Zambia News

Enock Kavindele strays into the Lion’s den

If KK thought he had enough problems on his plate to deal with especially with the rise of the Frederick Chiluba led MMD which was already breathing heavily on his neck, then he was in for rude awakening. Mid-1980s, a reformist leader, Mikhail Gorbachev had taken over in the Soviet Union. He introduced sweeping reforms which entailed openness (glasnost) – allowing for enhanced freedom of speech and press while at the same time embarking on decentralising economic decision-making (perestroika) to move the country from its stagnation.

Perhaps buoyed up by events panning out in the birth place of UNIPs ideologies, some youthful members of the party’s central committee approached their peer, Enock Kavindele, and asked him to consider challenging KK for the party’s leadership position at the next convention.

Kavindele was a renowned wealthy businessman, having started his business career in the 1970s when he established Woodgate Holdings Ltd; a company with a vast portfolio of services that included agriculture, real estate, tourism, mining and transportation. However, before he could come to any conclusion, he sought to have audience with the President.

“The way I see things your Excellency, UNIP does not stand any chance of winning the elections,” he calmly said to him, not sure whether the man would immediately explode and show him the door.

Prior to that, a fatigued KK had hinted to his close colleagues he was retiring from active politics. As a person who introduced one party politics, he wasn’t keen on being at helm as the country reverted back to multiparty politics. However, some old-timers in the central committee, who weren’t quite certain about the future, prevailed on him to rescind his decision. They were literally in tears as they pleaded with him not to throw-in the towel considering that the new government might withhold their retirement packages.

During this period of uncertainty when KK didn’t know who to trust, central committee meetings had to be held outside the Cabinet room in the garden just in case it was bugged to avoid any unauthorised information leaking out to the public. Unknown to them, one of the ministers who was also a member of the central committee was a Judas Iscariot. He would pass-on whatever was discussed during meetings to the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). Clement Mwananshiku would actually be rewarded with an appointment as Ambassador to Germany after the change of government.

Kavindele wasn’t bothered to square it off with KK after all, he didn’t have any running contract with government, his books were equally clean while he was upto date with his taxes. But wait a minute? Who in their right frame of mind would take on mighty Kaunda? To his hardcore supporters, Kaunda was a demigod. One would actually often hear the chants of, “Kumulu ni Lesa, panshi ni Kaunda (roughly translated, in heaven it’s Kaunda, on earth it’s Kaunda). Kavindele had dared stray into the Lion’s den fully aware he risked being mauled. He was yet to pay the price.
During the party convention held at the Mulungushi Rock of Authority in Kabwe in 1991, he had to endure all sorts of insults and threats from fellow delegates. Although he was provided with state security, some elderly women somehow managed to find their way to his challet half-naked and burst into songs punctuated with graphic language. It was a tense atmosphere; the notorious vigilantes were baying for his blood. Before the day of reckoning though, Kavindele chickened-out of the race and left for Lusaka!

He would resign from UNIP and form his own political party – the United Democratic Party which he bankrolled single-handedly. In the ensuing elections, the party would win a good number of local government seats. Nevertheless, he would later disband his party and join ruling MMD. I would rather be near the King than being the King himself,” he would say

Source: Lusakatimes

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