As a nation, we have had three presidents since our independence from Britain in 1964. The first was Kenneth Kaunda (popularly called “KK”) who ruled for 27 years, from 1964 to 1991. The second was Fredrick Chiluba (popularly called “FTJ”) who ruled for 10 years, from 1991 to 2001. Mwanawasa was the third, and his reign began in 2001 until the Lord took him a few days ago. The first two presidents are still alive, though FTJ continues to be in and out of hospital in South Africa due to failing health. So, this is the first death we have suffered at such a high level as a nation. This partly explains why the whole nation is emotionally affected by Mwanawasa’s death.
Something else that can be said about our three presidents is that they all professed to be Christians. Kaunda’s father was a missionary to northern Zambia from Malawi. Kaunda, therefore, professes faith, though his meddling with Eastern religions has left many of us in doubt concerning the genuineness of his profession of faith. Chiluba claims to have become a Christian a few years before becoming president, while he was incarcerated for his political activities. However, the information that has become public during his recent court trials can only point to someone who is in a very bad spiritual state.
One cannot say similar things about Levy Mwanawasa. He only professed faith in Christ after entering into presidential office. This took place at a Baptist church in Lusaka, where he was later baptised publicly upon his profession of faith. His fight against corruption and his ability to rebuke men like Mugabe, while other presidents were trying to be politically correct, seem to stand in favour of his profession. We are yet to hear anything about his conduct that would militate against his Christian testimony. So, for now, we have every reason to believe that we have lost a Christian brother who has gone to be with the Lord.
The next few weeks will be difficult for our nation, and so we would covet the prayers of all those who love the people of Zambia and the church in Zambia. Soon after the president is buried, by constitution, we will have political campaigns for the presidency, culminating in elections within 90 days. Pray for us that we will not find ourselves with “a devil on the throne”. It is an acknowledged fact that under the leadership of Dr Mwanawasa the country has known remarkable economic growth. All these gains can be lost if, as a nation, we “fall into wrong hands”.
It is very easy, in the midst of this high profile mourning, to lose sight of the fact that the one who has died was primarily a husband and a father. Once a new president is chosen the nation will move on, but no one will fill the vacuum that the president’s death has created in his family. The First Lady, Mrs Maureen Mwanawasa, has lost a husband and a pillar upon whom she leaned. Their children (Miriam, Patrick, Chipokota, Matolo, Lubona and Ntembe) have lost a father who provided for them in material, emotional and counseling terms. As you pray for the nation, please remember the late president’s family. They will certainly need our prayers for many years to come!