Facts about Fredrick Chiluba You Didn’t Know.
Frederick Chiluba, who died at age 68 after a heart attack, was a trade unionist who became the president of Zambia in Zambia’s first multi-party election. His decade in office was notable for high-profile corruption scandals, marriages to two of Zambia’s most prominent women, and a noticeable taste for high-healed shoes. Fredrick Chiluba was 5ft tall.
Chiluba joined the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and it was openly backed by the US under President George Bush, with the promise that aid to Zambia would be resumed if Kuanda was defeated.The privatization of the copper mines and the introduction of a free-market economy left three-quarters of Zambia’s population as poor as ever.
Between Kaunda and Chiluba, bad feelings were intense and personal. Kaunda left State House with no home to go to, and it took a private Commonwealth intervention to persuade Chiluba that the former head of state must be given somewhere to live. Kaunda had famously referred to Chiluba as the “4ft dwarf”, though this was nothing compared with the comments of other Zambian politicians, who openly mocked not only his size, but also his personal extravagance and alleged corruption.
In 1997, Chiluba imprisoned Kaunda for allegedly conspiring in a coup plot against him. Chiluba released him only after pressure from Africa’s elder statesmen, Kaunda’s peers, Nelson Mandela and Julius Nyerere. Chiluba also tried to strip Kaunda of his citizenship, and even attempted to deport the former president on the grounds that he was actually from Malawi. He then amended the constitution in order to stop citizens with foreign parentage from standing for the presidency, aimed at disqualifying Kaunda, whose father came from Malawi, from any attempt to return to politics.
Chiluba won a second term in 1996, and then attempted, unsuccessfully, to change the constitution to allow himself to run for a third term. The initiative found no support in parliament, and in 2002 his vice president, Levy Mwanawasa, succeeded him.
Chiluba was born in the city of Kitwe, in the Copperbelt, which was of central importance to Zambia’s economy. He was expelled from secondary school for political activities, worked as a sisal cutter, a bus driver, a city councilor and an accounts assistant, before becoming a trade union leader. He became prominent as chairman of the Zambia Congress Of Trade Unions (ZCTU) when, in 1981, with several other leaders, he was detained by Kaunda for calling a wildcat strike that paralyzed most of Zambia’s economy.
After his departure from the presidency, another serious falling out at the top of Zambian politics occurred, and Chiluba was indicted on 100 charges of corruption by siphoning public money into private banks in London. He had by then divorced his wife of 33 years, Vera. Chiluba’s third wife Regina, was also charged with corruption. Chiluba was barred from leaving the country after his two co-defendants fled abroad. His trial dragged on for six years until Mwanawasa’s death in 2008, when the presidency passed on to Chiluba’s close friend Rupiah Banda. Chiluba was acquitted the following year.
Immediately after his corruption case in Zambia ended, and he was acquitted and able to travel again, he made his first trip outside the country to return to the controversial Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos, Nigeria, almost a decade after his first visit when he was president.
Chiluba ascribed what he called Zambia’s successes under his leadership to his having declared it a Christian Nation. Chiluba is survived by Regina and his 11 children.