Ailing dictator Michael Sata’s much publicised ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a modern stadium in Mongu’s Kasima area along the Mongu Lusaka road came to an abrupt end when Sata boycotted the ceremony due to lack of a pick for him to physically break the ground, but people close to the presidential entourage described the president’s behaviour as strange and petty.
Sata abruptly ended his programme and walked out on his ministers who included Emmanuel Chenda, Inonge Wina, Obvious Mwaliteta and Christopher yaluma.
According to the programme, Sata was expected to be at the site at 10:00hrs but arrived at 11:00hrs in the company of Provincial minister Mwaliteta, Provincial PS Emmanuel and other cabinet ministers. He ommitted the usual protocal of handshake by leaving out the officials who had lined up to welcome him from the car and proceeded to the plaque after greeting the dancing PF party cadres to who he donated an undisclosed sum of money.
As Mwamba was making announcements and an overzealous Mwaliteta trying to give the president a pair of scissors to unveil the plaque, Sata personally removed the veil and demanded for a pick. He began asking the ministers around him why the plaque was signed in advance even before he had officiated at the occassion. “What is this, when did I ever come to officiate at this occassion, ba Nsanda efyo munjitile ififine ukufuma ku Lusaka konse (Mr. Nsanda is this all you can call me to travel all the way from Lusaka?”) he was heard grilling his ministers as they frantically panicked to have the pick on site, efforts to get one from some households nearby failed as the now essesntial commodity was nowhere to be seen.
In his usual cosmetic style of doing things, Mwamba fabricated a lie that instead of a pick (which he earlier frantically looked for) modern equipment would be used. Dramma continued as the head of state demanded to see the modern equipment only to be handed a front end loader which he operated but still insisted that he needed the pick to symbolically break the ground as stated but when he was told that a pick could not be seen, an irate Sata walked out on his ministers and other invited dignitaries who included the officials from the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) and some Indunas and went to his official vehicle, leaving in anger.
The ministers who were in his entourage panicked since they did not know whether he would change his mind and continue with the program or not but upon seeing that the head of state meant business and left, they gave chase to catch up with him at the airport and shortly afterwards two planes were seen in the air signalling his departure.
People were left stranded and speechless at the colourfully decorated venue with some entertainment groups lined up and some out door event companies being hired to oversee the event. The president was said to have left for Shangombo and no details were availed on the fate of the ceremony. He refused to talk to journalists.
However some people at the scene described the president’s irational behaviour strange and petty. “How can the whole head of state end such an important and costly exercise in that childish manner,” a BRE official was heard telling a friend.
The official said the action also amounted to an insult to the Litunga, whom they represented but were not surprised at Sata’s disrespect of the traditional leader who has since cheapened his status by being bribed to compromise his stance on the Barotseland agreement of 1964.
Other people at the scene and within Mongu town said Sata’s action was clear testimony of not having an interest in Western province and that whatever projects he was trying to initiate where just out of appeasement hence the misapplication and fault finding. “To begin with, we have so many projects needed here to bring development you need to start by having education and health standards raised, but why not build two or three universities or another hospital in Mongu, which iliterate and unhealthy person is going to enjoy the facility, is he building it for tourists who come to view game and take money to Lusaka?” asked a member of the Linyungandambo who was also a victim of unlawful imprisonment.
And a senior intelligency officer has said it is dangerous for the president to behave so strangely because his presence in every place was regulated to provide maximum security but with such usurping of professional advice, he risks having some broken protocal.
This is the second time in a row Sata has dramatically ended important meetings within a period of one week. Last week in Kapirin Mposhi at a rally to dum up support for the PF candidate Eddie Musonda he ended the rally after 20 minutes without even allowing the candidate to address the gathering and this action is just further deepening the speculations that the head of state, who is always in the company of a medical doctor of Asian origin and driven in the convoy ambulance has a health problem which prohibits him from staying in public for a longer time.