PATRIOTIC Front (PF) leader Michael Sata has condemned the organisers of his meeting with Zambian residents in London when it was clear that only few people would turn up for his address.
The PF leader, who is in London, was expecting to address a huge crowd but was disappointed that only a handful of people attended his meeting.
The meeting almost flopped following the decision by many Zambians to shun the gathering at Oxford University, forcing Mr Sata to sound verbal attacks against the organisers.
The meeting was attended by former Kafue member of Parliament Bob Sichinga and former Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum secretary general, Kasuka Mutukwa.
Sources in Mr Sata’s delegation said the PF leader was in London to raise money to hire a chopper and other campaign activities apart from medical check-ups during his tour.
“On Saturday, two days before the meeting that took place on Monday, Mr Sata was asked to address Zambians in the UK but only met less than 20 people and sounded his displeasure to the organisers,” the source said.
Former MMD and ZADECO member Mbita Chitala, who is also in the UK, addressed the Oxford gathering to explain why he was in support of the PF leader.
Mr Sata is alleged to have been invited to give a lecture on how to build a strong opposition party in Africa by some UK-based Zambian students who are said to have been researching on opposition politics in Africa.
The source said Mr Sata was also planning to meet Zambian residents in Manchester and London on unspecified dates and unknown agenda.
“It appears Mr Sata also wants to be exposed to possible sponsors and partners in the UK as Zambia draws closer to the general elections.
“Mr Sata is also expected to meet Zambian communities in Manchester and London on unspecified dates,” said one source who attended the meeting at Oxford.
The seminar was about populism and opposition politics in Africa and was called by the department of politics and international relations at Oxford University.
Other topics discussed at the Oxford gathering included ‘Popular politics and resistance movements in South Africa’ by William Beinart of Oxford, ‘Opposition politics in Zambia and the rise of ethno-populism’ by Miles Larmer of Sheffield and ‘In search of the populist vote’ jointly done by Nic Cheeseman of Oxford and Rob Ford of Manchester.
Mr Sata was invited to Oxford University to speak at a workshop entitled Democracy, Populism, and Opposition Politics.
“We invited him simply because he has been a successful opposition leader and so we asked him to speak about how he has improved the performance of the PF from its inception to the last presidential by-election,” said Nic Cheeseman, who is head of the organising team and also a lecturer at Oxford University.
And when asked about his support for gays and lesbians, Mr Sata tried to backtrack from his earlier position, saying he did not support or advocate gay rights.
Recently, Mr Sata told a Danish media crew that Zambia recognised homosexuality and that laws were already there although what was remaining was to implement them.
[Times of Zambia]