FELIX Mutati says the summary of Levy Mwanawasa is that he was a change-maker who subordinated his personal pain for the well-being of Zambians.
Mutati, who served as a cabinet minister in Mwanawasa’s government, adds that he just wishes today’s politicians can emulate five or 10 per cent of the third president’s legacy for the betterment of Zambia.
Mwanawasa, who served as a president for seven years, died on August 19, 2008 at Percy Military Hospital in Paris, France.
At the ninth memorial service in 2017, former Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito described Mwanawasa as a great man who championed the fight against corruption in Zambia without minding about losing popularity.
Nchito, who was part of the third Republican President’s brainchild, Task Force on Corruption, recalled how he worked as a State prosecutor under Mwanawasa’s government.
At the same event, former first lady Maureen Mwanawasa said her husband dealt with his shortcomings in a very mature manner.
Last year, veteran politician Dr Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika observed that since the death of Mwanawasa, there is an unannounced ceasefire on the fight against corruption because “those who should be announcing are the captains of corruption.”
Dr Lewanika was speaking during a Mwanawasa Memorial Lecture titled “an attempt at good governance in the Mwanawasa administration. Opportunities, challenges and frustrations” at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.
At that 10th memorial for Mwanawasa, former Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Linda Kasonde noted that choosing a leader but without assessing their past was perilous.
Speaking during an 11th memorial service for Mwanawasa at Embassy Park in Lusaka yesterday, Mutati said: “I had a rare privilege to work under president Mwanawasa.”
He said the defining legacy of Mwanawasa’s presidency was his relentless fight against corruption.
“In pursuing the fight, he was faceless. In pursuing the fight, there was no discretion [and] in pursuing the fight, he basically said Zambia must be a good place for all of us to live in,” Mutati noted.
“The second defining legacy for the president was that he stood on the rule of law, on firm discipline. In pursuing the rule of law, he told us all his ministers that what is sustainable, whether it’s economic development [or] social development, is that you must continue to apply the fundamental principles and values.”
He indicated that Mwanawasa’s daily bread was to always think about a disadvantaged Zambian.
“[He was] working very hard, sometimes painfully so, to make sure that he lifts the living conditions of the poor people. You’ll recall [that] he introduced reforms in the agricultural space – giving eight bags of fertiliser to the poor people,” Mutati recalled, stressing that Mwanawasa fought very hard to ensure that Zambia’s debt burden was written off.
“Because of him, we had almost $7 billion of debt being written off. This was for the benefit of the people of Zambia. He pushed us as ministers to ensure that we had a solid economy; during his time, the economy was upwards [at] six per cent.”
Mutati noted that under Mwanawasa’s administration economic growth: “was evident, delivery was evident, investment was colossal.”
“In the mining sector alone, during his reign, we had over 10 billion investment. So, if somebody was to summarise who Levy was, for me Levy was a change-maker. Even as he had personal pain, he subordinated his personal pain to the well-being of the people of Zambia,” explained Mutati.
“Even in his last days, he would say ‘please, ministers what matters is not me [but] what you people can deliver for the people of Zambia.’ I just wish those that are here today as politicians can emulate five, 10 per cent of his legacy. The Zambia of today, tomorrow will indeed be better if we live on the principles and values of our late president, Levy Mwanawasa. My his soul rest in peace.”
Meanwhile, Levy Mwanawasa Foundation chairman Dr Moses Banda said: “every year we meet to come and think about his thoughts, of course, some of which was written.”
“Every five years, there is an official programme in which the State participates. So, this [event] is not the official one. The next official one will be four years from now,” noted Dr Banda.
“But for us as a Foundation and family, we meet and we expect friends to be with us.”
Maureen, her children, UPND members of parliament in Stanley Kakubo (Kapiri Mposhi) and Credo Nanjuwa (Mumbwa) and a few other people were present at the event and later laid wreaths on Mwanawasa’s grave.
The event was preceded by a bible reading.