Zambia's former first lady 'excited' about wealth suit By ELIAS MBAO in Lusaka | Monday, November 15   2010 at  11:52

Flashback: President of Zambia Levy Mwanawasa and wife Maureen. The Mwanawasa family is embroiled in estate distribution wrangles. AFRICA REVIEW | ELIAS MBAO 

Zambia’s former first lady Maureen Mwanawasa has said she is “excited” about her step daughters’ planned lawsuit against her over the distribution of the late president’s estate, asserting that “the court will put things to rest”.

Miriam and Lona, daughters of Levy Mwanawasa – Zambia’s third president who died after suffering a stroke at the African Union (AU) summit in 2008 – have threatened to sue Mrs Mwanawasa and the family estate administrator for allegedly depriving them of their father’s riches.

Mrs Mwanawasa said the estate was shared according to the will her husband left.

“President Mwanawasa did not die intestate; he left a will,” said Mrs Mwanawasa, a lawyer.

“It means the intestate does not play any role. Issues of distributing the estate using 50 per cent to the (children), 20 per cent (to the deceased’s parents) does not come into picture. You distribute the estate according to his wishes.”

His first wife

The former first lady, who Mr Mwanawasa married in 1988 after divorcing his first wife, said she did not fear to be taken to court over the matter.

“I am actually excited because the court will be able to put things to rest than all of us just murmuring and rumour mongering and hearing it from third parties. That is the way to go,” Mrs Mwanawasa said.

According to Mrs Mwanawasa, Miriam – the late leader’s first born daughter – was given a house in Ndola, about 320km north of the capital Lusaka.

Mrs Mwanawasa said people should not ride on “ensuring that other people die” for them to have a better life.

“This (Mwanawasa estate feud) should be a lesson for my other friends’ children who still have both parents; they should take advantage (and) get educated; don’t wait for your parents to die before you can have a life,” Mrs Mwanawasa said.

She dismissed playing a role in Lona’s claims that she was blocked from laying wreath together with other Mwanawasa children on the tomb of her father.

Their father’s riches

“That funeral, I was just a mourner, a widow; I was not responsible for any programme,” said Mrs Mwanawasa.

Miriam and Lona contended that although they got the shares apportioned to them in the will left by Mr Mwanawasa, they had not benefited from assets and properties including farms the late president acquired years after he had prepared his will.

Miriam and Lona, who claimed to have only received about $4,400 and $3,000 respectively from their father’s riches, are today (Monday) expected to file a lawsuit against Mrs Mwanawasa and family estate administrator, Mr Constantino Chimuka.

Mr Mwanawasa left seven children from four women – two of whom were his wives at separate times – although Miriam and Lona claim the will benefited more Mrs Mwanawasa’s four children.