2021 will likely go down as a watershed year for Zambian political history. But the events leading to this momentous year will equally prompt questions around the Patriotic Front’s complicity in undermining democracy, human rights and good governance, during much of Edgar Lungu’s leadership.
For the Bulletin & Record magazine, Makanday’s managing partner Charles Mafa and journalist David Julian Wightman co-authored an article fingering the PF as having a hidden hand in orchestrating a sustained clandestine campaign of domination and terror during those dark years.
Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula has broken his silence over allegations that he co-authored an inflammatory document allegedly detailing the PF’s intended use of violence and suppression to win the 2016 General Election.
After receiving four formal letters and repeated visits and calls to his office, Mr Simbyakula finally agreed to an interview with the Bulletin & Record in which he denied any involvement with the document.
“This particular thing has come to me with a great sense of shock because I’m now wondering why someone would put me in this situation to cause me harm,” he said, expressing “shock” and insisting that “[violence] is not something that should be entertained in this country”.
Dated 23 January 2015 and entitled Strategy Of Domination PF Against Opposition UPND 2015 – 2016 And Beyond, the document’s alleged authors relate that the ruling party intends to use “violence” and “divide and rule as a self-governing political weapon in the country”.
The document was first revealed by Zambian Watchdog on 20 February 2015 but was largely ignored.
Investigations by the B&R to substantiate the document’s authenticity have been on-going for several months. It was allegedly co-authored by Mr Simbyakula and two high-ranking Zimbabwean officials, General Tendai Muduli, and former Parliamentary Speaker and Zanu-PF Secretary, Didymus Mutasa.
Under the sub-heading “State Sponsored Violence and Intimidation”, the document states that it is “meant to add value to President Lungu’s habitual use of divide and rule as a self-governing political weapon in Zambia. We further advise President Lungu and his team to develop a two-tiered theoretical framework within which the case UPND (sic) will be analysed”.
Furthermore, the document says “the team will analyse how President Michael Sata utilised ethnic divide and rule to neutralise political opposition: the campaign against UPND using Poniso [Njeulu] and [Richwell] Siamunene”, both of whom are UPND MPs.
Other strategies laid out in the document are legal harassment of private media such as The Post and Muvi TV, as well as destabilization of trade unions and NGOs. It further says “there will have to be a crackdown on the human rights for those supporting the opposition although brutal intimidation will often be replaced by more subtle forms (sic)”.
It also advises the use of “surrogate speakers” whose “persuasive attack and persuasive defence will be oftenly (sic) used in smear tactics and political hatches (sic).” One of these supposed surrogates is listed as Father Frank Bwalya, the former Catholic priest who dissolved his Alliance for Better Zambia (ABZ) party in March 2015 in order to join the ruling PF.
The document goes further, advising that “Opposition supporters will have to be beaten, tortured or even killed, particularly in rural areas by the PF youth militia wing unleashed to terrorise the electorate into supporting the ruling party. These actions will be taken with the complicity of the police and with total impunity”.
Despite continued questions of the document’s origins, there is no doubt that several of the strategies and tactics outlined have come to pass. Coincidence perhaps? Mr Siamunene is now Defence Minister, political violence is on the rise, and the ruling party has repeatedly accused the UPND of being a tribal grouping.
As recommended in the document, the PF have used the police to prevent UPND rallies taking place using the Public Order Act (POA) as justification. In addition, the document advises that the UPND must be prevented from accessing state-controlled media.
The document concludes with the point that there is a risk that unstructured “mass actions” could explode: “If the mass action strategies are employed our response will likely be violence to stop UPND making inroads. On the other side UPND youths and Students (sic), who are expecting and preparing for the worst. These are highly frustrated actors who may be more radicalized than their leadership. These are more potential spark plugs for mass actions that are less structured… waves of smaller actions that could eventually explode.”
In his position as Justice Minister, Ngosa Simbyakula remains one of the most powerful cabinet ministers. He has a background in academia, having been Dean of the School of Law at the University of Zambia.
When PF formed government he was nominated to Member of Parliament by the late Michael Sata before being appointed Home Affairs Minister. Following the election of Edgar Lungu, Mr Simbyakula was the first minister appointed by the new president and is seen as one of the most powerful and trusted figures in the current government.
When interviewed by the B&R at his office recently, Mr Simbyakula not only denied co-authoring the document but also refuted any knowledge of or acquaintance with General Tendai Muduli or Didymus Mutasa, the other named co-authors.
“Political violence,” he said, “is abhorrent and obviously our government as you have seen is doing the best to ensure our cadres are reigned in and the climate should be conducive for everyone to carry out their political activities peacefully”.
He, added that the allegations of co-authorship were putting him in “grave danger”. Mr Simbyakula observed that violence can be prevented if politicians stopped transporting cadres for campaigns elsewhere. “That is what usually sparks these things,” he explained.
“The local people who live there know each other and can’t fight… Let us not take cadres from outside to go and campaign elsewhere.”
According to the Minister, “Politics is not dirty, it is people who make it dirty… I think in Zambia we have tried our best to make politics clean.” He however acknowledged that “the leadership needs to do more to reign in over their supporters,” adding that “If people at the grassroots can take a leaf from the way we interact, I think things can be much better.” He pointed out though that “things are not that bad compared to other countries”.
Mr Simbyakula believes that politics in Zambia are migratory: “People migrate from one political party to another. I am sure you have seen what has taken place,” he says.
“Depending on which way the elections go, you will see more movements.”
He says there is no point in engaging in violence because “we’re all one”.
Despite assurances from the Justice Minister, it seems this country has a long way to go before the slogan “One Zambia, One Nation” is meaningful and true.
A sampling of events
Are these coincidental, or not?
07 January 2015:
Mr Hichilema who was on a campaign trail was unable to fly out of Mongu on this day due to a visit to the area by Acting President, Dr Guy Scott. In the process cadres from UPND and PF clashed. A UPND provincial trustee was hit with a plank by a PF cadre in the presence of police.
02 January 2015:
The helicopter carrying former first lady, Dr. Maureen Mwanawasa and former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mrs. Mutale Nalumango was stoned by PF cadres when they attempted to address a campaign rally in Shiwang’andu Constituency in Chinsali. The UPND claimed the incident happened in full view of the senior PF and government leaders.
23 February 2015:
Suspected Patriotic Front cadres beat up and stabbed to death a UPND sympathiser in Lusaka’s Mtendere East. Mr Grayzer Matapa was stabbed in the chest. The late Matapa had earlier filed a complaint at Woodlands Police station of malicious damage to his property by PF cadres. Matapa’s killers were recently found guilty by the High Court and sentenced to death by hanging.
18 June 2015:
The Post quotes PF General Secretary, Mr Davies Chama issuing tribal remarks against the UPND. He is quoted to have said that Tongas should use their polygamous nature to bear more children in order to stand a chance of producing a republican president in 100 years’ time because the UPND, under Hakainde Hichilema, would never rule Zambia.
30 June 2015:
PF and UPND cadres clashed during campaigns for the Mulebezi parliamentary bye-election. PF Secretary General, Mr Chama is alleged to have shot and wounded one of the UPND cadres.
15 July 2015:
Armed PF thugs in the evening surrounded the Catholic-owned Radio Icengelo in Kitwe and prevented the UPND leader from speaking on a scheduled live programme. Earlier in the day, PF cadres armed with guns, machetes and axes disrupted a UPND meeting that was being addressed by Mr Hakainde Hichilema at the party’s Copperbelt office in Kitwe. The cadres declared Copperbelt as a no-go area for Mr Hichilema.
16 July 2015:
Police arrest Post Newspapers Editor-in-Chief, Mr Fred M’membe and reporter Mukosha Funga, charging them with the offence of publishing classified information under the State Security Act. This relates to an article published in the newspaper on 17 April 2015 in which it was reported that the Anti Corruption Commission Director General, Ms Rosewin Wandi had written to President Edgar Lungu informing him that the ACC was investigating his special assistant for political affairs, Mr Kaizer Zulu, for allegedly soliciting US$1million from a Chinese contractor to fix an appointment for him with the President.
19 July 2015:
Tongas meet to discuss the alleged tribal remarks made by PF secretary General, Mr Chama. The meeting asked the President to dismiss his Information Minister, Chishimba Kambwili, the PF Secretary General and his deputy, Mrs Mumbi Phiri.
22 July 2015:
President Edgar Lungu meets 26 Southern Province chiefs to discuss Mr Davies Chama’s tribal remarks. The chiefs are reported to have demanded the firing of Mr Chama. But he is still party secretary general.
23 July 2015:
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) arrests Chongwe Member of Parliament, Ms Sylvia Masebo and charged her with two counts of abuse of authority of office when she served as minister of Tourism and Arts. The ACC accuse Ms Masebo of cancelling the hunting concession tender of the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) and abusing her authority of office by terminating contracts of employment of some senior ZAWA officers. Ms Masebo who is currently appearing in court has fallen out of favour with the ruling PF and campaigned for the UPND leader, Mr Hichilema during the January presidential election.
07 August 2015:
Mr Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, the UPND vice president for administration is arrested in Kasama. He is charged with assault and injuring two PF female cadres during the Bululu Ward by-election campaign. Mr Mwamba lost his Kasama seat for accepting a position the opposition UPND when he was still PF MP.
11 August 2015:
President Edgar Lungu appoints Richwell Siamunene, a UPND MP as Defence Minister. The UPND parliamentarian, who is named in the document, was previously serving as Deputy Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communication. In March this year, the UPND expelled Mr Siamunene from the party, a decision he has challenged through the courts.
18 September 2015:
Posting by Frank Bwalya on his Facebook page. “Before I go to sleep let me say the following: The UPND mouthpiece, the Zambian Watchdog has been reporting about alleged booing of our Republican President Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu. What they are forgetting is that PF and many patriotic Zambians have capacity to boo HH at any fora. Even in Solwezi PF has members and supporters who can equally boo HH.”
1 October 2015:
Posting by Frank Bwalya on his Facebook page. “The statement by HH on QFM this morning alleging that PF was responsible for the shooting at the Post Newspapers offices on Bwinjimfumu is reckless and highly irresponsible. But if he has evidence let him cooperate with the police so that they can quickly bring culprits to book.
A leader seeking the highest public office in the land should tame his tongue and avoid misleading the public. Zambians should condemn this propaganda.”
10 January 2016:
Information minister, Chishimba Kambwili claimed that the people in the (southern) region were so tribal that even if Jesus Christ came on earth and stood on a different political party, the people in the region would reject the Son of God and vote for their tribesman.
24 January 2016:
PF cadres besiege Ndola Airport and prevent the plane carrying Miles Sampa from landing on the main runway. They also beat up airport staff and those who went to welcome Mr Sampa.
28 January 2016:
The police arrest 21 people for riots sparked by clashes between the officers and UPND cadres who swarmed the street to welcome their leader, Hakainde Hichilema.