Both the Kaunda and Chiluba regimes were associated with brutal policies of oppression. What is the reasonable explanation can those who served under these governments, including Sata, to prove they did not collaborate in all their evils?
By Nyalubinge Ngwende
President Sata worked in corrupt and repressive regimes. Zambia’s fourth republican president was an errand boy both for Kaunda during UNIP and Chiluba under MMD. These two regimes share 47 years of rule of infamy between them, 27 of UNIP and 20 of MMD.
It cannot be denied that Kaunda destroyed our democracy and was a ruthless tyrant, whose regime tortured and jailed citizens for making intelligent argument against awkward political rule and bad economic decisions. On the other hand, Chiluba damaged the honesty and integrity of our society. Chiluba claimed he was a democrat but he was only stopped by the full force of the opposition and civil society from altering the two terms (five years each of presidency) and seeking a third term.
Sata, then the secretary general of MMD and minister without portfolio campaigned for the unpopular third term campaign. With this record, how do we believe that there is no single or more errands that Sata obliged to carry out on
|Sata and Chiluba at MMD convetion in Kabwe|
behalf of these two leaders as they destroyed Zambia’s national well being to a large extent? Both the Kaunda and Chiluba regimes were associated with brutal policies of oppression. What is the reasonable explanation can those who served under these governments, including Sata, to prove they did not collaborate in the evils?
Sata left UNIP when its 27 reign faced the greatest opposition at the turn of the 90s while he was reluctantly hounded out of MMD in 2001, after 10 years there, for failing to accept Mwanawasa as the party’s choice candidate for presidential elections that year.
Sata would not have served for long under the presidency of the two leaders—Kaunda and Chiluba—had he not met their approval in personal conduct and that of the offices he held.
Even if he was not corrupt and could deny taking part in any atrocities, which we cannot falsely accuse him, Sata still has to bear responsibility for those wrongs. To deny doing so is treacherously trying to refute that he never served under those regimes with his full conscience. Why did he have to wait until the last end of the Kaunda and Chiluba regimes for him to take a decision to hop out?
He lumbered out of UNIP when he saw that the popular tide was against the party’s continued stay in power. He did not want to leave MMD and waited to be endorsed as a successor to Chiluba. When Chiluba skipped him and went to call back into politics Levy Mwanawasa, who had apparently resigned in 1995 after accusing Sata of corruption, Sata deserted and went to declare himself presidential candidate for MMD.
Still with a lot of hope that he was to take over from Chiluba who was facing public accusations of being a thief from among his former vice president Christone Tembo and ministers who had ganged up in opposition campaigning against his third term bid, Sata said:
“Opposition leaders are abusing President Frederick Chiluba... Reacting to FDD vice chairman Lt. Gen Christone Tembo’s statement that his party would restore what President Chiluba had stolen, said those advocating for the President’s arrest when he leaves office have no evidence to prove their allegations. If they have the evidence why do they want to wait, they have neither the evidence nor the alternative programmes whatsoever apart from hiding in stealing. There is no evidence that Chiluba had stolen money during the ten years I have been a cabinet minister. If their aim is to revenge, humiliate President Chiluba then they are headed for a disaster”, (The Post, No. 1797—Tuesday August 14, 2001).
When Chiluba shifted his support to Rupiah Banda of the MMD in 2011, Sata was never taunted by his inconsistency to stand in public and called Chiluba a thief who was supposed to be in jail. In fact his statement to call Chiluba a plunderer came in 2003, two years after being trounced in elections by Mwanawasa.
“The one you (Mwanawasa) are calling a thief is the one who put you on the throne. So Mwanawasa and Chiluba are corrupt and are plunderers” (The Post No. 2538—Monday September 29, 2003).
|Sata denounced Kaunda, today they embrace|
Today, unembarrassed Sata has embraced UNIP founding leader Kaunda whom he called all sorts of disparaging names and called a tyrant. He has also adopted the same tactics Kaunda used of price controls and a stifled economic system inimical to private property. According to political experts “imposed price controls to keep staple food less expensive is among the factors that are used by tyrants to buy the support of urban workers in order to solidify their stay in power”.
This shows us that our President in many ways fails the test of integrity which is measured by consistency that forms the correct estimate of character. It is known that collaborators change their skins to fit in every regime.
On the political stage during UNIP Sata sang wamuyayaya (life presidency) for Kaunda; he was governor of Lusaka when William Banda and Lusaka City Market Chairman Dickson Manda terrorised innocent people.
At another moment he became a democrat in transition under Chiluba during MMD. When Chiluba has his true colours of abusing public resources and despotic tendencies revealed, Sata rushed to defend Chiluba. To Sata, inconsistency is not a disgrace and does not taunt him. His honest is also questionable. How did he, in all honesty, agree to distribute money to a convention whose source he couldn’t question?
During the MMD, as secretary general of the party and minister without portfolio, Sata also displayed gross disregard of the rule of law. This was evident when he appeared as witness at a ministerial code of conduct tribunal on the stolen K2 billion (which he distributed at the MMD convention):
‘Petitioners’ lawyer, Sakwiba Sikota, had earlier produced MMD bank statements as part of evidence to prove that the ruling party had no money in their accounts to organise the Kabwe convention.
But witness minister without portfolio and MMD national secretary Michael Sata accused Sikota of ‘stealing’ the bank statements and vowed that he would not return the documents to the lawyers.
Appeals from the lawyers through the tribunal went unheeded by Sata and judge Lewanika learnt credence to Sata’s refusal by saying bank statements were confidential documents.
Sata was later allowed to stroll out of the courtroom with the documents in his hand amid cheers from party cadres outside.
Earlier, when asked by Nchito the MMD source of funding, Sata categorically stated that he would not disclose the party’s sources of income. He maintained that the task of raising money for the party was vested in the treasurer and his duty was merely to spend it.
Sata refused to answer a number of questions put to him prompting the lawyers to appeal to the tribunal to intervene.
But justice Lewanika said the tribunal was ‘powerless’ and could not compel the witness to answer questions.
Sikota drew the attention of the tribunal to provisions of the Inquiries Act which outlined the penalties for refusing to answer questions but justice Lwewanika said the complaints could be filed outside the tribunal.
Sata at one point infuriated Nchito when he charged that the question the lawyer had asked was ‘childish’.
Nchito had asked Sata if he had paid for the services rendered during the preparation of the convention.
Nchito: “My lord, if you allow the honourable minister to insult me, I wish to let him know that I am not only a boxer, but I am also a Sumo wrestler”.
Sata retorted from the witness box that he was ready to take on the youthful lawyer in a physical confrontation.
|Nchito: Sumo Wrestler, now DPP in Sata's regime|
Justice Lewanika ruled that the lawyers should not question Sata on the party’s sources of income.
Sata also told the tribunal that during the preparation of the convention, all the transactions were done in cash. He said by April 24, 2001, total of K1.1 billion had been spent on preparations and K973 million was still owing. The tribunal also heard that Sata and the late Paul Tembo were personally paying cadres at the convention the sum of K200,000 each as per diem.
Sikota also produced a note which Sata is alleged to have scribbled to President Frederick Chiluba on the distribution of tasks for the preparations of the convention.
According to Sikota, Sata is said to have collected K650 million from President Chiluba at State House’s Nkwazi, in the presence of works and supply minister Godden Mandandi, home affairs minister Peter Machungwa and the late Tembo. But Sata who kept on referring to Sikota as “UPND vice president” said the imputation was ‘fiction’ because he never got the money.
A witness had earlier told the tribunal that Sata on his trip to Kabwe carried a box stashed with K10,000 notes and a locked heavy metallic trunk whose content he did not know.
Alex Chomba Mwamba, 35, a pilot of Zambia Airforce (ZAF) Lusaka said he flew Sata and his family to Kabwe in the presidential chopper in April.
Chomba said after he loaded Sata’s trunk, he carried acarton box which as part of the minister’s luggage.
“When I was trying to load the box, unfortunately the cover came off and I saw bundles of money in K10,000 notes in the box,” Mwanba testified. I quickly secured the box and put it in a position where the honourable would be able to see it.”
Sata later insisted that the carton box referred to did not contain any money but A4 bond paper. He said he did not carry any money on his trip to Kabwe.
However, Sata admitted that he had a beige suitcase in his chalet in Kabwe from which he and the late Tembo are alleged to have been distributing money to cadres (‘Free Reign’ at the Powerless Tribunal, The Post, No. 1771, Monday July 9, 2001).
Society looks to political leaders who have regard for the rule of law and who stand against any abuse of public resources or plunder. It demands for institutions of intellectuals, lawyers, journalists and unionists who fully understand the meaning of democracy not to accept favours from leaders whose past character has shown that they do not respect the virtues of good governance and shown no respect for human rights. There should be no room for the people who believe in democracy and freedom of the press to serve or support or call as their friends a party led by those who have cuddled with temptations of tyranny.
It is against the wishes of Zambians for, in this age and 20 years of enjoying democracy, for academicians, lawyers and journalists to agree with concepts that are peddled to prepare people’s minds to allow leaders who are collaborators to take Zambia to a one party state, wanting to rule without others. Any hint in speech or action, no matter how small it seems, and subtle to have an effect on our democracy, must be resisted and widely condemned.
It demands that lawyers, doctors, lecturers, labour representatives and journalists must be their ‘brother’s keeper’. They should all stand for one another and, if one renegades to join ranks or serve in a tyranny regime, they should not restrain from giving an informed analysis and condemn such an act as a betrayal to the spirit of their profession.
The need for status and intellectual objectivity must not be allowed to be compromised or bought by appointments to public positions. Joining a regime that does not support good governance and respect divergence of ideas should never be beckon that takes the attention of intellectual minds. They are the salt of society; they must be set apart by declining to endorse authoritarian regimes led by hypocrites and liars.
The political, economic and legal academia, together with informed civil societies must issue consolidated statements on the state of the national politics. They should help rid the country of fake democracy by condemning in uncertain terms the failure of all political parties in respect to the virtues of democracy and mature politics. Bad regimes survive in perpetuity because the successive political parties do not embrace democracy within their ranks. The opposition are also evidence of poor democratic credentials. The leaders of these political parties run them as personal-to-holder with an insane obsession to go to state house. One election to another they will run even when the votes for them continue to dwindle and the list of their party members continue to deplete year after year.
Zambia had elections in 2011, five years later—apart from the MMD that voted for a new presidential candidate to replace the vanquished Rupiah Banda—people’s anxiety to see more of the existing political parties going to party conventions to ask for fresh endorsement of confidence from their general membership is confirmed. Democracy must not just be demanded from government, it must be practiced by all who aspire to take the responsibility of running democratic government system.