- “So he said ‘oh my God, how did I forget that?’ That’s when he said I am going to do a letter for you to take to him, which he did and he explained to me that in this other envelope there was some cash for the old man. And I said Okay, will deliver it without fail, and I did,” Mwaanga explained.
FORMER Zambia’s Ambassasor to the United Nations, Vernon Mwaanga has dismissed insinuations and innuendo that late Dr Kenneth Kaunda asked for money from President Emerson Mnangagwa, but confirmed that President Mnangagwa sent cash to Kaunda as well as for President Mnangagwa’s relatives who are Zambian citizens.
On Friday, The Herald newspaper wrote that just before he was hospitalised, Dr Kaunda penned an emotional letter to President Emerson Mnangagwa whom he affectionately referred to as his “nephew” wishing him heavenly blessings in everything that he does for Zimbabwe and its people.
The newspaper stated that after falling sick, Dr Kaunda could not sign the letter that was dated June 9, which was subsequently hand-delivered to President Mnangagwa by Vernon Mwaanga recently.
“First and foremost, let me send greetings and convey my best wishes to you and your family members. I pray the Good Lord Almighty to keep you safe and healthy in this difficult time of the pandemic.
“Thank you for your happy birthday message and for the generous cash you made available to me through my young man, Vermon (sic) J. Mwaanga, whom I have charged with the responsibility of hand delivering this letter to you in person. I can never thank you enough. I can only ask God our Creator to continue blessing you abundantly and guide you in everything you do for your country and people,” reads the letter in part.
President Mnangagwa, who was deported to Zambia after his release from Khami Prison in 1972 because records showed that he was supposed to be in that neighbouring country, is fond of Zimbabwe’s northern neighbour where many liberation war movements were sheltered as the nationalists intensified efforts to remove minority white rule in the region.
“I have fond and proud memories of your dedicated fight against colonialism and oppression. This will remain part of your lasting legacy. My warm regards to my daughter in law Mrs Mnangagwa,” Dr Kaunda said in his heartfelt letter.
The Herald publication has attracted reactions from some individuals insinuating that the late former president was not being well looked after.
When contacted, Mwaanga said the story was closer to the truth but that Dr Kaunda never asked for money from President Mnangagwa.
“The truth of the matter is that President Mnangagwa on each and every birthday of KK sent him a present. The birthday before last he bought him a guitar,” he explained.
“This is not something new, it has been going on for a long time. I mean he (President Mnangagwa) was here and part of his family is still in Mumbwa. In fact, one of his relatives lives in Chelstone and at the same time as I was asked to deliver a parcel to KK, I also asked to deliver a parcel for his relative who lives in Chelstone. Dr Kaunda, at no time did he ask for money, never!”
Mwaanga said the cash gift to Dr Kaunda was a voluntary act on the part of President Mnangagwa.
“He just wanted the old man to mark his birthday, at least to let him have something,” he said.
He said as bearer of the gift, his role was merely to deliver it, which he did.
“And also to hand deliver a letter which was not signed, it’s true because by the time he (Dr Kaunda) was supposed to sign the letter, he was already in hospital. So we agreed with the family that I should take it the way it was. And President Mnangagwa highly appreciated that token. That is the 100 per cent truth of what happened; the belated birthday present,” Mwaanga said.
He explained that while in Harare recently, he mentioned to President Mnangagwa that Dr Kaunda recently celebrated his 97th birthday.
“So he said ‘oh my God, how did I forget that?’ That’s when he said I am going to do a letter for you to take to him, which he did and he explained to me that in this other envelope there was some cash for the old man. And I said Okay, will deliver it without fail, and I did,” Mwaanga explained.
He said there was nothing like Dr Kaunda asking for money.
“It never happened; never happened at all,” emphasised Mwaanga. – Zambian Observer ■