Two days after the late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa was
laid to rest, the National Executive Committee of the ruling Movement for
Multiparty Democracy (MMD) meets Friday to choose its candidate in the
forth-coming presidential by-election. The two top contenders are Vice
President Rupiah Banda who is acting head of state and Finance Minister Ng'andu
Friday's meeting also follows comments by former first lady Maureen
Mwanawasa suggesting that her late husband preferred Magande as his successor.
But Mwanawasa's will, which was broadcast Thursday night on state radio and
television made no reference to succession.
Mbita Chitala is a senior member of
the ruling MMD. He told VOA that Zambia is a democracy
and not a monarchy and the party will most likely choose Vice President Banda.
have been tapped by my party to advise as to who in my view should be a better
candidate to represent us and let us win to retain the leadership of the
country. And we have suggested that the current president Rupiah Banda who was
the vice president for the last two years would be our best candidate," he
said Vice President Banda, who is now acting president deserves to lead the
party because of his many qualities.
of them is that we have the vice president of the country who is also senior
trustee in our party and most qualified in terms of education and otherwise. We
feel that he is truly would be the most representative of the country as well
as the most experienced among those who may wish to vie," Chitala said.
first lady Maureen Mwanawasa reportedly told a local newspaper last week that
her late husband preferred Magande as his successor.
Mwanawasa's Will, which was broadcast Thursday night on state television and
radio made no reference to succession. In stead the late president said he did
his best to improve the standards of living for Zambians.
talked about his strong belief in national development, good governance, the
rule of law and democracy and his fight against corruption.
expressed regrets in his will that in the process of fighting for the good of
his country he may have forsaken himself.
regret that in my zeal to facilitate this fight, I lost friendship with a
number of some of my best friends and at many times my own life and those of my
family members were threatened," Mwanawasa said in his will.
said the late Mwanawasa could not have mentioned succession in his will because
Zambia is a democracy and not a monarchy.
regards the alleged will of our former president, unfortunately our country is
not a monarchy. We are a democracy, and the way the founders of our party
enshrined the democratic principles of succession, there has to be election
among the contending members. And President Mwanawasa was a very good friend of
mine, and we used to discuss these matters and as far as I knew him, he could
never depart from the doctrine of democracy and become the monarchy behavior
person," Chitala said.
accused former first lady Maureen Mwanawasa of once having an interest in succeeding
the contrary, I think that has just been unfortunate politics by the former
first lady who herself had shown interest of wanting to succeed her late
husband. But of course our custom doesn't allow such kind of behavior, and we advised
her that if she wants she can go out for a while may be mourn the late husband
for at least year before getting back in politics," Chitala said.
late President Mwanawasa was revered for growing Zambia's economy. But Chitala
said Finance Minister Magande is not the architect of the economic success
under late President Mwanawasa.
was never the architect. In fact that was the policy of former President
Frederick Chiluba, and you know in economics the gestation period of programs
takes many years. But one thing you cannot take away from Mr. Mwanawasa is that
he was very dedicated to good governance," he said.
dismissed suggestion that Vice President Banda, who is 71 years old, maybe too
old compared to Magande.
is not correct. Mr. Banda was made vice president and senior trustee of the
party and makes him qualified to be the candidate for president. In respect to
age, yes he's 71, but of course this is a transition period between now 2011,
and we think that he is the best person to give us this transition. He is very
energetic as far as we are concerned and we think he will be the best person to
give this transition. Mr. Magande himself I think he's 62 or 63," Chitala said.