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Zambia's Government Cancels Chiluba's Trip

In Zambia, the government is reported to have cancelled a scheduled trip to South Africa today by former President Frederick Chiluba for a medical review of his heart condition. This is generating controversy as Chiluba supporters are accusing the government of toying with the life of the former leader. Minister of Information Vernon Mwaanga had earlier on informed Chiluba of the government’s plans to facilitate his scheduled medical review to South Africa describing his health condition as worrisome.

Emmanuel Mwamba is the spokesman for ex President Chiluba. He spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the former President’s cancelled trip.

“We were informed on Friday that the adhoc committee that had sat to look among other things on Dr. Chiluba’s health made immediate recommendations for Dr. Chiluba’s evacuation to South Africa because apparently his heart is not doing well. But yesterday there were new developments. We were informed that the government has decided to cancel the trip and to tender the report to court. Then the court will determine whether Dr. Chiluba should go for his medical review or not,” he said.

Mwamba says the government initiated and informed the former President about his trip to South Africa because of recommendations by Zambian physicians who fear Chiluba’s life is in grave danger.

“Government decided to initiate the process to evacuate Dr. Chiluba because of the recommendations from the doctors. Apparently the doctor’s fear for Dr. Chiluba’s life because they say his heart condition is quite serious and seems to have deteriorated over the last month or so. You should remember that his medical review was due on November 2, 2006 but has not taken place,” Mwamba noted.

He explains the former President’s reaction when his scheduled medical trip was cancelled.

“It has hardened Dr. Chiluba because he fears that government is gambling with his life because we cannot wait for processes or procedures in an emergency manner like Dr. Chiluba’s medical condition. The doctors looked at him on November 8, and they stated that he needed to be evacuated to South Africa. And it’s very important that that decision is respected. But to subject that matter to the court is to gamble with the life of Dr. Chiluba,” he said.

Mwamba says the former President’s physician protested at a meeting he held with the government when the government decided to cancel the trip.

“We protested and the personal physician for Dr. Chiluba, Dr. Justice Nkangua protested and stated that Dr. Chiluba’s condition was urgent and the government needed to consider that. Because every human life is very important and sacred, and you cannot endanger or lose that life in the manner that the process is being allowed to,” he said.

Mwamba says he expected the government to do all in its power to respect human life, rather than allow the processes to delay the former President’s scheduled medical review.

“In our view, government should do everything possible to ensure that the date for the court is brought forward to ensure that this matter is dealt with and Dr. Chiluba is allowed to seek medical treatment,” he said.

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