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Chiluba, Frederick (b. 1943)

Miles Larmer


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Frederick Chiluba was a product of the powerful Zambian trade union movement, which played a leading role in overthrowing the post-colonial one-party state of Kenneth Kaunda's United National Independence Party (UNIP) in 1991. Chiluba's subsequent election as president of Zambia, a position he held for ten years, was the labor movement's greatest triumph – and its greatest disaster. Under his presidency, employment collapsed as part of the wider devastation resulting from economic liberalization. Chiluba serves as a warning that leaders who emerge from social movements to take up national political leadership are sometimes the bitterest enemies of those movements once in power. Chiluba was born in 1943 in the Copperbelt town of Ndola in what was then the British colony of Northern Rhodesia. His secondary education was interrupted by his expulsion for political activities, but he continued his studies by correspondence. Chiluba worked as credit manager at Atlas Copco, a company supplying equipment to Zambia's copper mines. His later political allies recall an ambitious young man whom they initially underestimated, both because of his limited education and his diminutive stature. Chiluba became the chairman of the National Union of Building, Engineering and General Workers (NUBEGW) in 1971. At a time when the labor movement's political autonomy was threatened by Kaunda's one-party ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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