Thursday, June 14, 2007
Thursday June 14, 2007 [04:00]
You can cheat some people sometimes, but not all the people all the time. Only a fool is proud of his wrongdoing. We told Frederick Chiluba many times that he had set himself on a path of self-destruction. Like many politicians, he refused to listen. He convinced himself that he was the most intelligent politician Zambia had ever produced. He was proud to call himself a political engineer, shamelessly portraying his willingness to cheat the people. For the 10 years that he was in power, we tirelessly tried to warn him about the consequences of the corruption that he and his tandem of thieves had embraced. He did not care.
Chiluba was a ruthless dictator who mercilessly raped the national economy and destroyed many lives. He acquired tests that were alien to his modest trade union background. He did not care that his tests destroyed the nation, his family and more tragically his children.
This is a man who felt no sympathy for the suffering masses as long as he had what he wanted. As president he was irresponsible to the point of being an imbecile. Such was his reckless and foolish bravado that he fired doctors when they asked for better conditions for their patients. He did not care that his government was raising an army of uneducated youths; “education” for other nationals’ children was not a matter of priority for him. He was happy to send his children abroad using stolen government resources when the vast majority of the youths could not find, let alone afford decent education. Using stolen government resources he was giving huge amounts to his children and rewarding his concubine, the woman he stole from Mwanza. Such is his shamelessness that even the wife he has is a stolen one.
When Chiluba was doing all this, it never crossed his mind that one day he would pay the price. We told him that the bells that were then tolling on others would toll for him. He was very sure that he had everything fixed to the extent that he even hand-picked his successor in the hope that his successor would protect him. This man has been a liar all of his life. Even his identity is a matter for debate.
The registration of the London High Court judgment in our High Court should serve as a clear and stuck warning to everybody who has responsibility over public resources.
They may think that they are clever and that they can abuse their positions and steal public resources and not be caught. Indeed that is what Chiluba thought – where has it left him today? As a former president Chiluba was supposed to retire in peace and be a fountain of wisdom, travelling at his leisure to share his experiences with various people whilst enjoying utmost respect from his compatriots.
But because of his greed and his insatiable desire for material things – designer suits and custom-made shoes – he sold his right to a quiet retirement. His only hope is to continue hiding in hospital because even the house he lives in, the seats he sits on and the bed he sleeps in are stolen property.
Chiluba has brought all this on himself. Having become president, he decided that he had no equal; he did not have to listen to anybody. There is a lesson in this for anybody who exercises power. Restraint is an important virtue in the exercise of power. Chiluba refused to exercise any restraint even when it meant stealing somebody else’s wife.
This should be a good lesson for President Levy Mwanawasa. We do not say this maliciously; we say it out of our love for our country. It will not do to have another of our president being dragged before a court of law for abuse of authority.
We hope that Levy and his family are learning lessons from the experience of Chiluba.
One of Chiluba’s major failures was a refusal to listen. He dragged the country into a useless constitutional debate in which he tried to get himself a third term of office. One would have thought that President Mwanawasa would have learnt something, but now he is dragging the country into an unnecessary constitutional debate, a fight he knows he cannot win. A president is there to serve the interests of the people. He is a servant, not a master. Chiluba decided he was the master, his ending is bad. Levy is behaving like a master; unless he changes, his ending will be bad.
As for Chiluba, he deserves everything that is coming to him and more. His hour has come.