Columnists Features

The 80’s: UNIP government under fire

DOWN MEMORY LANE with AUSTIN KALUBA
THIS week, I continue looking at the late 70’s and early 80’s when the UNIP government came under fire from ‘dissidents’, unionists like Frederick Chiluba and students. I will spice it up with miscellaneous tidbits. So come down with me in Renault to those rocky years.
1. In its January issue, the National Mirror reported that Multimedia Zambia seconded the editor in chief of the National Mirror Richard Sakala to the newly-established African Church Information Service in Kenya.
2. In the same issue, it was reported that Kaunda nominated five members of the Central Committee to the National Assembly. They were Grey Zulu, chairman of the Defence and Security, Mr Wesley Nyirenda, chairman of economic and Finance committee, Mr Nalumino Mundia, chairman of the Youth and Sports committee, Mr Elijah Mudenda chairman of the Social and Cultural committee and Mr Humphrey Mulemba chairman of the Appointments and Disciplinary committee.
3. In April 1979, President Kaunda suspended Minister of Labour and Social Services Dingiswayo Banda pending investigations into alleged illegal hunting of game. Ever since game meat has been nicknamed ‘Dingi.’
4. In the February 1979 issue, National Mirror quoted UNIP secretary general Mainza Chona assuring Christians in the country not to panic simply because the Party was on the verge of implementing scientific socialism. Mr Chona said scientific socialism would not interfere with Christian’s right to worship God.
5. On February 10, 1976 the University of Zambia was closed for an indefinite period after student unrest which led to the detention of some union leaders. The university at the time was a hive of so called dissidents.
6. In the January 4-17 issue, the National Mirror reported the treason trial acquittal of William Chipango’s in the Supreme Court. Chipango who had been sentenced to death appealed to people to rally behind President Kaunda’s leadership and complained that life in prison was hell. Speaking from his Maramba home in Livingstone, Chipango who was a former Livingstone mayor said he had reached a solid stage in his political life which few people would ever reach. He paid tribute to President Kaunda and his leadership and vowed to remain a true and patriotic person to the country.
7. In the same issue, an American boxer Freddie Brown who had been beaten by Lottie Mwale in the seventh round of their non-title fight dispelled rumours doing round in Zambia that Mwale used black magic for his victories. Brown admitted that Mwale was just a good puncher dismissed talk of juju as ‘rubbish.’
A National Mirror feature writer penned a feature article on Kaunda entitled ‘Meet The Singing President’ highlighting the President’s musical talent. The article chronicled Kaunda’s singing career from his Lubwa days to the days he sang with his choral group The Zambian Heritage Singers. The article revealed Kaunda’s elder brother Robert nicknamed the youthful crooning Kaunda Jimmie Rodgers after an American singer. Jimmie Rodgers (born-September 8, 1897 – died May 26, 1933) was an American country singer in the early 20th century.

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