Maureen refutes Times story on 2011 presidential ambition

maureenFORMER first lady Maureen Mwanawasa (above) has said she wants to live a private and quiet life away from politics.

According to the Post, Maureen when clarifying the lead story published in the Times of Zambia on September 4, 2009 where she was quoted as having said that she would vie for the Republican Presidency in 2016 and that she currently backed President Rupiah Banda for the 2011 election,  said politics was not a priority in her daily life.

“I want to put matters clear and state that I was misquoted by the Times of Zambia Newspaper dated Friday, September 4th 2009 with a headline MAUREEN EYES PRESIDENCY…backs Banda For 2011 Polls. The news has traumatised me, my family and friends as it has painted me as being active in politics and being judged as such,” she said. “I want to state that I want to live a private and quiet life away from political limelight and acclamatise especially after the demise of my late husband. I do not want to discuss politics as priority in my daily life and I want to be left alone to concentrate on my family welfare.”

Maureen said she only told the reporter that she had interest in leading the country but that she did not know when the opportunity would come.

“I confirm that I had an interview with Sam Phiri a reporter from Times of Zambia on 31st August 2009 at my office and this was upon their request that I give a story on how life has been since my late husband’s death, president Mwanawasa. I gave my story and in conclusion he asked me whether I had any political ambition,” she narrated.

“My response was clear and precise to the effect that what I had was a passion to one day lead this country but that I do not know when such an opportunity would occur. I remain a committed MMD member. The reporter said that the story would be published as a feature and as a build-up to the speech I gave on 19th August 2009 during the memorial service of the late president Levy Patrick Mwanawasa SC.”

She explained that she was later called by the same reporter to re-do the interview another day so that it could be recorded.

“Two days later, Mr Phiri telephoned me to inform me that his boss Mrs [Janet] Ilunga will not publish the story because it was not recorded on tape and that he wanted another opportunity to repeat the interview and this time on tape. My response was simple, I told him that I was quite busy until after 3rd September 2009 and that I would phone him to agree on the time and date. He agreed and told me that the first interview will be put away since it was not taped. I agreed to that arrangement,” Maureen said.

She said she was surprised to see the story in the newspaper despite the earlier arrangement that the interview be redone.

“To my surprise and disbelief, I saw the said shouting and disturbing headline in the Times of Zambia. Immediately I phoned Mr Phiri to express my belief and disappointment and asked him at what point did I express[ly] say what they had quoted. I demanded an apology,” she said.

Maureen said despite her demand for an apology from the newspaper, she could not get one.

“I was annoyed with him and I was made to speak to his boss Mrs Ilunga [to] whom I expressed my disappointment and asked for an apology for the misrepresentation. Mrs Ilunga told me that it was not possible for them to carry an apology but that my feature story would cure the misrepresentation the following day,” she explained.

“The feature was carried in [the] Times of Zambia on 5th September 2009, but it did not cure the misrepresentation and many people did not even read it.”

She said she has been forced to speak out through another medium because the Times of Zambia had chosen not to correct the misrepresentation.

“Efforts to get the Times newspaper to apologise have been futile. I have decided to explain this issue in detail with another media because the Times of Zambia is adamant to make my position clear. The media should also not make capital out of a misrepresentation,” said Maureen.

On Friday last week, Maureen was quoted in the Times of Zambia as having said that she would stand for the 2016 presidency.

The newspaper also quoted her as having said that she supported President Banda’s sole candidature for the 2011 election.

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