Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Levy Mwanawasa, RIP

The death of Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa has received almost no press in the United States, but Africa has lost one of its best leaders. Mwanawasa has been a continent-wide leader in attacking corruption since he took office in 2002. One of Africa's biggest problems is the widespread and rampant corruption of many of its leaders. Zambia traditionally has suffered from this as much as anyone. Mwanawasa took on corruption in his own country and had his predecesor tried in London for his bilking of millions of dollars from the state coffers. Just last year he was found guilty.

Furthermore, Mwanawasa was almost the only African leader who openly has attacked Robert Mugabe's thuggery, murder, and destruction of his own nation. African leaders, especially South Africa's Thabo Mbeki have been woefully reluctant to go after an old anti-colonist leader. Mwanawasa was less reticent.

Zambia still has tons of problems, but we can't expect one president to solve them. I am no expert on Africa and there may be bad things about Mwanawasa's leadership. He did open the nation up to IMF and World Bank demands. Certainly in Latin America that usually ended badly for the population. But regardless, it is sad that he died at a young age while Robert Mugabe and the Sudanese junta continues to live.