In his political discourse column published in News Diggers! on Monday, University of Zambia lecturer Dr Sishuwa Sishuwa named National Democratic Congress (NDC) party leader Chishimba Kambwili on his list of Zambian heroes who inspired the nation in 2018.
“The Roan constituency rebel PF MP has quite successfully recast himself as the spokesperson for the ‘common man’, street vendors, university students, the workers and many others who are disillusioned with Lungu’s rule. In a context of what appears to be a systematic crackdown on free speech, he has also become one of the PF’s most trenchant public critics – exposing corruption in government, highlighting Lungu’s manifold inadequacies, denouncing economic exploitation by Chinese investors and refusing to be silenced. For all his troubles, he has been the subject of police harassment and prosecution, but even these State-driven manoeuvres have seemingly not slowed him down. Hate or like him, Kambwili cannot be ignored. He is well-liked, especially on the Copperbelt, as a ‘no-nonsense’ doer and a charismatic leader with the common touch,” Dr Sishuwa wrote about Kambwili.
We couldn’t agree more. Honourable Kambwili is the most aggressive opposition figure at the moment and we wrote about this in our editorial opinion of 2017 titled “Kambwili is a good bad man”. Indeed, Kambwili is a spokesperson of the common man and the voiceless, and he does this at great risk to his health and entire life.
But like any other human, the former chief government spokesperson has weaknesses and shortcomings. Today, we would like to point Honourable Kambwili to areas where he needs to polish up in order to leave no one behind in his aggressive advocacy for good governance.
You see, Honourable Kambwili, there are things that are okay for anyone to think about, but such things would become inappropriate if said out loud to the public. Unless one is being trained as a priest or evangelist, we don’t see anything wrong with a mind forming an opinion about someone’s nature because it is the natural duty of the brain to identify what is normal and what is not from what the eyes see. But such a thought must stay suppressed and kept away from public ears.
We don’t think that Honourable Kambwili has fared very well in his quest to acquire this leadership requisite. For some time now, we have observed that the former minister likes body-shaming people. These include political rivals and others who are hell-bent on silencing him.
Since 2016, when Honourable Kambwili’s rivalry with Luanshya Mayor Nathan Chanda was brought to public attention, the Roan PF member of parliament has always referred to this man as a “kunkubiti” or a jerrican container if directly translated. When Chanda was recently elected PF Copperbelt Province chairman, Honourable Kambwili repeated his mockery. This stereotype description of the Luanshya Mayor is out of the fact that he is not as tall, but rather looks like a young boy when in fact he is a fully-grown adult.
We love it when Kambwili says President Edgar Lungu is a ‘pomwee’ and that he has evidence of the Head is State’s criminality because, if it is true, that is a habit, which the President can stop. He just needs to discipline his appetite for fast wealth and no one will call him a thief. But His Worship, the Mayor of Luanshya, can’t do anything about his stature. It is not his fault and he has no control over that portion of his life. It is not that he doesn’t eat well or he is a sinner, no! That’s just how he is.
Like we said, it registers in almost everyone’s mind who meets Mayor Chanda for the first time that his height is not in tandem with his age, but that is a very easy thought to empathically suppress without making reference to. Opening one’s mouth to call this man a jerrican can only be expected from an ignorant hater who deserves no chance in public office.
But Honourable Kambwili wants the highest public office in the land and hopes Zambians can elect him Republican President after next year. This is why we feel it is not only unfair, but utterly wrong for him to inflict pain in Mayor Chanda’s heart over what he can’t change. If this civic leader is a thief and Honourable Kambwili has evidence, let him stand tall and expose this criminality. If he is abusing the authority of his Mayoral position, recruiting relatives and corruptly selling plots in Luanshya, this bad governance must be told to the public; but the Mayor’s stature should have nothing to do with it.
In the same vein, making a mockery out of Charity Katanga’s lack of children was another offside statement from Honourable Kambwili. There is nothing wrong with pointing out that the Copperbelt Province Police Commissioner is unreasonable in her execution of duty. The more she gets this criticism, the sooner she can change for the better. But suggesting that Commissioner Katanga is brutal on other people’s children because she has never experienced child labour herself was not expected from Zambia’s ‘incoming President’.
Just like Katanga and Nathan Chanda, there are many other citizens that Honourable Kambwili will meet who have no control over their portions in life. Laughing at Mayor Chanda and Commissioner Katanga for not having the advantages that others have is not any different from mocking those that are physically challenged. Leaders and those seeking to lead others must refrain from this stereotyping and body-shaming.
As we march towards 2021, Honourable Kambwili cannot afford to offend a section of society that he should be speaking for. As a spokesperson for the voiceless, it is imperative that he carefully scrutinizes what his mouth can say. He needs to know that there is no single person who is perfect. If Honourable Kambwili’s body was perfect, he wouldn’t be seeking life warranty from insulin every day.