Over 13 African heads of state and government are in Zambia
for today's (Wednesday's) burial of the late President Levy Mwanawasa who died
last month in Paris, France from complications of a stroke. Until his death
President Mwanawasa led Zambia after winning the 2001 elections after
former President Frederick Chiluba reportedly handpicked him to represent the
Ruling Movement for Multiparty Democratic
(MMD). Mwanawasa was re-elected in 2006 until his untimely death.
donor countries hailed his tough stance against corruption and also credited
him with turning Zambia into one of Africa's most economic success stories.
Mwanawasa is survived by his wife Maureen Mwanawasa. Mike Mulongoti is Zambia's
information minister. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Lusaka
that Zambians want to give the late president a befitting burial.
"It was recognized that it
would be important to coincide with his (Mwanawasa's) birthday, and also there
were some consideration that ultimately it can be made a holiday so that he can
be remembered on his birthday and the same day he would be put to rest. The
plans here are very advanced. We've got almost 13 presidents from all of Africa
who are already here. We've got heads of international institutions; we've got
the chair of the AU (African Union) here and quite a number of people have
come," Mulongoti noted.
He said the burial of the
late president has attracted lots of local and international admirers because
of his unselfish personality.
"This is in recognition of
the fact that they dealt with him as some point. And they recognized that he
has got the capacity to achieve setting things, and also that he was an honest
and sincere man who devoted his life to working for his country, Africa and the
world at large," he said.
Mulongoti described late
President Mwanawasa's legacy as impeccable.
"He came into government
first of all with the view to bring integrity to government. This is why he
embarked on the fight against corruption, so that the respect for public assets
and public resources is brought into government. He also had to ensure the
economic fundamentals, taking care of inflation, interest rate etc. He also
realized that for the government to gain respect within the country and
outside, they had to encourage the citizens to grow their own food so that
there is sufficient food. He also realized that there is potential in the
mining industry even if the mining industry was on its knees it was possible to
attract investments from outside and within inside Zambia. And these he managed
to achieve and was also an honest man and was full of integrity," Mulongoti
He said the policies
embarked upon by the late president would be continued by the ruling MMD party
ahead of the upcoming presidential election.
"Yes, his policies would be
sustained and more so because he did not just end at looking at those who
worked in government. Before even during his tenure of office, ministers were
prosecuted, and government officials were prosecuted. So, with that approach,
the people of Zambia were given confidence that he did not shield anybody who
was in government. And because of that confidence was built that at the end of
the day it did not matter who you were, but that the rule of law has to prevail
anybody. If you did something wrong, the law has to visit you. With that kind
of approach, confidence was given to the public and those of us, who were in
government, would want to continue to pursue that kid of arrangement. So, that
the people of Zambians can continue to feel secure that this government can
protect their assets, and this government can continue to maintain integrity,"
civil society organizations have advised the MMD to let the people's will
prevail on who should take over from President Mwanawasa instead of campaigning
on the basis of the late head of state's alleged preferred choice.