Did you miss this one: Magande panics over opposition meeting with EU delegation?

Ng’andu Magande says European Union Ambassador Gilles Hervio is making himself unpopular by meeting opposition parties.

Magande,  the man who facilitated the K14 billion loan to Zambian airways when he was minister of Finance, said President Michael Sata was right to direct the foreign affairs minister to look into the matter where diplomats were meeting opposition figures in the country.

In an interview with the Post (one of the entities which owes K14 billion) on Thursday, Magande said the EU Ambassador was not in the country to hold dark corner meetings.

“The opposition people have just made this Ambassador now unpopular, even when we need to go to him some of us because we are technicians… I want to go ask these people for money to help small-scale farmers to grow cotton. Even to buy ginnery because we want to process our cotton here or the miners to start some small companies like, ZAMESA to process our copper the government will already suspect,” he said.

Magande wondered why the EU Ambassador and the representatives of some opposition parties were not ready to share with the public what they discussed in a meeting.

“What will happen now when the Ambassador reports to the commissioner in Brussels? Are you going to allow now one of the opposition members who is here to use a Zambian passport just to fly out to Europe to go and talk about Zambia? Why? Where is the Ambassador going to go now? And especially that the Ambassador is saying ‘no, I can’t disclose what we are discussing’. So now already the Zambian government is suspecting this Ambassador… has he got a hidden agenda in being in Zambia?” he asked.

Magande suspected foul play in the manner representatives of some opposition parties were dealing with the EU.

“We have a lot of organisations. Why did they meet the EU which is European? Why didn’t they go to the Commonwealth? Why didn’t they go to SADC? Why didn’t they go to Comesa? Under SADC we have a lot of organs there even dealing with political issues, why didn’t they pick that one? Again now the same thing when other people are complaining to say why pick a Malawian judge? The question now some of us are asking, why did the opposition pick an international organisation – the European Union – to go and report this matter? They better tell us,” he said.

Magande urged opposition parties to be accountable and transparent in the manner they handle issues.

“I am a bit surprised that some representatives from opposition parties, without some of us, went to the EU. You know that I was secretary general of the ACP group (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States) when we were negotiating the current Cotonou Agreement which is a partnership between the ACP and the EU. Obviously, I am just wondering that, if any one of my colleagues in the opposition won the elections and was the president, he would even ignore that I am the only Southern African citizen who has been involved with the EU for three and half years.”

And Magande said President Sata was right to take strong exception to diplomats who were interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

“The President is correct. He should leave his minister of foreign affairs to call the EU Ambassador and advise him that he is not here to sort of hold dark corner meetings. He is here to help every Zambian and we want to know, even myself I want to know, what is he talking to some of leaders of the Zambians,” said Magande.

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