By SAM PHIRI
FORMER first lady Maureen Mwanawasa has declared that she will contest the 2016 presidential election but will for now support the candidature of President Rupiah Banda for the 2011 polls.
Mrs Mwanawasa has also called on the public to respect the decisions of the judiciary, saying insistent attacks on recent judgments were ultra vires the ideals of a democratic country that demands separation of powers.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Times, Mrs Mwanawasa said she now felt that she was ripe to take over the mantle of the high office of president.
She said, however, that she would only contest the presidency in the 2016 elections because her party, the MMD had already settled for President Banda as the candidate for the party in 2011.
“I want to make it very clear to the nation that I am an MMD member and I therefore subscribe to the rules and regulations. As a party, we have already made a decision to rally behind President Banda as sole party candidate for the 2011 elections.
“I have offered myself and I will be available to stand as president in the 2016 presidential elections, not now. I would like all those who doubt my capacities to give me a try, this country is now ready for a female president,” she said.
Mrs Mwanawasa said she had a great passion to lead Zambia and that it was important for any country to have a good reservoir of good and well-trained leaders alongside those in power.
She said good governance was like running a football team whose fans depended on players in the starting line up while also having a well-equipped and trained line up of substitutes on the bench who should rise to the occasion when the need arose.
She, however, said those in privileged positions such as herself and those serving in Government should never think they were the best because some of those among the substitutes could do even better.
Mrs Mwanawasa also said she wanted to dispel rumours which suggested that she was an immensely wealthy woman, adding that contrary to such views, she was a noble person who was also subjected to stringent financial regulations by her late husband.
On corruption, the former first lady said the judiciary should be allowed to work professionally without interference from the public because doing so would erode public confidence and respect.
She said the fight against corruption, which her late husband had a passion for, should not be misconstrued as having been a personal fight against any one individual but one that was wholesome to ensure that development trickled to the poor.
Mrs Mwanawasa also said she was ready to take up any appointment to work for the people of Zambia.
Meanwhile, three MMD provincial executive committees have said they are still consulting party structures before stating their positions on whether the party should hold its convention before the 2011 elections.
Five provinces have already petitioned the national executive committee not to hold the convention because President Banda had been adopted as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2011 elections.
Times of Zambia