opinionBy Maya Ntanda
WHILE the nation is still mourning the loss of one of its courageous Lawyer in Mundia Sikatana,the legal fraternity has yet again been robbed of one of its finest eminent legal minds with an illustrious career, spanning over a number of years as an advocate.
This humble person with such virtues is none other than state counsel Steven Caution Mwaba Malama who died peacefully on Monday.
The humble, friendly and soft spoken Malama, who only uttered words when it mattered the most breathed his last on Monday morning whilst on a flight back home from India via the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He was discovered unconscious on the plane when it landed at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe international airport by one of the passengers on board and then he was rushed in an ambulance to Ndola central Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
The media fraternity would probably recall Mr Malama as a familiar icon and one of the legal brains that represented Late President Levy Mwanawasa in the 2001 presidential election petition.This was of course at the height of his career when he and other prominent lawyers exhibited their rare prowess in handling the constitutional matter relating to presidency after a dispute arose from a general election in 2001.
This was when Late United Party for National Development(UPND) leader Anderson Mazoka, Late Christon Tembo and Heritage party leader Godfrey Miyanda had petitioned in the Supreme Court the election of Dr Mwanawasa as republican president in the 2001 tripartite election.
The petitioners had disputed the election of Dr Mwanawasa cited among other things that the chief justice should not be a presiding officer over presidential elections when at the same time he has to swear in the successful candidate.
Mr Malama, with other lawyers in the likes of Late Dr Julius Sakala, Mr Michael Mundashi, Late George Kunda, Joseph Jalasi and Dominic Sichinga represented Dr Mwanawasa and the Attorney General respectively fearlessly argued the petitioner in defence of Dr Mwanawasa citing numerous points of law and recorded a landmark victory in 2006 after the court ruled in their favour.
He was also one of the lawyers who recently represented Finance Bank Chairman Rajan Mahtani in the forgery and money laundering cases.These are perhaps part of the high profile cases that the man who we are alluding to in this article handled during his lifespan and legal career .
Born on April 22,1941, Mr Malama, who was also conferred with the status of State Counsel by Dr Mwanawasa, did his primary school at Luwingu before moving to Chingola.
He did his secondary education at Munali Secondary school and later attained his law degree in Dar-es salaam, Tanzania.
In the 1970's, Mr Malama joined the Zambian Government as a lawyer and later joined Jacques and partners where he worked as a senior partner until his demise on Monday June 18.
Between 1974 and 1978, he served as a Member of Parliament(Mp) for Wusakile constituency in Kitwe under the United National Independence Party (UNIP) before retiring from politics and concentrating on his career as a lawyer.
His eldest son Stephen Malama Jr describes his father as an embracing person, full of humility and a person that respected every human being regardless of their wealth or status in society.
"He taught us to always respect people regardless of their status in society, he always taught us on the need to respect every human being.
My father loved people, he was always around people as he was a unifying person and that's the legacy that will forever remain with us," says Mr Malama Jr.
On March 4, 2004, the cold hand of death robbed him of his first wife Miselo, whom he married in 1968. The demise of his beloved wife was one of his most agonising moments as his son recounted sobbingly.
The late Mr Malama some of his closest friends, includes Dr Mahtani and Mr Willa Mungomba.
His partner Kafunya Mbindo who is devastated by the loss says, Mr Malama's death is beyond imagination.
Mr Mbindo says Mr Malama's death is a big loss to the legal
fraternity and especially the law firm, Jacques and Partners, which
had lost two other legal brains in the likes of Damas Katongo and Laban Lubamba.
State Counsel William Nyirenda describes his death as tragic and that the late lawyer was such a gentle, refined, eminent legal personality who was a mentor to many lawyers in the country.
Another lawyer, Samuel Twumasi says it is difficult to describe Mr Malama in words because his death is a great loss to the legal profession especially the upcoming lawyers who should emulate him.
Acting president Alexander Chikwanda in a statement issued by secretary to the cabinet Evans Chibiliti says Mr Malama was selfless and indefatigable in defence, promotion of justice and good governance in the country.
"On behalf of the government and the people of Zambia, I convey Heart-felt condolences to the family on the late Stephen Malama and the
Law Association of Zambia on this sad and untimely loss, "he said. Government Spokesperson who is also Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Labour Fackson Shamenda says the death of Mr Malama has robbed the nation of an asset not only to the legal fraternity but the justice system as a whole.
Mr Shamenda says Mr Malama has left an indelible and impeccable legacy of patriotic and selfless service to the nation during his 44 year legal practice stretching as far back as 1968.
Mr Malama was also board chairman at Kagem Mines and Professional Life Assurance Company and served as director at Professional Insurance Corporation and Zambezi Portland Cement.
And speaking during valedictory service held in his honour at the Kitwe high court acting attended by hundreds of people, chief justice Lombe Chibesakunda said it was sad day for the legal fraternity to have lost Mr Malama as he was a distinguishable lawyer both to the profession as well as the nation.The acting Cj said this in a speech read on her behalf by Supreme court judge Gregory Phiri.Justice Phiri in her eulogy encouraged the Mr Malama's surviving law firm partner to soldier on and not relent in view of the three losses suffered so far.
" Mr Malama's death has devastated all of us in the legal profession," he said.
Another speaker General Kingsley Chinkuli representing the Munali ex-boys remembered Mr Malama as a jovial person who blended well with other colleagues at school way back in 1958.He was an ardent guitarist who played in the schoo ban which was instrumental for raising funds for the group through making trips.
"His death is difficult to describe but the lawyers , golfers and the church each have their own story to tell," said Gen Chinkuli.
While another childhood friend Ben Musonda said of his departed compatriot that he was uniquely blended, he was intelligent , full of wisdom and humility and would be missed among his friends.
Mr Malama was on Monday on a plane flying from Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Ndola enroute from India where he had gone on a business trip and for medical review.
A wife Elizabeth, several children and grandchildren survive Mr Malama.