Dr. Kalombo Mwansa helped save the life of Dr. Frederick Chiluba

By Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba

We couldn't keep or hide his sickness any more.

It was 2006 and Dr. Chiluba was gravely ill.

Although to the public he was well and attended legal and court processes, he was battling illnesses that I became aware of since 2004.

During this period, Second President, Dr Frederick Chiluba was facing corruption allegations, his constitutional immunity had been lifted in July 2002, he lay isolated and without help.

His repeated requests to seek medical treatment abroad was rejected again and again.

Both his personal doctor and those others he saw all recommended that he should be allowed to seek medical treatment abroad.

We tried several channels to enable Dr. Chiluba seek medical treatment.

This was a constitutional entitlement as a former Head of State.

We used the process through Cabinet Office, we made the requests through the Courts but to no avail!

"Its an excuse, he wants to flee the country, he wants to run away from the charges" they mocked Dr. Chiluba in newspapers.

In February 2006, Chembe Member of Parliament, Hon. Dalton Sokontwe, a fierce Chiluba loyalist, called me very early in the morning.

He demanded to see me urgently.

President Mwanawasa had fired Sokontwe as Deputy Minister because he refused to stop seeing and visit Dr. Chiluba (and his letter of dismissal stated so).

They also accused him of organising traditional authorities and MMD members on behalf of Dr. Chiluba for the Opposition Patriotic Front.


I quickly met Hon. Sokontwe.

"Shi Mwamba, bakateka balatufwila( Shi Mwamba, the(former) President will die while we do nothing)". He said in a blunt but serious tone.

" I have a plan. We are doing this without Dr. Chiluba's or Mrs. Regina Chiluba's knowledge ". He informed me.

He said this because Dr. Chiluba had repeatedly refused to speak to President  Mwanawasa or his close associates over his illness and on the need to seek medical treatment abroad.

"We have to approach (President) Mwanawasa immediately!"

At that stage, the relationship between the President and his predecessor was at its worst.

Dr. Chiluba was appearing in Court facing various corruption charges.

" I think we have a senior man we can see and can help." He said.

"Let us go and see Dr. Kalombo Mwansa, and relay this serious message" Sokontwe said, stating it in a manner that he had thought through the issue.

Dr. Kalombo Mwansa was Minister of Defence at the time.

We immediately went to the Ministry of Defence  Headquarters and we were lucky to see Dr. Mwansa at short notice and without prior appointment.

By lunch hour, a message came that we should prepare Dr. Chiluba as President Mwanawasa, would pay an impromptu visit, probably the first such visit since 2002.

Offcourse the two would meet during this period, at public functions or funerals, but a visit like this would be the first.

Sokontwe was right, he had picked on one to relay the message in a credible, urgent and impartial manner and yield results.

I informed Hon.Sokontwe and we both rushed to Chiluba's residence.

The Chilubas were shocked as we relayed both our audacious plan and immediate results- President Mwanawasa was on his way to the residence!

And as informed to us, President Mwanawasa, the First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa, Aides and Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Simon Miti and others descended on Chiluba's residence on Serval Road Kabulonga gripped with fear and empathy over the illness of Dr. Chiluba.

Two days later, We were in South Africa with Dr. Chiluba admitted to hospital for specialised medical treatment.

"This man is extremely unwell, his cardiac condition is critical. Had he come a few day later or week later, he probably would be dead by now" said the Professor treating him.

So when I heard the death of Prof. Kalombo Mwansa, I was broken as I remembered how he looked at matters in a professional and sober manner and took political risks to serve mankind...

His humility was remarkable, one of the few Zambian lawyers with education from both the prestigious Harvard University in the USA and Cambridge University in UK.

For I can confidently say that God used him to save the life of Dr. Chiluba in 2006.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.




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Last modified on Sunday, 15 March 2020 14:55
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