Former State House press aide Dickson Jere has described Zambia’s fourth President Rupiah Bwezani Banda as a great and hardworking Head of State who worked tirelessly for the country although he lost elections after suffering intense and vile criticism.
In his recently released 250 page political memoir on the time he spent with President Banda, Jere describes the humility and fatherly figure in RB and how he treated his staff and ministers with a lot of respect.
Jere said President Banda’s weakness was also his strength as he could not fire anybody without tangible reasons and also believed in giving young people a second chance in life.
“The President wanted us to be 100 percent, which was difficult at times,” Jere writes in his book, which was released on Amazon last week.
The book has already been reviewed by different international scholars and publication and is likely to stir debate in Zambia on various issues that took place during the Banda tenure.
“The power of this book lies in its portrayal of President Banda,” one foreign book reviewer wrote.
“In a hall of shame or fame, the man is cast as selfless, hardworking, wise, religious and outstanding compared to other African leaders who just want to hold on to power come what may.’
The book also details meetings and disagreements with the Catholic Church and how the President worked very hard to try and resolve conflict, which he failed. The Catholics were not happy with Banda’s minister, Ronnie Shikapwasha who called them ‘genocidal’ in reference to their role in the Rwanda 1994 massacre.
Jere also explains the detailed meetings and planning of the 2011 elections and indicate how President Banda refused to manipulate the electoral process even when he was advised to do so by others.
The book also rubbishes the theory that founding President Kenneth Kaunda and the US Ambassador forced President Banda to handover power. Jere reveals that President Banda conceded defeat even before the final vote was announced and instructed his press aide to work on the conceding speech.
In a rare admission, Jere also takes blame together with State House staff for the failure to plan for the President better when they served as aides in State House.
“In retrospect, we advisors were also culprits,” Jere confesses in the last Chapter titled “Reflections”.
“We did not handle the President’s diary well. Throughout his tenure, party activities were never a priority,” Jere revealed. “We in State House also overloaded the President with many national issues and rarely allowed him to interact with the party,” Jere said.
Inside the Presidency – Trials and Tribulations of a Zambian spin-doctor is a must read book, which chronicles the days of former President Banda from an inside view.
A twenty-three Chapter book describes how well President Banda used, usually long hours in office, in order to make sure the country’s economy was stable.
The book is edited by a Ghanaian author and Editor Charles Phebih-Agyekum and published by a Canadian firm, Nsemia Inc; the text is plain and written in a readable and journalistic language. It is a book that will appeal to the public especially those that follow current affairs. It captures well the humbleness and humility in which President Banda carried himself in that office. It portrays the inside details of decisions in which the President had to preside over in his time such as the 2008 economic meltdown and the 2011 pre-election decisions.
“The President’s gift of combining serious discussion with a sense of humor was a source of strength to his staff,” Jere writes.
The first Chapter is brief history on how Banda became President in very tragic and unexpected circumstances following the death of President Levy Mwanawasa in 2008. The Second Chapter is more centered on the author himself how he was appointed to State House as Chief Analyst and thereafter as Special Assistant to the President and the difficulties encountered during that same period.
In Chapter three, the book takes you in the nitty-gritty of State House and security operations while the fourth one gives a breath of projects which Banda personally pushed to develop Zambia.
The rest of the Chapters give a narrative of the President’s involvement in football and sports, international relations and diplomacy as well as his unique personality in dealing with human being.
The last Chapters takes you right to where Banda is, the trials and tribulations of being accused of corruption and abuse of office to other events such as being humiliated at the airport when stopped from flying out despite court orders.
The only thing, which the book shies away, is to talk of deep issues but the author warns from his preface that it was a deliberate ploy as he was still under Oath to give secrecy of some stuff.