Decent, Informed and Ethical Politics

On 19th November 2009, Mr. Watson K. Lumba (photo below) was convincingly elected as new Solwezi member of parliament. He contested the same seat in the 2006 elections, and was beaten by the late Benny Tetamashimba by more than 4000 votes. This time around, it was a different story, as the UPND/PF pact demonstrated that it will not be a pushover in the 2011 elections.

Lumba is a dear brother in Christ, and gave a stirring maiden speech in parliament, which I share with you my readers. Let us pray that our brother will live up to the ideals and values that he so eloquently outlined in his speech. To you brother, I wish you success as you serve your constituency and the people of Zambia.


Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to make my maiden speech in this august House.
Mr. Speaker, Firstly, I want to begin by thanking you most sincerely for giving me this opportunity to deliver my maiden speech to this august house.
Secondly I want to salute and say thank you to the people of Solwezi Central Constituency. It is my honour and previlege to represent and serve them all as their Member of Parliament. I express my appreciation to them and my commitment to work conscientiously towards the achievement of our shared objectives.

I thank the many supporters, of various political thinking, who supported our candidature, the United Party for National Development (UPND), the Patriotic Front, MMD Party members who were not able to come out in the open, and particularly the longstanding and dedicated electorate committee workers who have stood with us and worked so tirelessly. This result is a credit to their efforts. I see it as a portent for 2011. To the other candidates, I thank them for providing me and my party a tough contest. They fought and marshalled a tough campaign and I was declared the victor because of them. To the many hard working people of Solwezi that worked tirelessly for the other candidates, I wish to thank them for their earnestness. I want to say to them that I will be their Member of Parliament too, and will represent their interests as vigorously as I can. I look forward to working with them all.

Mr. Speaker, I also thank the President of my Party, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, his colleague Mr. Michael Sata, of the Patriotic Front, my Campaign Manager Honourable Katuka and the entire leadership of the UPND/PF Pact, for their confidence in my candidature and for tirelessly directing an informed, issue based and spirited campaign. The unity shown by the UPND/PF members from the top leadership right down to the grassroots portends well for the future of this country.

Mr. Speaker sir, Allow me to thank my wife, Patricia and daughter, Racheal, my family, and my close friends—people whose love and support I have depended on. Finally, above and under all this is God’s love and enabling grace. I am grateful to the Almighty for this privilege to serve his people in this way.

Mr. Speaker, as Member of Parliament for Solwezi central, I follow a string of illustrious predecessors whose political history and contribution to this country is immense. There was Mr. Humphery Mulemba, Dr. Ludwig Sondashi, inter alia, who served Solwezi Central Constituency with distinction. Allow me now to pay particular homage to the memory of my immediate predecessor, Honorable Benny Tetamashimba, who passed into eternity in September 2009. Mr. Tetamashimba will be remembered as one of Solwezi Central Constituency’s great Members of Parliament. I honor his memory (MHSRIP).

Mr. Speaker, deciding to enter politics didn’t come natural to me. Some of my family members and close friends argued against it. “What are you thinking?” they asked. “You’ve got a family, a successful career, why jettison all that for a life in politics?” Their view reflects the same frustration any attentive listener hears across Zambia, that our politics is not listening or responsive to people; that out politics is “dirty”. My decision ultimately came down to believing that I can make a real and positive difference—something that has motivated my life; and something that I have done elsewhere.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to pick, for my extended discussion the state of politics in our country. Politics is about power. It is about the power of the state. It is about the power of the state as applied to individuals, the society in which they live and the economy in which they work. Most critically, our responsibility in this Parliament at Manda Hill is how that power is used: whether it is used for the benefit of the few who have access to power or to the many who give those few the power. In this my first speech I want to speak on the fundamental principles that I believe should govern the exercise of political power and the reasons, therefore, that I am a member of the United Party for National Development (UPND) and why I have sought election to this parliament. I want to speak on how these beliefs shape my approach to some of the great policy challenges now facing our young nation. I also want to speak on some of the practical problems facing the local community that Iam now privileged to represent in this august house. I believe that ideas are important, Mr. Speaker. Ideas shape behaviour—the behaviour of governments, of bureaucracies, of business, of unions, of the media and of individuals. As is it written in the old Book of Life, the Bible: “Whatever a man thinks, so is he”.

And as a noted Economist John Maynard Keynes wrote in his General Theory:
“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slave of some defunct economist.”

Keynes notes here that we are all influenced by some ideas. The crux of the matter is whether those ideas are founded on sound ideas or based on some false notions.

Debate, therefore,is about fundamental ideas, particularly ideas about the how political power must be used in developing our young nation and the proper role of the state in the economy and society, is critical to an informed discussion on policy in this House. Unfortunately, this is lacking. For as long as I can remember, it has become fashionable in our young country to accept that politics do not deliver sustainably and lack imagination; the notion that hard work doesn’t pay; the death of principled positions; the triumph of neoclassical economics which are less understood even by their proponents; and the politics of non-issues which are devoid of any discernable ideological position. We continue to waste time and resources on non-issues. Put crudely, it is the degrading view gaining ground in our nation that says “forget the ethics and morals, everything goes, the end justifies the means”; and also that “everything is up for sale at the right price”. In Solwezi, however, the concept of the highest bidder secures clearly failed. Politics on this argument becomes little more than theatre—a poorly staged public performance necessary to convince the electorate that the country is moving, or needs a new management.
Mr. Speaker, I disagree, and I disagree fundamentally. I believe that there remains a fundamental need for us as a people of Zambia to clearly define and articulate our national interests that transcend party affiliations. Under girding such national interests should be ethical and moral issues that include setting for ourselves to honor virtues of hard work, honest, trustworthiness and decency.
I believe that there remains a fundamental need for us as a people of Zambia to clearly define and articulate our national interests that transcend party affiliations. Under girding such national interests should be ethical and moral issues that include setting for ourselves to honor virtues of hard work, honest, trustworthiness and decency.

Mr. Speaker, at this stage in our national development, it is unavoidable that politics plays a very important role in determining the direction of our young country. And this is precisely where the use of the political power becomes very important. Our people want to move from underdevelopment to development. Individually, this is a lifetime journey. But for politics to lead, it must of necessity contain some basic fundamental moral values and correct knowledge. How can we hope to develop when our politics are used not to serve the larger public good but the people in politics? How can we move this young country forward if we do not possess the basic understanding of the sound tenets of governance such as democracy, liberty and economics? Mr. Speaker, the rest of the world is marching on forward through globalization, with or without us. If Zambia will not stand up to be part of this march, it will be sucked in nonetheless.

How have we done in the past few years on this account of making progress? Admittedly, Zambia has made progress, but it is the progress that we should be ashamed of because we could have done much more. Progress in some areas, like in growth in the trade and non-traditional agriculture sectors, has been negated by backslides in the quality of education and health systems amongst others. I wish to suggest Mr. Speaker that this is due to our failure to articulate clearly our national interests and putting these in priority. Our fate as a nation is bound together and no section of our society can prosper sustainably while leaving behind the vast majority of people in ignorance and abject poverty. This is where ethical politics come in. Our government has a role of ensuring that we begin to put in place an organized Zambia. Why is it that as a country, we are more disorganized now than pre-1991? My view is that we have wrong politics.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to digress and give some aspect of my life story that inspired me to seek to serve the people. I come from a family of 14. My father, who is 79 years old and he has spent the last 40 years as a pastor in the Christian church. Growing up in that family, we were taught, as many in this house I am sure were, values and virtues rooted in scripture that called on us to love God first and then our fellow man. I therefore believe that without a sense of wanting to serve fellow man, man used generically to include woman, politics becomes devoid of its soul. But how can one serve man without love for him/her? And how can one love man without the love of God, the giver of true love? Mr. Speaker, I strongly believe that service to our fellow Zambians and our country should be informed by principles of virtue that will once again make our people proud of themselves. It is only when we believe that we can and should take care of our neighbours that we will have a fearless energy to drive this country forward. With this, we must reject an infamous proclamation of one of the leading western leaders of the last two decades when she said that “ there is no such thing as society.”

Mr. Speaker, Zambia has natural vast resources that we need to harness. But I fear that the Government is taking too much of a minimalist interest in the management of the exploitation of these resources, and the income therefrom. We had better take charge and control of proceeds from these resources or else we are doomed. I am sure it is clear to us all Mr. Speaker, that the often heralded foreign investors will leave Zambia one day once these resources are finished. And we will be left with large holes in the ground and serious environmental issues. My call is that politics and leadership should be used to get our fair share of these resources.
Mr. Speaker, as people, we are all the product of our own experiences and the ideas with which we have been confronted. These are the simple experiences and unremarkable beliefs which cause me to sit proudly here rather than on the benches of those opposite. I believe unapologetically in an active role for government in leading the development of this country. I believe that this activist role should have, as its foremost guiding principle, a commitment to equality of opportunity that is real rather than rhetorical. It is a principle that should permeate all that we do in education and health, water supply and sanitation and mining, to mention but a few sectors. I also believe that the government must actively look after those who, through no fault of their own, cannot look after themselves. Our economy is small and weak, and therefore I believe that the government while fostering its growth must regulate it.

I also believe that any government in power should not just turn in on itself, but instead have a fundamental responsibility to pursue the public good, first locally, then internationally, in the promotion of national and regional security, democracy and economic development and the protection of the planet. These are the fundamental beliefs that continue to drive our Party. Ours is a dynamic, and not a static, movement. Our beliefs are clear but their applications to the policy challenges facing the nation require creativity and experimentation. Our Party is a combination of experience and youth. Through this it possesses the intellectual horsepower and the policy craft necessary to carve out an alternative vision for the nation as well as a program of action for the realisation of that vision.

Mr. Speaker, We are not afraid of a vision in the UPND, nor are we afraid of doing the hard policy work necessary to turn that vision into reality. Parties devoid of any ideological stand (and by ideology we mean a well thought-out political and economic system) will tend to react to issues; are caught unawares by the obvious and offer no solutions to the complex challenges of the 21st century. If Zambia must survive in this century, we need new thinking.

We are a decade in this new century, the nation is confronted with an array of opportunities and challenges of bewildering complexity in the economy, in education, in the environment, in the collapse of our local communities, in the structure of the local government and, perhaps most importantly, in the deepening contempt with which the institution of political infrastructure, is held. We are at present in a period of unprecedented global economic developments which at the same time are uncertain, driven by fundamentally unstable international financial markets. To meet these challenges, we need new politics and new thinking people in government who are dedicated and imbued with moral-ethical political and intellectual energies.

The first fundamental challenge for this country is to learn to feed ourselves. Feeding ourselves is fundamental to anything else that we may wish to do. It is not only a matter of national pride and confidence but of national security as well.
The second fundamental challenge facing our nation lies in our nation's education system. Education is both a tool of social justice as well as a fundamental driver of economic development. I believe that the nation needs a revolution in its education system. We have state curricula of highly variable quality and a decline of critical subject areas such as science. Some schools teach science without laboratories. We have a demoralized teaching profession whose energies are now dissipated in school administration and fee-driven tuitions rather than in syllabus delivery. We can call for and receive all the foreign direct investment in the world, but with an ill-educated population, we will reap the whirlwind.

I believe that if we are serious in our national rhetoric about having the next generation of Zambians attaining and driving a middle income country by 2030, then we must, through the school system, equip them to do that. I understand that my remarks will be met by the inevitable chorus of, `There is no money,' but I ask the question: `As a nation, can we afford not to?' I believe that equity and economic development demand it. In a global economy, a first-class education is one of the few forms of real security that the state can provide to its citizens. An educated citizenry may be the main key that we need to make progress as a people.

Mr. Speaker, Zambia once had an enviable position regionally and internationally. Lusaka used to be a must-stop destination to influential world leaders. Our first and second republic leaders stood shoulder-to- shoulder with their peers. Not only did we pride ourselves on our achievements, but we were also respected as an effective international citizen. This is no longer the case and we ask ourselves: “what happened?” The answer may again be related to our current politics. We have allowed ourselves to assume mental dwarfism that refuses to think critically and beyond our narrow self interests. We are content to visit political Tuntembas translated as tea cants or prefabricated sheet corner stores when we can get more from political malls with their polished knowledge. To get back to that place requires leadership—leadership that the current government appears demonstrably incapable of providing. Our future challenge is to build across this nation a robust domestic constituency in support of Zambia's future international engagement, one that will not be neglected by inferiority complex.

Mr. Speaker, I am in this place, first and foremost, as a representative of my local community, Solwezi Central Constituency, which has done me the great honour of electing me as their representative. My time here will be dedicated representing the interests of, the humble and hardworking people of inter alia in Kiafukuma, Kimasala, Kamiteto, Kyawama Mushitala, Zambia Compound Sandangombe and Kapijimpanga.
In these communities, there are three main challenges that I wish to bring here. The first of these is health. The existing health infrastructure is poor and inadequately equipped. The health centres are also sparsely distributed resulting in people walking long distances to access them. The second issue is poor road infrastructure. We all know the poor condition of the Chingola – Solwezi Road. This road should pay for itself given the economic activities of the two towns that it links. The other roads are equally in poor condition and need urgent attention to facilitate the rapid economic activities taking place. The third issue is the low access to clean water supply and sanitation. Many people depend on hand-dug wells which maybe unsafe and of a poor water quality. Poor sanitation too is of major concern and is responsible for preventable diarrhoea diseases especially in infants.
As for education, the story is no different. Infrastructure is in a dilapidated state, no desks, few teachers and a very de-motivating learning environment. Community schools have sprung up in many areas but unfortunately these are not regulated and therefore unlikely to be offering education of an acceptable quality.

Mr. Speaker, one of the major employers in my electorate is Kansanshi Copper Mine, which is responsible for hundreds of jobs. The story of the interaction between the mines and the community is a sad one, and I am not seeking to blame anyone but have no choice but to place the blame on someone - the government of the day. What we are seeing is that the benefits in terms of jobs and other benefits are not being shared equally. I would wish to call on government to look seriously in the matter of how to create a win-win situation between the people of Zambia and the foreign companies exploiting the mineral wealth.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether I will be in this place for a short or a long time. That is for others to decide. But what I do know is that I have no intention of being here for the sake of just being here. Together with my colleagues in the UPND/PF it is my intention to make a difference; starting with decent politics; informed politics, and ethical politics.
God bless the Republic of Zambia.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.


  1. Bravo Watson! What a great start!

    Let me correct myself; what a great continuation! Watson started with a "decent, informed and ethical" political campaign in 2006 when he lost to late Teta. He continued with the same principle in the same constituency in his 2009 campaign which he won. He has not just begun in parliament with an 'Obama-like' speech. His whole life as a Christian has shown that this ideology he now propagets in his maiden speech "decent, informed and ethical politics" is what Watson believes and will continue to live.

    I doubt that many of his compatriots who sat through his speech really listened. I am sure that many of those that listened probably thought "Yes, we shall see. We have been there before and began like this, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating and you will fail like we all did".

    Watson, I commend to you the political journey of that great British parliamentary William Wilberforce. If you prefer watching to reading, then watch the film "Amazing grace" which catalogues his more than 20 year campaign for the abolishment of slavery among other fights for his beloved constituaency. This will inspire you, Wilbur Simuusa and other Christian Members of Parliament to live to the ideal you have so appropriately and so very well articulated in your maiden speech.

    As you begin your journey, please make it a point to do away with the title "Honourable" outside Parliament. It is in part due to the abuse of this title that MPs have a chip on their shoulder as they carry on outside the House.

  2. Great maiden speech! I did not know that Watson was so eloquent. He is certainly not the shy-ish gentleman I thought he was--not from this speech.

    Having read William Wilberforce's biography (and lectured on his life and also having written a short biography of his life too), I would suggest that every Christian who enters politics at such a high level should have a small team of Christians around him to meet regularly with him for intimate prayer and counsel. These need to be truly godly, knowledgeable of the Scriptures and of true Christian doctrine (especially about government from a biblical perspective), and who are his true friends.

    Many have started out in politics (and in pastoral work too) on a right note, but have lost their way for lack of such friends. I hope that Watson will soon find such a small group of friends to support him!

  3. Should have been brief and to the point otherwise I start doubting his seriousness. This country can not waste anymore time playing with words. Call rubbish, Rubbish dont waste time looking for complicated words.