Frederick Chiluba

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Frederick Chiluba
Frederick Chiluba.jpg
Frederick Chiluba in 2009
2nd President of Zambia
In office
November 2, 1991 – January 2, 2002
DeputyLevy Mwanawasa
Preceded byKenneth Kaunda
Succeeded byLevy Mwanawasa
Personal details
Born(1943-04-30)April 30, 1943
Kitwe, Northern Rhodesia
DiedJune 18, 2011(2011-06-18) (aged 68)
Lusaka, Zambia
Political partyMMD
Spouse(s)Vera Tembo (?–2000)
Regina Mwanza (2002–2011)
ProfessionTrade Union official

Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba (April 30, 1943 – June 18, 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

He was born to Jacob Titus Chiluba Nkonde and Diana Kaimba and grew up in Kitwe, Zambia. Chiluba has married twice. Frederick Chiluba did his secondary school of education at Kawambwa 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.[1] 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

Frederick Chiluba and his second wife, former First Lady of Zambia Vera Tembo, with whom he has nine children, divorced in 2000 after thirty-three years of marriage.[2] 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.[3] On May 6, 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.[4][5][6]

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.[4][7] 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.[8] His careful appearance and taste for fine suits became a trademark,[1] and was noted during his corruption trial. In a particularly harsh example, Zambian Post writer Roy Clarke ran a recurring column which lampooned the President during his time in office as "a vain, cross-dressing, high-heel wearing, adulterous, dwarf thief".[9] 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..."[10] President Kaunda famously referred to Chiluba as the "Four-foot Dwarf" during Chiluba's rise in opposition politics.[11] Chiluba was acquitted of all corruption charges in August 2009.[12] Mr Chiluba had also been described by the BBC as "a fervent born-again Christian..." whose "...private life was the subject of much gossip."[1]


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 he helped form the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), a party that, with Chiluba as its presidential candidate, went on to successfully challenge Kaunda's rule in the 1991 elections. Chiluba was a powerful speaker with a natural charm and charisma. Chiluba took office on November 2 of that year. 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.[13][14]

Some candidates in the 1996 presidential elections challenged his eligibility on these grounds, claiming that he or his real father was born in Zaire. There is, however, no doubt that 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.

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 January 2, 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.[15] Economically he started the process of ending Zambia's socialist command economy. He presided over various economic reforms. There are mixed feelings in Zambia on the effectiveness of the economic transformation initiated by the Chiluba government.

He helped broker a peace agreement to end the war in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, but failed to stop the escalating crime and poverty in Zambia.

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.


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.[16][17][18]

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 July 15.

On 4 May 2007 he was found guilty of stealing $46m (£23m) in a civil case by a UK court.[19] 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".[20][21] An appeal against the ruling was allowed by the court of appeal in 2008.[22]

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.[23] 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.[24]

Chiluba collapsed on 24 May 2007 due to heart trouble and was hospitalized.[25] 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.[26] On 31 May, a court ruled that his trial should proceed, although his lawyers argued that it should not due to his poor health.[27] The judge rejected arguments from Chiluba’s lawyers and doctors that the former president is too sick to face prosecution over graft charges.[28] On 27 July he was flown to South Africa to be treated for heart trouble;[29] this had been approved by the government earlier in the month.[30] He was scheduled to appear in court for his trial on 14 August,[29] 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.[31] On 14 August, Chiluba rejected the idea of participating in the trial through video,[32] saying that it would be illegal.[33]

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.[32]

Chiluba's wife Regina was arrested on September 3 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 August 24. Chiluba and his wife protested the arrest.[34]

In May 2008, the government announced that it had recovered nearly 60 million dollars in money and assets allegedly stolen during Chiluba's presidency.[35]

Having long suffered from health problems, Mwanawasa died later in 2008. Chiluba was acquitted on all charges on 17 August 2009.[36]

Political stances after leaving office

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 criticizing the main opposition leaders. Transparency International Zambia 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."[37]


Chiluba died on June 18, 2011,[38] shortly after midnight. His spokesman, Emmanuel Mwamba, announced his death. Mwamba stated that Chiluba had a normal day on June 17, and even had time to meet some of his lawyers. He later complained of stomach ache.[38]

His wife Regina died on 26 February 2017 at the University Teaching Hospital after battling with cancer.[39]


In his honour, the government in August 2017 announced plans to construct the Frederick Titus Chiluba University in Luapula Province.[40]

See also


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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Chiluba's legacy to Zambia. BBC. 4 May 2007.
  2. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  3. From divorced First Lady to Zambian Minister. Guardian Weekly (Lusaka) 18 October 2006
  4. 4.0 4.1 Zambia’s ex-President Chiluba acquitted. Hugh Russell. First Post. 19 August 2009.
  5. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  6. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  7. When it's time to go . . . Kenneth Kaunda should follow Madiba's example. Citypress (Lusaka) Sunday 04 January 1998 p. 14
  8. Zambia's well-heeled 'big man' falls. David Smith, The Age. 15 August 2009.
  9. Stephen Chan. Grasping Africa: a tale of tragedy and achievement. London: ib. Tauris & Co Ltd., 2007 ISBN 978-1-84511-285-1 p.57
  10. C/belt, Luapula give Sata a rousing welcome. Patson Chilemba, Zambia Post. 6 March 2010
  11. 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
  12. Zambia: London Court Judgement: Chiluba wins. Zambia Daily Mail. 15 August 2010.
  13. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  14. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  15. "Chiluba's legacy to Zambia", BBC News, 4 May 2007.
  16. "No way out for Chiluba", News24, 18 October 2006.
  17. "Chiluba's wife arrested", News24, 23 October 2006.
  18. Christian Fraser, Zambia's 'matrix of plunder', BBC News, 9 December 2003.
  19. "Zambia's Chiluba guilty of graft", BBC News, 4 May 2007.
  20. "Judge slams Mandela's lawyer", Sapa (News24), 13 May 2007.
  21. "Disappointment for Madiba's lawyer", Sapa (IOL), 13 May 2007.
  23. "Chiluba has to return millions", Reuters (IOL), June 9, 2007.
  24. "Disgraced Chiluba told to vacate home", AFP (IOL), June 12, 2007.
  25. "Chiluba's condition stable", AFP (IOL), 25 May 2007.
  26. "Chiluba 'fit' to stand trial", DPA (IOL), 30 May 2007.
  27. "Chiluba will go on trial, says court", Reuters (IOL), 31 May 2007.
  28. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
  29. 29.0 29.1 "Chiluba flown to SA for treatment", AFP (IOL), 27 July 2007.
  30. "Chiluba to be treated in SA", AFP (IOL), 10 July 2007.
  31. "Zambian ex-president returns home ahead of corruption trial", AngolaPress, August 13, 2007.
  32. 32.0 32.1 "Chiluba is back in court", Reuters (IOL), 15 August 2007.
  33. "Former President Chiluba reappears in court on corruption charges", African Press Agency, 15 August 2007.
  34. "Mrs Chiluba held on theft charges", AFP (IOL), September 4, 2007.
  35. "Zambia seizes 'Chiluba millions'", BBC News, May 9, 2008.
  36. "Chiluba cleared by judge", Sapa-AP (IOL), 18 August 2009.
  37. "Chiluba endorses Banda", Sapa-AFP (IOL), 27 January 2010.
  38. 38.0 38.1 "Frederick Chiluba, Zambia ‘s Second President is dead", Lusaka Times, 18 June 2011
  39. Regina, the Widow to Second Republican President, Frederick Chiluba has died, Lusaka Times, 26 February 2017
  40. Times of Zambia, 11 August 2017
Political offices
Preceded by
Kenneth Kaunda
President of Zambia
Succeeded by
Levy Mwanawasa