Friday, September 04, 2009

Levy protected freedom of expression and press – Maureen

Levy protected freedom of expression and press – Maureen
Written by Chibaula Silwamba
Friday, September 04, 2009 5:15:42 PM

FORMER first lady Maureen Mwanawasa has said her late husband, Levy Mwanawasa, protected freedom of expression and press as mandated by the Zambian Constitution. And president Mwanawasa's biographer Amos Malupenga said it pained him that people who worked closely and loyalists of president Mwanawasa are not defending or clarifying the wrong and incorrect things that are being said about the late president.

Meanwhile, former president Dr Kenneth Kaunda said the biography is a great narration of the life story of president Mwanawasa, whom he described as a great statesman and revered African leader.

Speaking at the launch of the biography Levy Patrick Mwanawasa - an incentive for prosperity written by Post managing editor Amos Malupenga at Hotel Intercontinental in Lusaka on Thursday night, Maureen said Mwanawasa invoked the provisions of Article 20 of the Zambian Constitution on the protection of freedom of expression.

"Above all he had sworn to uphold the Constitution to its fine details and Zambians came to understand that the rule of law was president Mwanawasa's yardstick of measuring power and authority and God consequently helped him to lead this beautiful country, Zambia," Maureen said.

"Allow me your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen to underscore this point by reading Article 20(1) (2) in the interest of justice and fair play. I need my glasses! Your Excellency Article 20 (1) reads: except with his own consent no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression. That is to say freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference. Freedom to impart and communicate ideas and information without interference whether the communication be to the public generally or to any person or class of persons and freedom from interference with his correspondence. Article 20 (2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution no law shall make any provisions that derogate from freedom of the press."

She explained why president Mwanawasa allowed Malupenga to write his biography.

"Many of you present here tonight as well as those not with us must be wondering how president Levy Mwanawasa could allow his biography to be written by Amos Malupenga, the managing editor of the most controversial newspaper in our land, The Post to be specific," Maureen said.

"The answer is simple. President Mwanawasa agreed to this arrangement and he said, and I quote, 'I want my biography to be written by someone who can even have the courage to punch holes in my character and my administration'."

She said president Mwanawasa had realized that Zambia had been challenged with the misuse of public funds which made the country's treasury suffer.

"President Mwanawasa believed that there was need to cure the cancer that had gripped the nation and efforts to grow the economy would be futile without change of attitude towards public property and resources," she said

Maureen emphasized that president Mwanawasa spearheaded the corruption crusade on behalf of Zambians and at no time was it a personal agenda.

"President Mwanawasa understood that corruption retarded the economic growth of nations and Zambia was no exception. He recognized one of the factors that has seen Zambia lag behind and remain mired in poverty as the tendency by some leaders and public workers to look after their own interest at the expense of national interests. This in many cases results in dictators who hold large amounts of money in foreign accounts," Maureen said.

She said one of the greatest challenges facing Africa and Zambia in particular was to develop leadership corps that was not entangled in corruption practices.

"The onus is on the electorate to vote for quality leadership. At a higher level, the constitutional level there is need to put in place safeguards that will ensure that there will be no rigging of elections so that the leadership that is put in place in any given African country reflects the will of the nation," Maureen said. "The above stated tenets espoused by president Mwanawasa are by no means exhaustive. What president Mwanawasa stood for cannot be summarized on a platform such as this one."

She said Zambia needed more people of president Mwanawasa's caliber in order for the country and Africa to grow in a sustainable manner.

"President Mwanawasa's visionary leadership can be called an institution and the more we read, talk and champion some of these beliefs, the more we can make a difference for ourselves and the generations yet to come," Maureen said.

She said president Mwanawasa's administration brought the cost of doing business in Zambia down.

"I am sure we have not yet forgotten his famous quote: 'putting money in the pockets of ordinary Zambians and creating a middle income economy'," Maureen recalled. "He believed in hard work. His message was simple, yet poignant. President Mwanawasa believed in leadership for transformation. Leadership which is able to change the way things stand and chart a new path of prosperity into the future. A leadership that can make a country enjoy a great degree of stability and economic growth."

Maureen said having worked closely with president Mwanawasa as one of his special assistants, though not on salary, she was duty bound to be among the advocates of the late president's legacy.

"The date 3rd September bears special significance in the life history of the late president Mwanawasa. President Mwanawasa was born on 3rd September 1948, he was buried on 3rd September 2008 and today [Thursday] 3rd September 2009 we are launching his visionary biography," said Maureen. "Is this mere coincidence? Whatever the reason behind these coincidences, 3rd September will remain a magical and memorable date to me and the children and the rest of the family."

However, government officials or any ministers serving in the current administration who were close allies of president Mwanawasa shunned the ceremony.

And in his speech, Malupenga wondered why president Mwanawasa's loyalists were not defending the decisions of the late president.

"Without sounding political, I just want to say that it pains me, it pains my heart sometimes especially in the last few months when I see the people that worked closely with Mr Mwanawasa. Those who the public know as members of the family tree; you know the story. Those are the people who were considered, not necessarily that they were members of the family tree, I think there was that expression but I am referring to those people who were considered to be Mr Mwanawasa's lieutenants, those who knew him better, those who understood what was happening in the background," Malupenga said. "Of course I discussed this issue with him several times during my interactions with him about the need to appoint people with the necessary competence to execute national duties and he kept on insisting and he said, 'that is very important but sometimes you need to strike a balance because you need to find people who need to be loyal to you, people who are ready to die for you'."

He said during his interaction with president Mwanawasa, the late president mentioned a few names of the people he considered to be his loyalists.

"Of course I singled out that name in the book and that is Mr Alfred Chipoya and he is here, so I want to commend him because I see that he is trying to die a little for Mr Mwanawasa," Malupenga said. "But a point I am making is that there are a few of those who worked very closely with him, who understood him better and he considered these men and women as his loyalists, so to say. There are so many things that are being said about Mr Mwanawasa today, most of them wrong, incorrect and I expect that those loyalists, those who understood him better, those who knew the behind the scenes should cease the opportunity since the man is not here to clarify or defend his position. But unfortunately most of these are very quiet and it pains me that they are not clarifying. They are allowing, to borrow honourable [George] Mpombo's words, they are allowing the legacy to be harassed. I hope honurable Mpombo will not accuse me of practicing politics of braggadocio."

Malupenga said he initiated the idea to write president Mwanawasa's biography when the late president was in Mfuwe during his last working holiday.

"I mentioned to him that there will be need for me to put his life in form of a book by way of writing a biography. He didn't seem so much interested but he welcomed the idea. He said, 'put it in writing. Let's consider it when we get back to Lusaka.' And indeed that is what I did and of course he was busy, there were so many things to look at but in April we met and resolved that we proceed as I proposed," Malupenga narrated. "He was a good family man and goodness, his love was not just confined to his children, I think it was to the entire family."

He commended The Post for giving him time to work on the biography and the editor of the biography, professor Fackson Banda.

"The Post gave me all the support; sometimes they allowed me to stay away from work just to concentrate on this project. I think the entire management and staff, they gave me all the support that I expected and I need from them, for that I would like to thank you all my colleagues," said Malupenga.

"President Jakaya Kikwete wrote the foreword. This foreword in my view is a huge contribution to the summary of the life of president Mwanawasa. He [President Kikwete] has ended his foreword by throwing a challenge to us, he said: 'President Mwanawasa lived his life, our challenge is to live his legacy.' This is a challenge for all of us in this country."

Meanwhile, Dr Kaunda said Malupenga, through the biography had paid a fitting tribute to president Mwanawasa.

"Most of us believed that we knew him [Mwanawasa] well during his lifetime, yet this book tells us more about his story. Amos Malupenga has through his writing this book demonstrated his impeccable aptitude to put together Levy's thoughts before his passing."

He said the story of president Mwanawasa went beyond Zambia's boundaries.

"I am in this regard delighted that another distinguished son of Africa and head of state of Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete has provided the foreword to this book in glorious terms," said Dr Kaunda.

The event attracted a cross section of people in society drawn from the diplomat corps, financial, banking, political, educational, and media sectors.


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