Friday, April 13, 2007
By Bivan Saluseki and George Chellah
Friday April 13, 2007 [04:00]
Stay out of Malawi or else we will deal with you, Malawi’s information minister Patricia Kaliati has warned PF president Michael Sata. But Sata said though the case was currently in court, he was grateful that the Malawian authorities had begun giving reasons for his deportation. Meanwhile, Sata's lawyer in Malawi, Ralph Kasambara, advised Kaliati to speak in court where the case is.
In an interview from Malawi on Tuesday, Kaliati said Sata should not draw Malawi into his political battles in Zambia. She was commenting on Sata's decision to drag the Malawian government to court over his deportation from that country last month.
Kaliati said the Malawian government would not even attend Sata's court sittings.
"He should not be fighting in this country. Malawi is not a playground for Sata. Tell him, he should not be playing with this country," she said.
Kaliati said everyone that went to Malawi was expected to abide by and follow immigration procedures and that the immigration had powers to deny anyone entry without giving reasons.
"Sata is not a refugee to enter freely. Even refugees, they don't just enter the country without being screened. We did that with Sata. This is not a refugee camp," she said. "This is not his home. Even in his own house, the wife is aware when he goes out and when he comes back. He does not just walk in the house unnoticed. Malawi is not a toilet where one can go privately."
Kaliati could not state the reasons that led to Sata's deportation upon arrival at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre.
Asked why Sata was being blocked when in the past, her government was reported to have been facilitating Sata's meetings with Taiwanese businessmen, Kaliati said she was not aware of such facilitations.
"If he is a smuggler, he will not do it in Malawi," she said.
Kaliati said it seemed Sata had a lot of money to waste by suing the Malawian government over his deportation.
"We will not even attend that (court case). He will attend with his wife. He wants to spend his money here. We want to warn him, Malawi is not a beerhall where you walk in freely," said Kaliati.
But Sata, who initially laughed at Kaliati's statement, said since Malawi was in the Commonwealth he was confident that the courts were independent to handle his case.
"She is advancing new grounds which they didn't say so we would like her to go and advance them in court. We are grateful that they are now giving reasons one by one as to why they deported me," he said.
Sata said it was contemptuous for Kaliati to comment on a matter that was already in court.
"Our dear lady is committing contempt of court. She is committing her government in a matter which is in court. Let her advance those reasons in court. Probably that's how ministers behave in Malawi. But I am very sure President Bingu would not support that idea of commenting on matters that are in court," Sata said. "I would also like to beg this madam not to drag my wife in this... it's me who was deported and not my wife so what has my wife got to do with this? You don't even comment about a woman you don't even know. Why is she excited?"
And Kasambara advised Kaliati to go and speak in court since the case was already in court.
"Right now the case is in court so I would rather not comment about that. But if this is what they are commenting, we would rather she comments in court," he said.
Kasambara, an Attorney General in President Bingu wa Mutharika's administration until last year, has commenced a judicial review against the Ministry of Home Affairs and the chief immigration officer for not telling Sata reasons for his deportation.
"Malawi violated his consumer rights for fair administrative justice, infringed upon his freedom of movement and the right to carry out an economic activity," he stated.
Attorney General Jane Ansah said she saw the letter Sata wrote to government seeking an explanation for being denied entry into Malawi but had not yet studied the court documents.