Thursday, July 10, 2008

Teta urges MMD to choose new leader

Teta urges MMD to choose new leader
By Patson Chilemba and Mwila Chansa
Thursday July 10, 2008 [04:00]

MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba yesterday said it will be important for the party to consider President Levy Mwanawasa's successor when he comes back. And Vice-President Rupiah Banda said it had been difficult for him to cope with work in the absence of President Mwanawasa, who is currently receiving treatment in France. In an interview, Tetamashimba said although he believed that President Mwanawasa would come back to lead the party, it was necessary that the issue of succession be discussed.

"I think that when President Mwanawasa comes... it will be folly to deny talking about that President Mwanawasa's successor. I think when he comes back, it will be important for us to start doing that," he said.

Tetamashimba said many people feared talking about succession but that it was an issue that should be discussed when the President returned.

"Only God knows the life span of President Mwanawasa. But what we know is that President Mwanawasa will come back and it will be important to start thinking seriously on succession, so that he should consider concentrating more on national issues while someone is concentrating on selling the party for 2011," Tetamashimba said.

He said the MMD would never experience a leadership vacuum.

Tetamashimba said the MMD was grateful for the prayers being offered towards President Mwanawasa's restoration of good health.

And in a separate interview, Vice-President Banda described the current period as difficult due to President Mwanawasa's absence.

"Of course it has been very difficult, it is very difficult. The President is a very busy person and we didn't say goodbye to each other," Vice-President Banda said.

"He left from here very well so of course it is a very difficult period. But I must say my colleagues in Cabinet and government, civil servants and yourselves have not given me a hard time and I am coping in that sense and I thank all of you for that."

President Mwanawasa suffered a stroke on June 29, 2008 in Egypt where he had gone to attend an African Union (AU) heads of state summit.

He was admitted to Sharm-el-Sheik International Hospital in the resort city of Sharm-el-Sheik in Egypt and was later evacuated to Percy Military Hospital in Paris on July 1 where he is still admitted.

Earlier when he received assorted food items from the Saudi government for the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, Vice-President Banda said Zambia looked forward to continued cooperation with Saudi Arabia in seeking solutions to the world's many problems and challenges.

Vice-President Banda said Saudi Arabia's gesture represented the strong bondage of friendship between that country and Zambia.

"Today we are once again receiving a gigantic consignment of different relief items aimed at assisting some of the victims of the last floods and to mitigate against future disasters," he said.

Vice-President Banda said Zambia recognised and respected Saudi Arabia as a home of Islam and that Mecca the depository of the Islamic faith remained one of the major destinations in the world.

And Saudi Arabia charge d' affaires to Zambia Naseh DN Al-Nefaie said his government paid attention to countries facing climate change consequences such as floods, famine and drought.

"It is in this regard and considering the last rainy season which caused floods and has left several thousands of people homeless and damaged a lot of infrastructure, my government is today handing over the donation of four hundred tonnes of assorted food stuffs," said Al-Nefaie.

Items donated include, rice, flour, macaroni, sugar, cooking oil, long life milk, beans, salt, biscuits and 2,000 tents.

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