Levy Deserves More Recognition

DURING late President Levy Mwanawasa’s 6th memorial anniversary celebrations in Lusaka yesterday, his widow Maureen made two salient points in respect of August 19, the date of her husband’s demise.

The former first lady said, firstly, that the date should be called the Mwanawasa Day which needed to be celebrated annually.

The purpose of such celebration, she said, was to explain to the Zambian youth the importance of leadership with a view to emulating the late president’s life as a leader.

Secondly, Dr (Maureen) Mwanawasa urged the Zambian Government to recognise the contributions that her late husband made towards this country’s development.

On either point, the former first lady was right because Dr Mwanawasa is credited with having initiated a campaign to rid Zambia of corruption following the country’s return to multiparty democracy more than two decades ago.

His anti-corruption drive, which also saw the lifting of immunity from prosecution on his predecessor, Frederick Chiluba, made Dr Mwanawasa a darling of many people at home and abroad.

Dr Mwanwasa particularly won plaudits from foreign investors who, owing partly to his anti-corruption crusade, saw Zambia as a very fertile ground for foreign investment.

Figures are not easy to find. However, it is true that during Dr Mwanawasa’s presidency, Zambia received a relatively large amount of aid and debt relief with overall economic growth increasing to about six per cent per year.

The zero-tolerance to corruption, as Dr Mwanawasa used to say, coupled with other policies that came in the wake of economic liberalisation, all helped to lower inflation, and this directly worked for the benefit of all Zambians, including the poor.

In addition, Dr Mwanawasa is credited with turning Zambia’s tourist capital, Livingstone, into a tourist hub. Tourists, as well as white farmers are said to have diverted from Zimbabwe and these further helped Zambia’s economic growth.

The trend has continued to date with Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary Steven Mwansa yesterday, saying that Zambia would this year meet its target of 1.2 million foreign tourist arrivals.

Dr Mwanawasa surely achieved a lot in his short stay on earth. In 1989, for instance, he led the legal defence team for late Forum and Democracy and Development leader Christon Tembo, who was accused of conspiracy to overthrow the UNIP government.

This was clearly an act of treason whose penalty was death.

Lieutenant-General Tembo, however, won the case against the State, and this boosted Dr Mwanawasa’s fame among the anti-UNIP groups and individuals.

And when the MMD took over power from UNIP, then newly-elected President Dr Chiluba appointed Dr Mwanawasa as vice-president in December 1991, the position he held until his resignation in 1994.

Two years later in 1996, he challenged Dr Chiluba for the MMD presidency but lost and was forced to retire from active politics until the 2001 parliamentary and general elections when he bounced back, this time as Republican President.

Dr Mwanawasa was the first Republican President, in a move he described as an attempt to promote national reconciliation, to appoint opposition lawmakers to his Cabinet, and this obtains even today.

Prior to his engagement in active politics, Dr Mwanawasa served as Solicitor General in the UNIP government, although by then he had already in 1978 formed his own law firm called Mwanawasa and Company.

This was after working in private law firms from 1974.

These are just a few achievements the third President of the Republic of Zambia is remembered for and, as his widow says, Dr Mwanawasa certainly deserves more recognition, even if it means naming August 19 the Mwanawasa Day.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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