Bill M. Kaping’a Political/Social Analyst
When credible news of the passing on of 3rd Republican President Dr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa finally came filtering through August 19, 2008, I found myself rushing to Chingola to confer with my late father-in-law, a senior figure in ruling MMD at the time.
“Fellow countrymen, with deep sorrow and grief, I would like to inform the people of Zambia that our president Dr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa died this morning at 1030 hours,” I recalled the solemn announcement from then vice-president, Rupiah Banda, as I dexterously navigated the perilous Kitwe/Chingola road. “I also wish to inform the nation that national mourning starts today and will be for seven days.”
The pronouncement had obviously finally managed to clear the air after weeks of speculation regarding the death of the former President. Central to this was a news item from Johannesburg-based 702 Talk Radio which seemed to confirm Mwanawasa’s demise on July 3, 2008, citing a Malone Zaza, who claimed to be head of protocol at Zambia’s High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa.
Huddled in a corner at my father in-law’s Motel with some two other men, theorizing what would follow next, in hushed tones of course, we suddenly saw a brand-new SUV pull up and whip into the parking lot!
This was the first time a President would die in office; shocked at the sad turn of events, many citizens elected to discuss the issue in whispers fearing the unknown.
The driver of the SUV briskly walked to the bar and ordered a cold beer……I watched him swig at the bottle unceasingly until he slammed the bottle on the counter. There was nothing left in the bottle! As I further studied the man, I realized it was someone I knew from Kitwe, a senior civil servant and head of the government department on the Copperbelt.
The man gingerly walked to where we were sited. I rose to greet him as per custom.
“At least the one we were fearing is gone!” he pronounced gleefully. “Now we can do our businesses freely….”
Now this came as a shock to us! The nation was grieving over the loss of a President that many people thought was in a hurry to stabilize the economy and there comes a man seemingly having no qualms about his passing on?
Apparently, the man was in business as a contractor even as he was in active government service. Once in a while, he would secure contracts from government to build infrastructure and he would willfully abscond from work to run his business.
And to think that he was doing private jobs using government resources is heart wrenching!
This now elicits the question……..what sort of a President are citizens yearning for come August 12, 2021?
Someone who is going to let them do their thing or a disciplinarian as Mwanawasa was……a no-nonsense man!
Is it because we are essentially lazy as citizens and are afraid that a serious President may easily show us the exit, or we are simply corrupt chaps afraid of being sent to prison for stealing from the state?
Fellow citizens let’s discuss……….