Meet George Kunda: The new Vice President of Zambia – who is Mr Integrity
THE history of the Zambian legal profession in the 21st century would be incomplete without the mention of George Kunda, the new Legal Minister & Vice President of Zambia.
History would indeed be incomplete because of his immense contribution to the profession through the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and through practicing for the past 20 years.
Mr Kunda is the man who firmly held to the position of LAZ chairman for four years from 1996 to 2000 when he stood down. Mr Kunda was born on February 26, 1956 in Luanshya of a miner Njanamo Kunda and Eginala Mwelwa who hailed from Serenje’s Musamani village where they now live.
He is the first born in the family of nine. It was once a properly balanced family of five boys and five girls but unfortunately one of his brothers died.
He is a serious and hard-working lawyer and this explains why he stands out as a one of the most sought-after and most successful legal brains in Zambia.
His wife, Ireen, whom he met while they were both studying law at the University of Zambia (Unza) is his partner in his Ndola-based private practice, George Kunda and Company.
Just how highly he rates on the integrity chart was demonstrated by the fact that one of the first persons to endorse his appointment to Legal Affairs Minister in the new Government of Levy Mwanawasa was no less that NCC leader Nevers Mumba.
Dr Mumba, who ran his bid for the presidency on an integrity and morality ticket, said he was happy with Mr Kunda’s appointment to Legal Affairs Minister because he knew him to be a man of “high integrity.”
Integrity for Mr Kunda is translated as honest, hard work. Others call him a perfectionist who leaves nothing to chance in his work.
Witness him studying and preparing his documents as he gets ready for court.
To those acquainted with him, it was not at all surprising that his name appeared on the new Cabinet line-up when Mr Mwanawasa unveiled his “New Deal” team on Monday.
Mr Kunda said he accepted to go into politics as a service to Zambians as he felt obliged to contribute something to national development.
“Some lawyers opt for the bench as judges, others serve in Government in various capacities. I am going in as a politician,” he said.
He said he had no illusions about his appointment. Civil service jobs in Zambia are not the best paying occupations, not even for Cabinet ministers. But, he stressed, “money is not everything in life”.
He said for the time being, his wife Ireen, would remain in Ndola to run the practise but there were plans to employ people to take charge of things so she could join him in Lusaka.
Mr Kunda started school at Luanshya’s Fisansa Primary school before he moved to Mpatamatu Primary school where some of his senior school mates were Dr Joseph Temba, Dr Kalombo Mwanse and Mr Legus Nyembere.
It was while at Mpatamatu secondary school that he came into contact with some lawyers whom Mr Kunda says influenced him to become one after school.
“I fell in love with the work the lawyers were doing and also admired their smartness and their big briefcases,” he said.
But the decision was not an easy one because it meant that he had to work extra hard in form five to go to the university. He made it to Unza and on April 28, 1982, he was admitted to the bar.
Armed with his law degree he went back to his roots in Luanshya where he started working as a solicitor and advocate of the High Court with the Luanshya Municipal Council before he left and later joined ND Patel and Company.
Driven by the desire to gain more experience before launching out on his own, he decided to join another Ndola law firm, Cave Malik and Company.
In 1987, he resigned and started his own law firm with his wife Ireen in 1990.
The Kundas have six children, the first born being Howard, perhaps not surprisingly is also a lawyer who is married to another lawyer, Anne Grey Kunda.
The second is Georgina, followed by Marion who has just finished her grade 12. The others are George Jnr, Godfrey and then Chiluba.
It is not just in the courtrooms and at his desk where Mr Kunda shows his commitment to work. As a founder member of the Mpatamatu Secondary School Old Students Association, he worked tirelessly to get the association going, almost as hard as though it was part of his law firm.
Current Mpatamatu Old Students Association chairman Phillimon Mbewe, said it was a great thing that Mr Kunda was appointed the Legal minister.
He said no one was ever going to regret the appointment of Mr Kunda because of his output whenever it came to work.
“Mr Kunda really deserves the position because he does not believe in anything apart from working hard,” Mr Mbewe said.
The only people who will find Mr Kunda difficult to work with at the ministry are those who do not believe in hard work. The lazy ones should brace for a tough time because they won’t have it easy under Mr Kunda.
Other people who know Mr Kunda very well say the man is very successful because he was highly principled and he did not believe in extravagant spending on unnecessary things.
He gives generously when need arises but he is a person who would like to account for whatever he spends.
Despite being very comfortable by Zambian standards, Mr Kunda is a man who does not spend his money carelessly and he is on a salary just like his wife and his workers.