Thursday, July 05, 2012

'It's payback time'

'It's payback time'
By Ernest Chanda
Thu 05 July 2012, 13:25 CAT

PRESIDENT Michael Sata yesterday said former US president George Bush's visit to Zambia was payback time for colonialists. But Bush said the United States of America was never a colonial nation and fought for freedom just like Zambia.

Meanwhile President Sata complained about Bush's late arrival at State House where the two were scheduled to meet.

Meeting Bush who has been holed up in Kabwe since the weekend doing philanthropy works involving cancer projects, President Sata told Bush that his country and three other superpowers had abandoned Africa after taking away its resources.

"The most interesting thing, previously there used to be four great countries: United States of America, United Kingdom, Russia and France. And you have all drifted away; you have abandoned Africa after taking all our raw commodities, our raw materials and build your cities. I mean, as far as you are concerned, Africa doesn't exist. And when we have a former colonialist like you coming back to pay back what you took out of this country, we are grateful," President Sata said.

But Bush quickly interjected and told President Sata that America had never been a colonialist, but that the country also freed itself from colonialism just like Zambia.

"Mr President, I don't wanna be argumentative, but America was never a colonial nation; we broke free like you broke free from those who wanted to colonise us. France might have been a colonial nation, Britain might have been a colonial nation, but not the United States of America," Bush said amidst laughter from his team and that of President Sata.

President Sata also quickly interjected: "The United States and Russia? But there is a difference between Russia and the United States; United States had money," as Bush responded with, "that's right."

President Sata continued to explain the indirect role America played in the colonisation of Africa.

"Because when they had money the big colonisers depended on the American money. The Americans did not physically colonise us, but at the same time, the Americans still have scars of slavery. And if you have the scars of slavery whether you colonised or you didn't colonise us you still have those scars," he said, as Bush responded: "no question about it."

Meanwhile, President Sata thanked Bush for his robust role in the fight against cancer.

He said cancer was the biggest killer in Africa, unlike malaria which many nations paid attention to.

"These are some of the problems which many people don't pay much attention to. They pay attention to diarrhoea, pneumonia, TB and even heart attack. But they don't pay much attention to cancer, but it's our biggest killer in Africa. And what you do now, when you are raising the funds, you are dealing with the ladies. So, you have now to move to the gentlemen because side by side you have cervical cancer for women and you have prostate cancer for the men, so you can't treat one side and leave the others," said President Sata.

"So, we will leave it to Madam Laura Bush to deal with prostate cancer, you deal with cervical cancer. We have three problems in this part of the world. Number one problem is poverty, the second problem is unemployment, and the third problem is to reach the essential. Even in Lusaka we have people who have no access to get to medical facilities, either they have no access to education. So when we have people like you who have never seen poverty in their lives to come and join people who are tasting poverty, we are very grateful."

And earlier, Bush who was supposed to meet President Sata at State House at 15:00 hours only arrived about 15 minutes late.

As President Sata stood at the main entrance to State House with his hands in his pockets and accompanied by State House staff and some Cabinet ministers, he complained to United States Embassy public affairs officer Priscilla Hernandez that he did not like being kept waiting.

"I cannot be waiting here. He Bush is former president; he is not the current president of the United States so I cannot be waiting for him. I'm not an American for me to be waiting for him, and I don't intend to be an American," President Sata told Hernandez as Bush's security kept communicating with their colleagues who were with Bush on their way to State House.

"The young man is lucky that he is the first American leader to have brought money to Africa through his Millennium Challenge Account; that's why I'm standing here. Otherwise if it was somebody else, I would have handed him over to one of my ministers to meet him."

And less than two minutes after President Sata finished complaining, Bush arrived with his entourage.

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