The two faces of president Banda

By Sity Mwitu

When Zambians look at president Rupiah Banda (RB), two types of personalities arise. On one hand, Zambians see the real old and mature, caring and trustworthy RB. This is not by default, but by age. But on the other hand, his actions especially after he ascended to the Presidency in 2008 reveal some scaring and unknown invisible forces, but yet visible to the naked brain, that seems to propel some mafia like traits behind RB’s actions. Contrasting the two types of personalities, RB suits with the former analysis. RB is harmless, loving and caring, but there seems to be a mafia thorn in his flesh and it is causing so much pain for his liking. RB’s actions are a result of the Mafia’s workings behind the curtains. There is an adage, which says, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

When the late President Dr. Patrick Levy Mwanawasa was still alive, the crime rate in Zambia was reducing. There was observance of the law in the nation. For the first time in the history of Zambia, the Zambia Police Service became professional in their operations with Mateyo as the IG. But the IG’s focus was on pet criminals in Zambia as compared to Mafia, who in most cases, were roaming the streets of this world freely. Mateyo could have been a bad taste for the Mafia. He was diplomatically removed as IG and sent in the Diplomatic Services, but only to be lumped with a Presidential Escort Police Motorcade importation scandal.

While the simple criminals were dancing to the tune of the law, most of these Mafias were untouched. They were not only powerful, but also very sophisticated. But the late President was never relentless in his fight. He knew too well how dangerous this group was. He never wanted them to regroup and build their mafia empire. Given the stress that was arising from this fight, the late President desired to work with someone humble, mature and educated, a diplomat with vast political experience, a confidant of Eastern Province and capable of delivering Eastern Province to the MMD in 2006 and no surprise, the mantle fell on RB.

In his confessions, RB informed Zambians that when he got the news, of course he was shocked at first, but he told the late President that he had already retired from politics and now he was just an old man resting at his farm. But upon insistence by the late President, he accepted the offer. Every Zambian remembers this mature and humble looking old man as the new Vice President of Zambia. The loyalty of RB to the late President was an unquestionable. And not only that the late President got what he wanted from RB in 2006; Eastern Province was delivered to the MMD. RB’s ascension to the Vice- President office helped to finally bury UNIP in Eastern Province. Eastern Province and Barotseland convincingly made the late President ascend to the Presidency in 2006 with such easy. RB became the late President’s darling. He also represented a zero risk to the President. But before their relationship could mature, Dr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa answered the Lord’s call. RB was more than devastated. The late President was RB’s strength in government as most MMD founders and members did not like him. As a result, RB was a lonely man in the MMD government. His strength lay in the late President. So when he got the news that his mentor and comforter, whom he had once told when under pressure from MMD diehards, “See Mr. President, this is the reason why I did not want to return to politics again. You should have let me rest at my farm.” And then the late President answered, “Old man, it’s me who appointed you Vice-President, I won’t leave you alone and remember that we are in this game together. Let’s work and retire together in 2011.” When the old man heard these words, he was invigorated and energized, knowing that his Boss will be there for him. But when news of the late President’s demise reached him, RB was sincerely heartbroken. It was difficult for him even to make an announcement on both radio and television. RB was shaken to his bones. It was for this reason that he made a genuine promise to Zambians that he would only be in office for three years to complete his boss’s term. He sincerely confessed from his heart that he just wanted to stay in office only for three years. But what really made him to change his mind so drastically?

The demise of the President paved a way for the world street trotter Mafias to regroup. Although we as ordinary Zambians were told and believed in the natural causes of the death of the late President, most of the intelligentsia world believed there was something up the sleeve in the death of the Zambian President. It is my prayer that Julian Assenge of Wikileaks will one day give us the full details in his intelligence leaks. The late President’s wife Maureen could have smelt a rat. This did not taste good for her. Maureen was pressured up. It was for this reason that during the funeral speech in Lusaka, Maureen had no kind words for RB. She was terribly heart as RB appeared to have been a weak link in this conspiracy. This feeling did not stop until, two years later on in 2010 that she let the pressure out of her chest by questioning government’s failure to investigate her late husband’s death. At this point, the Mafias had already regrouped and were seriously working behind the curtains. Maureen did not receive a kind response from government. She was openly told to shut her mouth up. Maureen, who was known to be tough, resilient, risk taker and hard working woman, mother and wife until her husband answered the Lord’s call, could no longer find her voice. The odds against her were not favourable. But Maureen was not a person would easily be shut up because this was not her option. But they managed. And later on, came in the allegation of misusing some AIDS funds, using MMCI for her family grandiose and the recent family scandal of fighting over the late President’s estate. All this was formulated to dent Maureen’s image for good and they have managed.

The Mafias are around us and they have managed to create their brand on RB’s face. But when did RB acquire the Mafia’s face? RB was an innocent and harmless old man until the late President’s demise. From thereafter, it appears the Mafia took hold of the situation. Did RB meet the Mafia in person? If they did, what did they say or do to him that changed his heart from that of a kind old man to that of a ruthless, cruel, self motivated and an egoistic politician with no mercy for his political opponents? Did the Mafia fear for their future without RB? What gave RB confidence to become a Presidential material even after 2011? Was the perceived rigging of 2008 Presidential bye election a red carrot RB could not resist? When RB was appointed Vic-President, he knew the late President’s family tree and close associates, but how did he harden his heart against these people? During the 2008 Presidential bye elections, RB’s praise for his late boss was unequivocal as he championed to continual in his legacy, but Zambians know too well how RB throw out the Legacy Theory together with the President’s demise to country’s history political bin. The fight against corruption was finally buried with RB assenting to the Bill for the removal of the Abuse of Office clause from the anti-graft law. In addition, despite many Zambians drawing their livelihood from Finance Bank, which was a pure private initiative, but which the Bank of Zambia has decided to sink by allowing cash run on the Bank. It does not require some economist to know that Finance Bank is kept alive in the Finance Intensive Care Unit (FICU) by using the finance oxygen, which is tax payers’ money. What a professional misfortune for the two learned economists both at Bank of Zambia and Ministry of Finance and National Planning. All RB’s perceived enemies were not of his own making, but the Mafia’s own. Only a man under duress would choose to ignore the warnings and writing on the wall. The truth is, for the past two years, all RB’s vengeful actions were foreign to him. But he chose to wear the Mafia’s face and to promote their image for his political expediency in 2011. This is also what makes RB treat the issue of Barotseland Agreement with kid gloves. RB no longer sees his face in the political mirror, but that of the Mafia and the victory they have promised to deliver to him in 2011. Many times and on many occasions, RB has confessed that he will win the Presidency in 2011. If you did not know, RB knows and he is confident that he is here to stay after the 2011 elections.

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