By Nomazulu Thata | Journalist Simba Chikanza telephones Zambian government spokesperson to the President Edgar Lungu over the deployment of the Zambian army by the PF government during the counting of the ballot votes: President Lungu’s spokesperson’s name is Mr. Isaac Chipampe: In the telephone discussion below SC is Simba Chikanza and IC is Isaac Chipampe.
The telephone rings! The conversation begins!
SC: My name is Simba Chikanza sir, I am a journalist for Zimeye media calling from the UK: Just a quick question sir: How are you going to convince the world that you are deploying an army against the opposition party…. (Simba did not finish his question)
IC: Who is calling?
SC: I am Simba Chikanza from Zimeye UK Sir, just a quick question sir, how are you going to convince the world that you are deploying an army against the opposition party during the election period. Do you realize you are committing a crime? This is against the constitution of Zambia. You have committed an extra judiciary crime against the constitution of Zambia. Do you realize that you are criminally setting an army against an opposition party outside the law: outside the constitution of Zambia?
IC: Where is that coming from?
SC: You made an announcement sir, but this a crime against the constitution to deploy army during the counting of the elections. President is conflicted because in these elections, he is an interested party equally.
IC: I hope you are an African! Are from Swaziland?
SC: No sir, I come from Zimbabwe but a have a Zambia blood.
IC: Well you are not very far from Zambia if you are from Zimbabwe. I am surprised that you can ask me such a question. I am surprised you accuse our president of deploying the army to quell the mayhem the opposition party is committing in the country: let me put it this way, I am commenting on a personal level and not as spokesperson for the president. The army had to be deployed by the president to protect its citizens from the criminal opposition party violence. Are you sure you are saying the president should not protect the people of Zambia from criminal acts of the opposition party? In north-western provinces there were inter- party violent clashes that led to some of our party members murdered by UPND party members, criminal syndicates. It is for this reason the president had to call the army to protect its citizens from criminals. If you are from Zimbabwe, I am surprised you can ask me such a question.
Dear readers these are the first scatter shots I could pick from the telephone discussion but enough to generate my personal assessment. Firstly it is worth of note to congratulate Mr. Isaac Chipampe for remaining calm and he stuck to his true African values. He continuously reminds the insolent Simba Chikanza: (what a waste of African name: Simba) Mr. Chipampe asked once more if Simba is an African because there is no African-ness in his journalism. What crimes are committed by sitting African governments in the African continent? Is Simba trying to poke fun at the Edgar Lungu Administration for withholding African values in the scheme of things, and he spins it in the media to mean President Lungu committed crimes by deploying the army right in the middle of the election period?
It is wholly surprising to realize a journalist who purports to have Zambian blood in him would ask questions wholly unAfrican in nature. Whiteness today is no longer the colour of the skin of Caucasian origin but about what these young Africans scattered around the world have internalized in their search for education. Western democracy is fed on them together with ice-cream becoming addictive in their communications and expressions. The value systems of western countries receiving our young people from the African continent demand them to be investigative and analytical in disseminating information related to democratic values.
Constitutions used by most African governments were left accidentally by colonial masters hurriedly leaving the colonies: leaving behind constitutions that enshrined partial democracy as standard practice and norm of governance. If anything, revised constitutions are crafted to give a semblance of global democracy in a global village whose measure of governance is democratic values. For this reason, we have African countries that call themselves DRC, Democratic Republic of Congo. Is there democracy practiced in DRC is wholly questionable.
It escaped Simba Chikanza completely that there are two laws in African settings: the ones that colonialists left and the unwritten African ones that are practiced by most governments across the continent. Citing the constitution of Zambia to argue the deployment of the army as a crime against the constitution should never be taken seriously by those who are versed with the going-ons in Africa. Mr. Chipampe should excuse Simba Chikanza unreservedly for many reasons. Simba is a UK based journalist, a fact he made it clear right from the start of the telephone call to the Right Honourable Isaac Chipampe: Spokesperson to the President.
If the opposition criminally commits acts of violence, they will feel the arm of the law. But it is not the case if Lungu supporters did the same: criminality is a one-way street. In the eyes of African ruling governments criminals are opposition parties, never the other way round. We have an example of president Mnangagwa who was hell bent to declare advocate Chamisa a criminal. This was going to make it possible to arrest him and lock him up and be released when the coming elections of 2023 are done and dusted. There is nothing amiss about this kind of practice in African governments settings like Zanu PF. These are standard practices across the continent of Africa. In Africa opposition is synonymous to criminality, factually means zero tolerance to anyone with a different opinion than that of the rulers of the nation.
This is however not exclusively Zanu PF that criminalizes dissenting voices, political parties that are currently opposing Zanu PF have zero tolerance to opposite voices equally. We have a Mthwakazi party that is threatening its Ndebele citizens by Winnie Mandela necklace assassination by burning them alive: petrol douse them and set them alight for opposing the views of Mthwakazi cause. This is very African, not far from Zanu PF mentality of dealing with the imminent opposition.
Before we can conclude this article lets go back to Simba Chikanza once more and ask him pertinent questions: did he phone president Ramaphosa when he unleashed the SADF army to deal with hungry looting citizens of South Africa? If he did not phone, let us know why he chose to phone Zambia exclusively? What is good for the goose is good for the gander. In retrospect President Lungu was following a precedence that South Africa set not even a month ago. As we speak today, the SADF army is deployed, loitering around the streets of South Africa.
We have said it before that the upheavals that took place in south Africa had very little to do with Zuma incarceration but about poverty and destitution in black African communities. Most of the populations that are poor however, gave the ruling ANC a hard lesson, they will never recover from these social, political, and economic fires that have started. In any drama there is a villain. Yes, the opposition was vilified by the Lungu administration to the point of being labelled criminals. Lungu had threatened that when he wins elections for the third time, he will arrest Hichilema and charge him of treason!
I would like to ask my next question in Shona: ko manje tsoro vakayitamba sei? Lungu’s party had the mighty army on its side but lost the elections dismally all the same. Hakainde Hichilema got a sounding victory that is giving the continent of Africa sleepless nights. This act Zambia has given to the continent will have a ping pong effect in other African countries too. There are signs too that Hichilema’s administration will ameliorate the social, political, and economic situation in Zambia for the betterment of “common man”. (am using Kenneth Kaunda’s favourite and famous wordings)
SADC is in the process of redefining and renewing itself. These regional fires are signs of the times. Politics will not deliver what the regional populations demand but technocratic administrations will be the game in town. President Hichilema should find different ways of renewing societies for the betterment of the poor populations. However, he has no illusion about bankruptcy of the treasury he has inherited but will be a great challenge to fulfil those hopes and expectations he was elected to fulfil in his first tenure of administration.
We should never be amazed by Simba Chikanza’s journalism: our younger generation are daringly redefining governments they want to see. We have failed our children; younger people are saying enough of liberation etiquettes that have no value-adding to common people. That daring journalism of Simba Chikanza exemplifies the instrument of a revolution. The power of the media cannot be neglected anymore. Social media together with political activism are game changers globally.
Even in the so-called “first world countries”, they are forces who are fighting neo-liberalism in their government settings. The power of the social media and political activists are active on the ground: they demand change from globalist economies, neo-liberal policies to pro-poor and climate change sensitives governance. Journalist Simba Chikanza is immersed in this global political shift in the UK and in other countries in the UK and nations in the northern Hemisphere. His questions to the Zambian government spokesperson should not surprise many.
There are more than one dimensions in which Chikanza’s journalistic approach can be put into perspective. In the backdrop of what transpired immediately after the 2018 general election counting in Zimbabwe, the opposition members staged a demonstration demanding the release of election results that extended the time release of the election outcome. Six people were gunned down by the army that was freely loitering in the streets deployed by the military government of Zanu PF. Chikanza was genuinely concerned about what could be a repeat of careless army deployment by Zanu PF government to quell a demonstration.
We cannot continue to be bamboozled by African leaders, deceiving us to be proud about Africa and African-ness. We are made to shout semi-literate slogans exalting Africa. We have realized that this African-ness and its implementation is the prerogative of a few elite and their families: they continue to insist that we adhere to African values some of which are criminal to the very populations they purport to protect and rule them.
About 90% of the populations in Africa are under duress. The younger populations are fed-up of being spoon-fed with African-ness, values that neither gives nor guarantee bread and butter on their tables. To hell with African-ness! To hell with truth and reconciliation in South Africa.
Be it investigative journalism or political activism, these trades are rude: they are insolent rightly so. We must be daringly rude if we seek revolutionary changes in the SADC region. The so-called African values are sold to us so that the ruling elite can wine and dine on our behalf. The younger generation of Simba Chikanza and Hopewell Chinono are now saying enough is enough. The political, economic, and social fires burning in the SADC region are prophesies of what is to come soon. I pity those living in the bubble; they do not see what is coming.