Frederick Chiluba

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Frederick Chiluba
Frederick Chiluba (cropped).jpg
2nd President of Zambia
In office
2 November 1991 – 2 January 2002
Vice PresidentLevy Mwanawasa
Godfrey Miyanda
Christon Tembo
Enoch Kavindele
Preceded byKenneth Kaunda
Succeeded byLevy Mwanawasa
Personal details
Born(1943-04-30)30 April 1943
Musangu village, Mwense District, Luapula Province Northern Rhodesia
Died18 June 2011(2011-06-18) (aged 68)
Lusaka, Zambia
Cause of deathHeart Attack[1]
Resting placeEmbassy Park, Lusaka
Political partyMMD
Spouse(s)Vera Tembo (?–2000)
Regina Mwanza [simple] (2002–2011)
ProfessionTrade Union official

Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba (30 April 1943 – 18 June 2011) was a Zambian politician who was the second president of Zambia from 1991 to 2002. Chiluba, a trade union leader, won the country's multi-party presidential election in 1991 as the candidate of the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), defeating long-time President Kenneth Kaunda. He was re-elected in 1996. As he was unable to run for a third term in 2001, former Vice President Levy Mwanawasa instead ran as the MMD candidate and succeeded him. After leaving office, Chiluba was the subject of a long investigation and trial regarding alleged corruption; he was eventually acquitted in 2009.

Early life[edit]

He was born to Jacob Titus Chiluba Nkonde and Diana Kaimba and grew up in Luapula Province where he was born from. Chiluba has married twice. Frederick Chiluba did his basic education at Mambilima special school and his secondary education at Kawambwa boys technical Secondary School in Kawambwa, where he was expelled in the second year for political activities. He became a bus conductor, and later a politician due to his charismatic personality.[2] He worked as city councilor before becoming an accounts assistant at Atlas Copco, and rose in his rankings, in Ndola where he joined the National Union of Building.

Personal life[edit]

Frederick Chiluba and his second wife, former First Lady of Zambia Vera Tembo, with whom he had nine children, divorced in 2000 after thirty-three years of marriage.[3] Tembo has gone on to pursue a political career of her own, becoming MMD Chairperson for Women's Affairs, being elected to the Zambian Parliament, and becoming deputy Minister of the Environment in 2006.[4] On 6 May 2002, Chiluba married his third wife, Regina Mwanza, the former chairperson of women's affairs for the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD), in Lusaka.[5][6][7]

Chiluba's personal appearance and dapper dress as well as his short stature (Chiluba stood just 1.5 m (5 ft) tall) was taken notice of both by his supporters and opponents throughout his career.[5][8] In connection to European corruption allegations against him in the late 2000s, it was revealed that a Swiss shop had produced over 100 pairs of size 6 shoes for him with two inch heels, many monogrammed.[9] His careful appearance and taste for fine suits became a trademark,[2] and was noted during his corruption trial. In a particularly harsh example, Roy Clarke, writing in The Post, ran a recurring column which lampooned the President during his time in office as "a vain, cross-dressing, high-heel wearing, adulterous, dwarf thief".[10] Political opponents make reference to these charges and traits in their criticisms of Chiluba's rule. Candidate Michael Sata, for instance, has played on this popular stereotype of Chiluba, charging that "Chiluba's thinking is as tall as he is... We are not going to steal money, we are not going to plunder, we are not going to buy suits, we are not going to buy shoes. We are not going to give girls houses..."[11] President Kaunda famously referred to Chiluba as the "Four-foot Dwarf" during Chiluba's rise in opposition politics.[12] Chiluba was acquitted of all corruption charges in August 2009.[13] Chiluba had also been described by the BBC as "a fervent born-again Christian [whose] private life was the subject of much gossip."[2]


Chiluba went on to win the chairmanship of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). He and several leaders in ZCTU were detained in 1981 by President Kenneth Kaunda for calling a wildcat strike that paralyzed most of the Zambian economy. The union leaders were released after a judge ruled their detention as unconstitutional. In 1987, he successfully withstood challenge to his chairmanship of NUBEGW that would have put his ZCTU position in jeopardy.


In 1990, soon after UNIP gave up its monopoly on power, he helped form the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), and became its presidential candidate in the snap 1991 election called as part of the deal that ended one-party rule. Due in part to festering resentment at UNIP's 25-year rule (including 17 years as the only legal party), Chiluba defeated Kaunda in a massive landslide, taking 75 percent of the vote to Kaunda's 25 percent–the second-biggest margin of victory for a contested election in Zambian history. Chiluba took office on 2 November of that year. On 29 December 1991, he declared Zambia a Christian nation. This declaration was included in the 2016 Constitutional Amendment Bill which is part of the current Constitution of the Republic of Zambia. He won re-election to a second five-year term in 1996 despite a lawsuit questioning his birthplace and hence his eligibility for the post.

Chiluba attempted to deport Kaunda on the grounds that he was a Malawian. He amended the constitution in order to stop citizens with foreign parentage from standing for the presidency, aimed at disqualifying Kaunda.[14][15] His attempt to deport Kaunda was unsuccessful as Kaunda's Zambian citizenship was confirmed by the Lewanika and Others vs. Chiluba Supreme Court ruling in 2000.

Some candidates in the 1996 presidential elections challenged his eligibility on these grounds, claiming that he or his real father was born in Zaire. However, he was raised in the Copperbelt of Zambia and this contributed to his taking up of unionism.

In 1997 his government survived a coup attempt after which Chiluba immediately declared a state of emergency and began jailing, without charges, persons suspected of involvement in the coup. These included several Zambian politicians, including those from opposition parties and the country's previous President, Kenneth Kaunda.[16]

In late 2001, Chiluba divorced his second wife, Vera, with whom he had nine children, namely Helen, Miko, Hortensia, Castro, Chongo, Kaindu, Huldah, Frederick Jr and Verocia . With his first wife he had Tito and Nikombe.

He later married the MMD Women's Chairperson, Regina Mwanza a divorcee. Despite his party's overwhelming majority in parliament, he failed to win support in his bid to amend the constitution allowing him to run for a third term. No member of parliament ever moved the motion in the house to amend the national constitution, the government never presented any paper on the matter nor was there any referendum to amend the national constitution. The third term debate was between different groups within and outside the MMD. Chiluba himself was quiet about it. He stepped down at the end of his term on 2 January 2002, and was replaced by Levy Mwanawasa, his one-time vice-president. Chiluba started out as a socialist, but accepted some economic reforms.

Chiluba can be said to have left both an economic and a political legacy.[17] Economically he started the process of ending Zambia's socialist command economy. He presided over various economic reforms. He worked closely with British Prime Minister John Major throughout the early 1990s to reduce Zambia's debt.[18] Major and Chiluba restructured Zambia's debt to Britain which allowed Zambia to begin paying off debts to other foreign countries without their credit being negatively effected. This was considered the most successful debt restructuring Africa during the 1990s.[19]

Chiluba opposed international economic institutions. His successor Levy Mwanawasa re-established relations with IMF and World Bank which had been abolished during Chiluba's government.[citation needed] This view contradicts Chiluba's economic reforms which included the Privatisation of Parastatals which he spearheaded with close cooperation with the World Bank and the IMF. Chiluba is also credited with kickstarting the privatisation of ZCCM (Zambia Consolidatited Copper Mines) in the late 1990s, the country's crown jewel.


After leaving office, Chiluba was a target of Mwanawasa's campaign against corruption: in February 2003, he was charged along with his former intelligence chief, Xavier Chungu, and several former ministers and senior officials, with 168 counts of theft totalling more than $40m.

It was alleged that money was diverted from the Ministry of Finance into an account held at the London branch of the Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco). Chiluba said the account was used by the country's intelligence services to fund operations abroad. Investigators said it was a slush fund, used to meet Chiluba and Chungu's private and personal expenses.

Most of the charges that were made against him were later dropped, but others remained. In addition, his wife Regina was arrested for receiving stolen goods.[20][21][22]

In early 2006, Chiluba was flown to South Africa for medical attention for a heart condition. After resisting the government's call for him to return to Zambia for what they termed as long-term treatment, he returned on 15 July.

On 4 May 2007 he was found guilty of stealing $46m (£23m) in a civil case by a UK court.[23] London high court judge Peter Smith accused Chiluba of shamelessly defrauding his people and flaunting his wealth with an expensive wardrobe of "stupendous proportions". He also castigated his lawyer, Iqbal Meer, saying "I am satisfied that no honest solicitor in his position would have done what he did." His unquestioning acceptance of the money - transferred to a London bank account by the Zambian intelligence service - was "classic blind eye dishonesty".[24][25] An appeal against the ruling was allowed by the court of appeal in 2008.[26] Large sections of Zambian society have however questioned Peter Smith's credibility following reprimands and recusals by the British judiciary.[27][28][29][30][31] Many have argued that the British Judge should have concentrated on cases pertaining to properties that were allegedly obtained by corrupt means in Britain and Europe rather than properties in Zambia. However, after offering Chiluba's clothes to his family in 2016, the Anti-Corruption Commission later secured a judgement in the Supreme Court of Zambia where Chiluba's estate (tedworth properties) was forfeited to the state after seizing it in 2002.[32]

Chiluba, however, continued to plead innocence and refused to recognise the verdict of the Judge Peter Smith who he accused of having been bribed by the Mwanawasa government. It is yet to be seen what effect the civil ruling in the UK will have on the criminal proceedings in the Zambian courts. Chiluba indicated at the time that the judgement in the UK had rendered the criminal proceedings in Zambia academic by heavily prejudicing his case.

On 7 June, the amount, which Chiluba was ordered to repay, was increased to $58m, accounting for interest and legal costs.[33] Several days later, Judge Smith ordered Chiluba to leave his home in Lusaka within two weeks because it was judged to have been bought with money stolen from the public.[34]

Chiluba collapsed on 24 May 2007 due to heart trouble and was hospitalized.[35] He was released from the hospital on 29 May, and on 30 May doctors judged him to be fit to stand trial on the embezzlement charges following an examination.[36] On 31 May, a court ruled that his trial should proceed, although his lawyers argued that it should not due to his poor health.[37] The judge rejected arguments from Chiluba's lawyers and doctors that the former president is too sick to face prosecution over graft charges.[38] On 27 July he was flown to South Africa to be treated for heart trouble;[39] this had been approved by the government earlier in the month.[40] He was scheduled to appear in court for his trial on 14 August,[39] and he returned to Zambia on 11 August, saying in an interview that he was "surviving on God's will". His spokesman said that his illness made it uncertain whether he would appear in court; in July, it was ruled that, if necessary, Chiluba would participate in the trial through video or a judge would go to his home.[41] On 14 August, Chiluba rejected the idea of participating in the trial through video,[42] saying that it would be illegal.[43]

After appearing briefly in court on 14 August, Chiluba was present for the resumption of trial proceedings on 15 August. Chiluba took breaks during the day for health reasons.[42]

Chiluba's wife Regina was arrested on 3 September for allegedly receiving money and property stolen by Chiluba during his time in office, despite having previously been released after the case against her had been dropped on 24 August. Chiluba and his wife protested the arrest.[44]

In May 2008, the government announced that it had recovered nearly 60 million dollars in money and assets allegedly stolen during Chiluba's presidency.[45]

Having long suffered from health problems, Mwanawasa died later in 2008. Chiluba was acquitted on all charges on 17 August 2009.[46] Scores of people packed the Lusaka Magistrates Court to hear Judge Jones Chinyama final judgement which concluded that Dr. Frederick Chiluba was not guilty of the corruption charges laid against him and hence was acquitted.[47]

Political stances after leaving office[edit]

Chiluba's relationship with President Mwanawasa and the MMD soured badly after he was charged with corruption. He backed Mwanawasa's main opponent, Michael Sata, in the 2006 presidential election. After Mwanawasa's death in 2008, Vice-president Rupiah Banda succeeded him and Chiluba's fortunes improved markedly. Chiluba was acquitted in 2009—a decision that Sata alleged was "engineered" by Banda—and President Banda refused to allow the state to appeal the verdict or pursue the matter further. Chiluba announced in January 2010 that he was supporting Banda for re-election in 2011, while also criticising the main opposition leaders. Transparency International argued that Chiluba was endorsing Banda "so that he can be guaranteed his freedom", and Sata was similarly critical: "Chiluba will do anything possible to ensure that his friend remains in power."[48]


Chiluba died on 18 June 2011,[49] shortly after midnight. His spokesman, Emmanuel Mwamba, announced his death. Mwamba stated that Chiluba had a normal day on 17 June, and even had time to meet some of his lawyers. He had later complained of stomach pains.[49]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Frederick Chiluba obituary". 19 June 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Chiluba's legacy to Zambia. BBC. 4 May 2007.
  3. ^ Simwanza, Obert (18 June 2011). "Zambia's ex-president Chiluba dies". Independent Online (South Africa). Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  4. ^ From divorced First Lady to Zambian Minister. Guardian Weekly (Lusaka) 18 October 2006
  5. ^ a b Zambia’s ex-President Chiluba acquitted. Hugh Russell. First Post. 19 August 2009.
  6. ^ Kaunda, Joe (13 December 2002). "Chiluba, Regina Marry Quietly". Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  7. ^ Malupenga, Amos (15 December 2002). "I am the good thing in Chiluba's life - Regina". Zambia Post. AccessMyLibrary. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
  8. ^ When it's time to go . . . Kenneth Kaunda should follow Madiba's example Archived 2011-07-03 at the Wayback Machine. Citypress (Lusaka) Sunday 4 January 1998 p. 14
  9. ^ Zambia's well-heeled 'big man' falls. David Smith, The Age. 15 August 2009.
  10. ^ Grasping Africa: a tale of tragedy and achievement, Stephen Chan, Tauris & Co Ltd., 2007, page 57 ISBN 978-1-84511-285-1
  11. ^ C/belt, Luapula give Sata a rousing welcome Archived 2011-07-15 at the Wayback Machine. Patson Chilemba, Zambia Post. 6 March 2010
  12. ^ p. 79, 81. Jean-Pascal Daloz. Les ambivalences dans la caricature des dirigeants politiques. Illustrations africaines. Mots (Journal) Presses de Sciences Po, Paris. Volume 48. Issue 48. 1996. pp. 74-86
  13. ^ Zambia: London Court Judgement: Chiluba wins. Zambia Daily Mail. 15 August 2010.
  14. ^ Mbao, Melvin (1996). "Human Rights and Discrimination: Zambia's Constitutional Amendment, 1996". Journal of African Law. 42 (1): 11. JSTOR 745693.
  15. ^ "Guy Scott's rise to Zambia's presidency". BBC. 29 October 2014. The "parentage clause" was inserted after the advent of multi-party democracy in Zambia in 1990 by then-President Frederick Chiluba to prevent his bitter rival, Kenneth Kaunda - the first post-independence leader whose father was born in what is now Malawi, from running for office again.
  16. ^ The Europa World Year Book 2014. Europa Publications. 1989. p. 5043. ISBN 978-1857437140.
  17. ^ "Chiluba's legacy to Zambia", BBC News, 4 May 2007.
  18. ^ South African Yearbook of International Law: Suid-Afrikaanse Jaarboek Vir Volkereg, Volume 18 - VerLoren Van Themaat Centre for International Law, University of South Africa, 1992
  19. ^ Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook by Perth Corporation, 1999 pg. 1683
  20. ^ "No way out for Chiluba". News24. 18 October 2006. Archived from the original on 9 June 2008.
  21. ^ "Chiluba's wife arrested". News24. 23 October 2006. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007.
  22. ^ Christian Fraser (9 December 2003). "Zambia's 'matrix of plunder'". BBC News.
  23. ^ "Zambia's Chiluba guilty of graft". BBC News. 4 May 2007.
  24. ^ "Judge slams Mandela's lawyer". Sapa (News24). 13 May 2007. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007.
  25. ^ "Disappointment for Madiba's lawyer". Sapa (IOL). 13 May 2007.
  26. ^ "Meer, Care & Desai: London Law Firm - Meer, Care & Desai Court Rulings: the original and the appeal". Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
  27. ^ Joshua Rozenberg (12 July 2007). "Law: Mr Justice Peter Smith loses his judgment". The Telegraph.
  28. ^ Joshua Rozenberg (17 June 2016). "Take the hint, Mr Justice Peter Smith: leave the bench now". The Guardian.
  29. ^ Chloe Smith (16 June 2016). "CoA criticises judge Peter Smith for 'disgraceful' letter". The Law Society Gazette.
  30. ^ David Connett (25 July 2015). "British Airways: Judge's baggage claim gets him booted off BA competition case". Independent.
  31. ^ "High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Smith faces judicial investigation over British Airways complaint". Evening Standard. 21 September 2015.
  32. ^ "Late FTJ Chiluba's property forfieted [sic] to the State". Lusaka Times. 10 February 2017.
  33. ^ "Chiluba has to return millions". Reuters (IOL). 9 June 2007.
  34. ^ "Disgraced Chiluba told to vacate home". AFP (IOL). 12 June 2007.
  35. ^ "Chiluba's condition stable". AFP (IOL). 25 May 2007.
  36. ^ "Chiluba 'fit' to stand trial". DPA (IOL). 30 May 2007.
  37. ^ "Chiluba will go on trial, says court". Reuters (IOL). 31 May 2007.
  38. ^ "Ex-Zambian President Ordered to Stand Trial Over Graft Charges". VOA News. Voice of America. 1 June 2007. Archived from the original on 15 November 2008. Retrieved 25 December 2008.
  39. ^ a b "Chiluba flown to SA for treatment". AFP (IOL). 27 July 2007.
  40. ^ "Chiluba to be treated in SA". AFP (IOL). 10 July 2007.
  41. ^ "Zambian ex-president returns home ahead of corruption trial". AngolaPress. 13 August 2007. Archived from the original on 16 April 2008.
  42. ^ a b "Chiluba is back in court". Reuters (IOL). 15 August 2007.
  43. ^ "Former President Chiluba reappears in court on corruption charges". African Press Agency. 15 August 2007. Archived from the original on 19 April 2008.
  44. ^ "Mrs Chiluba held on theft charges". AFP (IOL). 4 September 2007.
  45. ^ "Zambia seizes 'Chiluba millions'". BBC News. 9 May 2008.
  46. ^ "Chiluba cleared by judge". Sapa-AP (IOL). 18 August 2009.
  47. ^ "Zambia's ex-president Frederick Chiluba cleared of theft". The Telegraph. 17 August 2009.
  48. ^ "Chiluba endorses Banda", Sapa-AFP (IOL), 27 January 2010.
  49. ^ a b "Frederick Chiluba, Zambia ‘s Second President is dead", Lusaka Times, 18 June 2011

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by President of Zambia
Succeeded by
Trade union offices
Preceded by
New position
President of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions
Succeeded by