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Some Zambians Confused About True State of Mwanawasa's Health

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who is hospitalized in France after suffering a stroke during the African Union summit in Egypt, is expected to undergo a second medical review Monday. Informing the country over the weekend, Zambian Vice President Rupiah Banda said President Mwanawasa continues to receive treatment for hypertension.

Meanwhile, the South African government has reportedly said it has launched an investigation into who might have given President Thabo Mbeki the information that President Mwanawasa had died. President Mbeki observed a moment of silence last Thursday at a tribute to victims of xenophobia.

Some Zambians told VOA they are a bit confused about the actual state of their president's health.

"The situation as being portrayed by our minister of information and broadcasting is quite confusing because initially the BBC had announced that Mwanawasa was dead, and the vice chairperson of SADC (Southern African Development Community) Mr. Thabo Mbeki had announced that Mwanawasa was actually dead. The government must announce exactly what the condition of our president is. If he's in a coma, which we want to believe, because some doctor says that when someone is struck by a stroke, and it strikes again for the second, usually the person does not survive," said Ng'oma, a retired Zambian.

Francis Banda, a law student at the University of Zambia, said Zambians were satisfied with whatever information their government was giving them about President Mwanawasa's health because they trust their officials.

"Currently at least government has been able to up date us on the health status of the president. For example, a while ago we were briefed that the president is scheduled to attend a review tomorrow (Monday). Most churches in Lusaka had been conducting prayers for the president. For example, I for one this morning attended on church service where we dedicated prayers for the quick recovery of the president," Banda said.

Member of parliament Robby Chizyuka said President Mwanawasa is well loved by the Zambian people judging from the many prayers being offered in his honor. But Chizyuka said he was perplexed by the misinformation about President Mwanawasa's health.

"I do not know the source of the misinformation regarding the president's illness. Even the name that President Thabo Mbeki indicated as having being the source of the information he used to announced at a rally that President Mwananwasa was dead is a name that does not belong to the South African Embassy. So we're somewhat taken aback that this announcement had to come from South Africa before confirmation with Zambian colleagues. At the level of the South African president, one would expect that there exists a mechanism for confirmation and reconfirmation of information of this nature," Chizyuka said

Steve Imakando, a Lusaka taxi driver, said the international media should apologize to Zambians for saying that their president was dead.

"Right now I'm quite confused because we've got distorted information. The international media says our president has actually died. But what we have on the ground right now is that our president is living although he's in a critical situation. If that is true that our president is living, let the international media apologize for misinforming us," Imakando said.