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 2010-05-21 08:19 pm Back to NEWS
Former First Lady Maureen apologises over BBC remarks
 Former first lady Maureen Mwanawasa

FORMER first lady Maureen Mwanawasa yesterday apologised unreservedly to the people of Zambia and the Government for the misunderstanding caused by her interview aired on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) last week. Mrs Mwanawasa also said she would always treat the benefits under the former President’s Act as a privilege and not a right.“First and foremost, I apologise unreservedly to the people of Zambia and the Government for the misunderstanding that has been caused through the BBC interview,” Mrs Mwanawasa said.

“I wish to state that I am not a selfish person as some sections of society would like to portray and that I take the Government statutory provision as a privilege and not as a right and I cannot disparage the same when I am fully aware of the sufferings of many Zambians.

“I have always and will always treat this gesture as a privilege which I appreciate and I am grateful for, and that it is incumbent upon myself to fend for my family, ” Mrs Mwanawasa said.

She denied saying that she wanted Government to increase her retirement package but stated that she had decided to go back to her legal profession and continue to work to meet the family needs, especially education.

Mrs Mwanawasa said the interview, which was conducted in February this year, was not an isolated incident and the BBC also interviewed some former and current first ladies.

On the demise of her husband, Mrs Mwanawasa noted that though the matter had attracted public debate, she would not issue any further comments but find a way to amicably discuss the matter with the Government.

On Wednesday, Chief Government spokesperson Ronnie Shikapwasha expressed shock over Mrs Mwanawasa’s complaints that it did not carry out an investigation regarding the death of her husband.

Gen Shikapwasha said the benefits of former heads of state, their spouses and children were prescribed by the Benefits of Former Presidents’ Act, Cap 15 as amended, and the Presidential Emoluments Act Cap 261.

Recently, Mrs Mwanawasa told the BBC that she only gets 50 per cent of what the sitting president gets which was not enough to sustain her.

“My children are in private schools. One of them requires $2,000 per term. My daughter in London needs 10,000 British pounds a year. This is less accommodation, upkeep and air transport. This life is unsustainable. I can’t use $1,000 to educate my children,” she said.

She said she was disappointed that the Government did not investigate why her husband collapsed at a conference in Egypt and said they were in a hurry to go for elections after he died.

 
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