The Siamunene Factor: Implications for Edgar Lungu and PF – Munshya


To say that Zambia’s new defence minister is a political neophyte is an understatement. President Lungu’s choice is surprising, shocking and ultimately contentious. From the little I have gathered, the Patriotic Front diehards are quite angry at the turn of events. They are equally shocked. I share with them feelings of deep doubt and uncertainty that this choice for a defence minister brings.

Richwell Siamunene is actually a member of the United Party for National Development (UPND). Regardless of how we spin it, Siamunene remains a member of parliament sponsored to parliament by the opposition UPND. From the last time I checked, President Lungu is not in an alliance of any sort with the UPND. How does he then choose a defence minister from its ranks? The idea that the president of our republic has the power to desecrate the multiparty character of our democratic edifice is an assault on the very foundations of our republic. Appointing an opposition MP to a sensitive position such as minister of defence does not sound right; it certainly does not feel right. It can not be justified.

Lungu now says that Siamunene is loyal. In Aushi, we say “imputi isula taibula kubwekeshapo.” Siamunene through the electorates of Sinazongwe and his party UPND under the bus, what makes Lungu believe that he will be loyal to the PF, when in fact he is not even a member of the PF.


Richwell Siamunene
Richwell Siamunene

Following his elevation, Siamunene is now insulting Hakainde Hichilema. In a democracy like ours, it is to be expected that an MP can change her mind and choose to associate with a different party. Our constitution provides a process for that: resign and go back to the electorate. By-elections are expensive and many Zambians do not like them. But I am shocked that the same party that has led Zambia into unprecedented by-elections is refusing to have just one more by-election to test the popularity of the defence minister who Lungu has elevated behind the back of the people of Sinazongwe. The PF is not least concerned about the cost of by-elections. Had they been concerned, they would not have done a wholesale petition of nearly all of the seats won by the MMD. If Lungu wants Siamunene so much, he can take Siamunene back to Sinazongwe to re-contest on Lungu’s ticket. Then only can we be sure that this gentleman has the blessing of the people who sent him to parliament in the first place.

The appointment of Siamunene displaces several PF stalwarts within the government structure and hierarchy. By government practice, a minister of defence is a defacto number three. While the Zambian constitution does not categorically put the minister of defence as the third in command, Zambian practice and precedence has always recognised the seniority of the defence minister above other ministers. It is therefore quite questionable that President Lungu would award an opposition MP with such a colossal ministry, thereby displacing the cabinet seniority of such ministers as Simbyakula, Harry Kalaba, Yamfwa Mukanga, and Chishimba Kambwili. These ministers are not likely to revolt openly, but there are murmurs in the background loud enough to knock down a bottle of Jameson off a huge black table at Chez Ntemba.


Is Lungu sidelining Bembas?
Is Lungu sidelining Bembas?

Some good people in our country seem to suggest that President Lungu needed to appease the good people of the South after the Chundu Chaitwa by appointing a Tonga to cabinet. I find this justification to be quite insulting to say the least. What Patriotic Front Secretary General, Davies Chama, said about Tongas was very offensive. The good people from the South have justifiably expressed outrage about those remarks. The Right Honourable Inonge Wina even went to the extent of apologizing in parliament on behalf of her Patriotic Front party. Contrary to the demands by the Tonga citizens of our republic that Chama apologizes for his remarks, he has not. In addition to that, President Lungu has still not publicly addressed himself to these remarks. The only way to resolve those offensive words is for President Lungu to prevail upon his Secretary General to apologise. It is an apology that would show respect for the Tonga people of Zambia, and not this nominal elevation of a novice to the powerful position of defence minister. That which should be mended by making amends through an apology cannot be patched by making a superficial appointment of a polemic person to the position of defence minister. President Lungu’s appointment is a show of his strength and his power, but beyond power, we need compassion, common sense and fortitude. What we need is for President Lungu to show respect for the nation by bringing his disordered party collaborator into line. Chama must apologise and then resign or get fired.

Where then does Siamunene appointment leave the rest of the PF stalwarts? They really have no idea what certainly hit them. They are as shocked as a cucumber. They cannot decode what Lungu is up to. But one thing should not be doubted; Lungu’s action has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many. They have been by-passed only for Lungu to go and appoint a non-member of the PF to a very powerful position. The PF will be demoralized. The troupes of the party will not be happy. A message will be sent to Mansa, Milenge, Kasama, Lubansenshi, Kanchibiya and Chinsali. That message will state very briefly, “there is a huge change in Lusaka and it might be time to break from the Patriotic Front as it stands now”. Lungu’s recent remarks are not providing comfort to Bemba citizens of our republic. The theory I am providing here is a real possibility.


Zambia's new minister of defence Richwell Siamunene
Zambia’s new minister of defence Richwell Siamunene

Once analysed within the ambit of our brief political history though, Lungu’s action of appointing a politically weak person to a powerful political position is not unique. Most of Zambia’s presidents have done it. But very rarely have Zambian presidents extended this to a minister of defence. Mostly, Zambian presidents appoint politically weak candidates to the position of vice-president. Since Lungu has a politically powerful Veep, he might have naturally wanted to go for a weak number three. For surely, had Lungu appointed politically astute candidates such as Frank Bwalya, Emmanuel Mwamba, Harry Kalaba or Mumbi Phiri to this position, they would have grown political brains much faster than Siamunene ever would. By growing brains, I mean having the ability to outshine their boss and mount a formidable political following. Lungu does not want any one to shine in the PF, and he despises anyone who shows some political prowess. May be looked at from this angle, we might find some justification in President Lungu’s elevation of a nonentity to become a defacto number 3. Congratulations to Hon Siamunene, but the real fallout is only beginning.



  1. Hate him or love him he decided and hus decision stood.Problem with facebook political scientists is they Hate everything Lungu does.they have and will never see any good in lungu but tha average voter sees better and votes wisely


  3. Zambia is not for PF. Kudos to President Lungu on this one. Lucky Dube sang’ not every black man is my brother, not every white man is an enemy’ not all PF members genuinely support EL

  4. Leaders start the war anytime they want, some for their rights some for funny, and we are all suffering and people dying for the crime they did not commited O its painful.

  5. Lets wait nd c come 2016 pf wil win,guyz if u follow politics of Zambia vry wel unip was in power 27yrs come mmd 20yr wht abt pf it wil go beyond 2016 so al those who think pf wil hand over power 2 upnd tht is a blue liar

  6. “These ministers are not likely to revolt openly, but there are murmurs in the background loud enough to knock down a bottle of Jameson off a huge black table at Chez Ntemba. Is Lungu sidelining Bembas?” Honestly Elias, I am disappointed. While I follow the argument about the likely frustration the appointment may cause amongst the top Cabinet ministers, I wonder why you think its sidelining any particular tribe. Do Bembas enjoy a privileged position in the PF? You are giving the impression that opponents of the PF are justified in calling the party a ‘Bemba party’. Is that your position? You have here turned the argument from examining Siamunene’s eligibility purely on merit to that of tribal privilege. In short you are saying the President should have chosen a Bemba regardless. Had he chosen an Easterner, you would have had the same argument. Where would PF’s nationalist credentials be then?

  7. Siamunene is no longer a upnd supporter. He has been supporting PF since MCS appointed him. The information we ordinary Zambians including writers such as Munshya is that there is so much going on in the background that we know not yet we are quick to condemn what we don’t fully comprehend. Live with it, siamunene is defence minister and you have no power to change that.

  8. All those supporting know quite alright that he was wrong with his timing and actual appointment…eg you are a father and your childrens help you to cultivate your land,after harvesting,who should benefit first? Z it your family members or your neighbours? Use your brains..lungu got this one and other wrong and if he is not careful will destroy PF just like RB destroyed MMD…Ati Wako ni Wako…wats that? Otherwise all of you you are not on lungu’s side…elders say when a child has done something wrong,tell them or possibly weep them with a stick Coz that will mean that you love them… So the truth z that ALungu Olakwa kufika A Richwell as a defence minister.

  9. Elias Munshya is a frustrated cadre who seems to be full of bitterness and this prevents him from using common sense. This is a man who i thot was schooled in law but his reasoning is quite mutilative such that its devoid of common sense or logic.

  10. There is this moronic assumption that Tongas cannot be PF and Bembas cannot be UPND. Well, I have been a PF member since 2005. I even nearly lost my job after the 2006 elections. I won’t speak for UPND for obvious reasons. But we, as PF, have always insisted that PF is a party for all Zambians. Well, I so much believe in that statement and in that line, ECL is doing fine. No positions are for a particular tribe. If, on the other hand he made Siamunene defence minister to appease us for Davies Chama’s insulting remarks, that is miserable. Like chief Sinazongwe said, we needed and still need the culprit to pay.

  11. Zambia and MALAWI are one but this game of politics will destroy our countries. Pastors should run or avoid political issues. Many Pastors who are preaching political issues mislead the sheep of God. They eat and betray the followers because of the monies tthey receive from the blood hands of politicians. i don’t feel confortable with the Pastors are also in the business. These pastors have blood in their hands as most of the times they betray the followers to enrich themselves the rewards the receive from these evil people. Please all Pastors you must know that when you are commenting political issues we take you as hypocrites and this degrade your image in God’s business.


  13. Those statements like,”even if Lungu does what the pipo of southern province will vote for HH are killing this country.let ‘s not take the tonga pipo for granted.its not every from southern condeming Lungu for that appointment.the majority are happy only those who politicise every development made by government.

  14. Am tonga from southern province sir ,i have no problem with the appointment of Hon.Siamunene.dont use tongas for your own problems.why do you pipo behave like that, if youhave been given just enjoy it.

  15. Why don’t you also tell us about some positives……surely it can’t all be as bad as you would like us to believe……or is it your way of provoking negative sentiments in the senior PF members….?

  16. H. E -EL recognizes that leadership Z from God! And he promised to unite Z, the country was at the breach of session! Even if the Ts don’t vote 4 him! Any revolt will be ease to reach a fellow T and countered in time! – IG and VP from western the barotse X dying a natural death! It’s not about votes its about peace after 2016- kolopa! So appointing their son 2 be in charge of soldiers z Big step!

  17. Clearly the writer has become a “mercenary ” who has sold his independence of his mind to some other political elitist . His use of some words is tribe and partisan .For me ,we are in a better position now to have Siamunene as a minister of defence than the position at state house .The write clearly agrees that ,the president has not abrogated any part of the constitution but what upsets him is the post not going to a Bemba big wig . In politics ,you take risks and the president has taken his and the bug should stop at him and he is very aware about it .Some people blame the president for not holding a press conference , what has the opposition achieved with a number of press conference that they have held .Elias munshya has to comeout in the open and declare himself a Cadre and as we read his articles we should which side his bread is buttered .

  18. HH made GBM his vice when he was still PF… am I missing something here? please guys, why the pathetic negative comments? Our president made the right move and we will vote him back in office in 2016.

  19. Sorry you are just being too hard on Lungu. The precedents are there for everyone to read. Why do you people hate Lungu so much? If it is true that imputi isula ilabwekeshapo then as a pastor you should stop talking about the power of the blood of Jesus coz then it does not wash our sins as we believe. Siamunene is loyal period. I challenge you to mention those PF MPs who are not happy and not spreading innuendos and start destabilising our democracy through the PF. Democracy is not cheap but complex and expensive.

  20. Ni one zambia one nation……..
    Whoever doesn’t wnt to change frm been a triblelist lwakwe.let us o learn from our head ov state wat z showing us .o political parties ar one in the hands ov ruling part.

  21. Am one person who supports president lungu leadership but appointin Siamunene has defence minister z bad choice… No matter wat lungu does 4 de Tongas de fact z they can never vote 4 him dey think HH z there saviour