By Irvine Mbanga.
Views held by a lot of people labeling Zambia’s first republican president as a worthy and emulatory icon are baseless and maybe misguided, it’s inarguably that he led our country as the first president after independence, and prior to that was incarcerated for leading groups that were fighting for political liberation from the British colonial masters. Apart from that there is nothing worth talking about him or his rule save for his dictatorial tenets that have possessed all the presidents after him.
It will be imperative to highlight his one man one party rule for 20years since 1972, all in the guise of stability and cost cutting measures incurred by holding elections.
It is Kaunda that started imprisonments and suppression of political opposers. He didn’t just end there but had many of them tortured, others to death during the spells.
In case some would dispute that then the let them take time to read on Kaunda’s political confrontations with Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe. Let them ask Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda,who is still alive to tell them his experience. Let them ask old folks about the secret police and let them read about the massacre of the Lenshina followers in Chinsali, the suspected members of Lumpa Church of Zion, the burning of their houses and the massive arrests. That only is more than there has been by succeeding presidents combined.
Why he didn’t appear at The Hague still baffles me.
It is him that allowed the colonial public order act to live on, and now every sitting president sees its need when in power. It is him who wanted to stay in power forever, famously coining “Kaunda wamuyayaya” meaning Kaunda forever. It is Kaunda that displayed a character of insatiable appetite for political power when he wanted to contest the 1996 elections even when he had been president before for 27years.
It is him that is the reason for tribal separation, in as much as he spoke the ‘one zambia one nation’ language, his Cabinet was still full of people from the upper regions he hails from.
It is him that promoted politics of deceit by signing the Barotse Agreement, that he wouldn’t honor later and is reason for the Lozi discontentment till now. It is him that was the first to frame a self benefit constitution all to keep hold on to power. I would go on and on to list his evils but for what? The above are enough to show his unworthiness as an icon and a hero, his bad overweigh the good he did for the country.
Every president who has taken rule has walked exactly in Kaunda’s steps, some of them to his blessing as has been seen with Fourth and sixth Republican President’s, Rupiah Banda and Edgar Lungu respectively, guess because they hail from Eastern Province as him.
A good start with Kaunda and the succeeding Zambian presidents would have had a worth ex president to emulate and learn from, sadly it hasn’t been the case, they all have been possessed with his dictatorial demon and have acted similarly apart from Levy Mwanawasa who acted slightly different, but also jailed his main opposer Micheal Sata a few times, and also suspended Captain Austin on suspicion that he wanted to challenge him at the convention.
We are yet to have a real democrat as president, one tolerating the divergent views of opposition leaders and the people, one who doesn’t use the police and military to suppress the people, one bold enough to scrap off the Public Order Act and settle matters concerning the Barotse Agreement of 1964. One who won’t abuse the courts to fix political opponents.
I pray and hope the next president after Edgar Lungu will be different and worth the talk when he leaves office.
United States of America.