Former Zambian president Fredreick Chiluba died Saturday at the age of 68 for causes not known yet. According to the Zambian National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), Chiluba died at 0:05 a.m. after a normal day on Friday.
Chiluba started complaining of heart pains on Friday evening, ZNBC quoted Chiluba’s spokesperson as saying.
The spokesman said that the doctor was called and attempted to save Chiluba’s life but failed.
“He died five minutes after midnight at his home,” Emmanuel Mwamba told AFP.
Fredreick Chiluba had been suffering from heart and kidney problems but Mwamba said he had earlier complained of stomach pains.
“We will release more details later in the day,” said Mwamba.
Fredreick Chiluba was born on April 30, 1943 to Jacob Titus Chiluba Nkonde and Diana Kaimba and grew up in Kitwe, Zambia. Chiluba was married twice. Frederick Chiluba did his secondary school of education at Kawambwa Secondary School in Kawambwa, where he was expelled in the second year for political activities.
He became co-boy and later a bus driver. It was there that he found his ability to became a politician due to his charismatic personality. He later worked as city councilor before becoming an accounts assistant at Atlas Copco, and rose in his rankings, in Ndola where he joined the National Union of Building.
Frederick Chiluba and his first wife with whom he has nine children, Vera Tembo, divorced in 2000 after nearly 30 years of marriage. Chiluba married his second wife, Regina Mwanza, shortly thereafter.
Chiluba’s personal appearance and dapper dress had been noted by both his supporters and opponents throughout his career, as had his short stature. His careful appearance and taste for fine suits became a trademark, and was noted during his corruption trial. Dr Chiluba had also been described by the BBC as “a fervent born-again Christian…” whose “…private life was the subject of much gossip.”
He went on to win the chairmanship of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). Chiluba and several leaders in ZCTU were detained in 1981 by President Kenneth Kaunda for calling a wildcat strike that paralyzed most of the Zambian economy. The union leaders were released after a judge ruled their detention as unconstitutional. In 1987, he successfully withstood challenge to his chairmanship of NUBEGW that would have put his ZCTU position in jeopardy.
In 1990 he helped form the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), a party that, with Chiluba as its presidential candidate, went on to successfully challenge Kaunda’s rule in the 1991 elections. Chiluba was a powerful speaker with a natural charm and charisma.
Chiluba took office on November 2 of that year. He won re-election to a second five-year term in 1996 despite a lawsuit questioning his birthplace and hence his eligibility for the post. Some candidates in the 1996 presidential elections challenged his eligibility on these grounds, claiming that he or his real father was born in Zaire. There was, however, no doubt that he was raised in the Copperbelt of Zambia and this contributed to his taking up of unionism.
Despite his party’s overwhelming majority in parliament, he failed to win support in his bid to amend the constitution allowing him to run for a third term.
No member of parliament ever moved the motion in the house to amend the national constitution, the government never presented any paper on the matter nor was there any referendum to amend the national constitution. The third term debate was between different groups within and outside the MMD. Chiluba himself was quiet about it.
He stepped down at the end of his term on January 2, 2002, and was replaced by Levy Mwanawasa, his one-time vice-president. Chiluba started out as a socialist, but accepted some economic reforms.
Chiluba can be said to have left both an economic and a political legacy. Economically he started the process of ending Zambia’s socialist command economy. He presided over various economic reforms. There are mixed feelings in Zambia on the effectiveness of the economic transformation initiated by the Chiluba government.
He helped broker a peace agreement to end the war in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, but failed to stop the escalating crime and poverty in Zambia.
Chiluba opposed international economic institutions. His successor Levy Mwanawasa re-established relations with IMF and World Bank that were abolished during Chiluba’s government.
After leaving office, Chiluba was a target of Mwanawasa’s campaign against corruption: in February 2003, he was charged along with his former intelligence chief, Xavier Chungu, and several former ministers and senior officials, with 168 counts of theft totalling more than $40m.
It was alleged that money was diverted from the Ministry of Finance into an account held at the London branch of the Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco). Chiluba said the account was used by the country’s intelligence services to fund operations abroad. Investigators said it was a slush fund, used to meet Chiluba and Chungu’s private and personal expenses.
In early 2006, Chiluba was flown to South Africa for medical attention for a heart condition. After resisting the government’s call for him to return to Zambia for what they termed as long-term treatment, he returned on July 15.
On 4 May 2007 he was found guilty of stealing $46m (£23m) in a civil case by a UK court. Chiluba, however, continued to plead innocence and refused to recognise the verdict of the Judge Peter Smith who he accused of having been bribed by the Mwanawasa government.
Most of the charges that were made against him were later dropped and he was eventually freed on those charges that remained.
[AFP and additional details from Wikipedia]