Saturday, February 20, 2010

I feel like a child, says Rupiah as he celebrates 73rd birthday

I feel like a child, says Rupiah as he celebrates 73rd birthday
By Patson Chilemba and Moses Kuwema
Sat 20 Feb. 2010, 04:00 CAT

President Banda having a piece of cake as Hotel InterContinental general manager Andrew Hosking looks on during his 73rd birthday celebrations organised by State House staff in Lusaka yesterday - Picture by Thomas Nsama

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda yesterday said he feels like a child after turning 73. And President Banda received credentials from new Egyptian Ambassador-designate to
Zambia Salah El-Sadek and new Democratic Republic of Congo Ambassador Kaseba Makunko.

During a short birthday celebration organised for him by State House staff, President Banda expressed excitement after turning 73.

"I am surprised that such a big thing can be organised and I don't know about it. All these people knew...meaning that I don't know everything,” President Banda said. “But that made it into a really pleasant surprise. I know you think 'he is 73 years old, he doesn't get excited'. I feel like a child. I am really excited to see so many people, all of them to come and wish me a happy birthday on this my 73rd birthday."

President Banda said without the staff, even the few achievements the country had made could not have been achieved.

"I am successful because of every Zambian who has stood side by side with each other to support the efforts that we are trying to make as a government. It is a very difficult period we are going through, but it looks like God is showing us the way," President Banda said. "Our economy has come back on path, we have good rains outside and from the estimates that I am getting, we may have very good crops ahead of us. And we have peace out there."

President Banda promised to continue doing his best to improve the nation.
"Let us continue to work together all of us, continue to bring cakes, thank you," he said.
The President was presented with a birthday cake by the State House staff.

And receiving credentials from Ambassador Makunko, President Banda said relations between Zambia and DR Congo had a long history and remained warm and cordial. He said under the framework of the Joint Permanent Commission of Co-operation (JPC), established in 1982, the cooperation between the two countries was reflected in various sectors including trade and industry, finance, transport, communication, energy, immigration and border security.

President Banda said DRC was a very important member of the international community as well as the African community and that the developments in that country had a direct bearing globally and regionally.

President Banda commended the government and people of DRC for working towards consolidating peace, stability and national development, particularly in Eastern Congo and the great lakes region.

He said as current chairman of the International Conference on the Great Lakes region, he pledged to support the promotion of peace, security, good governance and the observance of human rights in the region.

President Banda applauded the new relations, which had been fostered between the DRC and Rwanda.
Ambassador Makunko hailed the constant position of DRC as second economic partner to Zambia in Africa and fourth in the world, specifically in as far as exportation was concerned.

He said similar efforts on the fight against corruption were being undertaken by the Congolese government. Ambassador Makunko said this had resulted in the restoration of donor trust.

And receiving credentials from Ambassador El-Sadek, President Banda congratulated Egypt for the historic victory during the just-ended Africa Cup of Nations.

He also acknowledged the technical assistance Egypt provided especially in the education and heath sectors.

President Banda welcomed the growing Egyptian investment in Zambia and that trade between the two countries had increased in the last few years.

Ambassador El-Sadek said it was time for Africa to play its critical role in the historic process by modernising its stand economically and politically.

He said by the united and coordinated efforts of Zambia and Egypt, the aims and objectives of COMESA could become a reality to obtain a sustainable growth and development of the member states in order to enhance economic growth in the region, and to maintain common positions in the international fora.

Ambassador El-Sadek said Egypt's vast experience in numerous areas could be of importance to Zambia's development.

And on Thursday, President Banda said he was an old orphan and this was painful to him.
During the luncheon hosted for M-Net Face of Africa winner Lukundo Nalungwe at State House, President Banda said it was still painful to be an orphan even at his age.

“When I looked at you Lukundo and asked 'is your mother here?' You said 'no my mother is not here'. I said 'where is your father?' And you said 'they both passed away…' So she is an orphan like me except I am an old orphan,” President Banda said. “She is a young orphan but still very painful and please remember you have got your family, your sisters and other members of the family and you are carrying their name and their reputation.”

President Banda also said he just realised that first lady Thandiwe and Lukundo were from the same village.

“I just want to say I found out today that my wife and the young lady Lukundo come from the same place so those of you who are looking for wives, perhaps that's where you should check from…there are some beautiful women there,” he said.

“I think what we have seen today that one of our own children could stand up before the whole of Africa, and you know Africa has very beautiful women everywhere, but the judges… independent judges gave it to Zambia. I have no doubt chatting with her and listening to her as we sat this afternoon that she will go a long way…she is indeed beautiful, not just by looks,” he said.

President Banda advised Lukundo to take time and seek advice on how she would invest her prize money.

“We are going to take your number, my wife will keep your number, get my wife's number. Wherever you are, if you have a problem… you are a VIP in Zambia just call us and we shall see what help we can give you.”

At the same function, Thandiwe hoped Lukundo would be able to serve as a true Zambian and African ambassador who would be expected to inspire other Africans, especially young women, to aspire for higher goals using the 'never say die spirit'.

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