Friday, February 08, 2008

(DAILY MAIL) ‘Chitala’s criticism mischievous’

‘Chitala’s criticism mischievous’

GOVERNMENT says former Zambia’s ambassador to Libya, Mbita Chitala’s criticism of African countries advocating a gradual approach to towards the establishment of an African Union (AU) Government was undiplomatic, ill informed, and mischievous. And Government says Zambia fully subscribes to the concept of the AU Government but wanted to achieve consensus not only among states but among its citizens as well.

In a statement in Lusaka yesterday, stating Zambia’s position on the AU, minister of Foreign Affairs, Kabinga Pande, said Mr Chitala’s utterances were not only his personal opinion, but were contrary to the terms and conditions of service for public service workers.

“In particular they were a breach of Foreign Service Regulations and Conditions of Service which regulate the conduct of officers in the Zambian Foreign Service,” Mr Pande said.

He said an ambassador is a personal representative of the President and what they uttered was always construed to have the blessings of the appointing authority.

He said Mr Chitala’s attack on African states that advocated a gradual approach and in particular the three countries he cited in his article obviously caused a dent on Zambia’s relations with those countries, which Zambia had to repair.

“The timing of the article could not have come at a worse time considering that Zambia had fielded a candidate for the post of Chairperson of the African Union Commission,” he aid.

The Zambian government respected freedom of speech of all its citizens and indeed all those that reside in its territory but public servants including Zambian diplomats who hold views contrary to Government’s position were at liberty and are encouraged to resign from the public service so that they can advance their views freely.

Zambia remained committed to, cherished the ideals of the AU, fully subscribed to the ethos of Pan-Africanism, and the ultimate establishment of the AU Government.

He said an erroneous impression had been created that Zambia did not have a position on the matter.

“Nothing can be further from the truth.

Zambia has a position,” he said.

Mr Pande said while the concept of the Union Government was generally accepted by all AU member states, it could not be categorically stated that it was fully understood by all.

He said Zambia subscribed to the gradual and incremental approach as opposed to the immediate establishment of Union Government but currently, there were no established structures or mechanisms for such an establishment.

“These have to be worked out and agreed upon by all.

Furthermore, Zambia holds the view that there is need to first attain political and especially economic regional integration,” he said.

The Union Government must be people-driven and there was absolute need for African governments to carry their people along in such an enterprise.

“Hence the need to fully consult them first as well as popularise the concept of the Union Government,” he said.

President Mwanawasa dropped Mr Chitala as Zambia’s ambassador to Libya over the article in which he criticised African governments opposed to immediate establishment of the Union Government.

The article was published as a comment in the Tripoli Post newspaper.

Mr Chitala singled out South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria as countries facing severe public criticism by their citizens for rejecting an outright formation of Union Government.

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