Compiled by: Carrington mbozi – Zambian Teachers Corner
Mwamba Luchembe was born on the 14th of February, 1960 in the Northern Province, of then Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia). He started his primary education at Local Education Authority School in the Northern Province where he did his grade one. He did his Grade 2 at Nseluka Primary School in Kasama District. From grade 3-7 he went to Musakanya Primary School in Mpika. He proceeded to Isoka Boys Secondary School where he did and completed his secondary education in 1978 with a Cambridge School Certificate.
During the Kaunda era, it was compulsory for school leavers to go for mandatory national service training. Upon completion of his education, Luchembe proceeded to Kasama Zambia National Service Camp where he did his compulsory National Service training. After the national service training, Luchembe went to Kohima Barracks and did his officer’s selection board where he qualified and attested in the Zambia Army on the 23rd of June, 1980. He completed his Officers Cadets training and was commissioned on the 14th of November, 1981.

He then went to Gonda Barracks in Chipata for regimentation for a period of six months. He went to Burma Barracks where he was deployed in the field of signals. After there, he went to Kaoma at Luena Barracks and continue with the training in signals for young officers and passed with very high marks and was scheduled to become an instructor in signals at the very Luena Barracks in Kaoma.

Luchembe only stayed in Kaoma for three days after the redeployment as an instructor in the field of signals before he was sent to join his colleagues who were on an operation in Eastern Province. The operation was called “Operation Hyena” which was meant to hunt down the RENAMO bandits who were harassing Zambians for food and other necessities. He left the place and proceeded to Kaoma and stayed there for a month before heading to the Mbonga training area where they trained from January to June of 1990.

On the 24th of June, 1990, news went round the barracks that food riots had broken out in Lusaka. Luchembe was among the soldiers from Kaoma who were lined up to go and quell the riots that were taking place in the capital Lusaka. Luchembe and other soldiers grew discontent about the way they saw some Zambians being treated and others being shot by the police. They hatch the plan to oust the long-serving President of the nation Kenneth Kaunda at the Officers Mess as they were imbibing some drinks.

Their main reason for discontent was that the root of the root problem was not being tackled and the problem of the economic downturn that the country was experiencing affected them as soldiers as well as being citizens of the Republic. Luchembe was the junior most in the group and coming from the signals background in the army was given the task of taking the international telephone lines, control the airports by allowing planes to land and not to take off. Then by 03:30 hours the announcement of taking over the country be made at the Mass Media Complex. Luchembe claims that he was president of the Republic of Zambia for some good three hours.

Luchembe and company were disappointed by the senior-most officer in their hatching of the plan, who was to be the one to issue step by step instructions. However, the senior-most did not pitch up after Luchembe made the announcement on the National Broadcaster that the Army had taken over the government.

On July 1, 1990, Luchembe announced in the radio studios of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) that the Zambia Army had taken over the government and he cited riots of the previous week as reasons for his action; about 27 people had died in the riots, while more than 100 were wounded.

Although Lieutenant Luchembe’s coup attempt against President Kaunda failed, it weakened Kaunda’s political power, which was already shaky after three days of rioting. Luchembe said”I wanted to take over the government but Kaunda’s puppets are stopping me,” he said, pointing to the soldiers surrounding him. “These are Kaunda’s puppets. This was after the failed coup attempt.

To this day, Luchembe still claims that he was the second Republican President of Zambia. The paltry three hours that his group had held the nation is enough to convince Luchembe as the second Republican President of Zambia.

A personal account of Lieutenant Luchembe Mwamba from the “End of Kaunda Era” By John Mwanakatwe.

Source: Decent News…/
By Neil Henry July 1, 1990

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, JUNE 30 — President Kenneth Kaunda, hours after Zambian security forces squelched a feeble pre-dawn attempt against his government, today angrily reaffirmed his commitment to stiff price increases for food and other commodities despite bloody rioting and street protests that have posed the most serious challenge to his 26-year rule.

Speaking to a crowd in Ndola, center of the nation’s northern copper belt, Kaunda insisted that the new prices were final and lashed out at the alleged coup plotters who held the studios of Zambia state radio in Lusaka for about four hours this morning before government troops moved in and reclaimed the station.

“Coups do not help anything but beget other coups,” said Kaunda, noted for his philosophy of non-violence. “We have serious economic problems, but we will solve them. . . . Those who rise by the sword will perish by the sword.” He then recited the 23rd Psalm.

The government announced that an army officer identified as Lt. Mwamba Luchembe and at least two other soldiers had been arrested in connection with the coup attempt, which began with the takeover of Radio Zambia at 3:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m. EDT Friday). For several hours after that, a voice on the radio reported that the government had been taken over by the military.

Kaunda’s security forces surrounded the radio station complex in tanks and armored personnel carriers. The attempt ended with the lieutenant’s arrest at 7 a.m.
The government declared that no one was injured either in the takeover of the station or the arrest of the soldier, but there were unconfirmed reports of gunfire today near Kaunda’s official residence, State House. Kaunda was in Ndola at the time of the coup attempt.
{Soldiers guarding State House fired on nearby civilians prematurely celebrating the reported coup, the Associated Press reported, citing witnesses’ accounts. It said Western diplomats saw the bodies of three people in civilian clothes killed by gunshots.}

Tonight, with a 6 p.m. curfew in effect, the streets of Lusaka were calm and nearly deserted, save for straggling motorists. While there appeared to be no immediate evidence to contradict Kaunda’s claim today that the coup effort was the work of “one misguided soldier with the help of maybe one or two colleagues,” the event triggered renewed demonstrations and heightened tension in a capital already gripped by crisis.

The fall of Kaunda could have had a dramatic effect on events in southern African. Kaunda is chairman of the group of “front-line states,” the black nations rimming South Africa, and both the South African government and the African National Congress view him as a crucial player in the process of ending apartheid in that country. Pretoria expressed its concern over the news from Lusaka today.

Kaunda is a fierce critic of South Africa’s policy of racial separation, allowing the ANC to use Lusaka as its exile headquarters. Still, he is the only front-line leader to have met with South African President Frederik W. de Klerk and his predecessors, Pieter W. Botha and B.J. Vorster. Kaunda also helped negotiate Namibia’s independence from South Africa.

“Kaunda has always defined himself as one of the facilitators and mediators in the region,” Andre du Pisani of the South African Institute of International Affairs told Reuter. “From the South African perspective, there is a real interest in maintaining Kaunda’s position and using his offices to gain access” to other nations in the region, du Pisani said.

At the heart of Zambia’s crisis is a recent doubling in the consumer price of cornmeal, a staple food in this nation of 7.6 million people. The government’s decision triggered rioting earlier this week in which at least 23 civilians and police officers were killed.

On Friday, government troops and police arrested 34 students and closed the University of Zambia here, site of protests that called for Kaunda’s resignation and demanded more political parties in this one-party state.

In a wider context, the crisis stemmed from an official Zambian effort to comply with austerity measures mandated by foreign donors and international lending institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

For years, Kaunda’s government used revenues from the country’s thriving copper industry to subsidize urban life at the expense of agricultural development. But with the crash in world copper prices in the last decade, the government became unable to afford such domestic policies and borrowed heavily in the world financial system.
By the end of the 1980s, Zambia was the most urbanized nation in sub-Saharan Africa, its agricultural production had stagnated badly and the nation’s foreign debt reached $6.2 billion.

The doubling in the price of cornmeal, a measure encouraged by the IMF, actually amounts to a removal of government subsidies to make consumers pay a price closer to the actual free-market cost.

Three years ago, Kaunda tried to raise cornmeal prices but was so stunned by the deaths of a number of protesters that he dropped the price increases and abandoned other IMF reforms. This time, however, he seems determined to stay the course.

As in many other countries in recent years, attempts to restructure the economy of Zambia have triggered public cries for political change. Relenting under public pressure, Kaunda announced Friday that Oct. 17 will be the date Zambian voters may go to the polls to decide whether they want more than one political party in the country.

Kaunda, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1964, abolished a multi-party system in 1972, maintaining that one party — his own — is best for Zambia, if tribal factionalism is to be avoided in a nation that has 73 tribal groups and subgroups. But while he waits for the public to decide that issue, today he requested the people’s support.
“I’m asking for your prayers,” he told his listeners in Ndola, “so that God can guide us through.’
Source: The Washington Post


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