Zambian opposition leader pledges support for President

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In a rare move in Africa politics, Zambia’s opposition party leader, Patriotic Front (PF) Michael Sata says he is determined to help the current president Levy Mwanawasa leave an “outstanding legacy”.

Mr Sata is quoted as saying that the legacy is for the people of Zambia and Africa.

“We have to change the Zambian, as well as, African politics. We need a culture where leaders put nationalism and the people first and work together.

But the situation in Africa, Zambia included, has been that the opposition has always been attacking while the government, even when it knows it is wrong, spends all its time just defending, he said.

Sata is of the view that Zambian politics needed to change to ensure that nationalism became paramount before personal preservation.

On the African opposition leaders, he said the current crop are making it impossible for the incumbent leaders to leave a good legacy because of incessant attacks.

“President Mwanawasa has remained with about three years to go and we should all of us, therefore, give him an honourable exit and ensure a safe take over for whoever will succeed him,” said the outspoken opposition leader.

Asked to comment on assertions from his opponents that his move was a political gimmick to further his chances he said:

“In 2001 I decided to leave MMD and when I left MMD I had one resolution – to became the President of the Republic of Zambia.

“So I don’t need to be closer to anybody because that is a resolution I made in 2001 which I renewed in 2006,” he said adding that the people he was supposed to lead should benefit from his politics.

Sata, popularly known as “King Cobra”, emerged as the leading opposition presidential contender and rival to Mwanawasa in the 2006 presidential elections, but was defeated by Mwanawasa according to official results.

He contested as a populist championing the causes of the poor in the face of Mwanawasa’s economic reform policies.

While the slate of candidates contesting the election frequently resorted to personal attacks and insults, Sata’s remarks were at times quite scathing.

At one campaign event in particular, Sata was reported to have ripped apart a cabbage in front of his supporters.

The cabbage was a reference to Mwanawasa’s speech impediment, which is an injury from a 1992 car crash.

He has also accused Mwanawasa of “selling out” Zambia to international interests, but the two men have since reconciled.

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