Barely five months after several of its founding and influential members left Zambia's Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) to set up the National Party (see AB October 1993 p14), the government of President Chiluba has been thrown into further disarray with the January resignations of veteran politicians Foreign Minister Vernon Mwaanga, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Sikota Wina and his wife, Community & Social Welfare Minister Mirriam Wina.
Their departure brings to 13 the number of ministers who have left Chiluba's government in the 26 months it has been in power. The three resigned after persistent accusations from their colleagues in government, as well as from opposition leaders and from the privately owned tabloid press, that they were involved in drug trafficking and other vices (see AB February 1994 p18).
The accusations reached a crescendo in December, when Finance Minister Ronald Penza returned from the Consultative Group meeting in Paris and spoke openly of Western pressure on the government to sack those involved.
At his resignation press conference, Mwaanga noted that the campaign against him had been orchestrated by "colleagues in government who are themselves the very epitome of greed and who have used every possible and conceivable opportunity from their first day in government to sustain their insatiable appetite for material possessions".
In a veiled attack on Penza, Mwaanga accused him of obtaining donor grants (without paying any kwacha over up front to date) to prop up his private businesses and of "working out ingenious and highly dubious schemes to revive tottering financial institutions".
Penza and the Japanese grant
Records at Ministry of Finance headquarters indicate that one of Penza's companies, RDS Business Machines, is one of the 45 companies that benefited from a ZK3.6bn ($27m at the time of disbursement in March 1992) Japanese non-project grant aid. The firm was allocated ZK34.8m without paying any kwacha cover up front, as was demanded by the donors. With penalty, the outstanding amount had accumulated to ZK72.1m by 1 January 1994.
Five days after Mwaanga quit, the Winas also tendered their resignations and made more allegations of corruption against their government colleagues. Chiluba tried to limit the damage by releasing a doctored report of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which has investigated allegations of corruption against some of his Ministers.
Michael Sata, who is now Health...