Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Fall & Rise Of Fred: How Rupiah Banda Reformed Chiluba’s Image

By Elias Munshya wa Munshya

This article explores factors that have contributed to the rehabilitation of former president Chiluba’s image. First, by rewriting the script of Chiluba’s prosecution, after his acquittal, the Rupiah government has helped repair Chiluba’s image. Rupiah’s government has managed to claim that Chiluba was a victim of excessive prosecution. Barely months after the passing of Mwanawasa, had Tetamashimba proclaimed Chiluba’s innocence. The government media have also chronicled Chiluba’s prosecution as a persecution. Speaking in Luapula very recently Rupiah refused to be drawn into politics of hating Chiluba.

Secondly, there is one daily Zambian tabloid, whose incessant attacks on Chiluba have actually helped prop him up as well. Instead of finishing him, these attacks have actually helped Chiluba garner some sympathy that has led some to conclude that the tabloid’s attacks are inspired by personal hatred more than anything else. For example their continued insults of Chiluba, calling him thief, a lazo, and so on and so forth, while effectively demonstrating their hatred of him, have the potential to achieve exactly the opposite—compassion for a man who is perceived to be a victim. Persistent personal insults of a person we deem to be a criminal actually becomes very superfluous in the end and makes people question the very motive behind those insults.

Thirdly, PF and Sata helped begin the process of restoring Chiluba’s image. Just during the 2006 elections, Sata exuded in Chiluba, using him extensively to campaign for PF in Lusaka, Copperbelt and Luapula. To date, Sata admits that most PF MPs in Luapula were Chiluba’s. Sata contributed to raising Chiluba’s image in spite of Mwanawasa’s sentiments that Chiluba was a thief. The PF leaders and cadres would welcome Chiluba at the airport and would also accompany him to court. It is therefore, surprising that the PF is a bitter enemy of FJT because he has now switched his support back to the MMD. If FJT still has some legitimacy and clout, the PF should blame themselves as important architects of FJT’s restored image, which may have all started in 2006.

Fourthly, as an ardent Christian, Chiluba has mentioned that he has had to rely on his faith to counter most of the accusations and embarrassment he has faced. In spite of the fact that some clergy such as Father Bwalya have lambasted Chiluba and called him names, EFZ Executive Director Paul Mususu came to Chiluba’s defense immediately after his acquittal. Several church groups such as the BIGOCA have come to Chiluba’s support as well. Before his acquittal, a group of Pentecostal leaders gathered at Mulungushi to pray for him and honor him. They, quite amusingly, dressed him in Jewish religious garb during the event.

Fifthly, Chiluba’s personal assistant, Emmanuel Mwamba has worked hard for the boss’s image too. Mwamba radiates youthful confidence and innocence that are critical to hoisting Chiluba. An articulate speaker, Mwamba has courageously defended Chiluba irking many and pleasing some. His vigor and his lack of a political past, brought freshness to the image of a former president. At one time, during Mwanawasa’s era, he manhandled two intelligence officers who were indiscreetly trailing him and took them to Woodlands Police Station, embarrassing them.

It still remains to be seen however, the actual political impact that Chiluba’s rehabilitated image will translate into, going forward. It should be noted however, that he remains a great force to reckon with politically and it will matter who he supports for presidency. In the meantime, organizations and individuals are condescending around him for endorsements and patronage. As Mwanawasa had mentioned Zambians are quite forgetful. In our collective memory we tend to forgive and forget all the wrongs past, and instead rehabilitate the images of our fallen leaders. Kaunda was later restored, Chiluba is being restored and not many days hence, Mwanawasa will also be eulogized. Chiluba is still regarded as criminal to some, but dearly loved by many others—so much for a man just trying to restore his battered image.

Why Should Luapula Province Matter For the MMD?

Why Should Luapula Province Matter For the MMD?

By Elias Munshya Wa Munshya

The recent visit of President Rupiah Banda to Mwata Kazembe of Luapula Province and to some districts in Luapula Province has highlighted just what is at stake politically for Luapula Province. First, Luapula matters to the MMD due to the presence of PF rebel MPs. Totaling ten, they enhance the chances of MMD performing better in should they defect enmasse to the MMD. The MMD may try and convince Luapulans, that by expelling these MPs from PF, PF was by the nature of its act anti-Luapula. No other province at the moment promises such opportunity for the ruling party.

Secondly, Luapula matters, due to the fact that most political players sympathetic to the MMD, have a protracted and steady political history within Luapula Province and the MMD. These include Katele, Mwila, Kasongo, Machungwa, Chitika, and Chiluba himself. The long history and political stability of these figures will help boost MMD’s chances of a few more votes from Luapula. Besides this team may give a tough time to PF should they all decide to campaign for MMD and Banda.

Thirdly, Luapula matters due to the residual influence that FJT Chiluba has. After the demise of Mwanawasa the public’s opinion of Chiluba has somehow rebounded. Rupiah’s government has managed to rewrite the script concerning Chiluba’s prosecution and they have with some success managed to convince some Zambians that Chiluba was unfairly prosecuted. This script has undoubtedly angered some diplomats, various media houses and several NGOs but it has definitely managed to boost Chiluba’s political image among some Zambians. Sata and some PF members are dismissing FJT as politically insignificant. However, in spite of his questionable morality arising from his prosecution, FJT still has political clout which Banda is trying to maximize on. As such, under this new script, Luapulans are most likely to listen to Luapulan Chiluba again.

Fourthly, Luapula matters due to the influence of Mwata Kazembe. It has been observed that Kazembe, even if he is not a paramount chief, does exert a lot of influence among Bemba speaking peoples. For example, compared to other Bemba speaking senior chieftainships, the Kazembeship has been more stable and that stability has proved effective as a conduit of political influence. And so it matters who the Mwata supports for presidency. Kazembe has placed himself in a way that he could easily influence politics among his Lunda people in particular but beyond that to all Bemba speaking peoples.

Fifthly, Governor Moise Katumbi’s presence with Rupiah Banda in Mwansabombwe shows the significance of Katanga in the next elections. While Congo DR in general and Katanga province in particular share with Zambia a very long border, Luapula Province is second only to the Copperbelt in terms of cultural exchange with Katanga. This has been compounded by Katumbi who is Bemba, and who regards himself as a subject of Mwata Kazembe. Besides when Mwanawasa was declaring Katumbi as persona non grata, Kazembe quickly defended Katumbi calling him his nephew. It is rather significant that Katumbi was latter exonerated of all charges by Mwanawasa and was called back into Zambia to restart his businesses. It still is to be observed how much political influence Katumbi will have over Zambia. As for border regions, it is a historical fact, that people in border towns are more likely to vote for the ruling party candidates more than they would for the opposition and Luapula becomes significant in this regard.

Rupiah Banda’s moves for Luapula Province may actually pay off. Once he gets the rebel MPs on his side that will at least break the momentum in the PF, raise lots of questions within the Luapulan electorate about the PF and exploit some sympathy votes from some supporters of Frederick Chiluba for the MMD. If it is Luapula he is targeting, Rupiah is headed the right direction.