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Where was Zambia’s current governing party, the PF, formed?

Austin Kaluba

Our political correspondent Austin Kaluba traces the significance of political parties in Zambia; from UNIP that values Mulungushi Rock, to MMD’s reverence of Garden House Motel. but ask where the PF was formed. Is it at Farmers House?

To UNIP members, the name Mulungushi has a lot of significance to the genesis of the party because this is the place where resolutions that led to the attainment of independence were made in 1960.
Later after the party ruled for almost three decades, reformists calling for reversion to plural politics met at Garden House Motel in Lusaka and formed the National Interim Committee for Multiparty Democracy.
The name was later changed to the Movement for Multi Party Democracy (MMD) a party that came into power in 1991 ushering in a new generation in what was popularly called as the ‘new culture.’
After ruling for 20 years, a former MMD leader Michael Sata formed the Patriotic Front (PF) and against all odds won elections in September last year.
So if Mulungushi Rock is synonymous to the formation of UNIP and Garden House Motel to MMD where was the PF formed?
Coming back to the significance of origins of parties, can we identify Sata’s former residence in Omelo Mumba or Farmers House, the party headquarters as being synonymous to the birth of PF?
It is interesting to note how seemingly unimportant places acquire significance entering historical books as the origins of milestones decisions that change the course of a country’s history.
This is also true of the history of some Zambian tribes that hold particular totems in high esteem because of their significance to the tribe’s origin.
For example when the Bembas came to Zambia from the Congo, they wandered far and wide in the region before finding a permanent settlement in Northern Province.
The scouts who were looking for land to settle saw a carcass of a crocodile and since the totem of a crocodile represents the clan of of abena Ng’andu clans to which Bembas belong, this was a sign that the spirits had welcomed them.
For the Ngonis, the crossing of the mighty Zambezi River during the solar eclipse has great significance in the tribes history.
In England Lancaster House has great political and historical significance since the Wars of the Roses thus called because the emblem of roses was used by two rival families. The red rose was a symbol for the Lancaster House and a white rose for the House of York.
After a series of wars, the Lancaster House emerged victorious and since then the name ‘Lancaster’ has historical significance in English history.
And in Zambia, the name Mulungushi was so important to the UNIP government that several institutions, transportation companies and buildings were named after the place.
Some of these institutions like Mulungushi University and Mulungushi Conference Centre have survived retaining the name that defined the future of the country after UNIP wrestled power from colonial masters.
In Lusaka In 1960 , Zambia then called Northern Rhodesia, itself named after the pioneer and imperialist Cecil Rhodes, nationalists who had broken away from the moderate Zambian African National Congress (ANC) wanted to convene a conference under the banner of a new party, the United National Independence Party (UNIP) to determine how to achieve independence.
The nationalists thought of meeting in a place where they would not be under the all watchful eye of the colonial authorities who were ruthless in crashing nationalist aspiration using batons and Black Maria vans, an ordeal that many freedom fighters dreaded.
A secluded site was chosen on a rocky area by the Mulungushi River north of Kabwe where up to 2000 participants met in the open air and camp in temporary shelters, which had a good supply of water.
The conference’s resolutions eventually led to UNIP attaining power under the leadership of Kenneth Kaunda, and thereafter the Mulungushi Rock gained much significance and was used for UNIP party conferences and for major policy speeches such as the Mulungushi Declaration or Mulungushi Reforms in 1968.
Later it became known as the ‘Mulungushi Rock of Authority’ and it has been used by other political parties for their party conferences and major speeches..
After UNIP ruled for 27 years reformists started calling for change insisting Zambia should revert to multipartism. The idea was a brain child of academician, writer and political activist Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika.

From July 20th to July 21st, 1990, meetings were held at Garden House Motel in Lusaka by a group of determined Zambians who later included Frederick Chiluba. Others included VJ Mwaanga, Arthur Wina and Sikota Wina.

The meetings quickly gained momentum and a National Interim Committee for Multiparty Democracy was formed with Arthur Wina as its chairman and Chiluba as the head of the committee.
Chiluba has wrongly been called the initiator of multi party politics in Zambia which is highly erroneous since he was nowhere near the organisers in the initial stages.
However, Chiluba was most favoured to stand as president when elections were held because of the national popularity he already commanded as President of the Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU), an organisation that cut along tribal, regional and even institutional barriers.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that it was Chiluba who suggested the change of name from National Interim Committee to Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) a catchier name that was adopted unanimously.

In 1991, Chiluba and the MMD led Zambia back to multiparty politics in what is now known as the Third Republic.

After staying in power for 20 years only seven years shy of the UNIP’s long record which MMD members had condemned as being too long, the PF changed history by removing the second ruling party from power in 2011.
Unlike UNIP and MMD which were formed by a group of people, the PF formed in 2001 was a brainchild of its founder Michael Sata. The party was formed after Chiluba lost a bid to change the constitution to allow him to stand for third term.
Being the most competent leader to replace Chiluba, Sata who thought he would be endorsed as the MMD presidential candidate was disappointed when Chiluba personally nominated Mwanawasa and voted for him to be the presidential candidate.
The choice of Mwanawasa upset Sata who had supported Chiluba’s third term bid so much that he left the MMD to form his own political party.

The PF’s doesn’t seem to have a place where it was formed as is the case with UNIP and MMD.
It is mostly like to have been formed by Sata himself at his Omelo Mumba residence. Its headquarters is at Farmers House along Cairo Road./End…

Category : Austin Kaluba, Columnists.
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