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Zambian Opposition Leader Rejects Government Apology Demand

  • Peter Clottey

The leader of Zambia’s main opposition Patriotic Front (PF) party has rejected demands that he apologize after accusing the government of sneaking Chadian President Idriss Deby into the country.

Michael Sata said President Rupiah Banda’s government flouted basic diplomatic protocol by refusing to publicly announce the official state visit of the Chadian president to Zambia.

Zamibia's main opposition leader, Michael Sata
Zamibia's main opposition leader, Michael Sata

“The thinking of this government baffles the logic of any intelligent person. The instance (Information Minister Ronnie) Shikapwasha is talking about is when this president from Chad was in Zambia one month ago, why didn’t this government ask for an apology when I issued that statement at that time? Why should they ask for an apology one month later?” he asked.

Information Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha demanded an apology after accusing the opposition leader of peddling “lies and falsehood” about President Banda aimed to score cheap political points ahead of next year’s general election.

But, opposition leader Sata said it was naïve for the Information Minister to demand an apology.

“What is their biggest worry? Because when I made the statement one month ago, when this man sneaked into the country, the State House was there, Shikapwasha was there, (but) nobody bothered to try and clarify the situation or ask me to say, ‘No, it’s not true.’ The State House did not deny, Foreign Affairs, up to now, has not denied, so what is there to apologize for?” he asked.

Information Minister Shikapwasha was quoted as saying President Banda’s administration has a duty to protect Zambians from falsehoods and disinformation “because such have potential to breed disharmony and disunity in the nation.”

Shikapwasha also accused the independent Post newspaper of a desperate and fruitless campaign against the government and joining forces with opposition leader Sata to peddle lies against the administration.

The information Minister was also quoted as saying both the newspaper and the opposition leader should apologize for falsely making unsubstantiated allegations and disparaging remarks against the government.

“Government demands that the Post newspaper and Mr. Sata apologize, unreservedly, for the lies they have been perpetuating against his Excellency President Rupiah Bwezani Banda and his government. This is the correct and honorable thing to do.”

But, opposition leader Sata dismissed the apology demands saying the move was a “cheap ploy” calculated to please Chadian President Deby.

“What is so special? How much pressure are they in? Probably, they are going under pressure from Chad because I can see the reason why they should come and demand for an apology now,” Sata said.