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Tuesday, 18 December, 2001, 15:23 GMT
Miyanda: A born-again villager
Heritage supporters
Miyanda's supporters are praying for victory
The BBC's former reporter in Lusaka, Anthony Kunda, who died on 14 December, profiles one of Zambia's leading presidential candidates.

When presidential election candidates get half the chance they often like to bask in the limelight, proclaiming themselves to be heading for a landslide victory.

And many of the candidates who filed their nomination papers at the supreme court did just that. Loudly.


He has a lot of integrity and you never hear him speaking insults

President Chiluba
But this tends not to be the way of former Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda, leader of the Heritage party, which was formed following his expulsion from the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) in May for opposing the third term bid for President Frederick Chiluba.

When Mr Miyanda, the burly former military officer, stepped out of the Supreme Court in the company of his exceedingly beautiful wife Angela, he smiled briefly at the cheering supporters.

There were no triumphant words, he said simply: "I cannot say I am winning until Zambians vote for me... now I have applied to the Zambian people."

Straight man

The candidate developed a reputation for realism and honesty, especially financial honesty, when he served as minister of education and vice president in the MMD government.

He was known as someone who would never fiddle his expenses.

Heritage supporters
Miyanda's Heritage party promotes 'The village concept'

He also doesn't like to bad-mouth his political opponents.

It is perhaps for these reasons that even President Chiluba was recently forced to make a public admission that he "has a lot of integrity and you never hear him speaking insults".

A few weeks ago, former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, when asked by foreign journalists whom he thought would make the best head of state for the country, said, without hesitation - "I think this young man, Miyanda."

Despite this commendation, the former Brigadier General has his critics.

Strict

Some say he's a loner who can't work with others. But Mr Miyanda retorts: "If that's the case, how come I worked in government all these years?"

Another criticism is that he can appear dogmatic and overly strict, liking to do things his way and no other.

When I have interviewed him as a journalist I have found him to have rather a severe personality. He rarely smiles.

He can also be quite forceful. The last time I went to interview him he demanded to see what my notebook, to check that what I was writing was what he actually said.

Although he was really very insistent I managed to keep my notes to myself on that occasion.

Mr Miyanda, 56, was removed from the army some 20 years ago after being accused of involvement in a failed military coup in 1980. He was subsequently cleared of all the charges.

Christian

After leaving the army he started operating a taxi, of all things, before he began his rise through the ranks of the MMD after being a founding member of the party.

Like many other Zambian political firebrands, Mr Miyanda, a devout born-again Christian with four children, hails from the country's Copperbelt province.

Although he has never lived in a village, he professes a deep respect for village life and village values.

So deep is this respect that his party's political philosophy is called "The village concept."

Unfortunately not many people understand what this rather vague notion means, least of all some members of the Heritage party itself.

If he can get Zambians to understand it between now the polling day, he might just get the top job.

See also:

26 Nov 01 | Africa
Voter apathy in rural Zambia
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