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Tuesday, 18 December, 2001, 14:55 GMT
Mazoka: The candidate who means business
Anderson Mazoka
Mazoka is well organised with popular policies
A profile of one of Zambia's leading candidates in the presidential election on 27 December by the BBC's former reporter in Lusaka, Anthony Kunda, who died on 14 December.

Although he is one of the leading presidential candidates in the forthcoming elections in Zambia, when you first meet Anderson Mazoka, you would never think he is a politician.

This is especially so when you meet him dressed in his trademark immaculate western-style executive suit.

But in less than five years since he formed his party United Party for National Development, Mr Mazoka has become what some people would call a seasoned politician.

To attest to that, in just their first year of existence, Mr Mazoka and his UPND started beating the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) in certain parliamentary bye-elections.

Business

This organisational ability could partly be due to his experience in the business world, both in Zambia and abroad.

Mazoka's supporters
Free medical services and free education could be popular

Fifty-six year-old Mr Mazoka was born in southern Zambia to teacher - parents.

Perhaps due to their calling, they both encouraged him to excel in his school work. And excel, he did because he was among the first graduates of the newly opened University of Zambia.

He worked briefly in Zambia, before he went to the United States of America, where he both worked and studied.

On his return in the 70s, he worked for Zambia Railways, where, in the space of two years former president Kenneth Kaunda elevated him to general manager.

Unorthodox

But this was also the place where his fortunes started to take a nose-dive.

It is alleged that some unorthodox practices took place at Zambia Railways during the time Mr Mazoka was general manager.

When the trains stopped in transit from Botswana, the fat healthy cattle they were carrying which were meant for export to Congo Kinshasa, were apparently removed and exchanged with thin local animals.

Former President Kaunda appointed a commission inquiry over the issue. But like so many reports of commissions of inqury in Zambia, nothing significant came out of that.

The issue has resurfaced again with some of Mr Mazoka's critics pointing accusing fingers at him in connection with that incident, but Mr Mazoka insists on his innocence.

He often throws a challenge back at these critics saying: "You can publish the report, if you want to."

Religion

Mr Mazoka is fairly popular in some parts of the country, although some political observers say he is something of a tribalist pointing to the presence of his Tonga-speaking people in key party positions.

Mr Mazoka has also been accused of having links with free masonry.

And in largely-Christian Zambia, free masonry is equated to satanism.

But Mr Mazoka has continued to plead his innocence saying "I was born a seventh day adventist, and will die an adventist Christian."

But if there is one thing that endears him to the electorate, it is his policy of providing free education, and free medical services. He has also been talking about farm subsidies, which the MMD abandoned with disastrous consequences.

If Mr Mazoka wins the election, the country might see more pro-poor policies.

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