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Zambia: President Angers Citizens in Diaspora

Zambia’s President Michael Sata has invited the ire of citizens living abroad for ridiculing them during a three day visit to neighbouring Botswana and also dashing their hopes for inclusion of dual citizenship, an issue discussed on many a forum, in the new republican constitution currently being written.

President Sata, known for his brashness and disregard for protocol, was reported by the citizen online news site, the Zambian Watchdog, to have had a question and answer session with Zambians residing in Botswana where he allegedly told them that former President Rupiah Banda whom he defeated in the 2011 elections wanted to include dual citizenship in the failed constitution because he was from Gwanda in Zimbabwe.

A changed Sata

President Sata, before and after he took office. Photo source: Zambian People

Part of the question and session went like this:

Questions- whats the status of the Dual citizenship?

Sata: Which town are you from? Monze [a town in Zambia]? Do you want to belong to Monze and Namwala [a town in Zambia]? Because RB [Rupiah Banda] was from Gwanda in Zimbabwe that’s why he wanted Dual citizenship

Question: it is difficult for us living in Diaspora to get land back home, what is the Govt doing about it?

Sata: What are you doing in Botswana?

Answer: I am a teacher!

Sata: Go back to Zambia and teach your relatives then you will get Land

Question: Mr President, you never consulted on the Ithezhi tezhi and Chirundu districts [the two districts are being moved from Southern Province to Central and Lusaka Provinces respectively]

Sata: Whom did you consult to come to Botswana?

Concluding remarks- President Sata

All of you who are here with fake questions am very disappointed with you and embarrassed, are you not even ashamed of yourselves? You ran away from Zambia and thought we couldn’t find you and now today we have caught you. You are refugees in Botswana being exploited by the Botswana Govt. You left Zambia to come and work here for an extra K1?

On teachers and doctors working in Botswana where many flocked to from the late 1980 to the early 2000s, President Sata said:

You are busy educating Tswanas leaving your own relatives in Zambia uneducated and you are proud? All of you were educated by your parents who never even finished standard 7 and struggled to educate you and you run away from them?

Doctors

Your relatives are dying in Zambia you are busy saving tswana lives?

Accountants

Botswana has only 5 shops and you call your self an accountant when Diamond mines want a consultant they will call a South African and not a Zambian, what are you still doing here?

President Sata’s responses and earlier statement at another function during his Botswana visit, contrasted that of his foreign minister Given Lubinda who had told the Botswana-based Zambians that the PF government policy was that Zambians in the Diaspora did not have to relocate back to Zambia.

Reacting to Sata's comments, John, a Zambian Watchdog reader, said:

The President’s speech was very personal, emotional and uneducated. It is a pity for Africa because power is increasingly being handed to the biggest noise makers through the ballot; rather than leaders with clear policies on how to govern and develop their countries. What is H.E’s level of education?

It is no longer plausible that educated people (or even uneducated ones) should live in their countries of birth. That is so 1970s when Africa continously moaned about “brain drain”. Is the Zambian president aware of something called “diaspora remittances” or “brain gain”? Is he aware that remittances from the Diaspora are currently being harnessed to build roads, airports, and technological cities in Nigeria, Kenya and recently the Republic of Southern Sudan?

Nkoya Nationalist, one of the few, agreed with President Sata:

The President elect is right, Zambia has a small population of which out of that only a small percentage are professionals in various fields and disciplines. Of those professionals, almost 3/4 are out of the country working for other nations.

Who then is going to develop the country if our professionals are all abroad working for other nations?

Why should anyone complain about substandard ministers and government officials when you professionals are not available to be considered for those same roles and positions?

Do you know that Zambia would probably be one of the best countries in the world if only our professionals would be more patriotic by coming back home to contribute towards the development of the country?

An anguished Peace Maker wrote:

Those doubting this story should think twice. You mean you dont know our President? Our President needs 24/7 monitoring because he will keep on embarrasing us. HE needs serious guidance in everything. His energy should be guided to something productive and as much as possible try not to expose him to such situations and if so do it off camera for goodness sake. So far, I think prevention is better than cure! We are already in a mess and nothing to defend but to help him! Ultimately it is not only him to experience the shame but every Zambian regardless of the Party one belongs to.

We have a task at hand!! This remains a thorn in my fresh, borrowing St Paul’s experience. There is little we can do but nurse this issue up to 2016 when, with due respect, we must plan for a smooth exit strategy for him. We cant continue like this thereafter.Its agony and terrible nightmare!

On the Facebook group, 90 days (Government thumbs up/down every 90 days, Maria Kapambwe Kasolo, gave the reason why Zambians left the country en masse:

You know why professionals left for Botswana – better salary! I know of a number of them who have done well for themselves n families. Had they stayed in zed they would not have achieved anything. GRZ should improve condtions of service n pipo will not go searching for greener pastures. Some of u r saying mCS was right in answering the way he did – I am saying the president needs to use diplomacy regardless – he should ask why they left n not castigate them – aint right at all!

Responding to Maria Kapambwe Kasolo’s post, Arnold Chinyemba wrote:

He is thinking every Zambian is a ngwangwazi (tout). Hence to him allowing street vendors is empowering Zambians. GOD HELP THIS COUNTRY.

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