THIS week I will again look at events that led the second republican president Frederick Chiluba to ascend to power.
1.Limited to two terms in office, Chiluba stepped down in 2001. His handpicked successor, Levy Mwanawasa of the MMD, was declared the winner of the hotly contested election and was sworn into office in January 2002.Despite being mired in election controversy; Mwanawasa moved quickly to assert his authority and launched a campaign against corruption. The initial targets of the campaign-the individuals alleged to be responsible for the corruption that damaged Zambia’s economy in the 1990s-included former president Chiluba and many of his associates. Mwanawasa also initiated a review of the country’s constitution in 2003 in an effort to bring about political reform, but some organizations invited to participate in the review declined, claiming that the review process itself was flawed.
2.Concerns over Mwanawasa’s health emerged late in his first term, after he suffered a stroke in April 2006. He reassured the country that he was fit for office and stood for reelection later that year, garnering more than two-fifths of the vote.
3.His nearest competitor, Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front, made claims of voting irregularities and contested the election. Sporadic violence ensued in areas loyal to Sata, but the result of the election stood, and Mwanawasa was sworn in for his second term in October 2006.
4.Mwanawasa again suffered a stroke in late June 2008. Rumours of his death circulated a few days later but were quickly refuted by Zambian government officials. He never fully recovered, however, and he died several weeks later.
5.Under the terms of the constitution, a special election to choose a new president was eventually scheduled for later that year; in the interim, Vice-President Rupiah Banda (also of the MMD) served as acting president. The election, held on October 30, was contested by four candidates, including Banda and Sata. Banda won, although by only a narrow margin, and Sata, who finished a close second, alleged that the vote had been flawed.
6.Banda and Sata faced each other again in 2011, when they were the front-runners in the presidential election held on September 20. Campaigning by the presidential candidates had been contentious, with poverty and the role of foreign investment in Zambia-particularly by China-being some of the major issues. Tempers flared as the country anxiously awaited the election results, which trickled in more slowly than expected. Some areas saw incidents of violence and rioting, and the media was banned from reporting on any early results before they were officially released. On September 23, officials announced that Sata had won the election with more than 40 percent of the vote. Banda immediately conceded, and Sata was sworn in that day.
Whenever I hear a song or poem romanticizing everything African, my blood runs cold because just like Europe, Africa has got its own share of social ills both man-made or externally orchestrated.
A classic example of this unbridled idealistic praise for the continent is found in most songs sang by Rastafarian musicians who paint Africa as if it was some Utopia , Nirvana or Shambala.
Rastafarians using their belief which I consider to be an escapist faith have deafened our ears by romanticizing Africa likening her to an innocent, beautiful and unblemished woman.
Their better informed counterparts-the writers mostly poets also consider Africa as a virgin or a Madonna usually depicted as a mother holding her children in loving arms.
I feel this symbolism to be misleading and highly fantastical considering the other side of Africa that is just the opposite of what singers and writers depict.
For Rastafarian singers maybe we can partially blame the glorification of Africa since most of them hail from wretched backgrounds in the Jamaican ghettos a background that would make them look elsewhere for an ideal heaven on earth.
For African writers, many who were influenced by the first crop of nationalists and negritude writers who used Africanness to fight Western norms indiscriminately, the idealization of Africa manifests in some of their works.
These negritude nationalists and writers included Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore, Leopold Senghor, Julius Nyerere and our own Kenneth Kaunda (remember those Kentes he used to wear).
Even when the nationalistic fervour was in the air in the 60’s, some African thinkers like Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka and exiled South African writer the late Ezekiel Mphalele were nauseated by the venerating of everything African.
Wole Soyinka’s famed outburst about the tiger and the tigritude is one classic example of reminding the dreamy poets that it was folly for them to deafen the world on who we are as Africans.
The late South African Eskia Mpahlele was so outspoken in his evaluation of Negritude in the 60s that he was in due course forced to defend himself against charges of “hindering or frustrating the protest literature of negritude and its mission”.
Hence, in his 1963 essay entitled, “On Negritude in Literature”, Mpahlele avers that his hostility to that Francophonic body of work is based on the fact that:
“Too much of the poetry inspired by it romanticizes Africa-as a symbol of innocence, purity, and artless primitiveness. I feel insulted when some people imply that Africa is not also a violent continent. I am a violent person and proud of it because it is often a healthy human state of mind; someday I’m going to plunder, rape, set things on fire, I’m going to cut somebody’s throat; I’m going to subvert a government; I’m going to organize a coup d’etat; yes, I’m going to oppress my own people; I’m going to hunt the rich fat black men who bully the small weak black men and destroy them; I’m going to become a capitalist, and woe to all who cross my path or who want to be my servants or chauffeurs and so on; I’m going to lead a breakaway church there is money in it; I’m going to attack the black bourgeoisie while I cultivate a garden, rear dogs and parrots; listen to jazz and classics, read “culture”, and so on. Yes, I’m going to organize a strike. Don’t you know that sometimes I kill to the rhythm of drums and cut the sinews of a baby to cure it of paralysis? This is only a dramatization of what Africa can do and is doing. The image of Africa consists of all these, and others. And negritude poetry pretends that they do not constitute the image and leaves them out. So we are told only half-often even a falsified half-of the story of Africa.”
I feel this quote from Mphahlele’s essay is closer to the Africa I know not the romanticized elusive one I hear about in songs or read in fairy-tale literature.
Sorry for the long silence. I have been busy working on my short stories to be published in England. I have also been researching stuff for Old Grooves and Down Memory Lane.
This week I will look at colonial Zambia as we listen to Billy Vaughn (remember the song was played on ZNBC).
1. ‘Natives’ who were recruited to join the mines were examined naked to determine if they hard physical blemishes. White captains rejected those with diseases, scars or any other deformity. The African miners were lined up regardless of age and their members poked with a stick to determine if they were fit to work underground. This racist practice infuriated Africans.
2. Male servants who worked as domestic hands for whites were envied by women who wanted gifts rejected by their white employers. They included wigs, jewellery, clothes and food. Servants would sneak women in the servant quarters for sex. Africans would ravage dust bins for food and anything they found useful. A popular musician Tolomeo (Bathlomew) Bwalya sang a song about an unfortunate man who found a still born child in a dustbin.
3. Despite African’s consciousness of white settler’s cruelty they discovered their own shortcomings. Tolomeo Bwalya sang a song Taxi Driver in which he compares the behavior of African motorists and whites hailing the latter as being considerate. Another earlier work song Umusungu Tapata Muntu lampoons overzealous Kapitaos (captain) who in a bid to win favours from white bosses mistreated African workers. The lines in the songs goes: Umusungu tapapata muntu/ba kapitao mulomo.
4. The white colonialists helped to instill tribalism by promoting stereotypes. The favoured people from Eastern province as being faithful and hardworking. Northerners were shunned because they were considered troublemakers. Nyasas from Malawi were usually employed to do white collar jobs while Lambas were considered to be good for domestic work. Up until the 70’s short men were rarely employed in the security wing till this consideration was hotly challenged.
5. As in South Africa, both wage and job discrimination on the basis of race was practiced in colonial Zambia. Whites doing the same jobs as blacks earned more, while the more lucrative skilled work was reserved for whites. Blacks were prohibited from forming trade unions to level the bargaining playing field through collective action.
6. Between the privileged elite and the hewers of wood and drawers of water lay a small intermediate class of South Asian traders and craftsmen and those of mixed race parentage. Aware of this privilege, Asians taunted Africans in ci-Lapalapa Lo country ka wena, lo mali ka mina-the country is yours but the money is mine. Zambians of mixed race also looked down on Africans and exaggerated their white side of parentage living in ‘coloured’ quarters like Thornpak in Lusaka, coloured quarters in Kitwe and Hillcrest in Ndola.
7. The ruthless government of Northern Rhodesia by the BSAC came to an end in 1924, when the administration of the territory was taken over by the Colonial Office. The ideology of the colonial administration was paternalistic, stressing the civilizing activities of administrators, missionaries and settlers in meeting the needs of the Africans of the territory. The practice, on the other hand, was frankly racist and exploitative. The territory was not developed to become an integrated, balanced economy serving the needs of the population, but rather to serve the interests of the British economy as a supplier of raw materials and labour and as a site of profit extraction. The best land was reserved for whites and no efforts were made to develop indigenous agriculture or manufacturing, or to share the profits of mining with the colonized. This imbalance created a dependence syndrome of the part of the Africans whose only meaningful source of income was to work for foreigners.
8. The impact of formal education on language consolidation was reinforced by trends in the popular media. In 1936 the colonial government began to publish the African newspaper Mutende as a response to the Watch Tower Movement’s publication The Watch Tower, by that time, in wide circulation aroundt he protectorate. Published in Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga, Lozi, and English, Mutende reached a peak circulation of 18,000 during the war years.
9. Even more important than newspapers was radio broadcasting like the “Saucepan Special,” an inexpensive battery-operated radio set developed specifically for the Northern Rhodesian African population. Thousands of Africans had access to radio in Northern Rhodesia by the 1950s. The Northern Rhodesian Broadcasting Service was the first radio service in Africa to allocate significant air time- fully 72 percent in 1952-to programming in vernacular languages-Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga, and Lozi were chosen, with English, as the languages of Northern Rhodesian broadcasting. Because radio reached such a large population, the choice of these languages had a critical impact on patterns of language consolidation in the country-more, in all likelihood, than the educational system, which directly touched fewer people. Radio was considered an authentic source of information thus the ci-Bemba phrase ‘Radio taibepa.’
10. The British colonial government banned the consumption by Africans of all European-type alcoholic drinks and placed tight restrictions on the brewing and sale of grain beers.
The ‘natives’ raised complaints at the monopoly European brewers enjoyed. This monopoly left women brewers in the dark. Beginning in the mid-1950s this anger erupted in a series of protests and boycotts on the Copper belt. The anger was directed against municipal beer halls. The protesters, many of whom were women, opposed the exclusion of Africans from a potentially lucrative sector of trade.
One is a Zambian multimillionaire, while the other one holds an important position in the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) only second to the head of state, the almighty Michael Chilufya Sata.
Both have inflated egos and feel PF and Zambia owes them a lot for taking the opposition party to power.
The other similarity the two arch-rivals share is lacking political clout other than being found in the right party at the right time.
They are Defence Minister Godfrey Bwalya Mwamba gangsterishly known as GBM and a quaintly-named party Secretary General Wynter Kabimba, a failed lawyer cum-politician.
Needlessly to say despite GBM and Kabimba being political lightweights, both are important figures in Zambians politic which has seen their egos clashing like two bull elephants in the Luangwa valley.
With these visible inadequacies on both parties, what is the source of GBM and Kabimba’s arrogance? One bankrolled millions of Kwacha to the once cash-strapped PF while the other one has been in PF through thick and thick shortly when its founder Sata formed the party after being disappointed by the second republican president Frederick Chiluba’s choice of Levy Mwanawasa to succeed him as president.
The trillion Kwacha question is who is Sata backing in this nasty fight between the two madly ambitious politicians who have outgrown their boots?
Sata who seems to regret having usurped power in the twilight of his life is not comfortable with both though he supports a lesser evil against the other adversary who having reached dizzy heights in acquiring wealth is eyeing both the party presidency and that coveted Edwardian building they call State House.
The Northerner President is not very comfortable with the millionaire GBM and seems to favour Kabimba for convenience’s sake because he is not a serious threat between the two political charlatans.
When he arrived from South Korea, Sata theatrically hugged Kabimba pumping his hands in a body language that needs no explanation from an expert.
He thanked Kabimba and told him that he had been following the fight between the two politicians and supported the secretary general over the defence minister.
Sata indirectly congratulated Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba for sustaining the fight between him and his ministry of defence counterpart GBM.
The president greeted Kabimba and asked him how he was faring in the power fight with GBM and wondered why GBM was not at the airport to welcome him.
But Vice President Scott, blocked the excited Kabimba from responding to the president publicly and instead offered to brief the president once he got to State House.
At last knowing where the wind was blowing, GBM shunned Sata’s returned while the government-loyal and pro-PF Post Newspaper continued its negative publicity onslaught against the defence minister.
GBM has been sidelined from other government activities in the recent past, but his supporters in Kasama where he is area member of parliament have warned him against stepping down.
His supporters protested at The Post newspaper provincial office and threatened to burn down the office equipment if the workers there did not withdraw the newspaper from the street which carried a negative story of GBM.
On the surface all seems well with GBM and Kabimba playing to the gallery by hugging publically and smiling like Cheshire cats but behind the closed doors there is bitter rivalry between Sata, a Bisa from Mpika and GBM, a Bemba from Kasama who thinks he has what it takes to go a step further in the political boots of his elderly boss.
However, despite his political naiveté, the multimillionaire has somehow realised that he is sitting on a shaky throne and avowed his loyalty to Sata and PF and denying the accusation that he wants to form a political party.
In short GBM is like a cheating wife who out of guilt approaches her husband to defend her fidelity without being accused of sleeping around.
As the two amateur politicians slug it out, Sata who is enjoying wearing the mantle of a master dribbler copied from Chiluba looks on from the side ring sizing the two combatants favouring a lesser evil between the two.
Only time will tell who will fall between the two power-hungry but politically-incompetent politicians./End.
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…
The Bible has several verses demonstrating the fact that leadership has more to deal with divine intervention than ability to govern.
Examples of Biblical characters who ascended to leadership with God’s involvement include Moses, Joseph and David who all started humbly before gaining great importance.
Regardless of how they govern, there is always divine intervention in choosing a leader as has been manifested in Zambian politics from Kenneth Kaunda, to the second republican president Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda and the incumbent Michael Chilufya Sata.
During the struggle for independence in Zambia, many ‘natives’ thought the man who would be president was Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula.
Africans had good cause to pit him for presidency, because long before Kaunda gained political dominance in the struggle for independence, Nkumbula who was the leader of the Africa National Congress (ANC) was a towering force in the struggle for black rule.
As an aggressive, articulate and uncompromising opponent of the Federation, Nkumbula was elected president of the Northern Rhodesian African Congress in 1951,the party that was soon renamed the African National Congress (ANC) after the South African oldest political party of the same name.
In 1953, the then politically naive Kenneth Kaunda became secretary general of the ANC learning the ropes of the trade from his mentor and more seasoned political leader.
This alliance pitted two nationalists exposing their leadership qualities to Africans who were looking for a ‘Moses’ to free them from colonial rule that had made them strangers in their own country.
Nkumbula’s leadership shortcomings compared to Kaunda started showing a classic example being when he at one time called for the ill-timed national strike – disguised as a “national day of prayer” — in opposition to the Federation.
The African population did not respond due to the opposition of the African Mine Workers’ Union’s president, Lawrence Katilungu, who vigorously campaigned against the strike on the Copperbelt.
Katilungu who belonged to the minority middle class was among well-known sell outs nicknamed makobo after a tasteless fish that does not struggle when caught in a net.
In October 1953, after the White colonial settlers formed the much-hated Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, ignoring the Black African majority’s opposition, fate again pitted the two leaders who despite working together were sending different signals of weaknesses to the oppressed blacks.
One such example was in the early months of 1954 when Nkumbula and Kaunda organised a partially successful boycott of European-owned butcheries in Lusaka complaining against the racist practise of barring blacks from entering the butcheries to chose the meat of their choice.
Kaunda, used the opportunity to announce in the Press that he would not eat beef because of the injustices meted against blacks who were forced to buy through pigeon holes.
Despite their efforts to stop federation, the ANC found it difficult to mobilize their people against the move that quickly gained momentum and was established lasting for 10 years.
In early 1955 Nkumbula and Kaunda were imprisoned together for two months (with hard labour) for distributing what was deemed by the colonial masters as “subversive” literature.
However, it was Kaunda, who largely stole the show as a charismatic leader inspiring the nation by dressing in a black toga as a sign of resistance to colonial government.
The incarceration of nationalists and other forms of harassment were normal ‘baptismal’ rites of passage for freedom fighters whose fight against colonial rule was seen as the most courageous act a black could do against whites.
Historians of Zambian politics have noted that though imprisonment had a moderating influence on Nkumbula, it had a radicalizing influence on Kaunda making him an avowed freedom fighter.
By the end of the 50’s, Nkumbula who had been the sole choice for a black president became increasingly influenced by White liberals and was seen as willing to compromise on the fundamental issue of majority rule.
Opposition to Nkumbula’s allegedly lukewarm approach to black rule and his autocratic leadership of the ANC eventually resulted in a split with his former protégé forming the Zambia African National Congress (ZANC) in October 1958.
The new party was banned in March 1959 and in June Kaunda was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, a move that singled him out as a political martyr.
While Kaunda was still in prison, the United National Independence Party (UNIP) was formed late in 1959.
UNIP’s first president, Dixon Konkola, was suspended within weeks and replaced by Paul Kalichini who was also replaced by Mainza Chona who had just left ANC.
It is important to note that if Kaunda was a mere mortal, the UNIP presidency was going to be usurped by any ambitious member in the party but by this time the former teacher-turned politician had established himself at the man to take Zambia to black rule.
Chona, in principle and recognition for Kaunda’s towering personality and charisma handed the presidency of UNIP over to Kaunda because he did not feel he possessed the necessary qualities to lead an independence movement.
Kaunda’s Malawi parentage, which normally could have disadvantaged him as a foreigner worked to his advantage at a time when tribal affliation was more paramount than national causes.
On January 31st, 1960, Kaunda was elected UNIP’s national president and true to Chona’s observation, Kaunda took over the presidency of UNIP making it better organized and more militant than Nkumbula’s ANC.
Thus Kaunda displaced Nkumbula, the father of Zambian nationalism and set UNIP on a path to self rule rapidly taking the leading position in the struggle for independence, eclipsing the ANC.
During independence constitutional talks in London in 1960–61, Nkumbula played second fiddle with Kaunda as the main man to make negotiations that would see the landlocked country attain independence.
Back home Nkumbula suffered a further impediment when he disappeared from the political scene for nine months (April 1961 – January 1962), while serving a prison sentence for causing death by dangerous driving.
Later in the run-up to elections in October 1962, Nkumbula made the mistake of accepting funding from Moise Tshombe’s regime in Katanga.
He also made an ill-advised secret electoral pact with the Whites-only United Federal Party (UFP but was later coerced in forming a coalition with UNIP and was given the post of minister of African education.
The UNIP made an allicance with ANC that lasted until the pre-independence elections of January 1964, when UNIP won fifty-five seats to the ANC’s ten seats.
The alliance later led to Zambia’s independence on 24th October 1964. Can we attribute Kaunda’s ascendancy to power to divine intervention?
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
After Kaunda reigned for 27 years there was much discontentment nationally concerning the economical situation that led to strident voices calling for the change of government.
During the last week of June 1990, the three days of food riots rocked Lusaka and other urban areas on the Copperbelt a clear indication that Kaunda’s days in State House were numbered.
The spark igniting the spontaneous violence was the government’s intention to double the price of mealie meal leading to a riot in which 27 people lost their lives.
Kaunda who was under pressure from the IMF to effect radical economic reforms had desperately tried to curb with the introduction the coupon system to subsidise the poor but it was too late.
Only days later, on June 30, 1990, a 30 year old army lieutenant Mwamba Luchembe seized the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) in Lusaka and announced that the army had taken over the government an announcement that was greeted with national jubilation.
A roller coaster of events both political and social begged for intervention and on July 20 and 21, 1990 dissidents convened a ‘Nattional Conference on Multiparty Option at Garden Motel in Lusaka.
Two prominent organisers were Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika and two ex-UNIP politicians Arthur Wina the former Minister of Finance in the independence cabinet and the ex-minister of foreign affairs Vernon Mwaanga.
The original leadership of MMD was dominated by Lozis from Western Province. However, in the course of time, the party attracted people from other provinces.
They included two Northerners Ephraim Chibwe and Emmanuel Kasonde both who had earlier spoken out against UNIP in forums like the Economics Club and Law Association of Zambia.
Kasonde and Chibwe had been implicated in the famous quote by Elias Chipimo senior who addressed the Ndola branch of the Law Society of Zambia as the chairman of Standard Bank Zambia then urging leaders in Third World countries especially those in Africa to review their policies towards single party constitution and introduce flexible mechanisms to allow for change of leadership.
Chipimo had provocatively added that multi-partyism was a surest way of avoiding coups and eliminating the disgraceful tendency of presidents ending up with bullets in their heads.
Irate UNIP members had protested against ‘dissidents’ who included Chipimo himself, former Finance Minister John Mwanakatwe, Barclays Bank Manager Francis Nkhoma, former Bank of Zambia governor Valentine Musakanya and former Mines Minister Andrew Kashita.
They went to their offices to drag them to Freedom House. Fortunately, most of the rebels were out of their offices apart from Nkhoma who was harassed by the irate cadres. The cadres called on the government to try the ‘dissidents’ without trial or confiscate their passport.
Other organisers of the MMD included Lawyers like Roger Chongwe, Levy Mwanawasa, ex-detainee Edward Shamwana, MPs from southern province which had been a stronghold of opposition before one partyism and two ex-soldiers and ex-detainees Godfrey Miyanda and Christon Tembo 1980 coup.
Later two militant unionists Frederick Chiluba and his deputy Newstead Zimba joined the camp.
MMD was not a merely an elite movement because the movement soon mobilised a motley assortment of reformists from all walks of life like politicians, intellectuals, business people, farmers, church leaders, and union activists.
The reformists meant business and challenged the Kaunda Ndi Wamuyayaya –Kaunda will reign forever-slogan that made the UNIP leader seemingly invincible and having no successor both within his party and without.
Since independence from Britain in 1964, UNIP had endorsed only Kaunda as the sole presidential candidate.
Though somehow a closet dictator and de facto life President, Kaunda was no different from Mobutu Sese Seko and Kamuzu Banda in Congo DR and Malawi respectively who had come out as life presidents.
The historic Garden House Hotel meeting was preceded by numerous dark corner meetings and consultations and it is interesting to note that at all this meeting Chiluba was nowhere near the organisers.
Chiluba was most favoured prior to the general elections in 1991. It is important that this distinction is made clear because inaccurate journalism has credited the genesis of plural politics in Zambia to the second republican president.
However, Chiluba had a long-standing opposition to Kaunda and UNIP than all the other members of the movement.
In the early 1980’s Chiluba had been detained and unlike other trade union leaders, he had refused to be co-opted fully into the system by Kaunda. It was this record that put Chiluba in a better stead when MMD members wanted a leader to challenge Kaunda.
Events happened in quick succession with President Kaunda agreeing to a referendum on the one-party state but, in the face of continued opposition, dropped the referendum and signed a constitutional amendment making Zambia a multi-party state.
Zambia’s first multi-party elections for parliament and the presidency since the 1960s were held on October 31, 1991. MMD candidate Frederick Chiluba resoundingly carried the presidential election over Kenneth Kaunda with 81% of the vote.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
To add to the MMD landslide, in the parliamentary elections the MMD won 125 of the 150 elected seats and UNIP the remaining 25. However, UNIP swept the Eastern Province, gathering 19 of its seats there.
After serving the constitutional two terms in office, President Chiluba mounted a campaign to amend the constitution to enable him seek a third term of office in 2001.
Civil society, opposition parties, and many members of the ruling party complimented widespread popular opposition to exert sufficient pressure on Chiluba to force him to back away from any attempt at a third term.
After the ‘master dribbler’ as Chiluba was nicknamed for his political gymnastics failed to seek a third term, the outgoing politician anointed Levy Mwanawasa as his successor.
Mwanawasa had served as Vice-President to Chiluba in December 1991and was widely tipped to become President of the MMD but stepped down in March 1992 citing unbridled corruption and loss of vision among leaders.
The man of principles had declined becoming MMD president in 1990 citing young age and inexperience opting instead to stand as a Member of Parliament which he won with an overwhelming majority.
On 8 December 1991 Mwanawasa was involved in a serious traffic accident in which his aide died on the spot.
He suffered multiple body injuries and was flown to Johannesburg, South Africa for medical treatment where he remained hospitalized for three months.
A commission of inquiry was set up to investigate who was responsible for the alleged assassination attempt.
In August 2000, the National Executive Committee of MMD with massive political engineering from Chiluba elected Mwanawasa as its presidential candidate for the 2001 election.
Despite the short period of campaigning, he won the election, held on 27 December 2001, with 29% beating 10 other candidates including two other former vice presidents (Godfrey Miyanda and Gen. Christon Tembo)
Anderson Mazoka leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND) whom many felt had won came in a close second with 27%, according to official results that were abnormally delayed to be announced.
Mwanawasa took office on 2 January 2002. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
What surprised many Zambians was that Mwanawasa’s political career was widely seen as over until he was unexpectedly plucked from semi-retirement by Chiluba, a one-time sworn political enemy.
It was a decision Chiluba would live to regret, later finding himself on trial for stealing millions of dollars of state funds and being kept under house arrest.
After serving one term, Mwanawas suffered a mild stroke in April 2006 and while in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for an African Union summit, Mwanawasa was hospitalized when he had a second stroke On 29 June 2008.
On 1 July, International SOS evacuated him by air ambulance to France for further treatment.The head of the Egyptian hospital to which Mwanawasa was taken said that the doctors there had stopped the brain hemorrhage and that he was in a semi-comatose state.
Vice-President Banda who was acting President during Mwanawasa’s incapacitation was already being treated as President by MMD members.
Mwanawasa never recovered from his stroke and died while still hospitalized in Paris on August 19, 2008.
Banda later filed an application to stand as an MMD presidential candidate on August 26, 2008 with massive backing from the MMD in Eastern Province where he hails from.
The MMD National Executive Committee chose Banda as the party’s presidential candidate in a secret ballot on September 5 largely because they knew he would win.
Banda received 47 votes against 11 for Ngandu Magande, the Minister of Finance. On this occasion, Banda promised to “unite the party and the entire nation and continue implementing programmes left half-done by Mwanawasa.
Banda again won the presidential by-election held on October 30 and was sworn in at State House on the same day.
He reigned as President of Zambia from 2008 to 2011 before Michael Sata, leader of the opposition Patriotic Front, defeated him in the September 2011 presidential election, ending his three year long presidency.
However, it is important to note how Banda ascended to presidency since his political career like that of his predecessor Mwanawasa was considered to be over when he retired from active politics living a peaceful life on his farm in Eastern Province.
The former Lusaka mayor was at one elected as a Member of Parliament for Munali Constituency in 1978 and was re-elected to that seat in 1983 gaining massive political experience.
Banda also served for a time as Minister of State for Mines but was defeated in Munali Constituency by (MMD) in 1991 when he stood against the late Ronald Penza.
By the time he was appointed as Vice to Mwanawasa, nobody expected that fate or is it divine intervention would play a role in creating an opportunity for him to take the topmost job in the land.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
The determined and ambitious septuagenarian politician who defeated Banda had gunned for presidency several times before ascending to the coveted Edwardian red-brick building called State House.
Since he formed the PF, Sata became the foremost opposition leader in the country earning himself the name ‘King Cobra’ because of his no-nonsense and fearless stance on matters of national interest.
He was the toughest presidential contender to President Levy Mwanawasa in the 2006 presidential election, but was defeated. Undaunted, he stood against Banda following Mwanawasa’s death losing for a second time in 2008.
After ten years in opposition, Sata defeated Banda, the incumbent, to win the September 2011 presidential elections.
He should go down in history as one of the most determined leaders in the class of the former Senegalese president Abdoulaya Wade who also won presidential elections after several attempts.
As early as 2006, Sata was fit to rule Zambia as he was a better candidate than Mwanawasa. Even in 2008, the septuagenarian politician had an upper hand when he stood against a fellow former mayor Banda.
However, leadership goes beyond man’s political scheming with unforeseen forces determining who wins and who loses.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
Probably the best Zambian musician, Likezo Makuyu Ililonga who sings under his stage name Rikki Ililonga is a musician who has come a long way from the 1970s when he released his debut song Ulemuand followed it up with several albums among them Zambia, Soweto, Sunshine Love, Shantytown Boy and Frank Talk.