Saturday, April 18, 2009

PF cadres denounce Chiluba as a thief at Sampa’s burial

PF cadres denounce Chiluba as a thief at Sampa’s burial
Written by Patson Chilemba and George Chellah
Saturday, April 18, 2009 4:39:04 PM

SEVERAL mourners mostly PF cadres yesterday called former president Frederick Chiluba a thief and constantly interrupted his tribute speech during late PF national chairman Chitalu Sampa's burial at Lusaka's Leopards Hill Cemetery.

Chiluba commenced his speech by first recognising former president Dr Kenneth Kaunda before he went on to speak about democracy and other issues, which infuriated the Patriotic Front (PF) cadres.

During the initial phases of the speech, Chiluba said democracy was not a revolution but an evolution and that things took time to change although they finally changed.

"Who could have thought president Kaunda and I would be in the same place rubbing shoulders?" Chiluba asked as he looked where Dr Kaunda was seated. "We couldn't achieve it but we thank President Rupiah Banda that we are achieving it now."

Chiluba then went on to say that even Dr Kaunda made mistakes during his 27 years reign but that people should focus on the good that the first Republican president achieved.

At this point several mourners responded by saying; "Ulelanda pali Ba Kaunda, nga iwe? [You are talking about Dr Kaunda, what about yourself?] Nga corruption yamu government yobe? [What about the corruption in your government?] Kabolala iwe [you thief]," the mourners shouted, as Chiluba responded: "Democracy is not an amorphous kind of thing. It is an organised system of government. In democracy, the character of a political party takes after the character of their leader. If the supporters are beating people, they might have taken that from their leader."

Chiluba said in countries like Britain, politics of insults were long gone and that Zambia should move towards the same direction.

He said he and late Sampa started industrial politics on the Copperbelt Province and together opposed the UNIP policies.

"We brought changes," Chiluba said, as the people responded: "Dr Kaunda is the one who brought development. What changes did you bring? Corruption, Kabolala iwe [you thief], mwaikalilefye ukwiba [you just kept on stealing]."

In response, Chiluba said: "Nobody enjoys that [stealing]. That's why we have got courts and everything."

Chiluba said if leaders did not control their language, they risked poisoning their followers.

"So my dear brothers, I have deliberately chosen to speak about it because when you go home you shall go through what we are discussing," Chiluba said, attracting a responses of "awe, awe [no, no]" from the cadres.

But Chiluba said he was the only one with a microphone and those who were making noise would end up choking themselves while other people would listen to him from afar.

He urged people not to be populist but embrace unity.

Chiluba said he had opened wealth in the country.

But the people asked him what wealth he had brought into the country because things seemed not to be improving as prices of essential commodities such as mealie-meal were exhorbitantly high.

Chiluba responded by saying he had brought several developments such as the introduction of mobile phones.

However, the cadres said: "Are we going to eat cell phones? Why aren't you talking about other issues like mealie-meal?"

As the heckling continued, Chiluba briefly changed the topic by saying there were no permanent enemies in politics but just permanent interests.

"Namilasa [I have hit you]," Chiluba said, as the cadres responded: "Finshi ulelanda iwe kabolala [what are you saying you thief]?"

Chiluba responded that allegations that he had stolen were a lie because they had not been proved.

He said countries which did not respect their leaders brought a curse upon themselves.

He reminded those who were passing running commentaries that he also had support elsewhere. Chiluba said it defeated the purpose of democracy when people insulted each other.

He said he brought development such that the Jehovah's Witnesses who never used to vote benefited from the sale of houses.

But the people asked Chiluba to shut up because he sold several companies which had resulted in poverty and loss of jobs.

In response, Chiluba said: "They [companies] will be coming. Tafisa ngameno yamukanwa [progress does not come as easy as a child cutting teeth]," Chiluba said attracting angry reactions from some mourners: "Iwe wilenga tulufyanye [please do not lead us to misbehave]."

At some point during the arguments, Reverend Edith Mutale tried to rescue the situation by getting a microphone from Chiluba but the former president continued speaking.

Later after Chiluba had concluded his speech, Rev Mutale said funerals should be above partisan politics.

She said making running commentaries when people were speaking was not good.

Rev Mutale said Sampa was a distinguished son of Africa and his funeral was not an ordinary one.

Earlier, Peter Machungwa was booed when he went to lay wreaths on Sampa's grave.

The cadres shouted "rebel, rebel, rebel leader" when Machungwa made his way to and from the grave. However, Chiluba's wife Regina clapped in solidarity with Machungwa.

During the funeral, PF president Michael Sata said Sampa was appointed to serve in several tempting positions but he came out clean.

He said Sampa served as defence minister but was not like other former defence ministers who engaged themselves in supplying uniforms.

Sata also said Sampa served as home affairs minister but was not like other formers home affairs ministers who irregularly awarded visas to foreigners.

He also paid gratitude to the former presidents for attending the funeral as well as the contribution from government and those who mourned Sampa.

Sata said the decision to grant state funerals to former ministers was agreed upon during Chiluba's regime.

Information minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha said Sampa was a principled father and leader who refused to engage in populist politics of insults.

He said Sampa was a man who understood democratic politics.

Lt Gen Shikapwasha thanked Dr Kaunda and Chiluba for having used Sampa to benefit the nation.

Earlier at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Chiluba was the last dignitary to arrive for the funeral service.

Before Chiluba arrived, Sata, Lt Gen Shikapwasha and other dignitaries lined up to wait for Sampa's body.

During this period, Chiluba's spokesperson Emmanuel Mwamba, who had come earlier, was seen talking constantly on his mobile phone.

A while after Sampa's body arrived and was about to be carried into the church by the defence forces, Chiluba and his entourage also arrived.

Chiluba, who was in the company of his wife Regina, got out of his official vehicle and immediately walked into the church.

Just when the funeral service finished, Chiluba was the first one to walk out of the church to view Sampa's body before proceeding to his official vehicle.

Sata and other dignitaries followed in viewing the body of the deceased after which they were seen mingling with other mourners as they waited for the procession to finish.

Chiluba only interacted with a few mourners that followed him.

Chiluba and Sata never interacted.

However, Dr Kaunda arrived during the body viewing procession before mingling with other mourners.

During the service, Reverend Matongo Mukelabai urged people to be obedient and faithful in life.

Other dignitaries who attended the service included Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda, NDF president Ben Mwila, All People's Congress president Kenny Ngondo and some Cabinet and deputy ministers.

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