Thursday, July 12, 2007

I have reconciled with Sikota - Levy

I have reconciled with Sikota - Levy
By Chibaula Silwamba, Mutale Kapekele in Livingstone and Mwala
Thursday July 12, 2007 [04:00]

PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa yesterday said he has reconciled with United Liberal Party (ULP) president Sakwiba Sikota. And President Mwanawasa said Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are breaching the law by participating in politics and constitution making process. Meanwhile, President Mwanawasa has advised Patriotic Front president Michael Sata to join the Oasis Forum if his intention was to cause confusion in the constitution making process.

Speaking on arrival at Livingstone International Airport, President Mwanawasa said he had said a lot of bad things about Sikota the last time he was in Livingstone but the two have since buried their political differences.

“I said a lot of bad things about Mr. Sikota and I challenged him to come and join me at a political rally so that we can determine who is popular between the two of us but all that is history,” President Mwanawasa said. “The good thing is we have now reconciled, we are now dialoguing.”

He said Zambia was more important than “Sakwiba or Levy.”
“The people of Livingstone elected him and as President I cannot ignore him because if I ignored him I will have ignored the wishes of the people of Livingstone,” President Mwanawasa said. “We should all work towards the improvement of the conditions of living of our people.”

President Mwanawasa said he met Sikota at the presidents’ summit where the latter seconded his proposal of the Constitutional Conference.

“That goes to show that he was as anxious as I was to see that we should move forward as a nation and our political differences should not stand in the way of development,” said President Mwanawasa.
Sikota was among government and MMD officials and cadres that welcomed President Mwanawasa at Livingstone International Airport.

Later in an interview, Sikota said the reconciliation was meant to create dialogue between him and President Mwanawasa over progressive issues in the country.

“Being in talking terms doesn’t mean that one is being swallowed. We still have our own differences of opinion on certain matters for example, the Freedom of Information bill,” he said. “This just shows that we are able to talk to each other and convince each other on our views in a civil manner.”

Sikota said the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) had been very helpful in bringing political parties together and that was where his reconciliation with the President came from.
And President Mwanawasa expressed happiness that all political parties had agreed to lead the constitution making process instead of NGOs and the civil society.

“NGO means Non-Governmental Organisation. So why should they be concerned with the matters of government? We in all political parties have never refused members of NGOs from joining a political party. You form an organisation to be looking after poor people and instead of talking about poverty and vulnerable people you engage in politics. Now that is breach of the law because your objectives don’t include politics,” President Mwanawasa said.

“We have decided that this constitutional process should be led by political parties and unfortunately this has to be so because I have met many NGOs, civil society and although I made constructive suggestions, which they accepted during these meetings, they went out to reject and renounce everything they told me and to call me all sorts of names; ‘trickster, he wants to manipulate’ and the like. So I’m glad at the fact that we are now moving in the same direction as political parties.”

President Mwanawasa asked Zambians to pray for all members of the inter-party dialogue for God to give them wisdom to do that which was pleasing. He expressed sadness at Sata’s change of mind after they agreed at the presidents’ summit on the mode of adopting the constitution.

“The Patriotic Front agreed with us and we were happy. You all saw, we were pictured; there was a group photograph in which their leader sat next to me - to my right - as if it was God and His son Jesus Christ. He (Sata) decided to renounce something which he had accepted the very next day,” President Mwanawasa said. “Now when the organisation (based in the Netherlands) that sponsored the inter-party dialogue gave certain donations including computers for the political parties, Mr. Sata changed his mind or Patriotic Front changed their mind to say ‘we are also members of the inter-party dialogue’ and they got the computers from the organisation which they renounced only a few days previously.”

President Mwanawasa said PF spokesperson Given Lubinda’s announcement that the PF was still part of the inter-party dialogue showed that he was not telling the truth.

“The whole truth is that he is back to come and eat what has been given to the member parties. We welcome him but we hope that he will - his party will - not bring confusion to the development of our constitution making process,” President Mwanawasa said. “If he is coming to cause confusion then I will suggest that it’s better that he leaves and goes to sit with the Oasis Forum and plan their own roadmap and we will see if they will implement their road map.”
Meanwhile, President Mwanawasa decided to use his presidential chopper from State House to the Lusaka International Airport to avoid ‘inconveniencing’ motorists.

Sources at Lusaka International Airport said that President Mwanawasa decided not to use the motorcade to show that he has listened to motorists’ complaints that the motorcade usually disturbed the flow of traffic, especially at critical hours.
But President Mwanawasa’s special assistant for press and public relations John Musukuma said this was not the case and he declined to disclose what had prompted the sudden change in the President’s movements.

“Today the President (Mwanawasa) is going to use a chopper because he says he does not want to inconvenience people on the way,” the source said.

However, a smaller motorcade was on standby at the International Airport’s apron before President Mwanawasa’s arrival.
Meanwhile, President Mwanawasa has urged the MMD national executive committee (NEC) to immediately step up public consultations on the proposed united African government.
At an MMD NEC meeting held at State House on Tuesday, President Mwanawasa re-emphasised his earlier stance that he wanted to consult the people before saying anything on the proposed United States Africa government.

MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba said President Mwanawasa called on them to consult extensively over the issue.
“We discussed the summit of presidents, which was held in Ghana and we agreed with the President that people must be consulted,” Tetamashimba said. “We also looked at the issue of the constitution conference, which we all agreed should be the one to adopt the constitution.”

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