Veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga says he had his fair share of the best women in Zambia and abroad.
Speaking when he hosted a Hot FM Radio crew for a live broadcast of the Breakfast Show at his home in Olympia, Lusaka yesterday, Mwaanga said he could not deny having affairs with ladies in his younger days as a dashing man.
He said this had earned him a reputation of a ‘ladies’ man’.
“Indeed, I did acquire that reputation. I was young and vibrant and I cannot deny the fact that I had my fair share with some of the best ladies that the world has got to offer, not just in Zambia but in Africa and also in the world,” Mwaanga revealed.
“I cannot deny that because it is fairly well documented. Why do you think I am sitting next o her?” added Mwaanga, in reference to co-host of the show, Hope Chishala, amid laughter.
“I was a naughty boy one time.”
Mwaanga, a long-serving diplomat, who said his most gorgeous mountain was his wife Edna, said he had travelled to 146 countries, 47 of which were in Africa.
He admitted that some of the people he shared his life with were not happy with his frankness on events expressed in his books.
“A number of my friends were telling me that I have probably been too candid and that if they were to write their autobiography, they wouldn’t put some of things I put,” he explained.
“Some of them are not very happy because of the things that I said, but if I did not say it, that would not be me.”
Mwaanga, whom the hosts of the programme referred to as their ‘James Bond’, said his life was most interesting because his ‘downs’ were not as many as his ‘ups’.
“I have had many ups and downs. I have had many regrets but I have also had my share of success. The most important thing in life, I suppose, is that provided the ups outnumber the downs, then you are on the right track,” Mwaanga said.
Mwaanga also spoke about a United Nations magazine in which he was rated as one of the best-dressed ambassadors at the UN mission in New York.
“The UN Women’s Monthly Magazine, as it was called, used to do a survey of ambassadors to see who was best dressed and the ones who were worst dressed and they used to publish the names of these ambassadors, and I was fortunate, I was on the right side of the magazine in the sense that I appeared among the 10 best-dressed ambassadors for the four years I was at the United Nations,” he said.
Mwaanga also reminisced about his days with some of his black American friends such as legendary singers Harry Belafonte, James Brown, whose visit to Zambia to perform at Mulungushi Conference he facilitated.
On his detention for drug trafficking-related offences in 1985, Mwaanga said he did not think the incident had dented his image.
“I wrote a book The Other Society while I was in detention, where I talked about my experience then, meaning that you really have to know about the other society – the prison as it were – lives and what drives those people,” he said.
“As soon as I came out, I published my book much to the surprise of the authorities. I always pleaded that I was innocent. Fortunately, I was released without any charge and without any trial.”
Mwaanga named Manchester United as his favourite football team and China as the most fascinating country.
He said Zambia had come a long way and still had a long way to go, adding that considering the resources at its disposal, the country had not done enough. Mwaanga said it was embarrassing for African states to continue begging for aid.
“At the time of independence, there were hotels like Ridgeway Hotel, Lusaka Hotel, North Western Hotel, Savoy Hotel, Edinburgh in Kitwe, where there were posters written ‘Africans and dogs not allowed’. Education was split between the European and Africans. We have achieved a lot in other fields,” he said.
On the constitution-making process, Mwaanga said the time for Zambians to have a new constitution was long overdue.
He also advised the United States that China was getting numerous trade opportunities in Africa because it was a flexible partner.
“Businessmen and women mourn that China has taken a front role in terms of relations with the African continent. Yes, China took advantage of the vacuum which existed because they understood Africa’s problems,” he said.
“When you talk about poverty to a Chinese, they understand what poverty is because they were just at that same level in 1965… we can afford to adopt a more balanced and more even-handed approach to this issue. Africa did not go to China; China came to Africa, [but] the United States is waiting for Africa to go to them. They should have come to Africa so that they also position themselves.”