Mumba advocates benefits for former republican vice-presidents
By Staff Reporter
MMD president Nevers Mumba has asked government to award former vice-presidents with decent retirement packages instead of bestowing them extravagant state funeral when they die.
In a Facebook posting on his wall, Dr Mumba who also served as vice-president under late President Levy Mwanawasa, quickly placed a disclaimer saying he did not raise the matter for him to benefit but “to highlight a matter that has embarrassed Zambia for years both at home and abroad”.
“Without disturbing the spirit of mourning, I wish to raise a pivotal issue which relates to the plight of former vice-presidents in Zambia. Although vice-presidents actually act as President and play a significant role in the management of the nation, the occupants of that office have zero sustainable benefits once they leave office. The only sure retirement benefit has been a state funeral at death,” he said.
Mumba said former vice-president, Lupando Mwape’s death was an opportunity to raise this matter in the hope that government could ensure that those who served the nation faithfully were taken care of after leaving office.
He said the office of the vice-president was constitutional just like other public offices such as that of President, the Chief Justice, Supreme court and high court judges, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Service Chiefs and civil servants and others who were entitled to benefits when they were no longer serving
“In most nations, a Vice President leaves office with sustainable benefits. In Zambia they leave office with debt arising from whatever loan they could have contracted. Everything is withdrawn, the security, staff, vehicles, diplomatic passport and are thrown onto the streets with monthly stipend to help in paying off the loan they could have contracted while in office,” he said.
He further narrated that “those of us who knew and walked with the late Lupando Mwape remain heart broken by the life he was subjected to. His case must raise a moral debate as to why a man who did not even have a place to lay his head should be given an expensive state funeral. In life, he suffered from lack, in death, he is treated as a king. This is not to belittle the honor of the state funeral but to challenge cabinet office as to the morality of this status quo”.
He said the problem of the nation’s number two comes from the UNIP days when Vice Presidents Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Secretary General of UNIP Grey Zulu, Prime Ministers Malimba Masheke, Kebby Musokotwane, Nalumino Mundia, Mainza Chona were all neglected.
“I believe as MMD we failed to secure these freedom fighters financially to give them a dignified life. Some have gone to the grave in great poverty. I am reminded of the immeasurable hardships the late former Vice President Gen. Christon Tembo went through in trying to pay for medical bills, until we lost him. He was however, given an elaborate state funeral. As MMD, we approved former Presidents’ package but left out those who laboured side by side with them. I hope the PF can see the value of correcting this national anomaly,” Mumba appealed.
He said his heart goes out to the family of late Mwape as this was a difficult time for them and close friends.
Mumba said at the height of his public service, Mwape remained one of those who acted as president for a prolonged period of time when the late President Mwanawasa was hospitalized in London and that it was befitting for government to have evacuated him to South Africa for specialized treatment.