Steven Lungu

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Steven Lungu (Captain Steven Lungu aka Captain Solo) (Born 6 January 1962 at Mansa General Hospital in Mansa, Zambia; died 11 August 2012) was a former Zambia Army Captain who in 1997 together with the late captain Jack Chiti attempted a coup d’état during the rule of the then-President, Dr Frederick Chiluba.

Steven Lungu
Captain Steven Lungu.jpg
Lungu in August 2012
Born(1962-01-06)January 6, 1962
Died August 11, 2012(2012-08-11) (aged 50)
Known for1997 coup attempt

Early life

Lungu was trained as a technologist at the Northern Technical College (NORTEC).[1] He became a headmaster and later joined the army's political education program when Kenneth D. Kaunda was President.[2]

Coup attempt

On early morning of 28 October 1997, barely four days after Zambia's 33rd independence celebrations, the soldiers led by Captain Solo broke into an arms depot, assaulted army officers and then proceeded to seized state-owned Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) studios. Solo claimed to be representing the "National Redemption Council", and announced over state radio that he had taken over the country. He further informed his countrymen that he was dismissing the chiefs of the army and the police, and would give President Frederick Chiluba until 9 A.M. to surrender or be killed.

Shortly after that, gunfire was heard outside the radio and television complex and State House, the President's residence. About 9 A.M., a military commander announced on another station in the complex that the coup had been quelled.[2]

Captain Solo called his coup Operation Born Again and said he would appoint a cabinet of military men.

Arrest, trial and imprisonment

Captain Solo together with 54 others were arrested by the special government forces barely after three hours of ‘’taking over’’ and an official announcement was broadcast to announce that the coup had been quelled.[3]

In 2003 under the leadership of the late President Levy Mwanawasa, the long awaited trial was over and 44 out of 54 soldiers were found guilty of treason by the High Court. They were sentenced to death by hanging,[4] but they immediately appealed to the Supreme Court. In their appeal against the ruling, the soldiers argued that they were caught up in the coup unintentionally. During the trial, Captain Solo confessed to being the mastermind of the coup plot and begged for forgiveness. He was however adamant that he was right to try to overthrow Chiluba and his government because it was riddled with corruption.

Other people were also arrested and trialed in connection with the failed coup which included high profile figures such as the first Republican President Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Princess Nakatindi Wina and opposition leader Dean Mung’omba.[5]

In prison

While in prison, Captain Solo used his teaching skills and offered free tuition to younger inmates in mathematics and sciences.


Captain Solo received a presidential pardon after serving 13 years imprisonment by the then third Republican President Rupiah Banda on 28 December 2010. Then President Levy Mwanawasa had also exercised mercy on him by commuting his death sentence to a 20-year jail term.


Solo said although he had walked back to freedom, he was economically bound and depended on Pastor Mvula (a local pastor who started preaching to Lungu while he was in prison) for shelter, food and clothing.[6] He also rebranded himself as Evangelist Captain Steven Lungu.

Because of his financial challenges, he was to support to his children's education.

In 2011, he visited former president Chiluba's Kabulonga residence to seek for forgiveness over the coup plot. He also apologised to the nation and stated that his actions would have caused anarchy.


Steven Lungu died on 11 August 2012, aged 50, at the Kanyama Clinic, in Lusaka after a long battle with tuberculosis (TB) which had deteriorated his health since his release from prison. His mother-in-law Josephine Musonda confirmed his death to the press. He was survived by three children.[7][8]

See also


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  2. 2.0 2.1 Zambia Says a Coup Is Over In 3 Hours, Without Injury, New York Times, 29 October 1997
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