The true nature of Rupiah Banda come true

The true nature of Rupiah Banda come true

by Mazuba Mwiinga

When on October 14, 2008 Africa news online published my article Enter UNIP incognito - Looking a gift horse in the mouth, of the people who read it few took this pre-view seriously.

The article looks at the behavior of Rupiah Banda; Zambia’s Vice President then – humble and humorous ‘wise’ man, turn President with a vicious tongue and suspicious motives. What looked like a mere thought provoking article, today reverberates the true picture of Rupiah Banda in the midst of all nasty scandals every Zambia’s generations have ever seen from the days of Cecil Rhodes to Evelyn Hone and Roy Welenski, Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba to Levy Mwanawasa.

At the time of his adoption by MMD stalwarts as their Presidential candidate in the 2008 by election, it was put clearly that he was going to be a transitional leader to take Zambia to 2011 general elections, but the article predicted so well that, this was not going to be the case for the moment Banda tasted power he will want to dip his fingers deeper in the sweet can of power. And we saw this recently when the MMD stalwarts extend Banda’s wish for leadership with force of sorting out any one who will stand on his way for re-election as MMD Presidential candidate in 2011. But the article warns that more is still coming that will sweep most MMD chaps off their feet with shock. Here is the full version of that article published by Africa News online on October 14, 2008 under the title: Enter UNIP incognito - Looking a gift horse in the mouth

Looking a gift horse in the mouth

By Mazuba Mwiinga Africanews reporter in Livingstone, Zambia

When late Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa gave the reigns of Vice Presidency to Rupiah Banda on October 9, 2006, most Zambians had to google-search Banda’s name to know who this old man was.

But three years down the line, it apparently became cautiously clear that always ‘look a gift horse in the mouth’, for it may have ‘stinking sores and bad breath’.

With dignified pomp and splendor, Rupiah Banda accepted the appointment which president Mwanawasa had tagged as a ‘thank you’ to the once United National Independence Party (UNIP) dominated Eastern Province since Independence ‘for voting the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) this (that) time around’.

Banda stalked back into government after staying away from active politics since 1991 when UNIP lost the historic multi-party election; the Party in which he served mostly as a diplomat and Member of Central Committee (MMC). His come back at 69 then, seemed unbelievable at his age when most men would have been thinking of putting their life Wills in order; but he was rather yet to see a new life he had never thought of – especially that his Party UNIP was too toothless to bite back power.

In a matter of time, Banda rolled without gathering any moss in his seat; and gradually started to be re-integrated into the splash style of African plural politics. People admired his fluency in speech unlike the occasional stammers that came from president Mwanawasa. Some liked his smiles, humility and less love for publicity.

Anyone who knew Zambia’s Vice presidents’ ego could see that Banda was an exception. It wasn’t a surprise though, bearing in mind his political foundation of ‘UNIP-ism’, where pride, greediness and envy were crimes in their own making. But fun enough, Banda acted like a man caught committing adultery and given some task to do as retribution for his sins – ‘don’t complain, just do your work and leave’.

Even when criticized by the public and media, he chose never to be drawn into any public discussion of those issues. When president Mwanawasa was ill in France, Banda’s only show of his feelings were tears when he was attending a quick-recovery prayer meeting for president Mwanawasa at Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Much as people demanded the truth on the president’s health status, Banda never issued a public comment. Even when MMD Publicity Secretary Ben Tentamashimba demanded for an MMD care taker in Mwanawasa’s absence, Banda remained mute.

Political analysts believed Banda took the back stage because he knew he was just a man on a trip; a gift that was to be shown to the public that ‘if you vote MMD into power, your region benefits’. During his reign as VP under president Mwanawasa’s rule, Banda made more trips to opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) strong hold – Southern Province, than any other Province in the country. This perhaps was to lure Southerners into seeing how beautiful it was to shift choices come 2011 General Elections.

Unexpectedly though, incumbent president Levy Mwanawasa passed on, and like a bolt from the blue; Banda unbundled his archives and showed the nation that actually he was not just a gift for political circus, but an opportunist who reaps when he sees fit to do so.

The 71 year old man people knew as humble and wise, turned tables upside down when he started firing scuds of vulgarity at his opponents; at one of his presidential by-election campaign meeting, he asked people to ‘crush the head of a big snake with red eyes and red tongue’, referring to Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata, his main challenger for State House.

Earlier, Banda had gotten stuck in a campaign bribery scandal of giving a small political Party led by one, Cosmo Mumba ZMK15 million to support MMD. He called the action as a donation. Surrounded by a group of some staunch MMD cadres who are connected to corruption activities; Banda’s image became illuminated by his own shadow, telling lies at every opportunity even in the face of facts.

When he gave a profile interview to The Post published on December 7, 2005 he had said, “I am really a UNIPist, what people will call UNIPist. So it’s very difficult for me perhaps at my age to join another political Party”; contrary to his address during a campaign when he said he actually joined MMD in 2002. This came as a result of controversies that he wasn’t supposed to be MMD candidate because according to MMD manifesto, one can only aspire for presidency having been a paid up member for not less than two consecutive years. Unto today, it’s a political mystery as to when the UNIPist Banda left his UNIP and joined MMD as there is no documentary evidence to that effect.

Though enjoying the backing of the entire UNIP membership including its founder Kenneth Kaunda, Banda’s corruption allegations while serving as Director of National Agriculture Marketing Board (NAMBOARD) in the 80s, resurfaced during campaigns; but he sank his head in sand, to awaken with an injunction in the High Court restraining The Post from publishing what he termed as “defamatory stories” against him.

As if to add salt on his fresh sore, Banda surprisingly became the first known presidential aspirant to publicly pronounce tribalism in the face of the nation’s One Zambia One Nation slogan; when he asked the people of Eastern Province, not to accept or listen to anyone who does not hail from Eastern Province. Though as political analyst Neo Simutanyi comments that “Those who publicly denounce tribalism practice it secretly by appealing to their ethnic group to support them in elections”, Banda’s assertions on the other hand spoke volumes of what his MMD sponsors (mostly coming from other regions other than Eastern Province) don’t know the kind of person he is.

His appetite to succeed President Mwanawasa never existed until a few days before the MMD National Executive Committee (NEC) sat to choose a candidate in September. He never announced his intentions to contest and his name was never mentioned on a list of 19 candidates who aspired. Only murmurs from his cheer leaders spread the nation; but as the local adage goes, ‘a house fly that settles on you is the one that loves you’; but one wonders even when its from the toilet; Banda’s name appeared on the day of the NEC meeting and he beat his arch rival; rumored to have been Levy’s preference, Ngandu Magande 43-11 votes. From there, the Banda people knew in 2006 got sealed into the ballots and a new vicious, sarcastic, money-disher, full of contradictions one was born.

In the face of a call for Mwanawasa’s legacy of integrity, corruption fight and economy recovery; Banda’s campaign fail short of even the minimum standards of these democratic principles; raising a question as to what kind of leadership he brings to State House.

But as the nation looks to 2011 general elections, it’s highly unlikely that MMD will field a new candidate other than Banda. With power, money and State machinery at his beck and call, Banda will demand for continuity and no MMD authority will stop him. After all he has no allegiance to anyone in MMD for he doesn’t belong there neither was he sponsored by his UNIP. All he will just do is to pull a few strings here and there and as is always the African style, his cheer leaders will claim to let him ‘finish his programs he couldn’t do in the 3 short years’ as they always trick.

Only what Banda’s pack of loyalists don’t know is that just like Chiluba turned against Kaunda and arrested him on Christmas day; and Mwanawasa U-turned on Chiluba and removed his immunity and took him to court; so would Banda jilt MMD to revive the once sleeping giant UNIP (in the name of MMD) and avenge its 1991 humiliation by bringing in his cronies to have a share of the liberalized loot that is highly expected in coming three years. And probably this will be signifying the natural active death of MMD in controlling power and in disguise the entering of UNIP in taking charge of Plot One.