Sata and Mugabe toast ‘special relationship
ZAMBIA President Michael Sata declared it was “good to be back home” as he arrived in Harare Wednesday for a state visit during which he will also officially open this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo.
President Sata was greeted by a 21-gun salute when he landed at Harare International Airport aboard the challenger for a three-day state visit to Zimbabwe.
President Sata, accompanied by First Lady Christine Kaseba, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism Given Lubinda and other senior Government officials, was welcomed by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace.
Others who were at the airport to receive President Sata and his delegation were Zimbabwean Vice-President Joyce Mujuru, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and Zambian High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Ndiyoyi Mutiti.
President Sata also inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Zimbabwean army before he left the airport in the company of President Mugabe.
“I am certain that this visit will afford our two countries yet another opportunity to interact and further consolidate the excellent relations that we enjoy,” Sata said at a state dinner hosted for him by President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe said the two countries were like siamese twins adding Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle would have been harder without the support of its northern neighbour and the rest of the region.
“You suffered reprisals by the Smith regime because of the support you gave us. Lives were lost in Zambia because of your solidarity with our liberation struggle. In spite of all these actions by the settler regime, Zambia relentlessly supported our struggle,” he said.
“It is this assistance from Zambia and other Frontline States which enables us through the armed struggle to end settler colonialism and bring about independence in Zimbabwe.
“That we are inseparable can be traced back to the old times when our two people traded and shared the great Zambezi River. Then there was the ill-fated Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which left large numbers of our people on either side of our borders.
“To this day, we have Zambians who have chosen to make Zimbabwe their home, as well as Zimbabweans who have done the same in Zambia.”
The two countries share the premier Victoria Falls resort and are set to co-host the 20th General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation next year.
In addition an agreement was recently concluded to develop the US$4 billion Batoka Gorge hydro-power station on their common border which – with a capacity to produce 1,650 megawatts of electricity – would help end Zimbabwe’s perennial power supply problems.
“Such infrastructural projects are the enablers of real and sustainable economic development,” Mugabe said.
“As a matter of fact, this project is as important to our two countries as it is to the whole Southern Africa region which, as you know, is experiencing a critical power deficit.”
President Sata is today expected to visit Zimbabwe’s Heroes Acre where he will lay wreaths on the tomb of a soldier and then he will later visit the Zimbabwean Dairy Board and Tyrone Farm in Goromonzi, about 30 kilometres south-east of Harare.