PRESIDENT Peter Mutharika of Malawi has hailed Zambia’s former President Kenneth Kaunda for staying away from politics after leaving office.
President Mutharika observed yesterday when he visited Dr Kaunda at his residence that some of the problems facing African countries were created by leaders.
“Since you left office, you showed that there’s life after politics. You did not interfere in the politics. My late brother (President Bingu wa Mutharika) used to say politics is like a relay where you run your quota after which you pass on your baton to another person,” Professor Mutharika told Dr Kaunda.
President Mutharika commended Dr Kaunda for his contribution to the health sector, especially in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Zambia and the world.
“You have been exemplary, you run your quota and you passed on to others, and that is what you have done, it is very commendable,” President Mutharika said.
He also thanked Dr Kaunda, alongside Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya among others, for his contribution to Africa’s liberation struggle, especially in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
On a lighter note, President Mutharika asked Dr Kaunda what he had done to look like he was 21 years old when he was 91.
The Malawian President was accompanied by his Minister of Foreign Affairs George Chaponda, high commissioner to Zambia David Bandawe, Minister of Agriculture Allan Chiyembekeza and his advisor Nicholas Dausi.
Dr Kaunda thanked President Mutharika for visiting him and Zambia in particular, saying the gesture signifies love as taught in the Bible.
“But I’m protesting Mr President; you have only given us two days. Why?” Dr Kaunda remarked.
Dr Kaunda told the Malawian President that his visit was very much appreciated by Zambians and himself in particular.
And on departure to his country, President Mutharika said his visit to Zambia was fruitful and thanked President Lungu for hosting him.
“It was a wonderful visit and I want to thank my brother President Lungu and the First Lady for a wonderful time and the people of Zambia,” he said at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
Prof Mutharika said he enjoyed his stay in Zambia and had successful discussions with President Lungu.
Earlier, Prof Mutharika laid wreaths on the graves of former presidents Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa and Michael Sata.
And Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba said Prof Mutharika’s visit will benefit both Zambia and Malawi because the neighbouring countries share historical ties.
“The more we are closer, the more it works for us. We are all looking at industrialisation as being key to our economic growth,” Mr Kalaba said.
Mr Kalaba said the interaction of countries on bilateral and multilateral fronts is good because they share best practices on issues.
He said those criticising President Lungu’s international visits are not privy to the importance of economic diplomacy and international relations.
“If Zambia wants others to reach out to us, we need to reach out to them,” Mr Kalaba said.