PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda has challenged Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata to be brave enough and face him through the ballot box in next month’s presidential elections instead of using “short-sighted” politics that his parents are Zimbabweans.
President Banda said Mr Sata was his branch chairperson in Kabulonga and visited the residence of his parents where he ate food and wondered where claims about his nationality were coming from.
“Mr Sata has been around with me for a long time. He has eaten at my mother’s house for a long time. I wish he could say the same about me. In fact he was my branch chairman in Kabulonga, so why is he afraid of facing me?” Mr Banda asked.
President Banda said this in an interview during a tour of the MMD national campaign centre where United Party for National Development (UPND) national chairperson and former Mwembeshi member of Parliament (MP) Edward Kasoka announced their resignation from the opposition party to join the ruling party.
The president said there had been allegations that Mr Sata also hailed from Tanzania and his view was that there was nothing wrong with people coming from anywhere because of the politics of migration that took place in Africa some decades ago.
President Banda told journalists that the debate about his nationality was “nonsense” considering that all former heads of State, including Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa and the PF leader had been accused of having originated from other countries.
He said Mr Sata and his party initially accused him of having hailed from Malawi and now they had changed and were claiming that his parents were Zimbabweans.
“I have not hidden about where I was born when I went to Zimbabwe. I told my friend Robert Mugabe to take me to the small hat where I was born. My father migrated there and married a Shona and Mr Sata knows that because I have been open about it,” President Banda said.
He said it was wrong for anybody to question people’s origins in a democracy like Zambia and that he believed former Kabwata MP Given Lubinda and PF vice-president Guy Scott were both Zambians.
President Banda wondered what type of a country Zambia would become under Mr Sata if witch-hunting took the centre stage instead of campaigning on issues affecting the people.
Mr Banda said initially there were demands that he should announce the date of elections and when he did, some people started making claims that he did not qualify to contest the presidency.
“He wants to become president but who does he want to beat? Let him face me because I want to beat him for me to become president.
“I want to be a strong candidate and he must face me. Mr Sata and the PF are admitting that they are not ready for these elections,” President Banda said.
He said the debate by the PF was irritating the Zambian people and cited former Information minister Dipak Patel, veteran politician Simon Zukas and Dr Scott who had contributed immensely to the development of Zambia and it would be wrong for anyone to refer to them as foreigners.
The president also said Mr Sata behaved in a disgusting manner when the 17 presidential candidates held a meeting with Electoral Commission of Zambia chairperson Ireen Mambilima at Mulungushi International Conference Centre last week.
He hailed journalists for the work they were doing and invited them to all his political rallies regardless of what media they represented because he wanted the people of Zambia to know his plans for them.
[Times of Zambia]