By Jonathan Ugbal
Zambia’s former Vice President and opposition leader in that country, Mr. Nevers Sekwila Mumba has said that the continent has been abused by corrupt leaders, hence the need for ‘moral legislation’ by the legislative arm of government to keep the excesses of the executive and legislature in check.
Mr. Mumba stated this on Monday, in Calabar, the Cross River State capital while addressing the Cross River State House of Assembly where he charged the lawmakers to deliver on their mandate to ensure Arica takes its place as a world leader; a phenomenon which he said will be achieved in the near future.
Mumba who said the House of Assembly was convened for this Special Address, a first in the history of the institution, also touched on a variety of issues from apartheid to bilateral relations, leadership, governance among others.
Below is his full speech courtesy of The Lusaka Times.
Address To The Members Of Cross River State House Of Assembly By The Former Vice President Of The Republic Of Zambia, And President Of The Movement For Multiparty Democracy, His Excellency Rev. Dr. Nevers Sekwila Mumba On 13th May 2019. Calabar, Nigeria
Mr. Speaker, it is my distinguished honor to address such an illustrious assembly of Lawmakers.
I bring you tidings of goodwill from my nation of Zambia. The two peoples of Zambia and Nigeria share wonderful relations from their inception. We both fought shoulder to shoulder to demand for the release of Nelson Mandela and the subsequent independence of South Africa. It is for this reason that within weeks of his release from prison, Nelson Mandela made Zambia and Nigeria as the first ports of call to say thank you.
Unfortunately, twenty-five years later, the young South Africans have missed their history classes and have decided to start killing the so-called foreigners from other African nations upon whose shoulders their independence was secured. Mr. Speaker, the xenophobia that has gripped South Africa has left a huge scar on the conscience of a continent that needs to unite and not to disintegrate.
I am aware that your presence in this house represents more than your individual desire to serve, but falls within God’s mandate for each one of you. A mandate which must be pursued with morality, integrity and great courage.
Mr. Speaker, in 2003, I stepped into Zambia’s National Assembly for the first time, not only as a Member of Parliament but also as Leader of Government Business having held the office of Vice President of the Republic of Zambia. While it was my greatest joy to serve, I was also aware that I was under the watchful eye of the Lord, God who saw it fit to clothe me with that honor. Today, I have continued to serve my country in the opposition as Leader of the former ruling party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, MMD.
I pray and hope that all of us in this distinguished house are alive to the fact that God has a divine purpose for your presence here. It remains your responsibility to uncover that purpose. You represent a wing of government which does not only legislate but also holds the two other arms of government to account, the Judiciary and the Executive.
Until and unless you succeed in moral legislation and as an effective watchdog to the other two wings of government, you would have come short of your mandate. To legislate with integrity and to challenge the excesses of the other two wings of government in Africa can sometimes be a nightmare. It demands for great courage.
The international community, African Scholars and commentators have constantly reminded us of the hopeless state of our continent. They have painted the dark and gloomy picture of failure of leadership on the continent. The unprecedented corruption levels, the abuse of democratic tenets, including blatant rigging of elections, the absence of freedom of speech, assembly and association. They have rightly identified endemic poverty, disease and exploitation of the poor. It is with shame that I concede that these observations are unfortunately true. But this is our Continent, we cannot just become analysts of our own doom. We must find a way to turn our mess into a success story. My policy as an opposition leader in Zambia is to fight and differ, sometimes bitterly with the party in government, but when I step outside the boundaries of my country, I put on honorable robes of an ambassador. I speak well of my country and invite investors to come to my country. I have stretched this same policy to Africa. While on the continent, I raise serious concerns of our collective failures but when I visit other continents, I become a defender of my continent.
Africa has been abused. It has been exploited. It has been impoverished by both colonial powers and now, our own ruling class, whom we have entrusted with power to get us out of poverty.
In 2003, not only did I become the Leader of Government Business in Parliament but I was also the first Full Gospel Pastor to become Vice President of Zambia. My ethos is that, “the equitable delivery of goods and services to any people depends on the morality and integrity of its leaders.”
NEW HOPE FOR AFRICA:
Mr. Speaker, Africa shall become the world’s leader not far from now. We are already classified as the world’s richest continent and rightly so. We are already credited with the fastest growing church in the world. We are already credited with the fastest growing youth population. All the fundamental pillars that make a people to succeed are in place. The greatest deposits of minerals and precious stones are here in Africa. Africa has abundance of water, great landmass for agriculture and a vibrant workforce hungry for work. All this resource is surrounded by fauna, beauty and priceless tourism attractions.
Besides all these gifts from God, we have endured pain, deprivation, hunger, poverty, disease and lack of equitable development. We have paid our price. The prison sentence of pain must now come to an end. Scripture says, “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.” Africa, our morning is at hand.
PREMIUM ON AFRICAN LEADERSHIP:
To answer the problems that surround us, we must DECIDE to place a premium on LEADERSHIP.
Leadership that thinks outside the box.
Leadership that thinks the future of the continent.
Leadership with morality and integrity.
Leadership that invests in our youth and inspires them to take our continent to heights unknown before.
We need a new leadership all around us. The healing of Africa depends on the quality of leaders we choose for ourselves. There is no magic to the rising of the African continent. All the basics are in place, but we must now invest in a strong moral leadership.
But I am also here to raise a serious objection to the assumption that the problems of Africa can be mitigated simply by asking African leaders to implement the right policies.
The current problem of Africa is not a lack of good policies or a lack of funding to implement those policies, but a consistent carelessness in the choice of its leaders. Africa has continued to use flawed electoral processes that keep away the competent, disciplined and honorable candidates from ascending to positions of power. Until Africa places a premium on leadership, all the grand ideas of mitigating the challenges of the continent will only be a pipe dream. I am convinced that, the equitable delivery of goods and services to any people depends on the morality and integrity of its leaders. Until we achieve this, our many good efforts shall continue to be in vain.
THE CHOICE OF LEADERS:
Mr. Speaker, the choice of leaders of morality and integrity is threatened by the alien system of choosing leaders in most of our nations. Democracy operates more effectively in an environment where the voters are educated and enlightened. In most of Africa, the electoral processes serve the interests of the powerful few who manipulate the outcome of elections using money and riding on both the poverty and ignorance of the electorate. I am of the view that in order for my continent to encourage leaders of morality and integrity to lead, we must interrogate and challenge the current electoral processes, which continue to bar those who wish to play by the rules. The question we must not be afraid to answer is whether Democracy in its current shape is helping our quest for a moral leadership on the continent of Africa. To make Africa great, we must invest in great leaders of morality and integrity. We must change the rules of electing our leaders and create new systems, which are not hostile to men and women of integrity. Most electoral systems in Africa favor the corrupt, who are morally bankrupt and have no passion nor heart for their nations. Such politicians forget that rigging elections is rigging the very future of their own children.
Africa is no longer a child. She has now matured at age sixty after birth at independence. We must now choose our own systems as opposed to those systems we inherited from our colonisers. We must be bold enough to choose our own clothes, food and type of education we give to our children. We must make our own laws away from those of the British Crown. We should not be carbon copies of the British. Some of the laws they left with us have caused us more harm than good, because they were meant to serve their interests only. In most former British colonies we have been left to deal with laws like the public order act whose original intention was to stop Africans from gathering and plan their struggle for independence. Today, this piece of legislation has become the darling of Africa’s oppressive regimes. It is now used to deny the opposition permission to hold meetings. African dictators are using it more effectively than the colonizers themselves.
Yes, some practices of the colonizers can still linger on until we find our own paths, but I personally don’t see the wisdom of us still wearing the heavy, hot white wigs our judges and speakers wear in the hot weather of Africa. If we don’t mind the heat, at least we can change the color of the wigs to reflect the color of our hair. It is called growth. It is called maturity. It is called being weaned off the British breast. At sixty, I think we are ready to let go of the British breast. Time to beat our own path is here. We are looking to the African Parliament to deliver us from the shackles of post colonization hang over. But I must confess that Nigeria continues to make Africa proud in many ways. You wear your own clothes, you eat your own food, you watch your own movies and continue to lead the race of Pan-Africanism. Please do not relent.
Mr. Speaker,I subscribe to the notion that to strengthen democracy in Africa, we need to strengthen institutions of governance and insist on the principle of separation of powers: The Judiciary, Legislature and the Executive. I however hold the view that Africa is in dire need of leaders of morality and integrity. Institutions in Africa are only as sacred as the quality of leaders in charge of nations. Mr. Speaker, I wish to submit that the key to Africa’s healing and prosperity lies in a new moral leadership.
THE ROLE OF THE NEW LEADERSHIP:
The new selfless leadership of Africa must courageously undo the lie that Africa is a God forsaken continent whose future is doomed to persistent poverty and subjugation. The new leadership must rebrand and renew Africa’s name. We must repaint the picture of Africa ourselves. Today’s picture of Africa demands that we depend on foreign powers to live our lives. We depend on Europe, the Americas and China to do for us, things we can do for ourselves. My message has nothing to do with minimizing our role in the global community. We must participate in the global debate and economy. We however must not only take from the global economy but we must contribute to it in real terms as equal partners.
MAKING AFRICA GREAT:
Mr. Speaker, it is time that Africa took charge of her economy. Africa is endowed with resources unmatched by any other continent on earth. We have vast reserves of gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt and emeralds of all shades. We must own these resources by adopting the unpopular policy of Donald Trump. Instead of America, we must say, AFRICA FIRST. This means that all our resources shall be managed by us. The London Metal Exchange has no business determining the cost of our minerals here in Africa. The United Kingdom does not even have a single copper mine. To put Africa first, we must be courageous enough to create a single economic market to determine how we value our products.
It is time that Africa wrote her own books. It is time that Africa printed her own business cards. It is time that Africa sang her own songs, and I must add that it is time Africa paid her own bills. The new leadership shall demand a proper place for our continent. That is in front of the line of the continents of the world.
The stories of overcoming all odds are painted across history. In a shocking upset, young David of the bible defeated Goliath. In the recent past, Liverpool football club stunned the world by beating Barcelona when all hope had been lost. Such is life. Africa’s looming upset of the status quo is at hand, but we must invest in a leadership of morality and integrity for this to happen.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to you for the honor you have bestowed upon me and through me, to my party the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and my nation Zambia to be the first Zambian to address this House of Assembly. I wish to extend an open invitation to you Mr. Speaker, other Members of Cross River State House of Assembly and the people of Cross River State to visit Zambia and explore ways in which we can do business together. I have been informed that your state is a leader in rubber, rice and cocoa production. We have similar weather pattern to yours in the Luapula Province of Zambia. It would be to our mutual benefit to explore possibilities of partnership in the production of rubber, rice and cocoa in Zambia. We would benefit from your expertise and hopefully, you shall benefit from ours as well.
Mr. Speaker,I do not take this honor to address this House of Assembly lightly. I wish to place this honor on my party the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, the Government of the Republic Zambia and the people of Zambia. May the Lord our God strengthen the bonds of friendship between our two peoples.
God bless you and may God bless our two Republics.
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