MICHAEL Sata seemed to be very genuine about his concern for Zambia, says Dr Abdul Raufu Mustapha.
Giving an assessment of Sata’s special lecture at the University of Oxford on Monday, Dr Mustapha, who is a lecturer in African Politics at the University of Oxford, said he found the PF leader to be quite an interesting politician.
“He seemed to be very genuine about his concern for Zambia,” he said.
And Dr Justin Pearce, a postdoctoral research fellow, school of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London said in the academic world they spend a lot of time discussing and debating politics, often in quite an abstract way.
“So it was most refreshing to receive a visit from Michael Sata: someone whose lengthy career has been spent in the world of Zambian politics and who was able to speak in the first person of his experiences,” Dr Pearce said.
“…it was very interesting to hear his vivid account of the challenges he has faced over the last decade and how he has tried to get around them. Congratulations to Dr Nic Cheeseman and Sishuwa Sishuwa for organising the event; it takes a lot of effort and dedication.”
And Daniel Ostendorff, a PhD student in East African History and Politics said credit must be given to the organisers and the various sponsoring agencies for the opportunity to hear from Sata at the University of Oxford.
“It was clear in Mr Sata’s lecture that the issues of poverty and unemployment are, for him, two of the most important issues facing Zambia. It was clear why the Zambian people have rallied around him in support,” Ostendorff said.
“Passionate, Mr Sata believes Zambia can become a different, and stronger, nation, but his solutions for achieving those goals must develop further in the coming months if they are to bring any lasting change to the Zambian people.”
And Simukai Tinhu, a graduate student in the MSc in African Studies, Oxford University, had his own way of assessing the event.
“When he arrived, Mr Sata walked towards the audience that was waiting outside the conference room, and then to my surprise straight towards me. He looked sternly into my eyes before he asked who I was.
I told him my name and that I was a student from Zimbabwe studying at Oxford. Mr Sata smiled and said ‘makadini!’ which means ‘How are you?’ in my native Shona language. We had a brief conversation in Shona before he walked into the conference room,” Tinhu said.
“This brief encounter left no doubt in my mind why he is adored so much, particularly by the grassroots populace. Mr Sata is such a man who makes you feel that you are part of his mission. By the time he started giving his lecture, I felt as if I was part of his project to overhaul the Zambian political landscape, which he says is marred by corruption.
“Invited by the University of Oxford through the African Studies Centre and the Department of Politics and International Relations, Mr Sata talked about a wide range of issues, from how he would fix the economy by attracting investment, balancing the budget, and overhauling the tax system.
But his main concern was corruption which he said had destroyed the country. Naming and shaming government officials from both Chiluba and Banda’s administrations, he emphasised on the need to revamp the Anti – Corruption Commission in Zambia.”
And Aubrey Kalungia, a Zambian graduate student in the MSc in Pharmacology, University of Oxford, said Sata provided a good portrait background to the landscape of his political career to the present day foundations of his party, the Patriotic Front and its agenda for Zambia.
“I was motivated by his progress on the political arena to rise from the shadows of MMD to lead one of the most popular political parties in Africa, whose movement has been a force to reckon with in Zambia over the years, the proof of which has been demonstrated by the University of Oxford inviting him here to speak at their seminar.
I won’t be surprised to learn that Sata has won this year’s presidential elections,” Kalungia said. “I found his lecture to have been very well suited for the motion of the seminar on Opposition Politics in Africa, as he highlighted in his speech the challenges, risks and futuristic gains that come from running a political party successfully in Africa, Zambia in particular.
He particularly closed his speech well by stating that the future of Zambia is in the hands of every Zambian both at home and abroad, and that political leaders are just there to facilitate the transition into development, and so let every Zambian stand up and be counted indeed”.
And Sishuwa Sishuwa, a Zambian final year graduate student in the Masters of Science in African Studies programme at the University of Oxford, who is also working on Sata’s political biography for his dissertation, said the manner in which Sata easily related to people has overwhelmed many.
“It is the charismatic aspect of Sata’s personality that is simply so irresistible. People came all the way from Cambridge and Sheffield and even South Africa just to listen to Sata speak.
It is clearly evident that they are absolutely delighted that the PF leader came and more importantly delivered such an excellent speech in which he highlighted a number of crucial factors that militate against opposition parties in Zambia and Africa in general, and how he and the PF have attempted to deal with such obstacles,” he said.
Sishiwa said it was the hope of most people who attended the lecture that regardless of the outcome of the elections, Sata would be able to come back to Oxford and share his reflections of the aftermath of the forthcoming elections.
“In no small measure, I feel greatly humbled as one of the two organisers of this highly successful event that so many people could travel from afar, from all corners of the United Kingdom, from various disciplines of the University of Oxford and indeed from around Oxford city itself to lend importance and dignity to this historic occasion,” Sishuwa said.
“Historic in the sense that never before has the University of Oxford officially invited and hosted a Zambian political figure and even better of Sata’s stature and pedigree.
And we are glad that Sata agreed to come and offer the keynote address and share his political experiences with us on this year’s Oxford Research Network on Governance in Africa (OReNGA) Special Lecture at the University of Oxford. It is not so often that one comes in contact with future history. I am therefore delighted that today, history has not only stared into my face but also recognised and summoned my dutiful participation in its making”