Monday, September 8, 2008

Zambia's MMD names Banda as presidential candidate

September 05, 2008

Zambia's ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) party chose the country's Vice President Rupiah Banda as its candidate for a presidential election due in November, a party official said today.

Banda pledged to continue with the policies of the late President Levy Mwanawasa if he was elected Zambia's president. "I want to work with all my comrades in order to unite the party and the country and keep on with our policies," Banda said. 

He was appointed vice president in 2006 and took over as head of government after Mwanawasa died of a stroke last month. He held many diplomatic posts, including that of Zambia's representative to the United Nations, before being made foreign minister in the 1970s in the administration of Zambia's first post-independence leader, Kenneth Kaunda. After his spell as foreign minister, Banda served as a parliamentarian between 1978 and 1988.

Banda has a degree in economics and is also a prominent businessman. He is the owner of KB Davis, a firm that supplies mining equipment in the north-central Copperbelt region.

After Mwanawasa fell out of favour with Zimbabwe's leader Robert Mugabe for calling Zimbabwe a "sinking Titanic" in 2007, it was Banda who was dispatched to Harare to smooth relations. Banda was born in Gwanda, in the south of what was then British-ruled Southern Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe.