In Zambia, former president, Frederick Chiluba, has endorsed presidential candidate Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front Party (PFP). Chiluba is presently facing corruption charges causing some to view the endorsement as controversial. Sata has said that he will drop the charges against the former president if elected and some analysts believe this is why Chiluba endorsed him. However, the former president has said Sata is the only suitable candidate to conduct Zambia’s government affairs. Chiluba's support for Sata is likely to boost his popularity in northern Zambia where Chiluba continues to wield influence among tribesmen who accuse Mwanawasa of marginalizing them.
Zambia's founding president, Kenneth Kaunda, has backed another opposition presidential candidate, Hakainde Hichilema, dismissing Sata saying he possesses no leadership qualities.
Emmanuel Mwamba is Chiluba’s spokesman; he spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the endorsement.
“Dr. Chiluba…gave some press remarks and he defended his legacy because there has been some allegations that there was a lot of corruption and he did nothing [wrong]. He has stated that all the successes that President Mwanawasa is talking about were actually his successes; he stabilized the economy, he made a solid foundation for growth. And he said it would have been natural for him to support his own party MMD and the current president, President Mwanawasa. But he stated that…President Mwanawasa has done nothing with the country. Dr. Chiluba actually described the MMD as dead, and he said President Mwanawasa had taken the unorthodox way of attacking his predecessor who in fact facilitated his election in 2001. He said it was difficult for him to support president Mwanawasa because he has attacked the MMD,” the spokesman said.
Mwamba explains the rationale behind the former president’s endorsement.
“The endorsement comes a week after…former president Dr. Kenneth Kaunda endorsed another opposition candidate….Naturally, Dr. Chiluba had taken a neutral stand but when…Kaunda endorsed another opposition candidate and Dr. Chiluba in fact has been a campaign target for many parties that are campaigning for the vote for Zambia. And I think he also decided to offer his opinion on this matter,” he noted.
Mwamba said Chiluba feels Sata will represent the interests of the Zambian people.
“Dr. Chiluba feels that, especially in this campaign, you have seen President Mwanwasa stand by foreign investors while Sata is standing for the interest of ordinary Zambians….Dr. Chiluba feels that…Sata is standing by the Zambian people; he is standing by the views of the ordinary people in relation to foreign investment that needs to be reviewed. If our foreign investors are exploiting our people, they are treating them like slaves, giving them slave wages, then Michael Sata is right. We need their money but we need to secure the interest of our people too,” he said.
President Mwanawasa says Chiluba is violating the law by actively supporting a presidential candidate from the opposition prior to next week's elections.
Let us know what you think of this report and other stories on our website. Send your views to AFRICA@VOANEWS.COM
, and include your phone number. Or, call us here in Washington, DC at (202) 205-9942. After you hear the VOA identification, press 30 to leave a message. We want to hear what you have to say!