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Zambia: Netizens Divided Over Sata's Apology to Angola

When he took over as Zambia’s president after the September 20 election, Michael Sata’s first diplomatic decision, blunder or not, was to turn down an invitation by the Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika to attend a summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

A second potentially explosive diplomatic move which has not been confirmed by State House, is President Sata’s authorisation of a banned radio station in Malawi, Joy FM, to set up base in town of Chipata, which is less than 15 km from the Malawian border. The radio station is apparently owned by the son of former Malawian president, Bakili Muluzi, and intends to broadcast into Malawi.

Dr. Jonas Malheiro Savimbi. Image released under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) by Wikipedia author Ernmuhl.

Dr. Jonas Malheiro Savimbi. Image released under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) by Wikipedia author Ernmuhl.

But the biggest talking point about the way Sata is handling diplomatic issues, is his apology to the Angolan government for the decision by the former ruling party MMD to support the then Angolan rebel movement, UNITA and its late leader Dr. Jonas Savimbi. Ironically, Michael Sata was at one time Minister Without Portfolio in the MMD government, a position technically third in the hierarchy from the president.

Zambians on the Facebook group, Zambian Peoples Pact, have been commenting. Mambo Phiri says that such issues need to be dealt behind the scenes by career diplomats:

MCS [Michael Chilufya Sata] has essentially admitted that Zambia committed an ACT OF WAR by supplying arms to UNITA'S JONAS SAVIMBI. Ladies, gentlemen, & blind followers can someone explain to the President that there is a reason why we have career diplomats to deal with such issues behind the scenes. Bane (friends) we are already poor in Zambia we do not need tension or war because being a refugee is not a sexy look. Thanx

Stan Booga says:

Is the apology by MCS to the Angolan government over UNITA support, likely to be analysed as admission that Zambia was interfering in Angola by supplying arms? If yes, ANOTHER BLUNDER MCS!

Peter Chavula, without necessarily elaborating, thought that the apology is good. Reading between the lines of his post, he could be suggesting that Zambia could be buying cheaper fuel from neighbouring Angola:

Sata…. Good move on angola
The big picture

On Twitter, @munshyamunshya, whose timeline was critical of President Sata’s apology to Angola, wrote in one tweet:

#Sata should learn diplomacy from Malawi. When he demanded that Malawi apologise to him for the deportation Malawi said no!

Asking about Sata being the third in President Chiluba’s hierarchy, @munshyamunshya asked:

And wasnt Sata the number 3 in Chiluba's government? If he did not like the policy then why did he not resign? #Sata is wrong!

A cynical @BradleysEvents wrote:

ah ah I had no idea we owe Angola an apology

On the Zambian Watchdog website, there were varied reactions to the President’s apology.

Don Corleone saw economic benefits in it:

ECONOMIC corporation with Angola is vital..our neiba has oil and sure we can benefit from them..apologising on behalf of MMD ..we need to link Angola thru our railway system..its a good step Mr President,,,we dont need to go to the middle east for oil when our good neiba has abundant reserves of oil..

Mbingu Wakanaka was very blunt in his criticism of President Sata:

This old man is not presidential material.The things he doing are quite embarasing sometimes.The other day he knelt down to kiss the hand of that British clergy man.Such behaviour is not befitting a head of state.Now he is apologising on behalf of zambians for the wrongs he and Chiluba committed against the Angolans but meanwhile he is distancing himself from blame.The man clearly can not represent us properly home and at international fora because even the way he talks does not potray the status of a head of state. Not that he was the best amongst the candidates!People just wanted change and also Bwezani did not do his homework properly.More blunders and comedy is stock for us and the world at large.Let us wait for the next movie as time unwinds.

Very sad day when a President makes such careless remarks. I am no RB supporter but I think MCS [Michael Chilufya Sata] should be restrained in the things he says. He is not PF President, he is the President of Zambia. He needs to remember that he is not in opposition anymore and he must bear national interests first and PF politics second.

The President was in for another dose of harsh criticism by Peema:

To just say something like that off the cuff is the height of irresponsibility. Incidentally, the Angolan war ended through FTJ’s efforts. The peace treaty is not called “Lusaka Peace Accord” for nothing.

We stand to gain nothing by him being so careless in his remarks. This man needs educating in foreign policy or we are all in trouble. There is a Zambia-Angola joint permanent commission where this could have been discussed. Away from the media.

Incidentally, what happens if UNITA wins elections in a few years? Think first Mr President. We all want you to succeed.

Maurice Makalu had a different view:

I don’t “get it” why use “blunders” in the title. You mean apologising is a blunder, we should have just let the status quo continue?
This is not a blunder. If it were a chess game, Sata has moved a big piece forward to position Zambia for increased bilateral trade with Angola. The people of Western and N-Western Province will be excited that he said this. The immediate next step now is to start talking road and rail construction projects.

This is very excellent your Excellency!

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