President Rupiah Banda has sent an official apology to senior chief Puta of Chiengi for not attending this year’s 10th anniversary of the Bwilile ceremony in his personal capacity.
Presidential Affairs minister Ronald Mukuma, who was sent to stand for President Banda, apologised to chief Puta and his subject.
Mr Mukuma explained that it was not deliberate that President Banda did not make it for this year’s Bwilile ceremony in Chiengi.
He said President Banda was not able to travel to Chiengi to grace the event because he was in South Africa holding bilateral talks with his counterpart Jacob Zuma.
Mr Mukuma, who said he was only informed late afternoon yesterday (Friday) that President Banda would not make it for Bwilile.
He asked senior chief Puta and his subjects to ignore some people who were insinuating that the President was in Lusaka and deliberately stayed away from the ceremony.
“Ignore those who are suggesting that President Banda is Lusaka and deliberately stayed away from the ceremony. They are telling lies because the President is in South Africa holding bilateral talks with South African President. He is also having his medical reviews,” Mr Mukuma said.
Mr. Mukuma said those words on Saturday.
But the Watchdog has information that president Banda returned from South Africa on Friday. Mr. Mukuma knew this as he was talking to the chief.
According to information available, president Banda flew in about 14 hours on Friday just about the time when journalists were starting to demonstrate against their harassment.
When phoned for confirmation this morning (Sunday), president Banda’ spokesperson Dickson Jere said the president came back ‘a long time ago.’
Asked why his arrival was not announced, Mr. Jere said he has ‘never ever announced the arrival of the president’ adding that he only announces the departure.
But when ever the president returns from some trip, his arrival is announced and reporters meet him at the airport.
Last time president Banda came from Tanzania the other week, MMD cadres clashed with journalists who went to cover his arrival.
Meanwhile, president Banda is expected to meet his counterparts who are coming in the Great Lakes Region Conference.
The prime Minister of Central African republic will arrive first followed by Mwai Kibaki of Kenya and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania.