Thursday, 5 September 2019

South African Businesses Close As Zambian Students Protest Xenophobia

Students light fires at the South African High Commission
in Lusaka -Picture by Salim Dawood/Getty Images

By Paul Shalala

Dozens of South African businesses which include banks, chain stores, food outlets and a television provider have been temporarily shut down in the Zambian capital Lusaka as thousands of students protest xenophobia taking place in South Africa.

First National Bank (FNB), Shoprite, Multichoice (DStv), Hungry Lion, Barclays, Pick N Pay and several other South African owned companies closed yesterday as placard carrying students went on the streets of Lusaka.

The students, who wore black clothes in solidarity with victims of xenophobia, disrupted lectures at the University of Zambia (UNZA) before going on the streets.

They marched along the Great East Road, a major boulevard in Lusaka and stormed the Manda Hill Shopping Mall were they smashed the Shoprite store which is the largest in the country.

At Hungry Lion, the students walked away with umbrellas and also got away with trolleys from Pick N Pay which they rode on.

In their thousands, the students entered Addis Ababa Drive and walked 15 kilometers to the South African High Commission under the watchful eye of heavily armed riot Police officers.   

As they arrived at the High Commission, the UNZA students were joined by hundreds of students from Evelyn Hone College, a tertiary institution situated in the central business district of Lusaka.

The High Commission was locked and heavily guarded by Police.

Students could not physically deliver their petition to South African diplomats.
Students marching on the streets

This forced the students to burn tyres and deface the sign post for the diplomatic mission.

At some point, Police officers tried to stop the students from lighting the tyres which led to students unleashing missiles on the High Commission.

This led to a cat and mouse fight of teargas verses stones between the students and the Police.

Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo arrived at the mission and arranged transport for the students to be ferried back to the Great East Road Campus where he later calmed them down.

Zambia National Students Association (ZANASU) President Misheck Kakonde said the petition which was not handed over was meant to give the South African government a two day ultimatum to stop the xenophobia.

“We are now fed up with the behavior of South Africans and we may respond with the same amount of force on your businesses and investment in our country Zambia. ……..The South African government is proving to be docile in managing their thugs…..” reads part of the petition.

The petition, which contained 11 demands, claimed that 39 Zambians in South Africa had been injured and some may have even lost their lives.

“If your government does not do anything within two days, your High Commission in Zambia shall be closed for eternity…… No South African businessperson shall bring any products to Zambia…….. First National Bank (FNB) and other South African banks shall not be allowed to operate…..” read some of the demands by the students.

Reaction to the students protest was swift.
Smashed doors at Shoprite Manda Hill Branch

The Zambian High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa clarified that only one Zambian by the name of Daniel Lupiya was caught up in the xenophobic attacks.

Mr Lupiya was hacked in the head and was admitted at Gemiston hospital.

The High Commission says it is following up another report of Mr Siachingi Sialubaya, a truck driver, who is reported to have been attacked in KwaZulu Natal.

President Edgar Lungu condemned the violence by the students but warned that xenophobia can affect African unity.

“Criminal gangs engaged in brutalizing innocent people must know that their actions may cause the isolation of South Africa from the rest of the civilized world. The South African government must bring the culprits to book before this xenophobia degenerates into full scale genocide,” said President Lungu.

According to the Zambia Development Agency, South Africa is among Zambia’s top five trading partners.

The country imports a lot from South Africa and Zambia exports a good number of products to that country.

And most of South Africa’s exports to the Democratic Republic of Congo passes through Zambian borders by road.

Three days ago, the Football Association of Zambia cancelled a friendly march with South Africa due to the xenophobic attacks.

The game was supposed to be held in Lusaka but thousands of Zambians took to social media to call for the cancellation of the game.

The following day, the Economics Association of Zambia also pulled out of the World Economic Forum to be held in Cape Town, South Africa.
Closure statement by Multichoice

And two South African rugby teams JHB Bobbies and the Blue Bulls which were supposed to travel to Zambia for the Zambia 7s tournament have also cancelled their trip.

In the capital Lusaka, one of the most popular private radio stations Hot FM has pulled off all South African music from its playlists.

”In light of the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa, Hot FM will cease to play music by South African artists on our airwaves until further notice. Africa is one and until such a time that our South African counterparts embrace ubuntu again, our stand will be with all our African brothers being attacked and terrorized in that country,” reads a statement from the radio station.

The South African High Commission in Zambia is yet to issue a statement following these developments in Zambia.

Across the continent, Nigerian singer and song writer Tiwa Savage and Ugandan comedian Teacher Mpamire have also cancelled their shows scheduled for South Africa.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Somizi Denied Entry Into Zambia Over Homosexuality

Somizi Mhlongo -Photo courtesy of PR Girl Media
By Paul Shalala
Zambia has banned South African artist Somizi Mhlongo from entering the country over his sexuality.
Minister of Religious Affairs and National Values Godfridah Sumaili says Somizi is not welcome in the country because he is openly gay.
Reverend Sumaili says Zambia will not welcome people who she described as having “questionable” characters.
“Every country has laws. Here in Zambia, we have a constitution that guides citizens on morals and its Christian values. We do not condone gayism. It is a crime and inviting such people means we are slowly accepting the vice,” Said Rev. Sumaili as quoted by the state-owned Times of Zambia newspaper.
She was referring to the preamble of the Zambian constitution which describes the country as a “Christian Nation.”
The “Christian Nation” declaration itself was made by Zambia’s second president Frederick Chiluba in December 1992.
Before that, Zambia was a secular state under the 27 year rule of its founding president Kenneth Kaunda.
Somizi has been invited by PR Girl Media, an influential public relations firm run by women which is organising a fashion show to be held in Lusaka in July.
The Idols SA judge was invited to come and show off his fashion at the event which has been dubbed “Lusaka July.”
On 19 June, PR Girl Media announced Somizi’s invitation in a tweet.
“It is not a secret anymore, an invitation has been sent out to fashion icon Somizi to attend the Lusaka July. We are just as anxious as you are for a YES!” reads the tweet from the handle @PRGirlMedia.
The announcement was retweeted seven times and liked 31 times.
Within hours of the tweet being sent out, social media in Zambia was ablaze with a debate on homosexuality.
The Zambian government did not hide its stance on the matter as Rev. Sumaili led others in opposing the invitation.
Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo has also backed the banning of Somizi from the country.
“He recently got engaged to another man. Is that the sort of thing we can allow in this country? No, he isn’t welcome here,” said Kasolo in an interview with the state run Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.
But PR Girl Media has described the banning of Somizi as fake news.
On Friday, the PR agency posted a newspaper cutting in which the Minister of Religious Affairs was quoted banning Somizi and the agency captioned the tweet with the words FAKE NEWS!!!
In an earlier statement issued on Tuesday last week, PR Girl Media urged its followers to wait for an official announcement over the Somizi issue.
“South African celebrity and TV personality Somizi has not yet confirmed to make an appearance at the upcoming Lusaka July event. While we appreciate your engagement and positive response to our social media post made by our team earlier today, we kindly urge you to wait the official announcement from PR Girl Media and Somizi,” read the statement.
But some Zambians are opposed to the decision by government to bar Somizi from the country.
Award-winning Zambian writer Ingrid Nayame says denying Somizi entry into Zambia is against international human rights laws.
“Zambia is a signatory to International Treaties under International Human Rights Law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is illegal to refuse entry into the country of anyone based on their race, gender, sexual orientation or religion or HIV status. The right to equality and non-discrimination are core principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and Human Right Treaties,” wrote Nayame on her Facebook page.
She cited the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and one of those protocols that guarantee Somizi’s rights to enter Zambia.
“The right to privacy is the protected freedom under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So what someone does in their bedroom has nothing to do with the State,” she added.
Somizi joins a list of influential artists, politicians and religious leaders from abroad who have been denied entry into Zambia for various reasons.
South Africa’s opposition DA leader Mmusi Maimane was turned away at the airport in May 2017 when he came to offer solidarity to UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema who was in detention.
In the same year, Prophet Ubert Angel of Zimbabwe was denied entry into the country.
A promotional poster for the event Somizi was invited for
And in March 2018, popular South African dancer Zodwa Wabantu was detained at the airport upon arrival in Zambia and sent back on another flight to South Africa after Rev. Sumaili said her dances are “immoral” and “Unchristian.”
Zodwa is popular for dancing without underwear and she reportedly told South African media before departure for Zambia that she would dance without underwear despite opposition from Zambian authorities.
President Lungu created the Ministry of Religious Affairs and National Values in September 2016 which is charged with the responsibility of guiding the nation on what are called religious and national values. 

Sunday, 16 June 2019

My Reflections On MUVI Television’s 16th Birthday

Reporting from Embassy Park in Lusaka during the burial 
for former President Frederick Chiluba in June 2011
By Paul Shalala
It was February 2010 and I was unemployed.
I was doing internship at CUTS International Center in Northmead area of Lusaka just after I had left New Vision Newspaper.
Costa Mwansa was then the General Manager at MUVI TV and 4 years earlier he was my senior at Evelyn Hone College and he knew the political animal in me when it comes to political reporting.
Costa sent me an email asking if I could apply for a job to join MUVI TV.
Without hesitation, I sent in an application and I was called for interviews.
I passed the interviews and on 1 March 2010, I reported for work on the same day with Pennipher Sikainda (now Nyirenda) and Penelope Kapambwe (now Sikazwe).
Because our first names start with P, employees called us the three Ps.
The three of us were very close as we tried to settle down in the newsroom.
The day I reported for work, Costa was chairing the diary meeting and my first news idea was short down.
I had presented an idea on the challenges kids face when going to school due to the floods which were ravaging Lusaka.
Costa offered to groom me and from that time, I learnt how to present ideas for a community TV station.
Even my first narration for a TV report at MUVI TV was a mess, I was actually banned for a month.
After grooming and abit of panel beating, I became an unmistakable voice on MUVI TV's 18:30hrs Main News.
MUVI TV took me all over, locally and abroad.
With then opposition PF leader Michael Sata in
Senanga, Western Province in May 2011
I had the chance to fly abroad for the first time to Istanbul, Turkey to cover the United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries.
Then President Rupiah Banda attended the event and I covered it for MUVI TV, my first international assignment as a journalist and while there, I met my long time BBC mentor Umaru Fofana of Sierra Leone.
Locally, I used to cover President Banda and one time at the Lusaka International Airport (now Kenneth Kaunda International Airport), I asked him a very controversial political question (I can't remember it) and he answered me jokingly: "Iwe mwana bakutuma, sorry ulibe lead story lelo."
I covered Michael Sata in the opposition, travelled with him countrywide and I even covered his promise to restore the Barotseland Agreement at a rally in Senanga, Western Province in May 2011.
His massive rallies both in Mongu and Senanga actually gave me an indication that the man was heading somewhere as in 2008, Sata failed to have sizeable rallies in Mongu, but in 2011 he was a hero in Barotseland.
Hakainde Hichilema was another politician I covered extensively to an extent were to date, he calls me "Lozi Boy."
One rally I remember covering HH was in Choma in 2010 at Kings Ground (I hear that place has been turned into a mall) were he launched the "Real Change Campaign."
Another HH incident I remember vividly was in 2010 during the Chilanga Parliamentary by-election after Ngande Magande was expelled by MMD, Jimboz led by Chris Chalwe and William Banda almost beat him up, he was only saved by Elisha Matambo, Richwell Siamunene and others who whisked him to a classroom at Chilanga Primary School before Police fired teargas to dispess the unruly MMD cadres.
All in all, my job at MUVI TV was to report politics and my contract which I still have at home described me as a Politics Reporter.
With UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema at Chilanga Primary School
during the Chilanga Parliamentary by-election in December 2010
To cement my role, MUVI TV allowed me to travel to Berlin, Germany in September 2011 to study Politics and Governance at the International Institute for Journalism were I spent almost three months with 14 other journalists from Africa and Asia.
We were three Zambians on this training is: Morgan Kasuba a freelancer and Ernest Chanda from The Post Newspapers.
Apart from reporting politics, I think my highlight at MUVI TV was political analysis which i did almost every morning on the Sunrise Breakfast Show with Costa Mwansa and Mabvuto Phiri.
This show was so heated: Costa would always be the moderator and to strike a balance, Mabvuto would always support government and I would be the government critic on the show so that viewers get balanced views on any given topic.
This show made me a star and a villain at the same time.
Because of the show, many people around the country came to know me.
Every morning we would receive text messages concerning topics on discussion and one of the frequent contributors was Manix Kindaba of Solwezi who has since become a very close friend.
Politicians tuned in every morning and we would debate soberly on various issues such as politics, the Constitution making process, by-elections, etc with proper research.
We spent hours researching and when we go live on TV, we would speak with authority like experienced political scientists.
However, that analysis also gave us some enemies as the 2011 general elections drew near.
We started watching our backs because the truth we spoke on TV was hurting others.
When my two year contract was nearing it's end in February 2012, I notified management that I would not seek to renew it because I wanted to move on.
However, it took management two weeks to reply to me, they reluctantly accepted my departure and off I went.
Looking back, I smile at MUVI TV and the great person it created in me in just two years.
The experience I got, the contacts I made in the field and the ropes I went through are what has made me a journalist iam today.
I don't believe in burning bridges I have crossed, I believe in appreciating even the worst situations I have gone through because they make me who Iam today.
Interviewing President Rupiah Banda during the MMD National Convention
at Mulungushi Rock of Authority in Kabwe in April 2011
The sweetest memories I have of my time at MUVI TV was to rush to an incident in one of the compounds and we find other TV stations filming and when we arrive, everyone including those who were being interviewed abandon the interviews and start shouting "MUVI! MUVI! MUVI! MUVI!"
The saddest event was in a place called Nakachenje in Lusaka West were hundreds of MMD cadres ambushed our vehicle as we went to film a land wrangle and they beat up our driver Eddie, Dainess Nyirenda (now Sikamwaya) and Anita Kalwani.
The two ladies were actually threatened with rape and all equipment which included a microphone, tripod stand and camera we're confiscated by the Jimboz, an MMD security wing. (Not sure if this equipment was recovered).
Brian Mwale, Bruce Mwale and myself who had remained in the car survived the beating.
It is again at MUVI TV were I was the only TV reporter to have covered the January 14, 2011 Mongu Riots were an undisclosed number of Barotse activists were gunned down by Police.
All in all, MUVI TV shaped me, it gave me a great platform which I still appreciate to date.
Without MUVI TV, were would I be?
When I die and an obituary is written about me and my journalism career, MUVI TV will feature prominently in that write-up.
Happy 16th Birthday MUVI Television (Which fell yesterday).