If you upset a cobra, you must brace yourself for a fight to the finish.
Zambia’s president Michael Chilufya Sata is popularly known as King Cobra for his venomous, sharp tongue and hot temperament. Malawi’s president Bingu wa Mutharika is only getting to find out now that this cobra can keep a grudge for a very long time.
The story of Sata’s humiliation and deportation from Malawi when he was an opposition figure in 2007 is well documented but with his ascension to the office of the presidency, expectations were that he would let bygones be bygones.
This especially after Lilongwe sent envoys to Lusaka and Malawi publicly said Sata, as President of Zambia, was no longer persona non-grata and could visit Malawi anytime he so wished.
But Sata has put it on record that nothing short of a categorical apology and explanation from president Mutharika will normalize relations between the two. A statement from Sata’s office made available to The Sunday Times in reaction to Malawi’s attempts to mend fences says that “President Sata feels that it is exceptionally necessary for his brother, President wa Mutharika’s government to apologise for the 2007 incident”.
Added to that, the statement says that in the absence of a categorical apology from Mutharika, Sata is going to pursue the matter of his expulsion from Malawi in the courts of law. His lawyer Ralph Kasambara has previously said that Sata was still determined to pursue the matter in court.
Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati could only say “we have heard what Sata wants and we will respond accordingly” when asked if Malawi was going to offer Sata the exceptional apology and explanation he is demanding.
When asked if during Sata’s inauguration in September President Sata had met with President Mutharika and if the two leaders had an opportunity to discuss the frosty relationship between them, George Chellah, Sata’s special assistant on Press and Public Relations said: “His Excellency President Michael Chilufya Sata never met with His Excellency, the President Professor Bingu wa Mutharika.”
Ralph Kasambara, lawyer for Sata in the deportation case, has told the media in Malawi that his client has not abandoned the issue and is seeking an explanation why he was deported from Malawi in 2007.
But government has said as far as it is concerned, this matter is resolved and Kasambara is only trying to push his business interests.
Sunday Times of Malawi