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Letter To Levy Mwanawasa

Columns Letter To Levy Mwanawasa

29 Jul 2017
Dear Levy,

I am writing you from the future, we have not met.

The year is 2017, and I sit at my window – on the second of a building two floors high, overlooking a road and some flora. It is a beautiful view.

To my right is a book – The Long Sunset. You may be very familiar with its author – Vernon. Not only is the sun setting right now, the 9 years you have been gone feel like a long sunset too – part nostalgia; a dollop of melancholy too. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

You see Levy, I write a fair amount. Politics for the most part, a bit of social commentary, and a whole lot other gibberish in between. I just don’t write letters like this very often. Which is why this feels special and strange at the same time.

I realize you are reading this from 2008. The economy is doing relatively well, you are optimistic about the future. You have done a bit of belt-tightening over the last 7 and half years, and now the ship appears to be stabilizing. Ng’andu is at Finance, the two of you have established a fairly good working relationship. But then you take ill, and stop reading this.

2017. You are gone – as is your fiercest critic – Michael Sata. His Patriotic Front finally swept to power. Your Vice President at the time, Rupiah Banda, took brief control after your demise. 3 years later, he was ousted. In a way, this was inevitable. You may or may not remember the name, but a certain Edgar Lungu is President now. Hakainde Hichilema, about whom you held a certain view, is now the country’s preeminent opposition voice. His UPND is the country’s largest opposition party with 59 members of parliament. He is also incarcerated as I write this – but we will get back to this later.

Your party – the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, is now defunct; at least for all intents and purposes. Its ouster in 2011 precipitated a mass exodus. Many of those you wined and dined with found their way to the PF, including, oddly, your son Patrick. Nevers Mumba, the man you appointed Vice President and later fired, was elected MMD President after Rupiah Banda. If he tried to keep the party together, his efforts were not apparent. For every public show of solidarity within the party, there was a court battle or the other among its senior members. Levy, I hate to have to break this to you, but the MMD eventually split – with 2 Presidents. Felix Mutati, with whom you may remember working too, heads the one faction, while Nevers heads the other. The courts seem disinterested in the entire issue altogether now. Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba is Vice-President of the UPND now. He was also Hakainde’s running mate – which brings me to the next point.

The constitution was amended. We now have running mates, as opposed to Presidents appointing Vice-Presidents on election. Running mates may not be fired by the President now. Also, we no longer require a simple electoral majority to win the Presidency. Had you run for President now, you would be required to poll at least 50% of the vote, plus 1.

I told you about Hakainde earlier. I also mentioned he is incarcerated. He has been, 3 months going on 4 now. This may catch you by surprise, as it would anyone in 2008. You see Levy, Zambia has changed a whole lot since you have been gone. Most of it not good. If I told you why that is, you would probably start kicking. I might write you another letter soon; maybe I go into the circumstances leading to his incarceration then. I will tell you, however, that efforts are being made at having him released.

You may remember braving accusations of tribalism and nepotism in your cabinet appointments. I was too young to understand the merits, if any, to said allegations at the time. I hate to be the bearer of bad news here again, but tribal strife has grown tenfold the last near decade. I could state a few things about why this is, but I cannot tell you with a straight eye, Levy, that I do not have a sense of trepidation about where this may lead us.

You left reserves in our coffers, didn’t you? Aye, you did. Well, we are back in debt now, Levy. It keeps mounting. The efforts you made at freeing us from colossal debt obligations have all been undone. As I pen this, we are negotiating with the IMF for a bailout. Your guess as to what this will mean for us will no doubt be more informed than mine. You have seen this before.

Your significant other seems to have re-invented herself. She has since carved out a political career of her own. You may be surprised at her choice of vehicle, however – the UPND. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Yes? She’s an advocate too, if I should be completely honest. Human and civil rights. She may also be seen championing women’s rights and advancement.

Levy, this could go on ad infinitum. Allow me one more detail, however. Your sternest critic after Michael, Fred M’membe, has seen a few dark days of his own. His Post Newspapers were forcibly shut down and liquidated. The reason advanced was tax arrears. Oddly, numerous other competing publications operate still – some with 10 times as much owed to the taxman. My guess, again, as good as yours. A certain name may make your consideration here too; Edgar Lungu. A new publication has taken its place however. It is called The Mast. If intimidation of its its predecessor’s critically venomous editorial policy was intended, its pages now reveal no success. It is irreverent, partial and unrelenting as ever.

I have talked a lot I think, perhaps it is time I gave it a rest. I do hope you rest satisfied in the knowledge that your efforts at serving your country – though not always well-informed and executed, have been brought into sharper relief, at least in my eyes, by the passing of time. You may have made many errors, didn’t have the best of tempers, and could be rash in your choice of words sometimes, but I would like to think you made honest mistakes. Those I can forgive.

I sit at my window still. The sun long set now. I’m not sure you are able to see any rays over there; and that should help you understand my expectations going forward. We are admonished not to despair, to stay focused in our darkest days and see the light, but sometimes it gets weary, dear Levy. It is getting weary for me.

Yours was a life well lived.

Rest in power.


Distant Relative


  1. imagine how its getting for us in the so called comboni if you with your cheese flavored breakfasts can write such letters.

  2. You should have also mentioned the infamous Task force on corruption and how it gobbled billions in tax kwacha than it recovered.Also why not mention FTJ for that miraculous call to LPM to suceed him and the good HIPC foundation he left for Levy to reach the HIPC completion point.

    • All the positives Mwanawasa achieved have been negated by giving KCM to the Indians. The mismanagement of KCM has done a lot of damage to the Zambian economy and has reduced the vibrant Copperbelt economy to nothing

    • On giving KCM to those useless Indians, I blame both Mwanawasa, the late Mazoka and by extension that bitter tribal grouping masquerading as a political party. Mwanawasa was desperate to save jobs when Anglo pulled out after upnd lost to mmd.

  3. Levy found an almost debt free country due to the chiluba regime and the catholic,he rode on someone’s sweat,yes the zambian people sweat.He is partly to blame for the escalating tribalism,including Sata,but the one so much associated with this evil is one HH.

  4. What did Levy Mwanawasa accomplish especially on infrastructure apart from the Mwanawasa Bridge? The HIPC thing was FTJs. Some of us who lived on the Copper belt saw how lambas started misbehaving. The much talked about strong Kwacha killed Non traditional Exports especially agroflora. So please spare us your laziness car tall lay iwe

    • @POPOLYONGO , its a pity that you are coming out to promote tribalism. What has this article to do with LAMBAS? YOU ARE THE CHAPS WE DON’T NEED IN SOCIETY.

  5. He destroyed the judicially by accepting a fake ruling in the UK and that is why the KCM thieves went to RSA to sue again. The waste (worst) president ever in Zambia. UPND is dead.

    • Wonderful! The one who has written this piece of work is a genius; The Zambian Ngugi Wa Thiogo.

      In my opinion Mwanawasa is the best president we have had so far in spite of him having his own demerits as a human being. I am quite hopeful that young men and women with his spirit and zestness for public service will ensue and take over the mantle of leadership in government. They will accomplish what the previous generation has failed to do; integrate the diverse ethnic groups into a single nation called Zambia.

    • he actually improved the judiciary by constructing the current magistrate complex and speeding up the court processes

  6. Let the dead sleep. We have Zambia to manage before we go to sleep ourselves. He had his time and it is our time.

  7. Refreshing article at least a break from the drivel we are bombarded with everyday.I might not agree entirely with what has been written but it’s well written.Reminds me of JOWIIE MWIINGA

  8. Real letter:
    Dear mwanawasa. The constitutional clauses of 50% plus 1 and the presidential running mate which was being demanded by zambians have finally been put in place by PF. Allelujah…we will no longer have a president like you who will win by receiving only 28% of the votes. God gave you this duty as a senior lawyer and state counsel to sort out the constitution, which you should have accomplished within your first 3 years in office, but you dilly dallied over it until God put you to sleep.

  9. May i continue sir.
    HH is in prison for some ridiculous treason charge. It seems the oppression of the opposition has continued to be our national character once we are in power. You demonstrated this yourself when your very first action as the new president was to lock up Michael Chilufya Sata on a ridiculous charge of motor vehicle theft for 40 days in jail. This was over a government car that sata was using as a minister which was broken down in his yard. A foolish officer from works and supply admitted in court that, when mr sata was a minister, he made numerous requests to the ministry to have the car picked up and towed but this was never done. The judge dismissed the case against sata.
    But the fact that you played nasty politics of locking up your friend still remains. However,…

  10. My letter continues:
    Our beloved fallen president. You sold our mines to some chapaties for a song and a dance. The same chapaties bragged during their annual general meeting how some of your ministers (magande and friends) went to dance for him at the airport to give him a VIP treatment and yet he was screwing us by buying the mines cheaply for 25 million dollars. He bragged how he managed to get that money back in 3 months. How he has made 500 million dollars of his personal money from the mines so far. Thank God we are trying to clean your mess.

  11. Further…. One of the worst deals zambia has ever entered into, as analized by many industry experts and economists, was the Zambia railways/Rail systems contract. You and magande mortgaged our railway company to south African scrap metal crooks in a deal that was so dissadvantagious to zambia.
    When pf came into power they reviewed the contract and sent Rail systems packing. When magande was put to task to explain why as custodian of our national assets, he could have signed such a deal. His answer was ” i never even read the contract”. So why did you sign. Foolish man!!!

  12. My resting father, please let me continue.
    The popular narrative in zambia is that you managed to stabilize the economy. That’s fine sir, but underneath the whole thing is that, you sir, refused to pay the local suppliers of goods and services. I was doing some consultancy for a company that was supplying your government with IT equipment and consumables. We were not paid for the 3 years. In meetings with your PSs, all they could say is that you were refusing to release money and you were a difficult man. All our competitors were going through the same with you.
    The company crumbled and young IT professionals were put on the streets. You stabilized the economy because you neglected your obligation to pay for goods and services thereby saving money. Many small companies closed and are…

  13. I hope my lengthy letter doesn’t irritate you:
    Sir your crusade on corruption was quite funny in the end. You brought in mark Chona as chairman of the task force, which was OK, but then you hired private lawyers as prosecutors – the nchito brothers. At great cost if i may say. And you ignored state prosecutors in preference to mutembo nchinto who was a defense lawyer and had never prosecuted a case in his life. The task force ended up costing us more than what they were meant to recover from chiluba. This made nchito a very rich man such that he even bought an airline – zambian airways with Fred mmembe. Thank god banda, the man you left us with came and scattered this company of plunderers.

  14. Finally sir, there are people amongst us who think you were an angel. I deal more with reality. They say democracy thrived under you. I say, the most popular platform for people to express themselves was let the people talk show on radio phoenix. You and Vernon mwaanga closed the station down following a very hot show featuring Emily sikazwe who blasted you government.
    Hundreds of Doctors who were on strike due to low pay, lack equipment and medicine were fired and had their passports taken away so that they dont seek employment outside zambia that was vicious and inhumane.
    If i compare you to all the other presidents including the current one, you didnt too to badly. In fact i wish you had more time in office because i believe that some of the wrongs you committed, you would have…

  15. Would have sorted them out in ten years.
    I can proudly say that I LOVE U because you were a good president but you were no angel.

    Sunta sunkutu.

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