Levy Mwanawasa Zambia's next President?

Author:Kunda, Anthony

Zambian President Frederick Chiluba's choice of Levy Mwanwasa, a lawyer with a low political profile to succeed him stunned many people in the country and abroad. Who is Mwanawasa and why does Chiluba want the Presidential mantle to fall on him? Anthony Kunda gives some

Although very few leaders of the numerous opposition parties will openly admit it, Levy Mwanawasa, the burly-looking to prominent Zambian lawyer, chosen succeed President Frederick Chiluba, looks like a formidable candidate.

Mwanawasa, who served as Chiluba's first Vice-President from 1991 to 1994, has the sort of integrity and credibility, both as lawyer and politician, rare among many politicians in the governing party - the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD).

Even his critics in opposition parties agree that it is difficult to fish out something really nasty from his public life as a politician or lawyer, with which to rubbish his name. Dr Nevers Mumba, leader of the opposition National Citizen Coalition (NCC), said Mwanawasa is "highly respected for the integrity he has displayed in his public life."

When Mwanawasa resigned his position as Chiluba's number two in July 1994, he said his integrity had been "put it in doubt." This followed a row with Minister without Portfolio Michael Sata, with whom he is now ready to work with. I love him as a colleague."

His second coming, as it were, has been about integrity. It seems the ruling MMD could not find a man or woman, within its ranks, with greater integrity to put up as Presidential candidate. During the election for Chiluba's successor by the MMD national executive, there were other candidates Presidential Affairs Minister Eric Silwamba, current Vice-President Enock Kavindele, MMD national secretary Michael Sata, and former Finance Minister Emmanuel Kasonde.

Mwanawasa beat them cleanly after two rounds of voting. Again his reputation for integrity propelled him into the Presidential candidature, outclassing other MMD executive members. It was reminiscent of 1991, at the formation of the MMD, when Mwanawasa, with little political experience, was elected as party Vice-President.

Although the opposition parties are hard-pressed to find any mud to stick on Mwanawasa they have nevertheless been railing against him. Edith Nawakwi, secretariat chairperson of the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), has been very dismissive of Mwanawasa. She said Mwanawasa has proved to be an embarrassment to the legal profession by...

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