FINAL PART: KATONGO IS DISMISSED BY UNIP GOVERNMENT
HERE AND THERE…BY PHILIP CHIRWA
(Continued from last Thursday)
Mr Katongo said for obvious reasons, a good number of the pro-Kapwepwe circulars purported to have originated from people in Eastern Province, the home of the Umodzi Ku M’mawa movement which his committee was still determined to crush “come what may.”
Meanwhile, there was a press statement issued by UNIP alleging that Kapwepwe was planning to bring chaos in the country through the formation of UPP. Chiefs were urged not to have anything to do with Kapwepwe whom it accused of leading a tribal party.
Not uncharaterictic of Katongo, he decided to respond to this statement. To this end, he prepared a circular in the name of a fictitious character called Peter Mutale Chabaminda of Chibuluma Township, Kitwe.
The circular bore a house number where this Chabaminda fellow was supposed to be residing but it transpired that the number in question belonged to an anthill on the city’s map!
In the circular, Katongo was advising traditional leaders from taking sides in politics and to treat Kaunda and Kapwepwe as their sons. “I told the chiefs in the circular that if they noticed any difference between the two men, it was their duty to advise them to patch up such differences.”
According to him, he deliberately wrote the circular in such a way that while it extolled the virtues of Kapwepwe, it did not attack Kaunda. The idea, he said, was to create an impression that the writer of the circular was an impartial man.
“As usual, I handed the circular to my friend and tribal cousin Chao Daka at the Times of Zambia. He wrote the story which was published in the sister paper, the Sunday Times of Zambia. I wish that reporter was still alive; for he helped me so much.”
He said he enjoyed what he was doing because he kept security officers on the move as they tried to find out, albeit in vain, who was behind the anonymous pro-Kapwepwe circulars flying around the country.
“I was very amused one day when one provincial intelligence officer came up to my office in Kitwe and asked me if I knew anything about the circulars. Mind you, he did not do this because he suspected me of anything: he genuinely wanted my assistance.
“I could see that the poor chap had no idea that he was actually talking to the culprit himself. In the circumstances, I just gave him a casual glance and said within my heart:’Is this the calibre of intelligence officers we have in this country?’ Of course, I told him I knew nothing about what he was talking about and off he went.”
Mr Katongo told this writer that Zambia needed sharp, well-trained intelligence officers who could genuinely act as the eyes and ears of the government in power. “If our security division is manned by personnel such as those I dealt with in the First and Second Republics, then we are in trouble,” he said.
Meanwhile, towards the end of 1971, Mr Katongo received another telephone call from the Copperbelt permanent secretary, Mr Muttendango, letting him know that he was now to be transferred from Kitwe to the Cabinet Office in Lusaka.
“When I moved over to Lusaka, I could see that people at the Cabinet Office didn’t want me. The Office of the President was manned by scantily educated people drawn from police and couldn’t match my intelligence, so whatever investigations they carried out against me naturally drew a blank,” he boasted.
Mr Katongo was allegedly dismissed because he gave evidence to the 1991 Chona Commission of Inquiry into the establishment of a one-party state in Zambia.
In his testimony, Mr Katongo proposed to the commission that for a person to be called a Zambian, he must be known by name, village, clan, chief, district and province. This apparently annoyed people at the Cabinet Office who felt that Katongo, as a civil servant, had embarrassed the government by giving such testimony before the commission.
“I was dismissed because some people at the Cabinet Office felt that by giving such evidence before the commission, I was implying that I wanted people like Kaunda to be removed since his parents came from Malawi,” he said.
However, despite all these anti-UNIP manouvres by Mr Katongo and his group, UNIP with Dr Kaunda at the helm was to survive for another 20 years…..
The author is a Lusaka-based media consultant, recipient of the 1978 Best News Reporter of the Year Award and a former diplomat in South Africa and Botswana. For comments, sms 0977425827/0967146485 or email: email@example.com.