Munkombwe’s Autobiography Confirms his ‘Politics of the Belly’
In his 136 paged autobiography launched recently in Lusaka, Patriotic Front’s Southern Province minister and chairman Daniel Munkombwe is at pains to shrug – off his famous nickname of ‘Politics of the Belly’.
‘I did not join the Patriotic Front because of politics of the belly as is generally suggested by my detractors’, Munkombwe tries to explain.
But how did Munkombwe acquire his nickname? In 2013, Munkombwe said “there is no more patriotism. Patriotism was only there when we were fighting colonialists, so everybody is adopting my philosophy of politics of benefits. I know people will say Munkombwe has gone into government because he wants to eat but who does not want to eat?
Now just a year later through his hurriedly written autobiography, The Politics of Influence, Munkombwe tries to cement his position in his new home, the PF. His selection and description of events reveals a desperate attempt to please his new master. Munkombwe attempts, through his book, to rewrite and tilt history to suit his ambition.
Munkombwe narrates his role in the formation of the United Party for National Development (UPND). He explains his role in the search for the party’s leader from approaching late Edward Shamwana to Levy Mwanawasa and eventually Anderson Mazoka.
But while Munkombwe correctly explains the frustrations that forced Mazoka to leave the Movement for Multi Party Democracy (MMD) in 1998 to form UPND, he conveniently ignores to mention that Michael Sata, who was then national secretary of MMD, was at the centre of these frustrations. Munkombwe however found it easier to point at late President Chiluba as the reason for Mazoka’s departure from MMD.
Munkombwe does not explain that towards the end of Frederick Chiluba’s second presidential term, Mazoka did everything to position himself to take over the leadership of MMD and eventually the country. However, Sata publicly advised Mazoka ‘not to climb the tree from the leaves’.
Following Sata’s advice, Mazoka was duly elected ward treasurer in Bauleni. It is common knowledge among keen followers of Zambian politics that Micheal Sata went on to disband all party structures in Bauleni thereby nullyfing Mazoka’s standing at the grassroots of the party.
However, in his book, Munkombwe says: ‘ …Mazoka was prevented by Chiluba from holding a post in the MMD in Bauleni ward where he was elected as ward treasurer’.
But why would a senior citizen and seasoned politician like Daniel Munkombwe deliberately choose to mislead millions that will read his book by avoiding even a mere mention of his boss in activities that shaped a critical phase of Zambia’s politics? If Zambia cannot rely on its veterans like Munkombwe for history, then whom are the youth going to turn to for knowledge?
The answers to these questions could perhaps be found in Sishuwa Sishuwa’s review of Munkombwe’s autobiography which was published in the Post newspaper of 3rd May 2014 in which he observed: ‘… what political value have successive presidents seen in Munkombwe to keep appointing him to the same position of Southern Province minister or ruling party chairperson, in spite of his repeated failure to wrestle the region from opposition control? After fifty years in politics, what does he consider to be his legacy? Munkombwe does not adequately answer these questions and it is tempting to dismiss his book as not very useful when wearing critical academic lens, and to insist that history is better written by people who possess the necessary detachment from their subjects. This is because writing about oneself and others who are still alive and involved in politics generally leads to self-censorship and feelings of conceit’.
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