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From the January 2000 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 47, No. 01)

ZAMBIA

Lethal Attack

Barry Shelby, World Press Review contributing editor

The killing of the son of Zambia’s former president, Kenneth Kaunda, and leading heir to leadership of his political movement has raised tensions in Zambia. Regardless of whether the shooting death of Major Wezi Kaunda was part of a robbery or—as many suspect—an assassination, the event has stirred passions among supporters of the opposition United National Independence Party (UNIP) founded by Kenneth Kaunda.

“According to a family member, Kaunda got out of his car and offered it to the gunmen,” reported Douglas Hampande and Sheikh Chifuwe in Lusaka’s independent The Post on Nov. 5. “He was then thrown to the ground and shot four times in the stomach, back, and shoulders.” The episode took place at the gates to his suburban Lusaka house.

Kenneth Kaunda, whose one-party rule dominated Zambia for decades after independence, accused President Frederick Chiluba’s government of having killed  his son. Kaunda himself has been targeted by assassins.

In South Africa, a report in Johannesburg’s liberal Mail & Guardian on Nov. 5 spun a complicated tale of pan-African intrigue. It said that “the killing could be linked to moves aimed at ousting President Chiluba… orchestrated by Angolan and Zimbabwean interests with Zambian malcontents.” Unconfirmed reports say Wezi Kaunda had  recently trained guerrillas in Angola. South African intelligence received information that a coup in Zambia was in the cards, according to the Mail & Guardian.

The Nov. 5 Times of Zambia of  Lusaka,  however,  dismissed “unsubstantiated allegations” and instead simply blamed the shooting on rising crime.

If Wezi Kaunda was indeed assassinated, it may have been by dissidents within his own party. Douglas Hampande reported in The Post (Nov. 5) that zealous UNIP supporters beat up some of the people who went to offer their condolences at the funeral home handling the body.

The mob also set upon reporters and crew from the National Broadcasting Corp. and the pro-government press. UNIP finance chairman Rabbison Chongo was “roughed up” when he attempted to rescue a Reuters reporter.

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