PRESIDENT Michael Sata has warned his predecessor Rupiah Banda “not to push his luck too far” by choosing to antagonise the Patriotic Front (PF) administration.
In a strong reaction to Mr Banda’s statement issued earlier yesterday, Mr Sata said he was deeply embarrassed by Mr Banda’s exaggeration of his (Mr Sata’s) light-hearted conversation with former United States of America (US) President George W. Bush when he visited State House this week.
The President has since advised Mr Banda to prepare to answer for his own misdeeds, saying trying to misconstrue the light exchange with Mr Bush, which the two normally did, would not help him to “sort out his numerous problems.”
In a statement released by Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations, George Chellah, Mr Sata said his administration had restrained itself and tried to accord Mr Banda some respect notwithstanding the many wrongs he committed against the Zambian people.
“Obviously, Mr Banda is mistaking this for weakness. We warn him not to push his luck too far.
“In fact, he is the least person that should cross paths with this administration,” Mr Sata said.
Mr Banda had earlier issued a statement in which he apologised on behalf of the Zambians for what he described as attacking remarks by President Sata on Mr Bush.
The former president apologised to Mr Bush over the remarks he termed as factually incorrect and undiplomatic.
He alleged that during the State House function, Mr Sata castigated Mr Bush in front of the audience by describing him as a colonialist who had returned to pay back the resources which had been stolen from Africa.
“It is deeply regrettable that such statements were made on the same day as the celebration of your Independence Day, marking the universally-shared hope of self-determination and freedom that continues to inspire oppressed people of the world,” the letter reads in part.
Mr Banda wrote that as an elected Head of State, the President was entitled to formulate a foreign policy of his choice, but that disagreement should not manifest itself in disrespect.
He added that the form and manner in which the statements in question were made were not in tandem with the Zambian culture.
But Mr Sata charged that it was unfortunate that Mr Banda had chosen to play cheap politics on a matter that did not concern him.
He pointed out that Mr Banda was remotely connected, if not totally disconnected from the matter at hand, as he did not understand the nature of the personal relationship that he (Mr Sata) had cultivated with President Bush.
“Therefore, my light-hearted conversation with former President Bush should not be an occasion for cheap political scoring by Mr Banda.
“As a matter of fact, this is not the first time that I was hosting Mr Bush and his wife. And I am very grateful that they chose to pay us two visits in a space of six months, which clearly indicates the cordial relations between the two countries and former President Bush’s personal commitment to our country.”
The President encouraged Mr Banda to behave in a manner befitting a former Head of State.
“Mr Banda spent his presidency doing wrong things for himself and his children. I therefore, understand his desperation and attempts to seek relevance, though in wrong places this time around.
“I would encourage my dear brother to come to terms with what has happened and subsequently behave as a mature adult, and leave the running of Government to the duly elected officers,” Mr Sata said.
The President described Mr Banda’s conduct as unbecoming and unprecedented for a self-respecting former Head of State.
“Notwithstanding the many wrongs that Mr Banda committed against our people and us, we have restrained ourselves and tried to accord him full respect.
“Today, Mr Banda can pretend to be a friend of the international community because he wants their support to defend the wrong things that he did during his tenure, but we have not forgotten that it is during his administration that he told donors to ‘pack and go’ when they questioned the corruption in his government,” Mr Sata said.
He said the Zambian Government continued to express its unreserved gratitude to President Bush and Mrs Bush’s works in the country.
Times of Zambia