Opinion

Is Kaunda’s Conscience Clear?

Kenneth Kaunda may be Zambia’s founding president, but he certainly is no angel.

For all that he has done to protect Zambia and advance our independence, he was also the architect of the one-party state and the most brutal period of political repression and grinding poverty. While we can safely grant Kaunda the deep respect he is accorded by our history, it has become quite insufferable to witness his current subjugation to the current authoritarian president of Zambia, Michael Sata.

Keep in mind that Kaunda is the man who once told us that Michael Sata is “not presidential material” as he is “only suitable to work under someone else.” But Lord have mercy, Kaunda has been turning and turning ever since Sata became president. Yes, on Wednesday December 5, 2012, Kaunda made a 360-degree turn when he remarked that Sata is “a hardworking leader” with “distinguished leadership qualities” who deserves support. Kaunda is right now believed to be Sata’s “special advisor” – perhaps he thinks he is once again a puppet master?

While accompanying Sata at a ceremony to commission a hydro-power station in Chinsali, Kaunda showered loads and loads of praises on the Zambia’s lackluster head of state. “This man Sata is working hard. That’s why I appointed him governor for Lusaka,” Kaunda said. He went on, “I know how hardworking he is. He’s great. God our father, we thank you for giving us this great leader.”

Indeed, thank God almighty for the great leader who says he is above the law, the great leader who demeans and shouts at his officials in public, the great leader who wants the Anti-Corruption Commission, ACC, to first report to him before they commence investigations on any senior government official, the great leader who promised Zambians “more money in your pockets in 90 days” and much, much more. But surely, the good God almighty must have a better plan for Zambia.

The best Kaunda can do is to keep quiet and enjoy his retirement instead of making such statements which actually border on being in active politics. If Rupiah Banda woke up one day and said all the good things about MMD’s Nevers Mumba or UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema, all hell would break loose and Sata would deride him and call him all sorts of names. RB would be openly threatened by our thuggish, delinquent government to keep away from active politics otherwise his benefits would be curtailed. But what is Kaunda doing, if it is not active politics? But since it suits Sata and they appear to be bedfellows, Kaunda is getting away with it.

But the worst part about Kaunda growing closer to Sata is the widely held suspicion that Sata would like to return Zambia to the one-party state, and copy many of the brutal tactics employed by Kaunda.

Now this is a man many people say is behind the demise of Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, his childhood friend and a authentic hero of Zambian independence. Kapwepwe was Zambia’s vice-president for about two years, from 1967 to 1969. It was a very powerful position then, not what we have today. But then this is the man Kaunda appeared to have feared most to the extent that when Kapwepwe quit the United National Independence Party, UNIP, to form the United Progressive Party, UPP, in August 1971 Kaunda knew he had a real challenger. This was the beginning of Kaunda’s persecution of Kapwepwe, who was also a trained journalist. Kaunda banned the UPP on February 4 and odered the arrest and detention of Kapwepwe and 122 others under the notorious and vague Preservation of Public Security Act. Zambia was under a State of Emergency law that carried over from colonial Northern Rhodesia and Kaunda had sweeping powers to do as he pleased, even to people he grew up with. But prior to his arrest, Kapwepwe was savagely beaten by UNIP vigilantes in Lusaka’s Kamwala second class trading area. A front page picture of Kapwepwe struggling to get up was published in the Sunday Times of Zambia.

Kapwepwe was to remain in prison until December 31, 1972. He would have been 90 years old if he was alive today. Now can you imagine that exactly 40 years ago Kapwepwe, with a lot of other people including Alice Lenshina, were all sitting in Zambia’s prisons purely at the pleasure of Kaunda.

His death on January 26, 1980 was largely blamed on Kaunda. Kapwepwe is said to have suffered a “stroke” two days earlier while visting one of his children in Kalulushi. Word has it that he went to Kalulushi for some fresh air after his Chinsali home was once again ransacked by the police, as he was believed to have been keeping arms to dethrone Kaunda.

During the search, his water pump was dug up in search of the said firearms. The search yielded nothing except that it humiliated Kapwepwe who was later held for a few days at the local police station for further investigations. Soon after that he travelled to Kalulushi. So was the stroke induced by this constant harassment by the police state? Well, there are 101 chances that it may have been. Up to this day Kapwepwe’s family does not want to talk much about the suffering of their beloved father at the hands of Kaunda.

The list of those that suffered persecution and humiliation and even mysterious disappearances and deaths at the hands of Kaunda is almost endless. Elisha Banda, Justin Kabwe, Bearings Lombe, Kennan Nkwabilo, Arch-Bishop Elias Mutale all died in very mysterious accidents. Even journalists like Robby Makayi, Mario Malyo and Patu Simoko got their share of what it meant to be held indefinitely under the Preservation of Public Security Act which many still say is what contributed to keeping Kaunda in power for 27 years. So one did not really have to be a politician but as long as some UNIP vigilante pointed at you, you were history.

The one party state that came into effect on January 1, 1973 made Kaunda’s persecution of citizens even worse. So please, please stop claiming that this old man is an angel.  He is far from it. There are people still alive today who were victims of Kaunda’s mess and have tales to tell. Worse still even some of the people from the “Special Branch” as the Office of the President ,OP, was called then, who undertook the assignments to create accidents and so on are also alive today. Those spoken to have horrific stories.

Now if the apparent praises of Sata by Kaunda and the closeness of the two is anything to go by, then it should explain why Sata’s government was and still is in a hurry to have all mobile phone SIM cards registered. If you understand the implications this should really have hairs at the back of your neck stand up. There were no cell phones in Kaunda’s time but all telephone calls were randomly interfered with. People that were marked and considered to be in bad standing with Kaunda’s government had their phone lines constantly tapped. With the SIM card registration, this is where we are heading to. The random tapping has not been very effective on the sim-cards and Zambians are in for a rude shock.

In conclusion, Kaunda must actually stop confusing the masses because his skeletons would fill the entire Zambia if brought out completely. President Sata himself as a minister in the MMD was one of the people who wanted Kaunda locked up or at least to clear the air on the many wrongs done to the Zambia people. For many years Sata had no kind words for Kaunda. What has changed today? Does President Sata have a conscience, and is Kaunda’s conscience clear?

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