Saturday, 6 July 2013

Dishonest Politicians Killed Paul Tembo

The people who killed Paul Tembo have not gone away or changed their ways. They are still lurking the honeycombs of political dishonesty. Theirs are politics of personal sustenance and anyone who stirs the secrets of their honeycomb will be smitten to death

By Nyalubinge Ngwende 
On July 6, 2001 Zambians woke up to the news of a grisly assassination of Paul Tembo. The Brutal Journal brings and follows this story that happened exactly 12 years ago today, looking at how dishonest in the hands of political power does not flinch, not even a moment, to kill in order to protect their stay in power.

Paul Tembo after lies dead after being killed
It started between June 15 and 18, Paul Tembo took quick steps out of politics of deceit to join the ranks that had broken away from the MMD to defend the country’s democracy and constitution.

Paul Tembo apologized to the nation over the mistakes he made while in MMD.
Announcing his resignation from the MMD to join the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), at a press conference at the Mulungushi village in Lusaka, Tembo said:

 “To the church, especially through the three mother bodies: the ZEC, CCZ and EFZ, to the labour movement and civil society at large. To all, I seek your forgiveness and kind understanding for what I may have wrongly done and failed to do in the course of my duty.” (The Post, No. 1756-Monday June 18, 200, Paul Tembo asks for forgiveness)

Among the reasons he gave for his resignation was that the “MMD was finished beyond redemption as it had destroyed the very fundamental values on which it was founded and in its present form was moving down a dead road that can lead to national disaster.”

“The new culture has now degenerated into a culture of manipulation, trickery, deceit, hatred, mistrust and credibility of the ruling party.” 

The MMD senior leadership reacted to Paul Tembo’s resignation with mixed feelings.

MMD spokesperson Vernon Mwaanga said: “Tembo had done a good thing because he cost the MMD a seat in parliament in 1996 but I do not know whether he took that decision out of principle or out of frustration after losing his bid to become MMD vice President at the convention in Kabwe.”

President Sata
MMD Secretary General Michael Sata described Paul Tembo as a liability.
…“Tembo was supposed to appreciate what the MMD had done for him during the last five years because he was not contributing anything. “One would expect him to appreciate… he was highly trusted in the MMD without realizing that we were wasting our trust on the young man.”

“But Tembo wondered why Sata and other MMD members were so worried about his departure from the MMD if he was a political liability. Tembo said Sata was aware of his capacity and challenged him to meet on the ground rather than discuss their successes and failures in the press. “When he calls me liability, lets meet on the ground and we shall see who is a liability,” Tembo said. “Michael Sata worked with me for five years there is nothing he can say about me.” (The Post, No. 1762, Tuesday June 26, 2001 ‘Paul Tembo is a Political Liability, Charges Sata’)

 Earlier Sata was also quoted by The Post Monday June 18, 2001 in a story titled ‘Tembo’s Departure Is Good Riddance—Sata referring to Tembo as not a good person.

Addressing an MMD Munali Constituency meeting at Mahatima Gandhi Basic School in Lusaka’s Mtendere compound yesterday, Sata said the MMD would accept Tembo’s departure because it was good riddance.

“Rejects should be lumped together just like good people should stay together.”

Paul Tembo died because he wanted to tell the truth after finding himself amid political dishonesty and selfishness. To Sata he was a liability and a good riddance.

Paul Tembo was shot and killed from his home in a movie assassination style. He had defected from the MMD; his death came the morning (of July 6, 2001), six and half hours before he was to testify at a Parliamentary and Ministerial code of conduct tribunal case over K2 billion public funds some senior MMD allegedly stole to finance the party convention.

Those who killed Tembo ensured the truth died with him.

First it was to kill him in his bed that morning he was to walk to the tribunal and reveal to the country what he knew about the K2 billion public funds MMD leaders had stolen to finance their convention.

Forum for democracy and Development (FDD) member of mobilization committee Paul Tembo was about to testify before the Ministerial Code of Conduct tribunal on the ‘stolen’ K2 billion on the day he was killed.

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) lawyer Mutembo Nchito disclosed this after tribunal chairman Deputy Chief Justice David Lewanika declined to admit MMD bank statements as part of the evidence.

“My lord we are not unwilling to produce witnesses to testify on the bank statements. As for the theft of the K2 billion we had a witness who unfortunately is the late,” Nchito said, in apparent reference to the late Tembo.
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.

Sata categorically refused to disclose the party’s sources of income, maintaining that the task of raising money for the party was vested in the treasurer and his duty was merely to spend it.

But 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 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.

Others submitted evidence to try and establish the truth.

“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,” Mwamba testified. I quickly secured the box and put it in a position where the honourable would be able to see it,” said Alex Chomba Mwamba, 35, a pilot of Zambia Airforce (ZAF) Lusaka who flew Sata and his family to Kabwe in the presidential chopper in April.

Although Sata insisted to the tribunal that the carton box referred to did not contain any money but A4 bond paper, he 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.

Katele Kalumba (Finance), Peter Machungwa (Home Affairs) and Godden Mandandi (Works and Supply) were the three minister being investigated for allegedly diverting K2 billion cash from the National Assembly to the MMD convention in Kabwe.

Secondly Paul Tembo’s assassination matrix ensured that no witness was to live to give the side of their story and it looks like the blunders by the State Police played well in the hands of those determined to silence everything that would have connected them to Tembo’s death.

This is why the two witnesses, including the arresting officer were deliberately taken to a secret location where they were ostensibly being protected. The story is that the police vehicle rammed into a stationery truck in the early hours of the morning.

On July 6, 2001 Clara said Paul Tembo was shot dead by two smartly dressed assailants at about 03.00 hours on Friday, July 6. Tembo had left to go to the Catholic Parish, Daughters of the Redeemer, where he had gone for some unknown visit at 17.30 hours. He had been there until 21.30 hours when he got home. “I asked him if at all I could serve him dinner but he said he would only have a cup of tea and soon after we went to bed,” she said.

On the day of Paul Tembo’s death, then chief government spokesman Vernon Mwaanga had condemned the killing saying it was outrageous and dastardly act.

“Mr Tembo was a founder member of MMD who served it loyally in various capacities and campaigned tirelessly for President FTJ Chiluba and MMD before he left the party to join the Forum for Democracy and Development after failing to win election as vice president at the MMD convention on 2nd May 2001,” he said.

Mwaanga also gave report by police on Tembo’s death that said “From the scene of crime, we collected a 9mm spent cartridge as well as the bullet. We also collected the registration book of the firearm issued to Mr Tembo No. 125736, which showed that the late Mr Tembo was issued with a Browning Pistol No. 56800 on 24th February, 1993.”

On March 12, 2002 late politician Paul Tembo’s wife, Clara, 32, was arrested and charged with murder of her husband.

Her lawyer Nellie Mutti said her client had denied committing the murder insisting that her husband was murdered by two intruders who entered their Ibex Hill residence.

Local media quoted Police sources saying “Clara had a domestic dispute with Tembo a few days before he died and she threatened to kill him. And on that fateful night, the two had not spoken to each other and when Paul Tembo slept leaving a pistol on the chest of drawers Clara picked it up and shot him at the back of the head. She is alleged to have later thrown the pistol in the shrubs within the yard.”

The State had got two witnesses who had come forward to testify in the murder, but the two witnesses including an arresting officer and his driver died.

Police sources last night disclosed that the witnesses died along with two police officers after the vehicle they were travelling in overturned at Kafulafuta in Ndola rural on Sunday night.

“It is not clear how the accident occurred. The other information is that the driver hit into a stationary motor vehicle while some are saying the vehicle overturned after he lost control.
The two officers were only identified as Shamainda and Kafungo both of police headquarters. The two witnesses were late Paul Tembo’s domestic workers. “These were crucial witnesses,” the source said. “That is why the state hid them in Kitwe’s Kamfinsa area. And the officers went to collect them in readiness for trial tomorrow (today). A team of officers yesterday left Lusaka to bring the bodies from Ndola.” (The Post, No. 2204, Tuesday October 29, 2002).

The State discontinued the Paul Tembo assassination case and the accident in which the witnesses were killed was treated as a ‘normal’ road traffic tragedy.

As the country mourns Paul Tembo, it should be in our deep reflection that cruel politicians have teamed up before to destroy the honest that has eluded this country before and to perpetuate their political ambitions they have never hesitated to maim or kill others who try to stand in their way.

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