By Dickson Jere
I never interacted with him on a personal level when he was Head of State. Only opportunities I had was to interview him when I was a Reporter.
In fact, I didn’t like him after he had us arrested several times as reporters at the Post Newspapers. I eventually participated actively in stopping his third-term bid at the Presidency. He had to go!
However, when I went to work in State House in 2008, our relationship changed.
We became very close – thanks to President Rupiah Banda who counseled me never to harbour hatred even against people who have wronged us.
“Remember Chiluba locked me up in prison on trumped up charges of treason…”, President Banda reminded me, referring to the time he was arrested alongside other UNIP leaders for their alleged role in Zero Option Operation (for those who can remember).
“But here I am, very close to him. He is my brother…whatever he did, probably was in the interest of the nation based on the information he had,” President Banda lectured me.
I became a go-between between President Frederick Chiluba and President Banda. That is how we clicked with PresidentChiluba.
“DJ, what’s going on…come brief me,” he summoned me on a number occasion especially when MMD looked like crumbling ahead of the 2011 polls.
“Tell the President to be tough…he needs to shake the system, fire some ministers…,” President would say in his unique accent.
We used to meet at his Kabulonga House where a big King James version of the Bible formed part of fixtures on his table. Extremely religious he was! Very Prayerful. but also he wa abandoned in his last days. Literally alone, with his wife Regina, on his side.
Most of those who worked with him moved on! Some even joined the bandwagon of calling “lazo” or thief. Such is a life of politicians – no loyalty whatsoever.
I learnt lots from him.
RIP President Frederick Titus Jacob Chiluba!