|March 25, 2002
Chiluba finally bows out of Zambian politics, EU Visit
Former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba has finally exited active
politics after months of argument and uncertainty. Analysts suggest that
Chiluba's resignation as president of the ruling Movement for Multiparty
Democracy (MMD) will open the way for newly-elected president Levy Mwanawasa to
consolidate control of the divided party.
Chiluba's protracted stay at the helm of the MMD has been seen by
observers and analysts alike as the main reason behind growing divisions in the
ruling party. Since the 27 December election the MMD appeared to have split
into two camps - one loyal to Chiluba, who briefly flirted with the idea of
running for an unconstitutional third term, the other aligned with Mwanawasa,
Chiluba's hand-picked successor. But Chiluba's departure is, according to one
analyst, overdue and not without controversy. "Chiluba's retirement package is
probably the most compelling reason behind the political stalwart's decision to
step down from the party presidency," exective director of the Open Society of
Southern Africa, Lucy Muwoweta, told IRIN.
The constitution, which was amended in 1996, requires a former head of
state to relinquish party presidency if he is to be given his retirement
package. The ruling was based on one of Chiluba's own laws - that past
presidents are not entitled to any state benefits if they stay involved in
active politics. The legislation was specifically targeted at his predecessor
Earlier this month Judge Anthony Nyangulu ordered Chiluba to stop using
government-owned facilities and other benefits afforded to
presidents-in-office. He had to give up his Mercedes, a number of other
vehicles and the keys to a government-owned house. Also, Chiluba's resignation
came amid growing calls for him to relinquish what analysts have referred to as
an "unhealthy influence on Zambian politics". "Chiluba's resignation is more
timely than benevolent. He has probably realised that he can no longer muster
the support he enjoyed during his presidency. Also, the balance of power has
shifted to Mwanawasa within and outside the ruling party," Muwoweta added.
Last week IRIN reported that Mwanawasa had received endorsement from a
number of opposition parties and several influential civic society
organisations which initially rejected the election results as flawed.
Political observers attribute the president's growing popularity to a number of
bold moves he has taken to curb corruption and alleviate widespread poverty.