‘President helped unblock K16m to pay Gabon disaster families while he was a practising lawyer’
SOCCER icon Kalusha Bwalya says President Edgar Lungu played a big role in ensuring that the families of the 1993 Gabon disaster heroes received financial compensation worth about K16 billion (unrebased).
In a statement received by the Daily Nation yesterday, Kalusha said it took a long time for Lungu to unblock the compensation finances valued at K16 billion (unrebased) from the Government for those families that had lost breadwinners in the accident.
“It was a tough time for everyone but the President’s role, even though no price can be placed on a lost life, was of such immense help to the families.
‘‘He worked diligently with others to get compensation for the bereaved families valued at billions of Kwacha (unrebased) after that unfortunate disaster,” he said.
He said the President’s Good Samaritan role showed that he had a big heart.
“The President was just a prominent Lusaka lawyer back then, but yet helped the families.
‘‘The families can attest to this. This is one of the qualities that makes the Head of State a unique man with a big heart,’’ Kalusha said.
He said PresidentLungu and his colleagues like lawyer Sakwiba Sikota did the legal work for free.
“It took the President and his colleagues at least 10 years and it took two presidents – Frederick Chiluba and Levy Mwanawasa – before they (lawyers) could find financial closure for the families that lost their bread winners. He worked hard on this matter. The families will recall this,” he said.
Kalusha said President Lungu exhibited “tenacity and resilience’’ by not giving up on his clients until he managed to get the K16 billion to pay the families.
Thirty people, including the entire KK Eleven, perished on the coast of Gabon in West Africa when the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) plane carrying 18 players crashed in the Atlantic Ocean on April 27, 1993, on their way to a World Cup qualifier match in Senegal.
The former Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president is backing Lungu and the Patriotic Front for the August 11 general elections.