Wednesday, August 15, 2007
By Webster Malido
Wednesday August 15, 2007 [04:00]
FORMER president Frederick Chiluba has accepted an invitation to attend both the official and closing ceremonies of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state summit which opens in Lusaka tomorrow. Chiluba has been invited by both SADC chairperson, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of the Kingdom of Lesotho, and by SADC executive secretary Tomaz Augusto Salomao. Chiluba has also been officially invited by the Zambian government to the SADC summit.
“Your Excellency, I have the honour to invite you to the official opening of the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government on 16 August, 2007 in Lusaka, Zambia,” Prime Minister Mosisili’s invitation reads in part.
“SADC will be greatly honoured by your attendance at this important event. All the necessary protocols will be availed to Your Excellency as is normal and standard practice….Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
And Salomao reiterated to Chiluba that an invitation from Prime Minister Mosisili had been sent to him, requesting his attendance for the official opening tomorrow at 08:30 hours and the closing ceremony on Friday scheduled between 17:00 hours and 17:15 hours.
Chiluba’s spokesperson, Emmanuel Mwamba, confirmed in an interview that the former president had accepted the invitations from all parties, that is, Prime Minister Mosisili, Salomao and President Levy Mwanawasa.
“Dr Chiluba has stated that he will attend both the official and closing ceremonies. I can also confirm that Dr Chiluba has received further invitation from the government - from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also from the Republican President,” Mwamba said.
Asked why Chiluba was eager to attend the SADC summit when he has not been doing so for other state functions where he has been invited by the government, Mwamba said: “Of course you know that he has been unwell in the last one year or so. He is just from South Africa where doctors say although he remains ill, he is but stable.”
However, Chiluba has in the past snubbed state invitations to public functions, even prior to his heart problem early last year.