The body of the late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa
continues its journey throughout the country's provinces ahead of the September
third state burial. President Mwanawasa died last Tuesday in a Paris
hospital, where he was being treated for a stroke suffered in June.
some Zambians are expressing disappointment with the decision of Mwanawasa's
widow to stop Zambia's main opposition leader from attending a funeral
gathering for her husband. First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa reportedly ordered
Michael Sata to be removed from the funeral procession Monday in the eastern
city of Chipata.
Sata and the late
Mwanawasa had a longstanding bitter rivalry, but the two had reconciled in May.
Zambian journalist Chibaula Silwamba told VOA some Zambians believe the former first lady's behavior went contrary to
the African tradition of honoring the dead.
happened is that Monday morning, when the plane carrying the body of the late
Zambian president, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, arrived at the Chipata Airport and
the former first lady was on the same aircraft. When she disembarked and went
to the tent where the other dignitaries were, Mr. Sata kneeled before her to
greet her. But she told him she did not want to politicize the funeral. She
therefore asked him to leave the procession. When Mr. Sata tried to explain why
he was there, the former first lady interjected and said that she did not want
to talk to him," he said.
said some senior members of Zambia's ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy
(MMD) supported Mrs. Mwanawasa's treatment of the opposition leader.
fact the national chairman of the governing Movement for Multiparty Democracy
(MMD), Mr. Michael Mabenga was there and also demanded that Mr. Sata should be
removed immediately. And he asked the Minister of Science and Technology to
ensure that he mobilize the police to send Mr. Sata off," Silwamba said.
said many Zambians believe the former first lady's behavior
went bit contrary to the African tradition of honoring the dead.
"In the African tradition
that should not be the case because in fact you do not even need an invitation
card to attend a funeral procession. This was a bit awkward," Silwamba said.
Sata and the
late Mwanawasa had a longstanding bitter rivalry, but the two had reconciled in
May. Silwamba said the former first lady even acknowledged the reconciliation,
but she said it was between the late president and Sata and not her family.
"The first lady acknowledged
this but in her statement she even told Mr. Sata that you reconciled with
President Mwanawasa but you did not reconcile with me and the family, and the
family does not want your reconciliation," he said.
Silwamba said the former
first lady and the opposition leader have also had their own differences.
was a time when Mr. Sata accused the first lady of being disrespectful and
advised that a marriage counselor should counsel her to teach her how to
respect other people. Recently when the president was in Paris in hospital, Mr.
Sata called on a medical team to go and ascertain his capability of continuing
as president. That shows the differences that have been there between him and
the first lady. Perhaps the first lady has been harboring that grudge against
Mr. Sata," Silwamba said.