Levy Patrick Mwanawasa - The Third Zambian President

Early life

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa was born in Mufulira on the copperbelt on 3rd September 1948.

He went to school at Chiwala Secondary School in Ndola and later on did a Bachelor of law degree at the University of Zambia in Lusaka.

Levy Patrick MwanawasaLevy Patrick Mwanawasa
He started practicing as a lawyer and formed his own law company, Mwanawasa and company in 1978. He made his mark in 1989 as a lawyer when he successfully defended former vice-president General Christon Tembo and others in a treason trial under President Kenneth Kaunda’s rule.

Political career

Mwanawasa’s political career started when the then President Kenneth Kaunda, under pressure from the masses abolished the one party state and introduced multiparty politics in 1990. He joined the newly formed Movement for Multiparty democracy (MMD).

Under the leadership of Frederick Chiluba, a trade unionist, the MMD won the 1991 polls against Kenneth Kaunda.

Frederick Chiluba became Zambia’s second President and Mwanawasa as his vice. However, his role as vice-president was disturbed when he was involved in a traffic accident and he was seriously injured in 1991. He was flown to South Africa for treatment and was hospitalized for some time. As a result of the accident in which his aide died, he developed a speech impediment.

He assumed his role as vice-president when he recovered. However, in 1994 he resigned following a row with Michael Sata, the then Minister without portfolio in the MMD government. He went back to his old legal practice.

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa challenged Chiluba for the leadership of MMD in 1996 but was defeated. He stood out of the lime light for some time until the question of Chiluba’s successor came up.

Frederick Chiluba decided to choose Mwanawasa as his successor and Mwanawasa went on to win by a controversial narrow victory in the December 2001 election. The opposition contested the results, but Levy Mwanawasa was sworn in as President on 2nd January 2002.

Mwanawasa’s health

In April 2006, Mwanawasa suffered a mild stroke. He however recovered and went on to win his second term in office.

On 29th June 2008, Mwanawasa had a second stroke in Egypt before the start of the African Union Summit. He was flown to France and was admitted at Percy Military hospital.

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa’s death

News of his death by a South African radio station was quickly dismissed by the government as rumours.

On 19th August 2008, Levy Mwanawasa died and the news was confirmed by vice-president Rupiah Banda. His death was attributed to complications due to his earlier stroke.

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa was buried at Embassy Park in Lusaka on 3rd September 2008. South African President, Thabo Mbeki, one of the 14 heads of African states who attended the funeral said that Mwanawasa had contributed to “the restoration and strengthening of regional political unity and cohesion”.

The date of burial was to coincide with his birth day. He would have been 60 years on that date.

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