By Prince Bill M. Kaping’a Political/Social Analyst
WHEN Michael Sata was ignored for the position of MMD Presidential candidate by Fredrick Chiluba after his botched 3rd term attempt in favour of one Patrick Mwanawasa who had taken a break from the bruising and grueling game of politics in 2001, the outspoken man, popularly known as King Cobra, was seething with anger!
In no time, he would abandon MMD and form his own political party, the Patriotic Front (PF), adopting the boat as its symbol. Being a shrewd and calculating politician that he was, he would rope in son to Scottish immigrants, Guy Scot, not that he had much political clout, but as a magnet to attract funding from would be donors and of course, bolstering the image of the new party since we love too ‘chimpwena’ as citizens!
Realizing that ejecting a party that had only been in power for a short while compared to 27 years of UNIP’s hold on power was going to be a toll order, King Cobra had to quickly craft a message which would strike a chord with the electorate, particularly those in the north whence he would draw significant support.
In the meantime, immediately Mwanawasa formed government, he would embark on an ambitious crusade to pursue suspected plunderers of national assets. Obviously, Chiluba and many of his closest lieutenants would come into conflict with the law. What would you expect when a President goes out of the way to exclusively ‘populate’ important government positions with his kith and kin? Simple logic tells you that if any of those dipped their hands into our treasury, the long arm of the law would definitely fish them out!
And yet, this is the ‘sweetener’ King Cobra had been craving! With the once influential defunct The Post Newspaper at his disposal, Sata would make earth shattering headlines with his brusque remarks accusing Mwanawasa of holding a grudge against Bembas, hence the reason for persecuting them! Since citizens generally have a poor reading culture, they would embrace this as the gospel truth without taking care to interrogate the activities of those individuals whilst in government. As King Cobra had anticipated, support for PF amongst the Bemba speaking people would obviously grow, exponentially.
As fate would have it, Mwanawasa would die during his 2nd term in office paving a way for his deputy, Rupiah Banda to take over from him. Unfortunately, Banda would suffer stunning defeat at the hands of the indefatigable King Cobra, barely a few years at the helm as President!
In a clear case of history repeating itself, the cold hand of death would strike State House again….an obscure individual, with no known Presidential ambitions hitherto, would emerge from the shadows to step into Sata’s shoes albeit in controversial circumstances. Edgar Lungu would be ‘selected’ as PF president by a simple display of hands!
After defeating his closest rival, current head of state, Hakainde Hichilema, in closely contested elections, Lungu would go on to appoint a lopsided government – beneficiaries being mainly those from northern and eastern regions of the country, much to the chagrin of many political observers, including this author.
It’s not a hidden secret that rampant corruption and plunder of national resources would escalate to record levels under Lungu’s tenure. Former ministers and senior government officials, including the President himself, who once suffered through life as paupers living in shanty compounds, and could be seen walking in flip-flops or driving around battered vehicles producing excessive smoke would become instant millionaires, over night! They can now boast of fat Bank accounts, do their shopping in capitals of the world, own breathtaking mansions and properties everywhere around the country, and maintain a fleet of impressive vehicles. How did they suddenly become rich, if not from corrupt activities?
Egocentric individuals such as Seam Tembo who curved a name for himself in the previous elections by accumulating zeros at most polling stations around the country, are desperate to improve their political fortunes by riding on the same tactics employed Sata…..that the fight against corruption is simply a witch hunt against people from certain ethnic groupings. Where does Sean and his ilk expect the fight against corruption to be directed? To villagers in Chitokoloki or Shang’ombo who never served in government at all? My foot! What sort of reasoning is that?
Citizens and particularly our chiefs must not allow charlatans, bandits, embezzlers, frauds, gangsters, thieves and plunderers who have robbed poor citizens to escape justice under the shield of tribe! When these individuals were stealing, they weren’t doing so on behalf of the tribe, unless of course they were sharing part of the loot with some of the so-called chiefs who are busy defending them! If there’s overwhelming evidence that they stole, they must be held accountable….chapwa!