The following press release was issued today by the office of the former president.
His Excellency Rupiah Bwezani Banda, the Fourth President of the Republic of Zambia, has urged leaders to emulate Nelson Mandela’s reconciliatory and loving spirit if the world is to become a better place to live in.
The retired head of State has observed that the former South African president’s positive attitude after his release from prison in 1990 forestalled what could have become a crusade of vengeance against his jailers when he became that country’s first black president in 1994.
Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg News for a yet-to-be-published article, President Banda says the anti-apartheid icon, who spent 27 years in jail, was an embodiment of the qualities that any leader needed to help create a harmonious society.
He says in spite of all the suffering that Mr Mandela and his African National Congress colleagues had endured at the hands of the apartheid regime, he never allowed the bitterness of the past to cloud his judgment when he became South African president.
President Banda recalls that the 94-year-old Mr Mandela, who is in critical condition in a South African hospital, inspired many young politicians with his enduring and principled stand against apartheid at a time when he could have chosen fleeting comfort over hardship.
President Banda was then senior governor of the city of Lusaka when Mr Mandela visited the Zambian capital on 27th February, 1990 and was the first Zambian government official to shake hands with him as he alighted from a Zambia Airways plane to mark his first visit outside South Africa in 27 years.
It was also under Governor Banda’s watch that the Lusaka city council honoured Mr Mandela with the status of free man of the city, upon making Zambia his first foreign country of choice, 16 days after leaving Victor Verster prison.
President Banda is one of several retired and serving African presidents whom Bloomberg News writer Franz Wild has interviewed for the upcoming article.