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A Great Soul Makes Lap of Honour

Aug 29, 2008, 6:15 AM

From rumour to reality, President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa of Zambia, finally passed away Tuesday 19th August at a military hospital in Parish following a stroke that turned out to be fatal. Following a good race reflected by his Curriculum Vitae, the benevolent and beloved late Zambian President will now be given a lap of honour around a number of provincial cities in Zambia before his state funeral on 3rd September. No doubt his national anthem will be sung and many flags flown, if even at half mast, around his native Zambia as hosts of Zambians and numerous admirers the world over mourn the loss of a great soul.

Many say late President Mwanawasa was a great man and a great leader. It is said that throughout his life the late Mwanawasa fought for the good of humanity.

He was born in 1948, received primary as well as secondary education in Zambia where he also obtained a law degree at the University of Zambia in 1973. He practiced law from 1974 to 1991 when he retired following his appointment as Vice President of Zambia.

He was well known as an ardent advocate of human rights a cause he has always exposed before and during his presidential career. According to records, he even once resigned from the position of Vice-President because of his personal convictions and intolerance for injustice.

In place of injustice he preferred and advocated self-sacrifice in public office, as well as honesty commitment and loyalty to Zambia and Zambians. As president, he had pledged collaboration with all stakeholders to work in honour and integrity for the people of Zambia. In other spheres of human endeavour he has championed the fight against HIV/AIDS and was instrumental in that country achieving a significant drop in the infection rate. He was a strong promoter of gender equality, and in his presidential tenure he appointed more women ministers than at any other time in the political life of the country. In politics, he was in the frontline of the struggle for introducing multiparty politics in Zambia. He won the presidential elections in 2001 and re-elected in 2006. He was an ardent farmer owning at least three farms in the country and was known to go one "leave" between November and December during the planting season to work on his farms.

At the level of government his agricultural policies have produced bumper harvests across the rural areas.

This has been a man therefore of many parts, with strong vision and an interest at heart for the people.

His work has also been recognised both nationally and internationally, another testimony to his greatness. There are no doubt many Zambians who would echo the sentiments of Charles Mwape, a colleague in his movement for Multiparty Democracy Party, who said: "We have lost a great leader and it will be difficult to fill the gap."

Some African Presidents never had half as much honour, or any honour at all, in their last days; such leaders as Doe and Mobutu of grateful oblivion or ambivalent memory as the case may be. Of striking contrast has been President Mwanawasa of blessed memory, a president to emulate, one who sacrificed and gave a lot to his country. For those who hold that Mwanawasa was committed to justice, honesty and integrity for the common good of humanity, we can only add the prayer that his benevolent and beloved soul rest in perfect peace.