Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Zambia's freedom of expression under serious attack

By Nyalubinge Ngwende

Zambians are looking on with bemused irritation as President Michael Sata and his Patriotic Party government continue to shred to pieces the country’s democratic freedoms, with free speech coming under serious attack.

 On Tuesday Sata’s government that is becoming unnecessarily insecure of divergent views, blocked country’s popular online publication the Zambian Watchdog.

The WATCHDOG, which has taken the true meaning of adversary to President Sata's rule by decree administration, has been blocked on all but one ISP portals available in the country.

The publication was pulled down from the delivery channels around 15.00 hours as the PF continues to pursue the publication for alleged disrespecting of government leadership.

This is the second time this month that government has resorted to desperate measures to block public access to the WATCHDOG, which has lived true to its name in the recent past—bringing to the desktops, laptops and palmtops of Zambians information government would rejoice seeing buried at the dump-pits or kept under government secret seal.

The online publication has been stoic even to a point of calling President Sata, an ailing dictator—a deliberate choice of the words to provoke the Zambian leader who has chosen to become a recluse, hardly seen and heard in public on many issues affecting the nation and showing high levels of intolerance to the opposition.

It is for the first time since Zambia returned to multiparty politics 22 years ago that a publication has faced incessant government attack to the point of complete closure and random detention of all journalists suspected to be associated with it.

In the past government administrations under UNIP and MMD blocked publication of specific newspaper editions that they perceived uncouth to the tastes of the governors, but the PF government seems to be taking a hardliner stance not just to stop a particular story in a publication, but seek complete closure of publications like the WATCHDOG.

Many people in the country who believe in the respect of the freedom of the press have booed the government’s extremist stance, believing the government is doing all this to hide several things it continues to do wrong but wants to keep away from public knowledge.

As the government grows paranoid and sensitive to criticism, independent and wide-reaching publications like the WATCHDOG will be obvious targets.

When the Zambia Watchdog was first tampered with by government on all, but one ISP, including mobile phone service providers, a prominent reggae Musician Maiko Zulu announced publicly that he was abandoning Airtel mobile phone to MTN so that he could continue enjoying the Watchdog. Airtel immediately restored the online publication which had quickly eluded the government filtering gadgets on to

Now, using its censorship spooks from Zambia Information Technology and Communication Authority (ZICTA), it looks like government is quickly devising new munitions to completely put down the WATCHDOG.

This move does not settle well with the Zambian electorates who are rightly suspicious that President Sata wants to run a highly secretive regime, even to a point of shamelessly taking the nation back to a point where the civil service jobs are infiltrated by intelligence security personnel.

Without the Watchdog, Zambians will be left to consume pro-government announcements in the now compromised tabloid The Post Newspaper and government owned broadsheets, Zambia Daily Mail and Times of Zambia that hardly give people any freedom of talking back even on their online versions. People will also be like zombies—never to say anything of dissatisfaction against the President or his government, as desperation leads PF to recruit special operatives to stop what information minister Kennedy Sakeni calls sensitive state documents from government offices.

President Sata has already killed the freedom of expression and association in the country, using the colonial law of Public Order Act so that police deny all political parties permits to hold public meetings.

Private radio stations have also been put under a magnifying glass and are not safe place for free flow of opinion on public matters. Opposition political leaders are endangered species and those who dare visit these radio stations to make statements do so at their own peril.

Intolerance from PF terrorists abounds. Recently Alliance for Better Zambia (ABZ) leader Frank Bwalya, a Catholic priest who helped Sata and the Patriotic Front in his campaigns to make Zambians disdain and vote out the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) had his day of being embarrassed by PF terrorists. This is when he was attacked and drenched in pours of Chibuku, an opaque beer of grain by youths from the PF right inside the Ichiengelo radio station that he used to run and utilised to campaign for Sata.

A University of Zambia radio station was threatened of closure by the ministry of information and broadcasting for airing programmes and reaching out to the audience allegedly not permitted by the broadcast license issued to the institution.

People who have publicly denounced the President for awkward decisions that are laughable have found themselves bundled to police and charged. One senior economist at Ministry of Finance is still facing uncertain fate for questioning the intelligence of Sata over his unbudgeted for projects in public.

Not long ago, PF political hoodlums wielding all sorts of missiles attacked members of the civil society, clergy and ordinary citizens who had gathered in Church to reflect on government withdraw of fuel and maize subsidies. The attack also set a tone of the brutal and senseless intolerance that those with any view different from government will be subjected to.

Up-to-date there has been no mention of the issue or an apology from Sata, a sad sign of silence ordinary citizens view as clear endorsement of violence by the President himself.

With Sata and the PF leadership stopping at nothing to silence media that covers news government does not want to hear and gagging all other available means for citizens to voice dissent, the nationals in the country are left to follow their leaders blindly without asking why.

It is bad for democracy and this will not give the Patriotic Front a honeymoon to 2016 when the country returns to the polls to test the popularity of Sata and his PF gang that became the second political party to form government in 22 years of multiparty democracy.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Zambia’s Evelyn Hone College Vandalism Analysed

Bad politics has denied students any open means of intellectual critical thinking to engage or behave in any intellectual standard of behaviour over their welfare
Riot Police keep vigil at Evelyn Hone College (Picture: Zambia Watchdog)

By Nyalubinge Ngwende
Students at Zambia’s commerce and arts college Evelyn Hone on Thursday rioted burning down six lecture theatres at the institution to protest over unfulfilled bursary promises by government and poor sanitation.

Police in riot gear raided the institution firing teargas and brutalizing the students using buttons to quail the situation.

More than 70 students were arrested and detained at the Central Police station that shares the perimeter fence with the college on Church Road.

Government confirmed that K540, 000 worth of property was damaged in the students’ riot.

The Education Minister John Phiri has hinted that government suspect students were being incited to riot by elements outside the institution.

The students demonstrated against government’s failure to place them on bursaries and improve the poor sanitation standards at the institution.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Dishonest Politicians Killed Paul Tembo

The people who killed Paul Tembo have not gone away or changed their ways. They are still lurking the honeycombs of political dishonesty. Theirs are politics of personal sustenance and anyone who stirs the secrets of their honeycomb will be smitten to death

By Nyalubinge Ngwende 
On July 6, 2001 Zambians woke up to the news of a grisly assassination of Paul Tembo. The Brutal Journal brings and follows this story that happened exactly 12 years ago today, looking at how dishonest in the hands of political power does not flinch, not even a moment, to kill in order to protect their stay in power.

Paul Tembo after lies dead after being killed
It started between June 15 and 18, Paul Tembo took quick steps out of politics of deceit to join the ranks that had broken away from the MMD to defend the country’s democracy and constitution.

Paul Tembo apologized to the nation over the mistakes he made while in MMD.
Announcing his resignation from the MMD to join the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), at a press conference at the Mulungushi village in Lusaka, Tembo said:

 “To the church, especially through the three mother bodies: the ZEC, CCZ and EFZ, to the labour movement and civil society at large. To all, I seek your forgiveness and kind understanding for what I may have wrongly done and failed to do in the course of my duty.” (The Post, No. 1756-Monday June 18, 200, Paul Tembo asks for forgiveness)

Among the reasons he gave for his resignation was that the “MMD was finished beyond redemption as it had destroyed the very fundamental values on which it was founded and in its present form was moving down a dead road that can lead to national disaster.”

“The new culture has now degenerated into a culture of manipulation, trickery, deceit, hatred, mistrust and credibility of the ruling party.” 

The MMD senior leadership reacted to Paul Tembo’s resignation with mixed feelings.

MMD spokesperson Vernon Mwaanga said: “Tembo had done a good thing because he cost the MMD a seat in parliament in 1996 but I do not know whether he took that decision out of principle or out of frustration after losing his bid to become MMD vice President at the convention in Kabwe.”

President Sata
MMD Secretary General Michael Sata described Paul Tembo as a liability.
…“Tembo was supposed to appreciate what the MMD had done for him during the last five years because he was not contributing anything. “One would expect him to appreciate… he was highly trusted in the MMD without realizing that we were wasting our trust on the young man.”

“But Tembo wondered why Sata and other MMD members were so worried about his departure from the MMD if he was a political liability. Tembo said Sata was aware of his capacity and challenged him to meet on the ground rather than discuss their successes and failures in the press. “When he calls me liability, lets meet on the ground and we shall see who is a liability,” Tembo said. “Michael Sata worked with me for five years there is nothing he can say about me.” (The Post, No. 1762, Tuesday June 26, 2001 ‘Paul Tembo is a Political Liability, Charges Sata’)

 Earlier Sata was also quoted by The Post Monday June 18, 2001 in a story titled ‘Tembo’s Departure Is Good Riddance—Sata referring to Tembo as not a good person.

Addressing an MMD Munali Constituency meeting at Mahatima Gandhi Basic School in Lusaka’s Mtendere compound yesterday, Sata said the MMD would accept Tembo’s departure because it was good riddance.

“Rejects should be lumped together just like good people should stay together.”

Paul Tembo died because he wanted to tell the truth after finding himself amid political dishonesty and selfishness. To Sata he was a liability and a good riddance.

Paul Tembo was shot and killed from his home in a movie assassination style. He had defected from the MMD; his death came the morning (of July 6, 2001), six and half hours before he was to testify at a Parliamentary and Ministerial code of conduct tribunal case over K2 billion public funds some senior MMD allegedly stole to finance the party convention.

Those who killed Tembo ensured the truth died with him.

First it was to kill him in his bed that morning he was to walk to the tribunal and reveal to the country what he knew about the K2 billion public funds MMD leaders had stolen to finance their convention.

Forum for democracy and Development (FDD) member of mobilization committee Paul Tembo was about to testify before the Ministerial Code of Conduct tribunal on the ‘stolen’ K2 billion on the day he was killed.

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) lawyer Mutembo Nchito disclosed this after tribunal chairman Deputy Chief Justice David Lewanika declined to admit MMD bank statements as part of the evidence.

“My lord we are not unwilling to produce witnesses to testify on the bank statements. As for the theft of the K2 billion we had a witness who unfortunately is the late,” Nchito said, in apparent reference to the late Tembo.
Petitioners’ lawyer, Sakwiba Sikota, had earlier produced MMD bank statements as part of evidence to prove that the ruling party had no money in their accounts to organise the Kabwe convention.

But witness minister without portfolio and MMD national secretary Michael Sata accused Sikota of ‘stealing’ the bank statements and vowed that he would not return the documents to the lawyers.

Appeals from the lawyers through the tribunal went unheeded by Sata and judge Lewanika learnt credence to Sata’s refusal by saying bank statements were confidential documents. Sata was later allowed to stroll out of the courtroom with the documents in his hand amid cheers from party cadres outside.

Sata categorically refused to disclose the party’s sources of income, maintaining that the task of raising money for the party was vested in the treasurer and his duty was merely to spend it.

But Sata also told the tribunal that during the preparation of the convention, all the transactions were done in cash.

He said by April 24, 2001, total of K1.1 billion had been spent on preparations and K973 million was still owing. The tribunal also heard that Sata and the late Paul Tembo were personally paying cadres at the convention the sum of K200,000 each as per diem.
Sikota produced a note which Sata is alleged to have scribbled to President Frederick Chiluba on the distribution of tasks for the preparations of the convention.

According to Sikota, Sata is said to have collected K650 million from President Chiluba at State House’s Nkwazi, in the presence of works and supply minister Godden Mandandi, home affairs minister Peter Machungwa and the late Tembo.

But Sata who kept on referring to Sikota as “UPND vice president” said the imputation was ‘fiction’ because he never got the money.

Others submitted evidence to try and establish the truth.

“When I was trying to load the box, unfortunately the cover came off and I saw bundles of money in K10,000 notes in the box,” Mwamba testified. I quickly secured the box and put it in a position where the honourable would be able to see it,” said Alex Chomba Mwamba, 35, a pilot of Zambia Airforce (ZAF) Lusaka who flew Sata and his family to Kabwe in the presidential chopper in April.

Although Sata insisted to the tribunal that the carton box referred to did not contain any money but A4 bond paper, he admitted that he had a beige suitcase in his chalet in Kabwe from which he and the late Tembo are alleged to have been distributing money to cadres.

Katele Kalumba (Finance), Peter Machungwa (Home Affairs) and Godden Mandandi (Works and Supply) were the three minister being investigated for allegedly diverting K2 billion cash from the National Assembly to the MMD convention in Kabwe.

Secondly Paul Tembo’s assassination matrix ensured that no witness was to live to give the side of their story and it looks like the blunders by the State Police played well in the hands of those determined to silence everything that would have connected them to Tembo’s death.

This is why the two witnesses, including the arresting officer were deliberately taken to a secret location where they were ostensibly being protected. The story is that the police vehicle rammed into a stationery truck in the early hours of the morning.

On July 6, 2001 Clara said Paul Tembo was shot dead by two smartly dressed assailants at about 03.00 hours on Friday, July 6. Tembo had left to go to the Catholic Parish, Daughters of the Redeemer, where he had gone for some unknown visit at 17.30 hours. He had been there until 21.30 hours when he got home. “I asked him if at all I could serve him dinner but he said he would only have a cup of tea and soon after we went to bed,” she said.

On the day of Paul Tembo’s death, then chief government spokesman Vernon Mwaanga had condemned the killing saying it was outrageous and dastardly act.

“Mr Tembo was a founder member of MMD who served it loyally in various capacities and campaigned tirelessly for President FTJ Chiluba and MMD before he left the party to join the Forum for Democracy and Development after failing to win election as vice president at the MMD convention on 2nd May 2001,” he said.

Mwaanga also gave report by police on Tembo’s death that said “From the scene of crime, we collected a 9mm spent cartridge as well as the bullet. We also collected the registration book of the firearm issued to Mr Tembo No. 125736, which showed that the late Mr Tembo was issued with a Browning Pistol No. 56800 on 24th February, 1993.”

On March 12, 2002 late politician Paul Tembo’s wife, Clara, 32, was arrested and charged with murder of her husband.

Her lawyer Nellie Mutti said her client had denied committing the murder insisting that her husband was murdered by two intruders who entered their Ibex Hill residence.

Local media quoted Police sources saying “Clara had a domestic dispute with Tembo a few days before he died and she threatened to kill him. And on that fateful night, the two had not spoken to each other and when Paul Tembo slept leaving a pistol on the chest of drawers Clara picked it up and shot him at the back of the head. She is alleged to have later thrown the pistol in the shrubs within the yard.”

The State had got two witnesses who had come forward to testify in the murder, but the two witnesses including an arresting officer and his driver died.

Police sources last night disclosed that the witnesses died along with two police officers after the vehicle they were travelling in overturned at Kafulafuta in Ndola rural on Sunday night.

“It is not clear how the accident occurred. The other information is that the driver hit into a stationary motor vehicle while some are saying the vehicle overturned after he lost control.
The two officers were only identified as Shamainda and Kafungo both of police headquarters. The two witnesses were late Paul Tembo’s domestic workers. “These were crucial witnesses,” the source said. “That is why the state hid them in Kitwe’s Kamfinsa area. And the officers went to collect them in readiness for trial tomorrow (today). A team of officers yesterday left Lusaka to bring the bodies from Ndola.” (The Post, No. 2204, Tuesday October 29, 2002).

The State discontinued the Paul Tembo assassination case and the accident in which the witnesses were killed was treated as a ‘normal’ road traffic tragedy.

As the country mourns Paul Tembo, it should be in our deep reflection that cruel politicians have teamed up before to destroy the honest that has eluded this country before and to perpetuate their political ambitions they have never hesitated to maim or kill others who try to stand in their way.

Blood of Politicians Killed by Political Greedy Cry for Justice from Their Graves

By Nyalubinge Ngwende 
KK's vibrant son and politician Wezi Kaunda was shot dead
There are voices of Baldwin Nkumbula leader of National Party, former finance minister Ronald Penza (MMD), UNIP leader Maj Wezi Kaunda and former finance deputy minister Paul Tembo (FDD) crying for justice from the grave.

They were eliminated in the midst of political dishonesty. All but for Nkumbula (who died in a sinister road accident) were slain by the assassin’s bullet.

Up-to-date, the country is yet to reconcile itself with the unresolved cold blood killings of these prominent politicians. These are victims of those who did not want honesty to belong to the politics of this country…those whose greedy hated formidable political opponents. They are victims of dishonesty politicians who wanted and would always want to continue milking the country that they give very little in return!

Have these people completely gone away or changed their ways. The answer is No. They are still lurking the honeycombs of politics that seek personal sustenance. They still see others who threaten to dislodge them from political positions and as political liabilities. Liabilities are gotten rid off, the means do not matter, whether maiming them or killing, what matters is secure their political honeycombs and the secrets of their cartels.

Lt. Gen. Christon Tembo, who left MMD to become vice chairman of the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD)—a breakaway group of MMD ministers and other senior members that opposed President Chiluba’s third term bid, had warned us.

“Paul’s murder was a well calculated state sponsored assassination, engineered to suppress evidence that was going to link senior members of the ruling party to, among other financial scandals, the diversion of K2 billion used to finance the MMD convention.

Paul Tembo’s assassination was evidence of state sponsored terrorism which the MMD government in its desperate attempts to suppress the democratic aspirations of the Zambian people has embarked upon. He said it was no coincidence that Paul Tembo was “eliminated” the same morning he was supposed to have given evidence before the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct tribunal into the diversion of K2billion.

“We know for certain that the evidence he was going to give should have linked President Chiluba, Sata and other leaders in the MMD.” “They instead chose to eliminate Paul but I should warn them, this is not the end of the matter, they will be brought to be accountable for their crimes. (The Post Newspaper, No. 1771, Monday July 9, 2001; You Will Pay For Tembo’s Death... Gen. Tembo Warns Chiluba Over Assassination)

Brig. General Godfrey Miyanda (The Post, No.1774, Thursday July 12, 2001) said Tembo was an obvious target:

“….though Tembo could be said not to be a very influential leader in the Zambian context he was definitely a target for destruction by some people. “He was under threat,” Brig. Gen. Miyanda said.  He was an obvious target because of his intention to expose things which will not go well to some people.” Brig. Gen. Miyanda said MMD leaders were double-tongued and not honest. He was referring to chief government spokesman Vernon Mwaanga who last week said Tembo’s death was a mere banditry act because there were several other leaders like presidential affairs minister Eric Silwamba, vocational training deputy minister Dan Pule, himself and Brig. Gen Miyanda who had been attacked before by mere criminals.

Refuting allegations that government was behind Friday’s assassination of Forum for Democracy and Development mobilisation committee member Paul Tembo in an interview with Reuters, President Frederick Chiluba said: 

Second Zambian President Frederick Chiluba
“It was unthinkable that any government would be involved in such action... Paul Tembo’s death was something no one would have wanted to happen...We are extremely saddened. That is something we all really did not want to see happen. It is sad to believe that he is no longer here.” (...) “I would like to caution against irresponsible statements and irresponsible speculation on a matter of this nature. I see no reason why Paul should be prevented from appearing before the tribunal. The information is that this does not have a political leaning. The information we have is that this was purely a criminal act,” Chiluba said. “There is no iota of evidence to suggest that this is a political assassination. There is no evidence to suggest, just quote me properly, there is no evidence to suggest,” pleaded Mwaanga after one journalist told him that his statement was hanging.

 Others like then Labour Minister Newstead Zimba were devastated.
“He had his own political career to pursue and he had pushed it in his own way. Penza (former finance minister) and Wezi Kaunda were killed in the same way, now it is Paul. I am disappointed to the core.”

FDD information and publicity chairman Dipak Patel also added his voice to the death of Paul Tembo.
I knew Paul Tembo’s assassination was to happen…he was going to implicate President Frederick Chiluba in many serious scandals if he was to testify before the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct tribunal currently sitting in Lusaka. “We are fully informed, we know because he was part of FDD,” Patel said. ”It was the day he was to redeem himself. They had to silence him.” Patel said Tembo was going to disclose how money was being exchanged at State House and other “dirt” scandals initiated by President Chiluba. (The Post, No. 1771, Monday July 9, 2001, Tembo Was Going To Implicate Chiluba, Reveals Dipak Patel)

Emily Sikazwe demanded that Zambians should hold the MMD government accountable for the assassination of the late Richard Ngenda, Baldwin Nkumbula, Ronald Penza and Major Wezi Kaunda and the assassination attempts on former Zambian President Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Rodger Chongwe, Ackson Sejani and Brigadier Godfrey Miyanda.

For each of these people killed, Brutal Journal will go back to the archives to ferret out written and oral stories about the prevailing political environment at the time that led the enemies of political honesty to eliminate their opponents.

For the first in the series follow link