PLOTING TO OVERTHROW KK
DID you know that the plotters of the 1980 foiled coup against President Kenneth Kaunda had no intention to shed blood and planned just to indefinitely isolate and confine Dr Kaunda at his Shambalakale farm in Chinsali district?
For details, follow the excerpt below from
(Conversations with Memorable Personalities)
Is this Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda?
General Miyanda, yes. Now, Brigadier General recruited officers and he organized ammunitions, uniforms from friends at Arakan Barracks and we thought ‘oh this is now set’. And this Kabwe was in prison.
Then we waited for the next step. We were told that most of the regular army personnel had gone over to Katimamulilo to the border, the Caprivi Strip border. And also Zimbabwe had just gotten independence. It was Mozambique now because there was some fracas there during the civil war. So most of them had moved over and in the barracks there were mostly sweepers and cooks. Those are the ones who remained in the barracks but we needed much more competent personnel.
So Annefield said to us that ‘since the people that we want to use are already here but they are few, we also want personnel that can work as sentry in some strategic areas like airport, those oil reservoirs near Matero and the Post Office’. He said ‘we don’t want people to go looting so there must be some military personnel in town to guard against looting and keep order in place’.
So it’s our friend Annefield who said look, ‘Kapwepwe before he died introduced me to some people who were from Katanga and these Katangese fellows are desperate because they have no home. Most of them are refugees and most of them are in Angola’. The discussion we had was ‘if they could find a government that could help them to overthrow Mobutu, they would be very happy’.
So we said where are they now? He said ‘I know of a fellow in Kitwe’. I volunteered to go to Kitwe to look for these fellows and I found them at Garnaton. And these were the commander of these ex-Katangese fellows and also his deputy. They told me that their group, about a thousand of them, were in Angola and we could send a word over there. It can take us about two weeks to have a word for some of them to come here for a briefing’.
And this they did and brought a mob here. They met our group. All they said was that ‘we don’t want money, all we want is for you to promise that once you take over you will also help us to overthrow Mobutu’.
We said that was not a problem. So when they brought in those fellows, they were about three hundred or more. When they came over, we decided to put them at this farm which we bought. Nobody actually suspected anything. They thought those were just probably farm workers, but they were being trained, skilled. They were doing military practices.
But somehow, I think it took long for us to do the preparations and also the fact that President Kaunda and his colleagues in government had known about us. We started preparations in April 1980 and we were arrested in October the same year.
What we didn’t know was that they had actually put surveillance on us individually. It was not difficult for them to know what was going on. But we didn’t know about the surveillance. We said since Musakanya was not there in our meetings these people don’t know anything. We thought they only knew Musakanya but we were mistaken. So on the 16th of October 1980, I was the first to be picked up.
Where were you picked up from?
From my home at Parliament Road, near Parliament. That’s where I stayed with my family. I was asleep and I just heard a siren and the loud speaker; ‘the owner of this house Mr. Goodwin Yoram Mumba please come out.’
And this was a day before the execution of the planned coup. It was exactly a day before because we wanted to take over on the 17th of October.
According to the plan, do you think you were going to succeed?
Oh, yes. If they hadn’t known about it, it was going to be a different story altogether. But I have to clarify one thing.
We didn’t want to kill anyone. This we emphasized in our meetings. All we wanted was to take the President by plane over to Chilubi Island, that’s why we had Air Force. On Chilubi island, we were going to make him sign that he had resigned. That’s all. And then after he signed we were going to take over and keep him at Shambalakale farm, at his farm. That was all.
For how long were you going to put him at Shambalakale?
There were no plans for him?
No. We just wanted to keep him there but once we took over we would call prominent citizens of Zambia like the clergy, paramount chiefs and then people in the army, some university Professors, and all those people who matter, including the trade unions. We were to invite them to the House of Parliament and that would have been the interim government. And then ask those people to endorse or choose who was going to be the Speaker and from there they would choose who was going to be head of government like the Prime Minister, just head of government or Chief of Administration. We didn’t want to call him President. …
An excerpt from
(Conversations with Memorable Personalities)
Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Brig Gen Godfrey Miyanda