African freedom struggle was never about corruptly accumulate wealth for leaders and their families

Vernon Mwaanga
Vernon Mwaanga

Veteran politician Vernon Johnson Mwaanga says the African freedom struggle was never about fighting to gain access to state resources in order to corruptly and speedily accumulate wealth for leaders and their families.

Speaking ahead of this week’s Africa Day to be commemorated on Wednesday, Dr. Mwaanga said it is time Africa critically remembered where it has come from.

He said despite Africa being endowed with an abundance of minerals and other valuable natural resources, which are the envy of the world, many times these resources have been wasted in the past.

“As we mark another Africa Day, previously known as Africa Freedom Day, it is critically important to remember where our continent has come from. Yes, we defeated colonialism and apartheid and as a result, we now have 56 sovereign states on the continent. It is a time for us to reflect on where we have come from, where we are now and where we want to be. The struggle for independence was never easy. Leaders involved like Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea, Modibo Keita of Mali, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Amical Cabral of Guinea Bissau, Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula of Zambia and many others, were great nationalists and visionaries. They carefully guided the struggle for national independence in their respective countries. They were not alone. They worked with men, women and youth who also sacrificed tremendously to support the struggle for independence and freedom. It was their wish to see Africa develop and defeat poverty, to see better education, health and shelter facilities,” Dr. Mwaanga stated.

The former minister in the MMD regime regretted conflicts that have continued in some parts of Africa.

“Africa is endowed with an abundance of minerals and other valuable natural resources, which are the envy of the world. Regrettably, a lot of time and resources have in the past been wasted on internal conflicts and military coups, which have set our continent back many years. Lack of commitment to freedom for African citizens, human rights, failure by some countries to embrace democratic values and youth unemployment have become a time bomb. Rural to urban migration is over burdening essential services in towns and cities,” Dr. Mwaanga said.

“When I asked the first President of Ghana and staunch African nationalist, Kwame Nkrumah in Conakry, Guinea, when I paid him a four hour courtesy call in 1970, as to what worried him most about the future of the African Continent, his response was very direct. He said:”Young man, I worry that some leaders who come after our generation of visionaries will betray the people and abandon the spirit of service to the country and people we stand for. They will embrace corruption and work to enrich themselves, their families and friends.”What foresight great foresight.Indeed in many of our countries, it is very common to see those who have only served in government for a short time becoming inexplicably wealthy within a very short period of time, while many who fought for freedom and served in government for much longer periods live either modestly or in poverty. That is because they understood the key fundamental reason for the freedom struggle – which was to bring dignity to fellow citizens. *The freedom struggle was never about fighting to gain access to state resources in order to corruptly and speedily accumulate wealth for leaders and their families, which is what we unfortunately witness so often in many parts of our continent,” Dr. Mwaanga observed.

He charged that in some countries, corruption has been so entrenched and normalized.

“In some countries, corruption has been so entrenched and normalised that it is seen as being abnormal to hold a senior position in government and yet not be corrupt. The settling in and self orientation of some newly appointed government leaders now involves not in exploring how best they can serve their fellow citizens, but prioritising and actively looking out for money making opportunities. Sadly, this is done without any self restraint or even the slightest shame. The African Union has adopted a zero tolerance approach to military coups and many African countries now hold free, democratic and transparent elections, where citizens freely choose their local and national leaders. Issues of corruption, bad governance and lack of respect for human rights, inability to achieve sustainable levels of economic growth remain unresolved.”

“High external debt has become a major burden and is not sustainable. Internal Conflicts remain unresolved in a number of African countries. The Department for Conflict Prevention Management and Resolution, based in the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, appears to wait until people start killing each other before intervening. That is not what was originally intended. The Preventive part of this mechanism is supposed to be used much more often, to pre-empt looming conflicts. Let us remember and honour Africa’s freedom fighters for the selfless sacrifices they made to free our continent from slavery, colonialism and apartheid,” Dr. Mwaanga stated.

He continued:”Let the history of Africa’s struggle be systematically and carefully recorded, so that our children can learn about it in schools, colleges and universities. Africa has achieved a lot since the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 – now renamed the African Union (AU), notwithstanding its dark side. But much more needs to be done to liberate itself from poverty, bad governance, improve human rights, improve economic performance and create a better future for all. Most of all let the true love of our people and selflessness in our approach be an important part of our leadership style.”


  1. Africa’s 1st disappointment was from its founding fathers. Apart from plunder many committed untold atrocities against their own people. It’s a shame to look back at most of their lives. Zambia was no exception, we had many scandals like the Kanyama Disaster Fund, there were too many to catalog. Many leaders of today get into office with soiled hands and their feeble attempt to make amends is mainly a scapegoat to get at their opponents. The bad seed that was planted by post independence leaders has continued to affect subsequent generations. Let him that hasn’t done it cast the 1st stone

  2. Dr Mwaanga maybe the young generation do no about the Mandrax deals but we still recognise your contribution to our great nation zambia

  3. Says the successful corrupt drug dealer who has amassed so much wealth at the expense of other people’s lives. Mwaanga you are talking too much. Is it not time you left the stage for young ones

  4. VJ may be on point surely he is no position to dish out such advice yes he is older and wiser but he was never squeaky clean when he was in active politics I mean abusing your diplomatic passport to smuggle mandrax pills through customs is just as bad.

  5. ?f only people with clean hands spoke against corruption we might actually get somewhere. Not people with questionable backgrounds concerning attaining wealth through the countries privatisation program or senior citizens that are known convicted drug dealers. ?t means the fight against corruption is reduced to lip service and pleasing cadres.

  6. Neither was the freedom struggle about young leaders that fell out of favour with the founding President amassing wealth through the sell of mandrax drugs, as was the case with one self-confessed mandrax dealer VJ Mwaanga.

  7. Once upon time,people in the community were asked to sell all the possession of the community to the people they called investors thinking through this they would have a better life. To the surprise of the community,the individuals of the community charged with the responsibility of selling the possession of the community became richer and richer……while the people of the community slided down into survival of the………….

  8. His name is rotten. He tried many times his hand at business and came home with zero because he’s a poor finance manager. And currently he’s compromised.

  9. The world strives to advance the spirit of honesty. Let us be fair to Dr. VJ Mwaanga’s honest approach to life as reflected in his books: (1) “An Extraordinary Life” and (2) “The Long Sunset”. Dr. Mwaanga’s account of his interaction with Dr, Kwame Nkrumah reveals the power of conscience endowed by all humans. Dr. Mwaanga has demonstrated his nature of being remorseful, a rare trait among Zambian leaders. He narrates Kwame Nkrumah’s vital message to Africa and I quote: “I worry that some leaders who come after our generation of visionaries will betray the people and abandon the spirit of service to the country and people we stand for, etc” – end quote. Which direction are the current Zambian leaders shepherding the nation?

  10. Let’s ponder on an algebraic equation generated by the Bruntherst Foundation. Renamo was formed by Rhodesian whites in 1976 with a view to overthrow the Mozambique Govt and disrupt its economy. The sponsorship of Renamo was taken over by South Africa’s apartheid regime opposed to African rule. Renamo killed many people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. What is Bruntherst Foundation’s wisdom when it supports African opposition political parties – including Renamo to disrupt legitimate governments in SADC region. Miller even recruited Obasanjo for his military coups experience in West Africa. Be warned that the Bruntherst Foundation has nurtured traitors in Southern Africa.

  11. The African Union must worry on activities of the Bruntherst Foundation based in South Africa. History reveals that the Rhodesian whites sponsored RENAMO in 1976 aimed at overthrowing FRELIMO’s Govt in Mozambique. Sponsorship of Renamo was taken over by South Africa’s racist regime opposed to African rule. Renamo’s insurgents killed many people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. Curiously, the Bruntherst Foundation’s wisdom chose to sponsor African political opposition parties – including the terrorist Renamo. The DA’s white liberals dumped Maimane partly for his connection to the Bruntherst Foundation which has created “MOLES” in the SADC region.

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