History: the day Chiluba was sworn in

By Jane Perlez

LUSAKA, Zambia, Nov. 2, 1991— In a rare democratic transition, Frederick Chiluba, a trade union leader, was sworn in here today as President of Zambia. Tens of thousands of people walked miles in the hot sun to a grassy square in the front of the nation’s High Court to witness the inauguration.

They listened to the new President pledge that “freedom to work and freedom of speech” would replace the “corruption, repression and dictatorship” of the past.

Earlier in the day, the only other President Zambia has known, Kenneth D. Kaunda, conceded defeat by a landslide at the polls on Thursday.

In a televised speech, the 67-year-old Mr. Kaunda, an often-emotional man who clutched his signature white linen handkerchief in his left hand, offered an apology to the people of his south-central African nation, saying, “I tried to do my very best.” Comeback Seen as Unlikely

He said he would work to pick up the pieces of his shattered political organization, the United National Independence Party, which had virtually run the country. But few took the idea seriously. Zambians seemed to agree with former President Jimmy Carter, leader of an election observer team, that Mr. Kaunda now deserved a role as a “respected senior statesman.”

The ousted President, well known in Africa and internationally, achieved far less success with the Zambian economy. He has bequeathed to the 48-year-old Chiluba a bankrupt country.

This is a comedown from Zambia’s position as one of the richest nations on the continent after its first decade of independence from Britain, beginning in 1964. In colonial days, what is now Zambia was known as Northern Rhodesia.

In Thursday’s voting, widespread disgust with the decrepit state of the economy and the low esteem in which many had come to hold Mr. Kaunda helped provide Mr. Chiluba’s stunning majority.

Although the returns were still incomplete 48 hours after the polls closed, Larry Garber, a senior consultant with the National Democratic Institute in Washington who came here with Mr. Carter, said he believed that final counting would give Mr. Chiluba about 80 percent of the vote.

Officials of Mr. Chiluba’s party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, said partial results showed they had won more than 100 of the 150 seats in Parliament. Dissent Had a Price

For many members and supporters of Mr. Chiluba’s party, today’s swearing-in represented a hard-earned victory. Sitting on the stage behind him were several civilians who had gone to jail for plotting a coup against Mr. Kaunda in the early 1980’s.

Zambians seemed proud that, in contrast with much of Africa, their country was able to carry out multiparty elections without violence. “It was good Kaunda had to stay and face it,” said Masiye Nyirenda, 26, a bank clerk. “We helped him pack his things and leave by voting. No shots have been fired. The people have rejected him.”

Many voters credited the relatively smooth running of the elections to the presence of international monitoring teams including Mr. Carter’s, as well as two Zambian teams, which fielded more than 3,000 observers.

Mr. Chiluba, as leader since 1974 of the nation’s robust labor union movement, the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions, was a clear choice to lead the country’s newly invigorated political opposition in the election.

But some now question whether he has the political acumen to carry through the promise of democracy and the economic skills to straighten out the troubled economy. Senior supporters say Mr. Chiluba was chosen for his vote-getting ability rather than experience in government. Austerity Will Be Needed

Those views notwithstanding, Mr. Chiluba, who describes himself as a believer in free enterprise, faces the need to make some unpopular moves. He tried to prepare the way during the campaign by telling voters that Government-subsidized food — one of Mr. Kaunda’s methods of keeping city dwellers happy — was not a viable economic policy.

He has pledged to remove the subsidies in stages. When Mr. Kaunda reduced subsidies last year, there were riots, and out of fear of violence just before the election, he broke a commitment with the World Bank to reduce the subsidies again in September.

Mr. Chiluba has argued that the subsidies have helped break the nation — huge amounts of state revenue has been spent on keeping grain prices artificially low for the consumer — leaving little to pay the farmers who grow it. Thus, many farmers did not grow corn this year, leaving the country with a substantial shortage and predictions of famine in some regions. Avid Reader

Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba was born the son of a miner in Kitwe, a major city in the northern copper belt, on April 30, 1943. He dropped out of school because of lack of money and completed his secondary education in 1971 through a correspondence course from London. Since then, he has continued to read political science and history, often quoting from the biographies of world figures.

As a young man, he went to Tanzania to work as a clerk on a sisal plantation, where, he has said, he developed his interest in the labor movement.

In 1966, he joined Atlas Copco, a Swedish mining-equipment company in the city of Ndola as an accounts assistant, and stayed at the company, rising to credit manager, until last year, when he took a leave of absence.

He started in the labor movement as a shop steward for the National Union of Building, Engineering and General Workers and became its president in 1971. In 1987, he left the union, the loser in an intramural political struggle, but soon established a new organization so he could retain his leadership of the national trade union congress.

Eight months after a coalition of politicians, students and businessmen pressed hard for multiparty elections, the Government legalized the opposition, and he was elected chairman of a new political party. Jailed and Born Again

Unlike many other union leaders in Africa, Mr. Chiluba refused to be co-opted, declining Government job offers from President Kaunda. Instead, he used his position to criticize economic policies.

Angered by such criticism, Mr. Kaunda arrested Mr. Chiluba in 1981 on charges of trying to overthrow the Government.

In three months in prison, Mr. Chiluba has said, he became a born-again Christian.

The new Zambian President is very short by the standard of most Africans — just under five feet tall.

Courtesy of New York Times



  • comment-avatar
    Mwape 6 years

    They plotted against him and won, but posterity is more abiding. He will be proved a hero, a man who gave so much to this country. Those who plotted have left and indeed will leave nothing.
    You have to be a man of substance to be reviled.

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    Afred zulu 6 years

    Do you know what it means to own a house? You fools! FTJ is my hero.Rest in peace my hero!

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    Abel K 6 years

    The problem is, most of you pple who tok bad about Chiluba you were born in the morden Zambia, ask old pple they will tell you how our beloved Zambia and Zambians were reduced to popers by your ever praised star ba Kaunda. If you cant see what Kafupi did then you are a hypocrit or you could have been very young in Kaunda regm. Learn to appreciate were appreciation is due, dont pretend to be an angel.

    I wish the story of Chiluba could be published if it not and given to schools to read, this is a story of some one who did not finish school came from a very poor family but worked hard to reach where he reached dont you think this can can be a very good story for motivation? This man even escaped the bet extended to him by KK to work in his govt. but refused in order for him to mentain his integrity. We have seen and heard of pple who loose their hearts when the president extends a hand in offering them a ministerial office they run, even you you can do the same!

    Dont dwell on evil things every time. In so doing what are you upto?

  • comment-avatar

    What a sad story!

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    Bwalya1 6 years

    Kafupi lucked economic acumen. he was wrongly advised. We may forgive him for all the mess in state house.We hope to meet him in heaven.

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    Jackal 7 years

    this crook messed alot big time..we wished Levy Mwanawasa was still alive..he could have been in prison..see how he rejoiced when he died..!

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    Pungwa Ta Sakamana 7 years

    “Although the returns were still incomplete 48 hours after the polls closed, Larry Garber, a senior consultant with the National Democratic Institute in Washington who came here with Mr. Carter, said he believed that final counting would give Mr. Chiluba about 80 percent of the vote.” te PVT ba bonfyeshe apa? Was there chaos afterwards?

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    La 7 years

    You people who only see the wrongs in FTJ have short memories. What we had in 1991 was a bankrupt country. We used to queue up for essential commodities like soap, salt and mealie meal. We used to spend days at bus stations to move from one town to another. The major roads like Pedical, Great North and East Roads were in a deplorable state. Within 5 years, Chiluba managed to turn this whole picture around. Up to now we have commodities and buses waiting for us. He instilled hardwork and innovativeness in Zambians. I agree, he had many shortcomings, but he brought change and left us a platform from where to improve our country. Chiluba is a great man.

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    Jacal Tito Chipuba 7 years

    10 wasted years. A bit of hope under Levy and now a tribalist, corrupt old man. What have we done to deserve this………

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    He is the worst president Zambia has ever had. Not all change is good hence let us be carefull of this change the post is fuelling this year. In the history of Zambia, the worst GDP was in 1994 when it sunk to less than -4% and it was this man in the driving seat. What a change, Chiluba is evil.

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    Arts 4 7 years

    When I think of that day, I cry. At the high court, the then Chief justice Annel Silungwe swore in Chiluba. I remember the singing and dancing which characterized that day. All is history. I wish our pipo had known what kind of a crook Chiluba was (is). Chiluba killed us. I wish…. I wish…. I wish….

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    The Dude 7 years

    For lower taxes, more employment and more kwachas in your pockets! But how? No explanation. This aticle. Is full of philophy, but again zambians are not paying attention, is it just being forgetful. The Panjis, Mpompo and Imbwae, whatever that name is, parading themselves just to remove the system. Zambians!

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    londoner 7 years

    CIA Agent!

  • comment-avatar
    Kibakimani 7 years

    20 years down the line, we are still in square 0. However, lets learn something from this sad his, and the the lesson is clearly cast even in this article where it says “But some now question whether he has the political acumen to carry through the promise of democracy and the economic skills to straighten out the troubled economy. Senior supporters say Mr. Chiluba was chosen for his vote-getting ability rather than experience in government. Austerity Will Be Needed”

    Chiluba was chosen just to remove Kaunda, his abilities to lead the Country were questioned from day one. Question I may ask, are we not making the same mistake to day when we want to thrust into state house pipo whose track record and abilities are clearly dubious? I m talking about SATA offcause?

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    Zabwino Palibe 7 years

    Reading this article about Chiluba really makes sad memories, I was jst in Grade 7 at the time of voting for change and I still remember, I how I used to recite Chiluba’s campaign message aired on ZNBC TV everyday with his so called, The Hour Has Come, little did we know that the hour had come really to plunder and destroy all that Kaunda had fought for and built in 27yrs. I can proudly say at least I attended free education under the Kaunda regime from Pre school to Primary school, my parents needed not to pay for me at the clinic. This Kafupi, an illegal immigrant from DRC brought misery to millions of Zambians in the name of change. Its true with they say that the devil you know is better than the one u dnt know. Kaunda days were truly and sincerely better days than Chiluba’s broad day light stealing from poor Zambiana. God will surely never forgive this short man for his crooked ways of leadership he exposed the Zambian people to. His ten yrs of rule were purely characterised with hard core stealing, corruption, deception the rest is jst details. As I wait for the day RB will announce the date for the elections, I pray that God will show us a leader who is going to lead this country to greater heights. A leader who shall unite us all the umbrella of as One Zambia One Nation. God bless our beautiful country Zambia as we seek the real change we shall be launching today in Kanyama. Everyone regardless of thier political affiliation are invite to witness this ground breaking incoming leadership of the UPND. VIVA UPND VIVA HH

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    izo izo 7 years

    Kafupi! That’s the more reason y most pipo r so adamant about change coz chilu brougth zambianz more mess! In his first 3 years he started so well. Now he was so quick 2 effect change within the shortest period of time. I ve always had this question on my mind! Is there nthing tangible that we ve done as zambia from the money from the money that we sold our mines 4? Coz I can c the same delapidated infrastructure roads apart from west gate mall in town. MMD wil 20+ in office but I guess therez been more misery than the 27yrs that kaunda did & worse off under 3 different leadership that makes KK a hero! Botswana south afruca & a few african countries stil ve coins in circulation as a medium of exchange but wat happened 2 our ngweez? Kafupi ha abeta answere! Chinese investment that the govt keeps braging about every day we can away from the fact that there r a force 2 reackon wit but look @ the quality of investment that they bring us? Clothes r disposable so r the services! MMd is tried 2 do roads here & there but the quality is not something u can tok about! Some roads in townships r a nytemare they r no longer passable & MMD vuvuzela roan & his counterpart wik stil insult us by claiming that they ve done a lot of headwayz. I hope chanda chimba wit his had earned encomy could also point out these messes that we ve subjected 2 under the MMD leadership! Been an election year I hope we vote level headed & make the right choice!!!!!!

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    Mewbanda 7 years

    He promised to standing presido. didn’t he? I was just 9 years old but did study in my grade 7, 5 years later that what was promised did not materialise and my mom used to say, did we really get what we asked for, change……………..ngwees instead of Kwachas? Shrot-changed by a short man?
    Now I am grown up and could easily say, we needed change, we needed to gt self-confidence and our power to change govt by voting. 
    Now we want to exercise our right to change and shall vote rupiah and sata both out of political arena and vote a younger leader.

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    This story from the archives makes sad conclusion for the rest of the Zambians who were eager to see real political and economic change in Zambia by FTJ. He sounded so promising with his promises and shortly he got chocked with power and the root of evil, which money at his disposal. What I conclude is FTJ started planning to plunder the Zambian economy in the first week of being in State House and he did many calculated risks. He is such a crook to the extent that he can even fake that he has a heart problem and everybody believes in that. From the time he was acquitted from all his theft charges, his heart problem has suddenly healed. Is this by coincidence or not.There are many issues about this crooked character and I cannot go on and on. Had he been so honest in his dealings with Government resources this story from the archives would not have come out today. This story is meant to make Zambians shade tears of the lost dispensation.

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    Nate 7 years

    Just under five. . .

  • comment-avatar

    Chiluba is hero. I like da guy.