Friday, May 16, 2008

Sata seems to be ahead, says Sikota

Sata seems to be ahead, says Sikota
By Staff Reporters
Friday May 16, 2008 [04:00]

Opposition United Liberal Party (ULP) president Sakwiba Sikota yesterday said Sata seemed to be ahead and advised President Mwanawasa to be careful in his dealings with him. Commenting on Sata's reconciliation with President Levy Mwanawasa at State House on Wednesday, Sikota said Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata had a character of U-turning on his earlier positions, hence the need for those dealing with him to be careful.

Sikota said in the recent past, Sata had U-turned on important national issues such as the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) and the mining taxes.

He said at first, Sata supported the two undertakings but later changed his position.
"With that kind of background behind him, let's hope we won't see him U-turning, and those dealing with him have to be careful and keep that in mind," Sikota said. "Sata seems to be ahead. He has gained his passport. It's working well for Mr Sata. Let's hope that is not the reason he has gotten into this reconciliation. We will see what happens."
However, Sikota said Sata should be given the benefit of doubt over his shift in policy. He said certain crises such as the heart attack Sata suffered had the potential to change people fundamentally.

Sikota said it was gratifying to note that Sata seemed to have seen the value in reconciliation rather that politics of character assassination.
Sikota had an electoral pact with Sata in 2006 but it crumbled just after the tripartite elections.

But MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba said opposition UPND and ULP leaders should not mock Sata for reconciling with President Mwanawasa.
Tetamashimba, at a press briefing yesterday, said what Sata had said in the past about MMD and President Mwanawasa was water under the bridge. He said the burying of the past by the two presidents was enough to stop MMD and the Patriotic Front leaders from making statements that would be against the spirit of reconciliation.

He said Sata had told the nation that he would not publicly criticise President Mwanawasa but would personally go to State House to discuss any issue of national importance.

"In view of the reconciliation shown by president Sata, we urge all leaders of opposition parties, especially ULP and UPND not to mock president Sata on his reconciliatory statements by trying to find faults in him about the past which Mr Sata has stated is water under the bridge," Tetamashimba said.

Tetamashimba said MMD was looking forward to seeing Sata and his party leadership attend this year's Africa Freedom Day celebrations at State House.

"We want to see president Hakainde Hichilema, president Edith Nawakwi (FDD), president Tilyenji Kaunda (UNIP), president Godfrey Miyanda (Heritage Party), president Ben Mwila (Zambia Republican Party), president Ken Ngondo (APC) to be led by the first Republican president Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Dr Frederick Chiluba to consolidate reconciliation of leaders," Tetamashimba said.

He also urged the Church to take advantage of Sata and President Mwanawasa's reconciliation to organise breakfast prayers in order to foster peace and unity in the country.

And PF Chawama member of parliament Reverend Violet Sampa-Bredt hoped Sata had repented. Rev Sampa-Bredt said from a moral point of view, she welcomed the reconciliation and prayed that Sata would not U-turn on his move.

"I hope that Mr Sata has repented; I hope this is a change of heart for him. I personally believe that human nature can change; I have prayed for Mr Sata. He has attacked me for no real reason, I never responded but other people responded. I respected him as a father and as a seasoned politician," Rev Sampa-Bredt said. "I hope for our president, this is the beginning of the new heart. God calls people to a new beginning and our president Mr Sata has been using Godly language and I hope that God has really touched his heart and God has touched our President Mr Levy Mwanawasa that what they are doing and saying is not from a human point of view but from above so that we can begin a new chapter in this country."

Rev Sampa-Bredt said Sata did not have to be sick for him to repent.
"I hope Mr Sata has learnt a great lesson that he is not going to go around and antagonise people and crucify them for no real reason because he doesn't like them," Rev Sampa-Bredt said. "We have been pushed to say things we didn't want to say because we had been pushed left and right for no real cause."

She said opposition political parties and the MMD government had for a long time unnecessarily antagonised one another.

"We must create a position where there is give and take; and where there is nobody who is going to bulldoze the other, where we have to sit on a round table and exchange views," said Rev Sampa-Bredt. "I think we have to look at Zambian people as people not look at them as MMD or opposition members."

Rev Sampa-Bredt is among the six members of parliament who were expelled from the PF but they are contesting their expulsion in court.
Another expelled member of parliament Barnabas Chellah of Wusakile constituency said Zambians would benefit from the reconciliation.
"I think it's a plus for both presidents," Chellah said. "The past is now bygone."

Group leader of the PF 'rebel' members of parliament, Peter Machungwa said Sata and President Mwanawasa should now resolve their differences on the NCC.

"Now that there is talk of reconciliation, it is well and good. One of the issues they have to look at, if they are emphasising on working together, is the Constitution. Constitutional matters are very important to the nation," said Machungwa, who is Luapula member of parliament.
Meanwhile, former Republican vice-president pastor Nevers Mumba said he did not think Sata would be compromised by not being confrontational in his approach to politics.

Pastor Mumba said in politics, one could make their point without being insulting, hurting or vengeful.

"Dialogue brings more results for people than confrontation," Pastor Mumba said.

He said Sata's decision would obviously be painful for newsmen who rejoiced when politicians fought and insulted each other because such news sold their newspapers. He said he was thankful that God had finally spoken to Sata and that his decision was not only a blessing to his family and the party, but the entire nation.

Pastor Mumba said politicians needed to make it a rule of thumb to speak graciously about matters by discussing issues and not personalities. He said such an approach would make Zambia a high level politics state where respect, honour and dignity for one another were paramount.

And Lusaka Province minister Lameck Mangani said if Sata's reconciliation would be sustained, it would be a memorable precedence in Zambian politics for generations to come.
Mangani said Zambians should not think that Sata had sold his party to the MMD because he had merely realised that politics of name-calling and insults would not develop the country.

"As Provincial minister, this development is a miracle in the political history of our country and should be commended. It is high time that we took our politics to another level that would be of benefits to all Zambians. Politics is about development and the route that Mr Sata has taken will unify our country and bring development by working together," said Mangani.

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