” The Sunday Post, August 21st, 2011, p. 6

[7] As of September 25th, 2019, Kristalina Georgieva succeeded Lagarde as IMF’s chief.

[8]Mwewa, Zambia: Struggles of My People, p. 502

[9] See Nawa Mutumweno, “Sata Gets to Work,” News Africa, November 30th, 2011, p. 26

[10]Mutumweno, ibid, p. 27


[12]Mutumweno, p. 26

[13]Republic of Zambia, “The Death of His Excellency, Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata: Statement on the Economy by the Secretary to the Treasury Mr. Fredson Yamba,” Embassy of the Republic of Zambia, Washington, D.C, - retrieved on December 7th, 2014

[14]Fleishman Hillard, “Zambia’s 2011 Tripartite Elections,” Lex Africa,, (Retrieved: November 27th, 2011)

[15]Chiwoyu Sinyangwe, “Zambian President Sata the Sacker,” The African Report,November 7th, 2011


[17] The PF`s choice of China as partner in development was deliberate. On April 1st, 2012, The Post commented that the PF had joined Socialism International, an organization whose members include the UK`s Labour Party and South Africa`s African National Congress and 48 others.

[18]ZANIS, “KK Assures China that President Sata Means Well,” November 23rd, 2011

[19]Lusaka Times, “China Can’t be Ignored-Mines Minister,” October 31st, 2011

[20] C. Muzyamba, “President Sata’s 60 Days in Office,” Lusaka Times, Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

[21]Zambian Watchdog, “Simuntanyi: All Commissions of Inquiry by Sata Waste of Public Money,” April 11th, 2012


[23]Daily Nation, “Sata’s Remarks Put Damper on Hopes for New Constitution,” Thursday, January 16th, 2014

[24]Zambia Watchdog, “Good Boy: President Lungu Releases Draft Constitution,” October 23rd, 2014

[25]Patriotic Front (Zambia) 2011-2016 Manifesto, page 4

[26]See Daily Nation, “Sata Warned,” December 2nd, 2013

[27] Gift Chanda, “PF Has Failed to Fulfil Campaign Promises, Says Musokotwane,” The Post, November 21st, 2011


[29]Informal employment rate is a staggering 70 percent which has been stagnant for over ten years.

[30]Louise Redvers, “China's stake in Zambia's Election,” BBC Lusaka, September 18th, 2011


[32]Elias Munshya wa Munshya, “The Continued Foreign Policy Fiasco of the `Donchi Kubeba ` Government,” Lusaka Times, November 24th, 2011





JOHN MACARTHUR, an American clergy, on Pragmatism, says: Is the notion that meaning or worth is determined by practical consequences. It is closely akin to utilitarianism, the belief that usefulness is the standard of what is good. To a pragmatist/utilitarian, if a technique or course of action has the desired effect, it is good. If it doesn't seem to work, it must be wrong.

Pragmatism in Third World Formations

Merriam-Webster Online defines Pragmatism as “a reasonable and logical way of doing things or of thinking about problems that is based on dealing with specific situations instead of on ideas and theories.” Akin to Pragmatism, the Third Way model, embraced by Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and Gerhart Schröder, has abandoned the traditional view of the exploited masses. It postulates that the have-nots are, in fact, exploited by the very systems that were designed to help them – the welfare system that fostered dependence, an education system that bred failure and a child support agency that miscalculated and a health system that did little to tackle the underlying causes of their high rates of morbidity. In other words, a pragmatic model is envisaged where anything that works must be attempted.

However, this postulation has fundamental problems, especially for Third World formations. Due to high levels of poverty, underdevelopment and corruption, (quick and practical fixes may seem feasible, but in the long run each succeeding government must have to begin all over with policies they think will work at that particular time) governments should have a central theme, a central and unifying vision it aspires to. Government must have a Big Idea which entails calculated action and measured outcomes: “A government, it seems, must have at least a Big Idea underpinning its policies - simply wanting to make the world a better place will not do.”[1]

Michael Sata: Well-Understood by the People

Sata pitched a message to the electorate that was commonly understood by all Zambians. Change was inevitable if the Zambian struggling masses were to have confidence in the political process of this potentially mineral rich central African state. The reduction of poverty was at the helm of his promises. “The only war we have in Zambia is hunger and unemployment. If we sort out the problem of unemployment, then we would have sorted out the problems of hunger as well."[2]

President Sata urged the Chinese to create employment for the Zambians. President Sata “welcomed Chinese investments but was concerned that Chinese workers were coming to take jobs Zambians could do.”[3]

Notwithstanding criticisms to the contrary, President Sata demonstrated that he was putting the Zambians first by insisting that “Chinese workers were coming to take jobs Zambians could do.” This was said against the backdrop that most Zambians were unemployed. Logically, it made sense that new investments to Zambia should benefit the people who needed them most, the unemployed and struggling Zambians.

The president chided the Chinese investors to create enterprises that benefited Zambia. It would have been counter-productive, and even inimical, that the Zambians should be left behind in the economy that was recording historical sales in copper at the world market. The PF inherited an economy predicted by the IMF to grow at 6.7 percent.[4]Demand for copper continued to be high. Prices of copper for 2011 and 2012 were predicted to continue to increase. Zambia was declared a Middle-Income country “after a GDP per capita had doubled in five years to US$1,237 in 2010.”[5](However, this should not be construed as President Sata`s economic success; Zambia had been declared a Middle-Income country during the MMD reign).

The Zambian economy was performing well (at about six percent in MMD and seven percent during the PF reign, respectively). However, in reality, the masses were still left behind. Over 60 percent of Zambians lived below the poverty line and mostly in rural areas. “Finding ways to redistribute copper wealth will be a major priority”[6]for the PF administration.

In the so-called “pro-poor budget”[7]of 2012, the PF administration seemed to have tailored their efforts to answering one of the most urgent Zambian economic calls, redistributing the protuberant copper wealth to the left-out masses living below the poverty datum line.

The budget, in principle, matched the promises; it increased social spending and farming subsidies paid for by doubling of mineral royalties. The ZMK27.6 trillion (about US$5.5 billion)-2011 budget would channel half of the nation`s resources in social and infrastructure development. The aim was to make Zambia a better place for all.[8]However, budgetary projections and growing the economy beyond what was left behind by the colonial powers are two different dynamics.

It was alleged that the Banda administration had performed fantastically at the economic front, a feat which the PF was called to both sustain and exceed. It was further alleged that, it was the MMD`s failure to engender a trickle-down effect that led to their downfall. (At Sata`s death, the PF had also done nothing to that effect!). In Zambia, capital and society must merge, for the good of the people. Alexander Chikwanda, Minister of Finance, was on point: “The government will focus on social justice and equity while sustaining macroeconomic stability.”[9] The Finance Minister then went on to stating the categories that would be prioritized: agriculture; education and skills development; health services; and local government and housing.

The PF`s poor-people-driven budget was a breath of fresh air, at least in the interim, and on paper:

Overall spending would rise to US$5.5 billion or 26.5 percent of GDP, from 21 percent in 2011…. Domestic borrowing for the year would amount to 1.3 percent of GDP and foreign financing would be three percent, giving an overall deficit of 4.3 percent of GDP. Foreign aid would amount to less than two percent of GDP. A key policy is the doubling of the mineral royalty tax to six percent.[10]

The above-measures, the PF alleged, would bring “ZMK1.8 trillion contribution to the treasury and meets Sata`s pre-election promise to ensure people benefit more from the country`s mineral wealth.”[11]

In 2009, the MMD government discontinued with a windfall tax on mining. It was strongly believed that one of the PF`s major policies would be to re-introduce the windfall tax on mining. In the 2012 budget this tax was not introduced. Rather, a hike on mineral royalty tax, up to six percent from three percent, was included. Some foreign mining companies like Vendata and Vale whined over the royalty hike. The rationale for not introducing the windfall tax was communicated succinctly by Chikwanda: “Windfall-tax is charged when the price of copper is infinitely high…. If you introduce windfall tax and the prices of copper drop to zero, what are you going to charge windfall tax on? Our idea of collecting money through mineral royalties…is better.”[12]By November 2011, the mines had begun to “to accept the six percent royalty tax.”[13]

The MMD saw the failure by the PF to re-introduce the windfall tax as a reversal on the PF`s election promise. Situmbeko Musokotwane even alluded to the fact that the PF raised people`s expectations beyond the party's ability to fulfil those expectations. However, other key opposition parties in Zambia, such as NAREP, FDD and ADD all welcomed the increase in the mineral royalty tax.

The 2012 budget came as an answer to many people`s dream of a stable, rich and equitable Zambia. It raised the earn threshold to ZMK2 million and those who earned less than ZMK800,000 would receive tax relief. It scrapped off hospital fees and lowered bank lending rates and maintained the corporate tax at 35 percent.

The PF administration acknowledged the fact that reliance purely on copper, despite the soaring in prices, was unsustainable. Copper accounted for over 70 percent of Zambia`s foreign exchange. With any slant in fortunes at the copper marketplace, Zambia`s estimated growth of over six percent could dwindle fiercely.

Diversification of the economy away from copper dependency was the solution. Agriculture, manufacturing, transport and communication were cited as the main drivers of the economy. The private sector, which all former governments admitted was the engine of the economy, had in the past been dogged by high lending rates. The PF administration offered the solution by reducing the cost of borrowing by basically abolishing the upper corporate tax for commercial banks. “This is expected to create fiscal space for the financial sector to offer affordable loans.”[14]

 The PF administration upped the allocation to the local government sector by 37.9 percent. This was expected to put an end to “piles of garbage on roadsides and improve amenities like sanitation and the quality of water.”[15]Increments were also recorded in the health sector (45 percent), educational sector (26.7 percent), and a ZMK796.4 billion was set aside for infrastructure projects. With these increments, the PF claimed, Zambia was on the path to increased economic sanity; increased investment and job creation opportunities. Those who supported the PF administration would proudly say that the late president had begun delivering on his promise and time would tell of the fruit of these measures.

The African Development Bank (AfDB), Transparent International Zambia (TIZ), the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), the Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) and the Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) all applauded the 2012 budget. This was seen as a sign that the PF administration was listening to the voice of the people and of the major concerned sectors of the Zambian economy.

President Sata may not have a solid vision of how to grow and manage the economy, but he could not be accused of being idle. As a pragmatist, he aimed at providing solutions to people`s economic problems. He provided practical leadership in ensuring that some conditions were put in place towards a much more sustainable economic outlook. The 2012 budget (though not a mark of political vision as of administrative convenience) spoke to the potential President Sata had in attempting to manage the Zambian economy. As to what extent such acts were a work of technocrats, one could only refer to the time when President Sata was incapacitated and still the nations was moving forward.

Toughness Met Its Match

Proponents of political theories all agree that democracy, although not the best, is a better form of government. However, there is still no consensus as to what form of leadership type is ideal in every situation. The West, in particular, have misfired on the applicability of democracy vis-à-vis the forms of leadership approaches available. Thus, the so-called dictators like Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, who despite exhibiting massive alacrity in managing turbulent tribes, were considered mayhem to democracy.

It is arguable whether America’s quest to “ride the world of dictators” is not itself a failure in the wake of ISIS[16]and militias in Iraq and Libya. Both Iraq and Libya were, by 2014, failed states. Donald Trump said that Iraq was better off under Saddam's rule.[17]Stephen Glover put it in perspectives, “I’m afraid the bitter truth is Iraq and Libya were better off under the tyrants toppled by an arrogant and naive West.[18]

The answer to just what kind of leadership delivers tangible results in economic sense is illusive: Zambia has had six presidents by the year 2014.[19]Kaunda was the son of a missionary, a teacher by profession. Chiluba was the son of a miner, a unionist by profession. Mwanawasa was a lawyer by profession. Both Banda and Sata were typical politicians. Guy Scott, interim president (November 2014 to January 2015) was a farmer, and a typical politician.

 All the previous four presidents before Michael Sata had done their best to maintain Zambia peaceful and, to some extent, moving in the right political direction. Kaunda was a palatable leader until towards the end of his presidency when he grew too powerful and stopped listening to the people. Despite this precedent, there were those who thought that Michael Sata was the most appropriate leader for Zambia. He would answer to the state of distraught naïvety, or he would exhibit the tenets of what Dambisa Moyo calls a benevolent dictator.

A weak opposition front in Zambia continuously labelled President Sata as a dictator. It cited lack of respect for civil liberties, and what it called “dictatorial tendencies,” abuse of public resources for political hegemony, lack of transparency on governance issues, and unreasoned submissiveness,[20]as what made Sata a dictator. In 2012, five opposition leaders were denied permits to hold a joint rally, and this was, thus, construed as, “dictatorial tendencies.”[21]

 Michael Sata did not turn out a dictator, contrary to predictions. He was not allowed to. A weak and disjointed opposition gave him the power to behave like one. Abrasive and vocal Michael Sata was, but he was never a dictator. He had some dictatorial tendencies (just like even Western leaders in exercising some level of administrative directives do dispense some dictatorial tendencies), but that did not make Michael Sata a dictator.

As expected, President Sata began his presidency with an enforcer`s mantle. He told the Chinese ambassador that his people needed to adhere to local laws. The late president took a hands-on approach to running government. Some people consider his style brusque and unforgiving. At the swearing-in ceremony for his new ministers, Sata sent away Col. Kaunda when he turned up in a pair of shorts and t-shirt. He gave diplomats in Southern Africa a headache, refusing to attend a COMESA summit in Malawi in October 2011 because he had been ejected from that country five years prior.[22]

When he campaigned for presidency, he repeatedly emphasized that food and fuel prices would be his main targets. He crushed the MMD degree clause frantically, noting: "What Rupiah is literally telling the many suffering Zambians through this degree clause is that 'your children can never aspire or be presidents of this country because there is a special category of Zambians that is ordained to be presidents and those are the children of the rich, who can afford to be educated up to university level.”[23]This was when the MMD government had introduced a degree minimum requirement for presidential aspirants. Apparently, this was the language of a leader Zambia needed. 

In a profile on the website of his PF party, candidate Sata once claimed not to drink bottled water. He added that he would not do so "until all Zambians have equal access to clean water." Zambia had finally a leader who put the people first, a man of action who, although allegedly devoid of diplomatic niceties, had the people of Zambia at heart. A few weeks into his presidency, President Sata dribbled the secret service twice and took a taxi to his home, again identifying strongly with the little man on the street. At another time, President Sata refused to use the presidential motorcade because he wanted to pay for a minibus ride, noting, “I promised to put more money into people`s pockets.” In a related report, Malawi Today captures the story:

President Michael Sata…refused to use any government vehicle and demanded to use a blue commuter's minibus in Livingstone. He…protested to use the motorcade and said he was not going anywhere unless he used a blue commuter minibus because his government promised to put more money in people's pockets. President Sata later agreed to join his family in a Toyota bus driven by a plain clothed policeman. At the Royal Livingstone Hotel, President Sata took time to greet the hotel staff.[24]

President Sata brought to the political frontier a mood that had lacked in Zambia for over a decade. He revived the national soul and gowned the young generation with the hope for the future. In an article called “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in the Kingdom of Sata,”[25]Charles Ngoma narrates the toughness that launched a pseudo-fourth Republic in Zambia:

There is a joyous optimism in the mood of the Zambian people…. People who saw nothing good in the country are now urging everyone to support the new government, and to will it to succeed. Indeed, the government succeeding is good for all Zambians, though not for the fortunes of opposition parties. I agree with the president that we need to remember where we have come from. The renaming of the three main International Airports is a step in the right direction…. The alacrity with which the president has gone about with his reforms warms my heart. He took a while to choose his Cabinet and nominate Members of Parliament…that may be a sign that he is not hasty, but cautious. The fight against corruption is well back on the track, too. The president’s posture and demeanor just scare the living daylights out of anyone who would want to dip his hands in the public pot from hence forth. Those who have already done so, should be quaking in their boots, for the kingdom of Sata’s reservoir hounds are baying for their blood. It is a good thing when just the presence of a police man in the streets makes people feel secure and crime is diminished. No one yet arrested, but there is peace and quiet. The removal of all cadre District Commissioners is most welcome. 

Ngoma was optimistic, albeit naively, that the late president would deliver on his promises within the 90-day stipulated period. “The dust has settled and now it is time for business. It has been a very busy period for President Sata and at the rate he is going, I do not doubt that he will deliver on his 90-day promise.” Ngoma then hesitated; he believed there was a price to pay for the urgency with which President Sata was going in carrying out the details of his mandate:

It is full steam ahead and I only hope that the result will not be the same as what happened to the legendary RMS Titanic in 1912. This marvel of engineering struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage. The iceberg was sighted right ahead of the ship. When the alarm went out; ‘iceberg, right ahead!’ the response was ‘hard-a-starboard’ which means to turn the ship to the left (port) side. It was too late! In less than a minute, the mighty Titanic crashed into the iceberg on the right side and it wasn’t long before the great ship sank to the bottom of the Atlantic.

By implication, Ngoma believed that there was an urgency to perform, to prove President Sata`s critiques wrong, to prove the opposition front wrong. The late president was on a marathon of bringing to pass his election promises. Ngoma saw that urgency as a liability and insisted, “The enthusiasm and optimism that greeted the new era in Zambian politics can be compared to that which saw off the Titanic as it sailed from Southampton almost 100 years ago.”

Banda was not alone in his analysis. The Post took a view that: “Michael Sata is not a magician or a performer of miracles. Michael is not running a casino government where fortunes can be won overnight. We should forget about the 90 days rhetoric. Of course, this is not to say we should expect nothing to be done in 90 days.”[26]

President Sata could go into history as a hope-builder. It is a commonly acceptable fact, in Zambia, that President Sata was a man of action.[27]This had been repeatedly demonstrated in his pre-presidential ministerial functionalities. He had so influenced the Zambian electoral core that his word was taken as Gospel clarion. Ngoma observes, “The president is so popular that the decisions that he has made have just been accepted hook, line and sinker by the public even when they appear to be illegal.”

Ngoma was concerned that in the quest to fulfil his election campaign promises, the late president was doing more, even going against the constitution to effectuate his plans. He cited the Anti-Corruption Act which he asserted clearly stated that the Director General of the ACC could only be removed at the recommendation of a tribunal appointed by the Chief Justice after the National Assembly passed a resolution by not less than two-and-a-half majority. Ngoma was referring to the action President Sata took to remove the head of the ACC from this position.

 It was, however, vital to update that at the time the president was carrying out these massive changes, the National Assembly was in recession. 

President Sata realized from the outset that he needed to be tough to do the business of governing. Many saw this as exactly what was required to change the culture of distraught naïvety into activity-based governance. However, Ngoma was concerned about the Separation of Powers: “There is no harm in being strong willed and to get on with the job, but everything must follow due process. The men and women who will lose their jobs for alleged offences must have justice. We may not be happy with many men and women who hold public office right now, but there are a few that enjoy security of tenure under our laws and these must be given a hearing before they can be dismissed.”

He was referring to the offices of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Auditor-General (AG) and Director General of ACC as well as judges. His fear was that such officials would all work at the whims of presidential dictate and not for the Zambian people. “If the president has a very good reason to get rid of anyone of these persons, there would be no problem to table that before Parliament and follow the law to the letter.”

(It is important to note, however, that this caveat came just 90 days after President Sata took office. By the time of his death, there was no sign that either President Sata had turned into an arbitrary dictator or he had further disregard for the law).

 Zambia had almost an equal number of women to men in the population during Michael Sata’s presidency. This prompted some critics to show unsavory reaction to the late president`s lack of balance in his appointments. The president should have nominated more women to Parliament. His postulation lied in that fact that, historically, men had dominated politics in Zambia. However, President Sata’s critiques emphasized that such female appointments should be based on merit, and not just for the sake of playing a gender-balance game.

Sata however, went on to appoint women to strategic positions of power including that of Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Zambia, Inspector General of Police, Head of the Anti-Corruption Commission and female cabinet ministers.

Although President Sata had well on other fronts, his initial appointments had some quarters complaining that it lacked an element of tribal-balancing. Kyambalesa notes:

“One of the questions that require an urgent answer is the manner in which the president is appointing people to key government positions; it has all the hallmarks of nepotism and tribalism to say the least. As a matter of fact, even the Postnewspaper once warned against appointing people from only one region of the country in one of their editorials.

“When swearing-in Patricia Daka-Jere and Francis Kamanga as permanent secretaries for Ministries of Justice and Works, Supply, Transport and Communications, respectively, at State House…the president asserted that it was difficult to balance cabinet based on tribe. How is it difficult to balance cabinet based on tribe? Aren’t all the humans equal? Isn’t the God who created people from the northern region of the country, the same God who created other ethnic groups?

 Then Kyambalesa further observed: “Why is the president seemingly not keen on utilizing all the gifts and talents from every province as he endeavors to develop our beloved country?

“In the spirit of upholding the “One Zambia, one nation” motto, first republican President Kenneth Kaunda (KK) always tried his best to balance his cabinet. Let us take a look at KK’s top 10 cabinet ministers at independence: Vice-president – Reuben Kamanga (Eastern); Finance – Arthur Wina (Western); Defence – Grey Zulu (Eastern); Home Affairs – Aaron Milner (Minority); Foreign – Simon Kapwepwe (Northern); Legal Affairs – Mainza Chona (Southern); Local Government and Housing – Sikota Wina (Western); Health – Kanoso (Luapula); Information – Peter Matoka (N/western); and Commerce and Industry – Nalumino Mundia (Western). The secretary to the cabinet was Aaron Milner from the minority group. KK’s first cabinet undoubtedly had a national character because people from all the provinces were represented in it.

“President Sata ought to walk an extra mile when considering people for various appointments to his government regardless of whether people from certain regions of the country voted for him or not. Even our past-immediate three presidents tried their level best to appoint people from regions that presumably rejected them. Let us go back to the archives and look at the topmost cabinet ministers the country has seen from Chiluba’s time to date:

“President – Frederick Chiluba (Luapula); Vice-president – Levy Mwanawasa (Copperbelt); Minister without Portfolio – Godfrey Miyanda (Eastern); Finance – Emmanuel Kasonde (Northern); Defence – Benny Mwila (Luapula); Home Affairs – Chitalu Sampa (Northern); Labour – Newstead Zimba (Eastern); Foreign – Vernon Mwaanga (Southern); Legal affairs – Rodger Chongwe (Eastern); Local Government and Housing – Michael Sata (Northern); Health – Boniface Kawimbe (Luapula); Information – Stan Kristafor (Minority group); Commerce and Industry – Ronald Penza (Northern); and Mines – Humphrey Mulemba (N/western). 

 “Readers may recall that although Eastern Province had literally rejected MMD in 1991 and voted for UNIP, Chiluba still went ahead and appointed a number of people from the province as full cabinet ministers.”

Kyambalesa then moved on to the third republican president: “President – Levy P. Mwanawasa (Copperbelt); Vice-president – Lupando Mwape (Northern); Finance – Ngandu Magande (Southern); Defence – George Mpombo (Copperbelt); Home Affairs – Ronnie Shikapwasha (Central); Foreign Affairs – Kabinga Pande (N/western); Legal – George Kunda (Central); Local Government and Housing – Benny Tetamashimba (N/western); Information – Vernon Mwaanga (Southern); Commerce and Industry – Felix Mutati (Northern); and Secretary to the Cabinet – Leslie Mbula (Copperbelt). 

“Readers may appreciate that although Mwanawasa was literally rejected by Northern Province, he still went ahead and appointed Lupando, a northerner, as his deputy.”

Kyambalesa analysis then leads to the fourth Zambian president: “President – Rupiah Banda (Eastern); Vice-president – George Kunda (Central); Finance – Situmbeko Musokotwane (Western); Defence – Kalombo Mwansa (Luapula); Home Affairs – Lameck Mangani (Eastern); Foreign Affairs – Kabinga Pande (N/western); Legal Affairs – George Kunda (Central); Local Government and Housing – Benny Tetamashimba (N/western); Information – Ronnie Shikapwasha (Central); Commerce and Industry – Felix Mutati (Northern); Health – Kapembwa Simbao (Northern); and Secretary to the Cabinet – Joshua Kanganja (N/western). Almost all the provinces were represented in this cabinet.”

On President Michael Sata, Zambia’s fifth republican president, Kyambalesa assesses: “President – Michael Sata (Northern); Vice-president – Guy Scot (Minority); Finance – Alexander Chikwanda (Northern); Defence – Godfrey Mwamba (Northern); Home Affairs – Edgar Lungu (Eastern); Mines and Energy – Christopher Yaluma (Northern); Local Government and Housing – Nkandu Luo (Northern); Works, Transport, Supply and Communications – Yanfwa Mukanga(Northern); Foreign Affairs – Given Lubinda (Western); Health – Joseph Kasonde (Northern); Community Services, Mother and Child – Joseph Katema (Northern); Commerce and Industry – Bob Sichinga (Northern); Information – Kennedy Sakeni (Luapula); Sport, Youth and Child Development – Chishimba Kambwili (Northern); Traditional and Chiefs Affairs – Emerrine Kabanshi (Northern); and Secretary to the Cabinet – Evans Chibiliti (Northern).

 “This clearly shows that people from the northern part of the country dominated Sata’s cabinet. Worse still, Sata [had] seemingly hounded out people that emanated from other parts of the country from government and replaced them with his tribes-mates and in certain instances, co-opted in a few of his traditional cousins from eastern province probably as coloring flowers. Let us now consider characters [who][occupied] key government institutions, such as State House, the judiciary, defence and security, foreign service, parastatal entities and constitutional offices:

 “State House, Press and Public Relations – George Chellah (Northern); Economic and Development Affairs – Paul Siame (Northern); Principal Private Secretary – Francis Chalabesa (Northern); Senior Private Secretary – Gershom Siame (Northern); 

Personal Physician – Chishimba Lumbwe (Northern); Cameraman – Thomas Nsama (Northern); and Commissioner of Police at State House – Philemon Mutale (Northern).

Under president Sata, Permanent Secretaries were: “Finance – Pamela Chibonga and Felix Nkulukusa (Northern); Cabinet Office – Anne Sinyangwe (Northern); Defence – Emeldah Chola and Charity Mwamba (Northern); Home Affairs – Maxwell Nkole (Northern); Local Government and Housing – Victoria Mutambo (Northern); Health – Peter Mwaba (Northern); Education, Science and Vocational Training – Miriam Chinyama (Northern); Community Services, Mother and Child – Erwin Chomba (Northern); Gender and Child Development – Edwidge Mutale (Northern); Sport and Youth – Agnes Musunga (Northern); Lands – Daisy Ng’ambi (Northern); Commerce, Trade and Industry – Stephen Mwansa (Northern); and 

Private Secretary in Office of the Vice-president – Evaristo Mwila (Northern).”

Kyambalesa then considers what he terms as “Constitutional Offices” as follows: “Clerk of the National Assembly – Doris Katebe Mwinga (Northern); Director of Public Prosecutions – Mutembo Nchito (Northern); Attorney General – Mumba Malila (Northern); Solicitor General – Musa Mwenye (Northern); Auditor General – Anna Chifungula (Northern); Chief Justice – Lombe Chibesakunda (Northern); Secretary to the Treasury – Fredson Yamba (Northern); and Technical Committee on the Drafting of Constitution – Annel Silungwe (Northern).”

Under President Sata, heads of commissions and regulatory boards included: “Anti-Corruption Commission – Rosewin Wandi (Northern); Drug Enforcement Commission – Deputy Commissioner General – Lottie Mpundu (Northern); Prisons Service Commission – Percy Chato (Northern); National Pension Scheme Authority – Charles Mpundu (Northern); Police Public Complaints Commission – James Mwanakatwe (Northern); Local Government Service Commission – Stephen Mushinge (Northern); Road Development Agency – Michael Mulenga (Northern); Zambia Public Procurement Authority – Danies Chisenda (Northern); Inspector-General of Police – Stella Libongani (Western); Defence Chiefs and Zambia Army – Commnder Paul Mihova – (Northwestern) but Deputy Army Commander and Chief of Staff -– Major General Topply Mulambo (Northern); Zambia Air Force – Lieutenant General Eric Chimense (Northern); Zambia National Service – Major General Nathan Mulenga (Northern); and Intelligence – Martin Mwanambale (Northern).”

In parastatal entities, President Sata had: “Bank of Zambia – Governor Michael Gondwe (Eastern) but Deputy Governor – Bwalya Nga’ndu (Northern); Development Bank of Zambia – Executive Director – Jacob Lushinga (Northern); National Savings and Credit Bank – Cephas Chabu (Northern); Zesco – Cyprian Chitundu (Northern); Zambia Telecommunications Corporation – Mupanga Mwanakatwe (Northern); Zambia Postal Services Corporation – Macpherson Chanda (Northern); Zambia State Insurance Corporation – George Silutongwe (Northern); Zambia Daily Mail – Isaac Chipampe (Northern); and Times of Zambia – Godfrey Malama (Northern).

In foreign missions, Michael Sata, too, preferred northerners to any other tribes in Zambia: “Permanent Representative to UN – Mwaba Kasese (Northern); Permanent Representative to Switzerland – Encyla Tina Sinjele (Northern); United States of America – Sheila Siwela, Deputy – Ben Kangwa (Northern); Germany – Bwalya Chiti (Northern); Japan – Mwelwa Chibesakunda (Northern); Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – Edith Mutale (Northern); India – Susan Sikaneta (Northern); Italy – Frank Mutubila (Northern); South Africa – Muyeba S. Chikonde (Northern); and Botswana – Robert Mataka (Northern).”

“Given the above, can we still maintain that there isn’t nepotism and outright tribalism in the manner the president [appointed] people to government positions?”

The analysis above is frighteningly detailed. Ngoma, too, was quick to condemn any nepotistic attitudes in the [Sata] administration. “Yes, I agree that members of the family should not be given undue advantage, but there should not be anything that [stops] one who is highly capable from being appointed even if he happens to be a close relative. Nearly half a century after independence, it is ugly to see people through tribal lines. If President Sata did hound his predecessors over this issue, it is not right to continue this wrong.” Ngoma was alluding to the fact that, then as opposition leader, President Sata hounded another late president, Mwanawasa, for appointing his relatives to key positions in government.

Ironically, in Zambia, the ruling elites preach that the people from the Southern and Western provinces are more tribalistic than the northerners. In an article published in the Zambian Watchdog, this author attempted to place the unfounded stereotype into perspective vis-à-vis the labelling of Hakainde Hichilema as a tribalist:

In historical as well as political parlance, no tribe has dominated politics in Zambia as is often asserted. Kaunda was from Chinsali, but that does not make him a Bemba. In fact, a critical look at Zambian presidential history will show that the so-called Bemba presidents have proved to be more tribalistic than non-Bemba ones. Other than KK, no other president after him had a clear Tribal Balancing agenda. Although the late Sata accused both Mwanawasa and Banda of being tribalistic, he, Sata, happened to be the most tribal of all presidents [in later ministerial appointments].[28]

Moreover, by his third year in office, President Sata had not begun to show any economical acumen other than continuing the same policies he had inherited from previous regimes. There was no lost love in this –President Sata was one of the architects of the MMD brand. He shaped it and it shaped him. Zambian politics after the United National Independence Party (UNIP) lost power in 1991 had been shaped by re-positioning of the same players (at least at the presidential level). 

Indeed, President Sata, “[had] shown perseverance and a tenacity to succeed. Used wisely, these qualities will take Zambia forward and to greater heights. Used unwisely, all that we have achieved so far will vanish in the smoke,” observes Ngoma.

This author met President Sata at State House, wrote, perhaps, the first book on the electoral victory of the late president and followed year by year every move and pronouncements the president made. The conclusion of this long journey was presented in an article published by the Zambian Watchdog titled, “The True legacy of Michael Sata: Vision Quagmire and Succession Quandary.” This article is now reproduced below, in part:

The wind of change that propelled Michael Sata to power was the angst the people of Zambia had on the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). The people needed a “Savior”, a Moses to deliver them from poverty to prosperity. The people believed, erroneously or otherwise, that Michael Sata would be the one. The Patriotic Front`s (PF`s) mantra following the 2011 presidential elections was “three months”! That people`s lives would suddenly be transformed, from paupers to riches, from no money into their pockets to more of it – suddenly! That mealie meal prices would suddenly be reduced to economical levels. That the constitution would be amended to represent the will of the people! That jobs would suddenly be created and people`s income would suddenly increase. To the people, and sometimes inadvertently, this was construed as a vision for Zambia. It was not. It has not been. President Sata was riding on people popularity; not on a cogent, coherent and objective and measured vision. It is proper to conclude that throughout the brief three years President Sata ruled, he was either completing what the MMD had begun or he was trying to figure out what the PF could do.[29]

By all intentions and purposes, President Sata, if he had a vision for Zambia, he had not begun to articulate it in clear-cut terms before his demise. However, he is of such kind of presidents like Kennedy and Lincoln of the US who died popular and before they had time to complete their mandates. Such presidents will forever be evaluated based on what they did or did not do up to the time of their death. For President Michael Sata, it would be improper to indict him as clueless, although it would equally be improper to praise him for a vision he had not begun to define if, in fact, he had one.

Similarly, on the question of tribal balancing as assessed by Kyambalesa, it would be inimical, and even unfair, to ascribe tribalism to President Sata’s overall legacy. Kyambalesa presents Kaunda’s first cabinet as a well-balanced one in terms of tribe. He juxtaposes this with Sata’s seemly unrepresented one. But critical review will show that Sata’s first cabinet was not only well-represented, it was slimmer as well. 

President Sata’s original 19-member Cabinet – down from 22 ministries under the MMD government – comprised: Vice-president (PF party vice-president and Lusaka Central MP Guy Scott); Minister of Finance (appointed MP Alexander Chikwanda); Minister of Mines (mining engineer and Nchanga MP Wilbur Simuusa); Minister of Foreign Affairs (Roan MP Chishimba Kambwili); Minister of Justice (appointed MP Sebastian S Zulu); Minister of Defense (Kasama Central MP Geoffrey B. Mwamba); Minister of Home Affairs (Mansa Central MP Kennedy Sakeni); Minister of Health (appointed MP Dr. Joseph Kasonde); Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (Bwana Mkubwa MP Emmanuel T. Chenda); Minister of Labour, Sports, Youth and Gender (Fackson Shamenda); Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry (appointed MP Robert Sichinga); Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Tourism (Kabwata MP Given Lubinda); Minister of Education, Science and Vocational Training (appointed MP Dr. John T.N. Phiri); Minister of Lands, Energy and Water Development (Malole MP Christopher Yaluma); Minister of Local Government, Housing, Early Education and Environmental Protection (Munali MP Prof. Nkandu Luo); Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health (Chingola MP Dr. Joseph Katema); Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs (Nalolo MP Inonge Wina); and Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications (appointed MP Willie Nsanda). Provincial ministers included Central (Phillip Kosamu); Copperbelt (Yamfwa Mukanga); Luapula (Davies Mwila); Eastern (Solomon Mbuzi); Lusaka (Miles Sampa); Northern (Freedom Sikazwe); North-Western (J. Limata Limata); Western (Nathaniel Mubukwanu); and Southern (Lukulo Katombola).

Like all other presidents before him, President Sata began well. He chose a smaller and well-balanced cabinet. Every province or tribe was relatively well-represented.

Moreover, it will be highly unfair to impeach Sata’s presidency purely based on lack of vision. In fact, what he lacked in terms of visioning, he made up for in pragmatic terms. In this way, he continued his action-oriented rule. But when it comes down to his inability to foster the ideals of tribal-balancing in his later cabinet formations, there cannot be any excuses. Zambia is a nation of over 70 tribes, and tribe is itself a national apparatus.

President Michael Sata: 90 Days in Power[30]

December 20th, 2011 marked the three magical months after the late president won the hearts and minds of Zambians. Captivated by the 90-day mantra, over 40 percent of the Zambian electorate gave him a striking vote, and he emerged the winner of the September 20th, 2011 elections. As Charles Ngoma pitched it, the 2011 elections brought “joyous optimism in the mood of the Zambian people.”

There were mixed views after the magical 90-day period of promise had elapsed. To some, President Sata had lived up to his promise. To others, he was nothing short of a liar, a disappointment and bluntly, a cobra! Judged at the platitude of reasonableness, did the late president live up to his promise or floundered over it? Below, this author offers a non-partisan review of the first 90 days of the PF under President Michael Sata in power.

What the 90-Days Promise Entailed

Many questions can be asked: Did the PF literally intend to deliver the contents of their promises in 90 days? Or did they intend to begin the process? Common-sense tells that it is hugely impossible to deliver the results in 90 days. It makes sense to begin the process or even to set the stage for the achievement of the promises. The opposition in Zambia seems to have construed the PF`s promises literally. Hichilema put the late president to his words, (repeated here for the sake of emphasis):

We also want to remind our colleagues the PF that their ninety (90) days promises are being anxiously awaited for: Mr. Sata’s election promises: deliver constitution within ninety (90) days; free education; jobs for youth; more money in your pockets; windfall tax; Barotse Agreement restoration; housing; free fifteen (15) bags of fertilizer per farmer; upgrading shanty compounds; liberalization of air waves so that private media houses can broadcast national wide.

Critical review of these promises leans more to the process than the actual delivery. First, both the Inquiries Act and the Zambian Constitution do not give allowance for a walk-away constitutional review exercise. They both demand time, more than 90 days to be specific, unless the Zambians were willing to allow the PF to act outside of the law. The same goes to the others: free education, job creation, wage increments, bankrolling of monetary regimes, renegotiation of treaties, and provision of freebies, politically speaking, are all part of a process. Here, the ends do not justify the means, unless the next day Zambians wanted to say that the PF acted outside of their mandatory purview, and/or even unconstitutionally.

Second, in pure political morality, campaign promises are superseded by actual government pronouncements. This is simply because now a government must rule by the dictates of the law and not merely by making whimsical declarations. In this regard, President Sata should have been judged more earnestly for the pronouncements he made as president and not as presidential candidate. And to be fair he was never opprobrious in his inaugural speech:

[M]y first pledge as president is to fully commit myself and my party...truly to the spirit of democracy and respect for the proper functioning of the institutions of the law, the executive and the institutions that are intended to safeguard the rights of all citizens….In as much as I am mindful that we have to restructure things, re-orient and even create institutions of development, some of which might take longer, I stand by my promise in initiating development projects within 90 days. We will begin by reducing the size of government and government expenditure.

Here lies the truthfulness of our judgment of President Sata. He stated he would respect the law, and would “stand by my promise in initiating development projects within 90 days.” Note the operational word: initiating. And indeed, initiating he did:

He replaced commanders and deputy commanders in the air force, army and drug enforcement commission. "I am allergic to corruption," he declared, driving home his campaign pledge to stamp out vice. Investigations have been launched thick and fast into the affairs of former ministers under the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, which ruled for two decades. Among those, the US$1m (£639,000) Mpundu Trust Fund of the former President, Rupiah Banda, is facing scrutiny. Deals struck under the old regime have been probed - including the US$5.4m sale of Finance Bank Zambia to FirstRand Bank of South Africa, which was promptly reversed. So keen is Sata to prove his commitment to weeding out corruption in the ranks that he has even ordered an inspection into his son's alleged post-victory purchase of two luxury vehicles.

Moreover, level-headed review of the PF`s budgetary allocations revealed a cogent determination to equalize the distribution of the copper wealth. The Chikwanda budget was pro-poor. It came as an answer to many people`s dream of a stable, rich and equitable Zambia. It raised the earn threshold to ZMK2 million and those who earn less than ZMK800,000 would receive tax relief. It scrapped off hospital fees and lowered bank lending rates and maintained the corporate tax at 35 percent.

To reiterate what have been written earlier, the PF administration acknowledged the fact that the current reliance purely on copper, despite the soaring in prices, was unsustainable. The budget cited agriculture, manufacturing, transport and communication as the main drivers of the economy. It also admitted that the private sector was the engine of the economy. The PF administration reduced the cost of borrowing by basically abolishing the upper corporate tax for commercial banks. “This is expected to create fiscal space for the financial sector to offer affordable loans.” 

The PF administration upped the allocation to the local government sector, increased spending in health sector, educational sector and in infrastructure projects. With these increments, it would seem that Zambia was on the path to increased economic sanity, increased investment and increased job opportunities.

Third, did President Sata deliver on his pledge to strike fast and turn the country around in 90 days? The same argument holds, if he did something that was never done before, then he did deliver. Of course, any president would be faced with an insurmountable task of balancing between what could be achieved by way of priority in 90 or 100 days and what was workable under any given circumstances. President Sata acknowledged that the daunting task of ruling, apart from finding of State House a strange place, was hugely different from the easy task of stone-throwing in the opposition ranks:

In less than 90 days you saw the price of fuel coming down; in less than 90 days you will see the price of mealie-meal coming down. So, it's not easy, you cannot overcome those things overnight. You cannot overcome unemployment, you cannot overcome poverty, but our measures, our Ministers' measures, our policies are going towards that direction.[31]

Thus, the late president was forthright in admitting that the 90-day period was not sufficient enough to fulfilling his campaign promises. It was not possible, and many people knew this. Those who wanted to bury the president in his own words would see this as a betrayal of the people.

 President Sata had always campaigned that he would conquer unemployment and poverty. Nevertheless, once he was elected, he asserted, “You cannot overcome unemployment, you cannot overcome poverty.” Indeed, unemployment and poverty are not easily overcome, less so in 90 days. This author is on record for writing that, “We want Sata to do in three months what Kaunda didn’t do in 27 years, what Chiluba didn’t do in ten and what Mwanawasa didn’t do in seven. Banda in three years also didn’t do! We should be fair to the late president.”[32]This defence of President Sata should not be understood as acceptance of his equivocations over important issues of national significance. It should not, for example, be construed as vindication of either the president`s cogitation that the Chinese of the PF were different from those of the MMD, or the then vice-president`s admission that his party might not win the 2016 election, backtracking from his up-to-2021-victory-theory. Consistence is a rule rather than an exception in politics. Zambians, indeed, wanted, “The PF government…to expedite the process of implementing its developmental policies because Zambians want to start seeing the benefits of changing government.”[33]

What the 90-Days Promise Taught Zambians

Motivational speakers tell us that mistakes can be building blocks to the future. Project managers teach us that there are lessons to be learned from every failed project. Sometimes we learn better lessons from what could have been than from what became. The 90-day mantra taught Zambians lessons that could prove handy in the coming elections.

First, the poor people can be taken advantage of. What is good news to a poor person other than to hear that their conditions could be bettered? As one tabloid reviewed, “It was music to the ears of the largely young, uneducated and unemployed electorate.” However unrealistic it might seem after the fact, the struggling masses of Zambia actually believed that President Sata could put more money, literally, into their pockets. Farmers believed that they would see bags of fertilizer and the opposition feared it could see a new constitution in 90 days. All these constituencies, apart from the later, were deeply disappointed.

Second, in politics, words do not always match actions, although they should. If the PF go down in history as a party of mere rhetoric, it would undermine future efforts at reforming the Zambian political scene. The PF won the elections based on catchy slogans, “Don`t Kubeba,” and, of course, the 90-day mantra. If “Don`t Kubeba” is also taken literally it would become a byword for corruption in the political ranks. It could simply mean, “Cheat the people and win the election.” That would portend uncertainty for the future of politics in Zambia.

Third, the 90-day mantra taught Zambians that there was a difference between campaigning and ruling. Sometimes newly-elected presidents might continue campaigning even when they were supposed to begin governing. President Sata`s 90 days in power were, without doubt, trepid moments, or “a state of shock,” according to the then PF stalwart, Wynter Kabimba,[34]for anyone in President Sata`s place. President Sata won the presidency by popular support and many expected a lot from him. He needed to live up to his words; otherwise many of those who voted for him would be disillusioned.

Finally, the late president seemed to have given up on the fight against unemployment and poverty. He thought the duo-scourge was impossible to overcome. This should, however, not go in history books as failure on the part of President Sata. It should be a lesson for would-be politicians that vision does not grow out of the presidency; it is groomed way before one becomes president. President Sata, like many similarly-situated politicians came from the school of thought that espoused the idea of convenience and expediency. Modern political minds should aspire for designing cogent, well-thought-through and achievable parameters for national development.

Thus, in an article published in The African Executive, the Zambian Watchdog and at the Mwewa`s Post, this author advised, “Any national vision must be articulated in measurable parameters – with achievable indices for analysis. Open-ended statements and pronouncements do not translate into a viable vision. President Sata was, indeed, a man of actions, but none of those actions can clearly be defined as a concise, practical and cogent vision for Zambia. Everything was, and remains, the way things had always been in Zambia.”[35]

This piece of advice was not meant to demonize or negate late Michael Sata`s influence and impact on Zambian politics, it was merely a caveat that those coming after President Sata should do better in terms of visioning and implementation. President Sata was popular, personable, and going by the turn-up at his funeral, a man who was dearly beloved by the Zambians. He would have been even more had he left behind a clearly-defined vision he had for Zambia.[36]

Moreover, up and coming political parties should learn a key lesson from the PF. Going by the ruckus and rumpus after the demise of its founding leader, Michael Sata, the party also died on October 28th, 2014. A party dominated by one man is fragile in the event that, that the same one strong man dies. It risks being a one-term rule. Political parties should not be formed out of a single man’s whims and caprice or ambition. They should be a matter of consensus and people-driven agendas.

In Zambia, as in many developing African formations, promises must always be pegged on the scarce national resources. From 1972, Zambia espoused a socialistic mode of economic development. In 1991, the Chiluba regime introduced a liberalized economic structure. However, in terms of implementation and the day-to-day running of government, the Zambian government does not have options.

 Traditional government revenues in Zambia come from personal and business income taxes. And this also includes value-added tax (VAT), postal revenues, national lottery, commercial undertakings, customs duties, passport fees, fire-arm registration fees, excise taxes, hunting license fees, work permit fees, citizenship and naturalization fees, and National Registration Card replacement fees,[37]and etcetera. 

The curse of the developing countries like Zambia is over-reliance on foreign donors in the management and implementation of budgets. And this has been a trend since independence. Apart from being dependent and vulnerable, ties to the bilateral and multilateral assisted-funds impair national creativity and freedom of contract and is injurious to economic stability.

In Zambia, since 1964, development assistance from any one of these cooperating partners – the African Development Bank (ADB), Canada, China, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, the IMF, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom (UK), the United States of America (USA), and the World Bank – has been instrumental in shaping public policy and dictating the direction successive governments take in controlling the affairs of the land.

 It is a fact that without such assistance, the Zambian economy can come to a standstill. Zambia`s traditional sources of government funding “have not been able to adequately meet the development needs of …the country.”[38]The following illustrates this lack of self-sufficiency:

In March 2007, for example, the late former President Levy Mwanawasa revealed that 65% of the national budget was devoted to the sustenance of a bloated state apparatus, and that only a paltry 35% was left for education, agriculture, healthcare, roads and bridges, and so forth.

In June 2009, former President Rupiah Banda decried the fact 50% of the government’s domestic revenues were spent on 1% of the population, including Ministers, and wondered how provision for roads, hospitals, schools, energy, and defence and security could be met.

In October 2012, a news article in the Post Newspaper revealed that 50% of the 2013 national budget would be spent on the wages, salaries, allowances, and fringe benefits of civil servants and government officials.

And in October 2014, Alexander Chikwanda revealed that 75% of Zambia’s domestic revenue in 2015 would be consumed by wages, salaries, and allowances of civil servants and government officials, leaving only 25% to cater for all other government operations designed to facilitate socioeconomic development in the country.[39]

It does not take rocket science to figure out what Zambia`s biggest challenge is: Lack of adequate resources to do everything else other than satiate government workers. Successive governments have paid only lip-service to the need for diversification of the economy which is currently heavily reliant on mining. Moreover, no government in Zambia has been able to successfully implement a policy that makes the private sector a key income generator. In a satirical musing, Mwenda illuminates this reliance on the State:

One thing that intrigues me about much of African private riches is that, for the most part, they have arisen out of, or resulted and benefited from, the State. There are very few exceptions. Many serving or former Heads of State, Cabinet Ministers, and some Permanent Secretaries, for example, including some of their relatives, or those private citizens with huge government contracts are typical examples of such wealth accumulation. It is rare that African riches have no direct or indirect link to the State. And this seems to be the case even in some other developing regions of the world. The question that I continue to ask is: Can Africa's rich men survive without the government or any form of State structure to milk from? Do they have the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs type of entrepreneurs who can start, grow and sustain their business empires relying mainly on the private sector, with minimal leanings, if any, indirect or otherwise, on the government or State for survival?[40]

The unpalatable underpinning of this system of government control and over-reliance on foreign donations has led to the Zambian government’s inability to meeting the developmental needs of the country. The public sector benefits through a client-patron relationship that ensures that (even when the population knows that government cannot deliver) phoney government promises during elections are construed to be credible without critical scrutiny. The system works in the following manner: 

It takes just one-man, so-called president, to rise to power. Under him or her are loyalists, some may call them stalwarts, cadres or any similarly-situated labels. The president anoints a few among the most cantankerous cadres and whom he or she christens as cabinet ministers (usually, and mostly men, but people who have ascended the pedestal neither due to their acumen nor merit, but through sheer rabble-rousing scuffles). The president then drains the national coffers through his impetuous ministers (or patrons) and who meticulously reward them to themselves and to the system bottommost social hierarchy – the clients. The clients then do damage to the opposition – insulting some, beating up others, causing violence and even murdering the unfortunate. Those who show allegiance are often compensated with bags of mealie meal, chitenge materials or fertilizer, whatever the case may be.[41]

Thus, in Zambia, the politics of promises are to be presumed. Majority of Zambia is poor; so, it can be expected that any promise made appeals to the poor people. But this is unfair. No political candidate can deliver on the promises made outside of the traditional revenue framework. Zambia is not ready for an economic revolution (whereby government divorces the public sector and marries the private sector, even if just in a marriage of convenience). War will break out because many people depend on government cheques, contracts, kick-backs and hand-outs. Government itself is impotent of creative ideas for alternative revenue sources.

Government bonds through the Bank of Zambia (BOZ) have helped government raise revenue, but this has not helped much. Whatever the Government of Zambia (GRZ) does, it lacks the structural capacity to raise enough revenues to adequately govern the country. The best GRZ can do is to create a conducive environment, through legislation, in which private businesses (the private sector) may thrive. This has the propensity to creating jobs, and in this manner, expanding the tax base. It is one of the easiest ways the people can have enough money in their pockets, which itself is essential in the improvement of consumer confidence.

Any serious presidential candidate in Zambia must be thinking about how to make the private sector the true engine of the economy. This must not be simply a by-the-way thing or only a vote-winning strategy; it must be the fruit of long and deliberate planning (preferably outside of State House). Given the aforementioned, promises like “more money into people`s pockets” may not be attainable even within five years – though in theory it may be a good place from where to start.

Zambian presidential candidates and political parties have had no clues on how to redeem the Zambian economy. There has been no lack of manifestos and party constitutions that have correctly identified the needy areas. Most political parties know that unemployment and poverty are Zambia`s biggest economic challenges. They just have no clues on how to tackle them, given the scarcity of Zambia`s usual revenue sources.

Thus, President Sata meant well for Zambia. However, like most presidents before him, he lacked a clear-cut economic vision on how to expand the Zambian economy and provide for the majority wallowing in poverty. The poor people understood him, but even they were wondering how a beloved president like Sata could not fathom a plan to creating employment and reducing poverty.

The true legacy of President Sata is not in what he did; it is in what he did not do per se. President Sata did make promises. President Sata did imprison some opposition leaders. President Sata did violate the constitution from time to time. And President Sata did upbraid his ministers in public. However, President Sata did not encourage or condom corruption. He loved Zambia. He was like a father who had the will and intention, but lacked the means of fending for his Zambian family. Future presidents should emulate the late president`s love for the people, but they should do better in terms of visioning.

Indeed, President Michael Sata`s rise to power and untimely demise has taught us not to trust politicians’ promises without scrutinizing the source of funding or how those promises would be fulfilled. Some of the deep-rooted problems facing Zambia include, but are not limited to, poverty, hunger, ignorance, illiteracy, disease, widespread unemployment, destitute and vulnerable children, dilapidated infrastructure, and, of course, corruption.[42]It does not take a genius to recognize these issues. But it will take a genius to find solutions to fixing them.

A Chance to Rule

President Sata`s nickname as King Cobra was early in his presidency sanctified to become Servant King by his local priest,[43]and for good reasons. How else could those who hold different views from him have construed a string of U-turns registered in the 90-day-period of his rule? They argued that he made a fantastic statement in Parliament that he was allergic to corruption, but only to appoint Xavier Chungu – who hitherto, was facing corruption charges – as a provincial permanent secretary.

However, supporters of Michael Sata would argue that the Chungu-decision was reversed. They would contend that President Sata was a magnanimous and understanding person. They would also suggest that Michael Sata was a listening president. This author believes that both sides are right. What is germane, therefore, is the impact or the overall result President Sata`s persona and attitude was on corruption. There is no-one who can accuse late President Sata of being corrupt. It is also prudent to claim that he never personally sanctioned corruption. Later in his presidency, before his death, he even fired or upbraided those ministers of his who seemed corrupt. That is the true legacy of President Michael Chilufya Sata; he was truly allergic to corruption. But he can perhaps be accused of being willfully blind to those close to him who amassed wealth within a short time of their appointment.

On other issues, though, the late president did not do very well. He could have done better. Constructed literally, candidate Sata promised to deliver a constitution in 90 days, but only to appoint a technical committee to deliver a constitution, first by June 2012, and in the end the exercise was disbanded after over K115 million was already expended. 

Notwithstanding his good intentions, candidate Sata had opposed the MMD`s alliance with the Chinese investors, but only to embrace them, and even sending former President Kaunda, who on November 14th, 2006 had declared Sata “Unfit to rule,” as his envoy to mend relationships in China.[44]He renamed three airports with African names only to appoint a White man as his vice-president. He campaigned against the MMD`s rescission of the windfall tax, only to do the same in the 2012 budget. And there could be more competing and striking contrasts.

However, the strength of President Sata`s first 90 or 100 days in power should be determined based on activity and not ideology. In political parlance, President Sata was what is known as a pragmatist and not an ideologue. Critical review of his so-called flip-flops will reveal that they were motivated by currency rather than expediency. The renaming of the three airports could be seen as the retention of the Zambian nationhood, a sense of history. This is laudable. A change of policy towards the Chinese investments was in tandem with global dynamics; the West were, and are still, running to China, and the West have always controlled the developing formations. 

Practically, it made political and as well as economic sense, to run there, too. As for the windfall tax, as Chikwanda had argued, it was meant to cushion the impact of radical change in investor-confidence. In fact, it came to the same thing, others would argue; a hike to six percent in mineral royalty obligation was just the same as the re-introduction of a windfall tax!

Michael Sata’s presidency should have been judged at the end of his first term in office (which he had no opportunity to complete), and not based on 90 or 100 days in power. And if the policies he set bore the nation fruit, it would have been beneficial to Zambia as a whole. The opposition was not expected to patronize the late president, but it could offer alternatives to the PF. It could tender a de-facto administration, a sort of a shadow government that rivaled the PF`s official government. In that way, it would be ready, given a chance, to assume power and prove its worth. To the people, especially the author`s frustrated mother in the village, the test of time was, and is still, more reliable than the test of genius. The president was given time to rule, just as Apostle Paul urges, “Love is patient.”[45]Nonetheless, he died before his term was over. 



[1] BBC, “UK Politics: What is the Third Way?” September 27th, 1999

[2] Moses Kuwema, “Hunger is the Only War We Have in Zambia – Sata,” The Post,November 27th, 2011

[3]The Africa Report, supra, p. 130

[4]Other stats posit this at five percent since 2002, see Nawa Mutumweno, “The People`s Budget,” News Africa, December 31st, 2011, p. 36

[5]The Africa Report, supra, p. 131


[7]Nawa Mutumweno, “The People`s Budget,” News Africa, December 31st, 2011, p. 36






[13]See Chiwoyu Sinyangwe, “Mines Expected to Accept 6% Royalty Tax – Economist,” The Post, Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, p. 6

[14]Mutumweno, p. 37


[16] The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

[17] – retrieved on December 8th, 2014


[19]Including acting president, Guy Scott. Others like Wynter Kabimba and Edgar Lungu who acted in President Sata’s absence are not included.

[20]Mbinji Mufalo, “Me, Michael Sata, and Country,” Zambian Watchdog, August 25th, 2014

[21]Lusaka Times, ““Sata is a Dictator” says opposition,” December 19th, 2012

[22]Chiwoyu Sinyangwe, “Zambian President Sata the Sacker,” The African Report, November 7th, 2011

[23]George Chellah and Ernest Chanda, “A Degree Won't Stand in My Political Way – Sata,” The Post, January 22nd, 2010

[24]Malawi Today, “Zambia’s Michael Sata Takes a Minibus Ditching the Motorcade,” December 6th, 2011

[25]Charles Ngoma, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in the Kingdom of Sata,” Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

[26]The Post, “The New Battle is Only Beginning,” Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

[27] See Chapter Four of this book

[28]Charles Mwewa, “De-Tribalizing the Hakainde Hichilema Presidential Bid,” The African Executive, Issue 526, December 3rd – 10th, 2014

[29]Charles Mwewa, “Michael Sata: Vision Quagmire and Succession Quandary,” Zambian Watchdog, November 21st, 2014

[30] This is a reproduction of an article I wrote, “President Sata`s 90 Days in Power: Judged Objectively,” December 21st, 2011

[31]Zambian Watchdog, “Sata Finally Admits He Can’t Develop Zambia in 90 Days,” December 12th, 2011

[32]See, accessed January 29th, 2012

[33]Misheck Wangwe, “Zambians Want to Benefit from Change – Rev. Mutale,” The Post, Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

[34] See Kabanda Chulu, “Kabimba Pleads for Sata to be Given More Time,” The Post, November 7th, 2011

[35] Charles Mwewa, ““Michael Sata: Vision Quagmire and Succession Quandary,” supra.

[36] Most leaders do this by writing a book. The nature of President Sata`s politics made it difficult, if not, impossible, to know what he stood for. He changed his mind on issues rather too quickly.

[37] Henry Kyambalesa, “Zambia: Campaign Promises vs. Scarce Resources,” 2014



[40] Kenneth Mwenda, Intellectualism and Socio-political Inquiry through Metaphor and Musing(Toronto: Africa in Canada Press, 2015)

[41] Charles Mwewa, “Zambia Politics: The Beautiful Ones are Not Yet Born?” The African Executive, Issue 505, December 24th - 31st, 2014

[42] See Kyambalesa, supra.

[43]See Chapter Three of this book 

[44] Others would still say that this was the kind of a person Michael Sata was; he forgave his accusers and even embraced them.

[45]Holy Bible, I Corinthians 13:4




FATHER MIHA DREVENSEK, on Zambia, stated: A marvel of Central-Sub-Saharan Africa, is the country of the sun and of natural wealth; a country of dreams.[1]

Of Governments and Peoples

Governments are presumed to be free and sane, even when they may not be: “All Governments, including the worst on earth and the most tyrannical on earth, are free governments to that portion of the people who voluntarily support them,” says Lysander Spooner. And the Bible nods: “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”[2]

The people must take part in the governance affairs of their country, otherwise they should not complain. Plato suggests, “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” Nevertheless, there is a problem, and the problem is politics itself, because according to Paul Valery, “Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them.”

Party politics under liberal democracy does not help, either. Because as H.L. Mencken has put it, one party will always devote “its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right.” Thomas Jefferson elaborates:

Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties. (1) Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes (2) Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles, Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by whatever name you please, they are the same parties still and pursue the same object. The last one of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all.[3]

People still choose these men and women and their respective parties. People entrust their all into their hands only because, as Machiavelli has hinted, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is lord.” And out of these parties, people must choose a president. This is the only equalization of liberties, because as Clarence Darrow intimates, anyone can become one: “When I was a boy, I was told that anybody could become president - I'm beginning to believe it.”

Presidents do live by their words, only that they should not cease to use them for truth-telling. Instead, words become weapons through which the poor, the vulnerable, and sometimes intellectuals and the educated are deluded. Gore Vidal educates, “As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action. (You liberate a city by destroying it.) Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.” This explains why in September 2011, the people welcomed the PF as a party of salvation. 

2011 Elections and Democracy in Zambia

Zambians love democracy. The September 20th, 2011 elections in Zambia will go into history as a testament that democracy in Zambia is here to stay. European Union (EU) observer team leader, Maria Muniz de Urquiza, described the election as “credible” and that the vote count was transparent.[4]Zambia is a beckon of African democracy, if not a foremost example of how democracy works. Henry Kyambalesa agrees when he says that, “Our democracy is working!” The election of Michael Sata proved that in Zambia, there is hope for anyone to become president, vindicating the words of Darrow.

Zambian politicians know how to win, but they also know how to lose with grace and dignity. Shortly after the announcement that Michael Sata had won, President Banda conceded defeat and “urged Zambians to jealously guard the country’s peace which, if lost, would be difficult to regain.” Zambia is a successful story when it comes to democracy, and this is because Zambians love peace and order.

 The question in 2015 and beyond will be: Will Sata’s successors allow peaceful democratic transitions as Kaunda, Chiluba and Banda allowed? Mwanawasa and Sata died while in office.

President Sata’s reign, however, should be both smooth-sailing and a challenge. For one, he was inheriting an economy that was booming, thanks to President Banda’s ingenuity. He would do well to remind the people that they could no longer feed on the rhetoric of economic growth without benefiting from the copper wealth. For another, for many, President Sata’s victory was a referendum on the Chinese investments in Zambia.[5]

The 2011 elections pitted two leaders; Michael Sata and Rupiah Banda. Both were veteran and career politicians. Both were stanchly supporters of Kenneth Kaunda and UNIP and both served amicably in MMD. Down the road, one resigned and only to be recalled to serve as vice-president, and shortly after the death of Mwanawasa, Banda became the fourth president of Zambia. The other, after a deathly disappointment in choice of Chiluba successor, opted for the formation of a new party, a party that emerged as the winner of the 2011 electoral contention.

President Sata was a necessary choice between two dominant parties in Zambia. And President Sata was not a change agent unless he filled ministerial and technocratic positions with progressive, possibly educated, open-minded new leaders and techno-savvy technocrats. He should also have canvassed the Diaspora and within, and select Zambians who could put Zambia’s challenges in context, new leaders who could marshal a vision for the future.[6]

Former president Banda`s administration had performed relatively well on the economy. In fact, many people who hated Banda did not do so based on his presidential competency, the majority were infuriated because of the fact that Banda frequently travelled. In presidential politics, travelling to attend various conferences does not constitute diplomatic tourism; it is the currency that creates allies, opens diplomatic networks, offers investors a window into would-be investment destinations and puts the respective nation on the map.

Together with the surge in copper prices between 2005 and 2011, Banda managed the surge with relative ease. He, in that sense succeeded. Another five-year term would have given him wings to fly even higher, economically. Although unappreciated and unrecognized, President Banda was a true democrat. He would have easily danced around the Constitution and refuse to allow an election after the death of Mwanawasa. President Banda had not been shy of expressing this sentiment. It is leaders like President Banda who have made Zambian democracy strong.

President Sata was still untested as president, serve for a few administrative directives, political reshuffles and some radical changes he made while serving as Minister for Local Government or Health under the Kaunda and Chiluba regimes. He had, though, made strong declarations in the fight against corruption, but died before he could see their implementation.

President Sata’s curse was in the fact that the person he replaced left power both politically strong and had positioned Zambia on a right economic trajectory. President Sata had to exceed that, without which everything he did would be considered a failure. He should have striven to maintain the economic growth then obtaining. 

President Sata might not have brought meaningful change to Zambia if he continued to operate with a nationalistic and non-technological mentality. The PF, though, had been the hope of democratic change in Zambia. With the PF in power, the course for mass participation had curved itself. Small parties` hopes of one day becoming big and compete competently in elections had been established. Competition to necessitate massive economic changes had been intensified, and political leaders were motivated to rule by agendas. The PF’s win obliterated the fear that a de-facto One-Party State might be re-established in Zambia under another five-term win of the MMD.

The politics of Zambia after 1991 had not given chance for new and vibrant leadership to be groomed. The generation of the so-called Young Turks still controlled political hegemony in Zambia. They were, ironically, older and they all shared a common mentality - a mentality deeply imbued in a sense of entitlement and “deserved” patriotism. The majority was in it for money, power or career. This is different from the nationalist-generation or the generation of those who fought for Zambia`s independence. That generation was crafted from a sacrificial mentality and the majority was in it for self-less service.

President Sata’s True Legacy

President Sata died of undisclosed illness in England on October 28th, 2014. There is no doubt that he died a hero in the eyes of the Zambian people. He is one of the few Zambian presidents it would be said, “He earned the presidency.” He left a strong and thriving plural atmosphere where different political parties could compete.

However, in two key areas he could have done better: He failed to leave behind a strong successor who could unify the PF and ensure its continuity; and he did not define a clear economic vision for Zambia.

His true legacy lies in this: He was truly allergic to corruption! He set an agenda for the present and future administrations to emulate. Everyone who rules Zambia, must remember this sacred trust – and be found to proactively fight corruption at all levels.


[1] Fr. Miha Drevensek, “Zambia – The Land of the Falling Waters,” OFMCove., (accessed December 24th, 2011)

[2]Holy Bible, Romans 13:1

[3]Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, 1824

[4]ZNBC, “Zambia Holding Elections,” September 20th, 2011

[5]See Chapter Six of this book

[6]See Chapter Eight of this book