Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sata's swaying ability intrigues Sirleaf

By Joseph Mwenda in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Sun 02 Feb. 2014, 14:01 CAT

HEADS of States conferences are livelier when President Michael Sata is in attendance, says Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. And Namibia's President Hifikapunye Pohamba has wished Zambia a new era of economic prosperity as the country celebrates its Golden Jubilee in October.

Meanwhile, the Mauritius government has invited President Sata to visit that country this year to cement the 2012 double taxation and investment promotion protection treaty.

After the closing ceremony of the 22nd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, President Sata met with President Sirleaf whom he described as a powerful and influential leader in Africa.

"This is a very powerful woman of Africa. You see she has succeeded to overthrow all the men in Liberia. The men are now learning from you how to run the country. So I came to say goodbye to you my friend," President Sata said.

President Sirleaf responded that she was always intrigued by President Sata's ability to sway positions during AU summits.

"How do you manage to stand when everybody has agreed to a position, to just change everything and influence a different position? Sometimes you even delay the process," President Sirleaf said, while holding President Sata's hands.

President Sata responded, "but Madam President, if I see something that I don't agree with, don't I tell you?"

Both Presidents laughed and shared jokes before leaving the AU Assembly Hall. Later in an interview, the Liberian President said no President could afford to doze during the AU Summit when President Sata was in attendance.

"This is the only President in Africa who keeps other Presidents awake, that is what I like about him. You cannot doze when he is around. All the delegates are always alive to what's going on," President Sirleaf said.

In a separate interview, President Pohamba said he had been trained and groomed in Zambia and wished the country economic prosperity.

"Zambia is a second home for me and this occasion of celebrating your Golden Jubilee this year is special to me. Your President is my good old friend and so is president (Kenneth) Kaunda. I hope that Zambia will open a new page in economic development and achieve more in the years to come," he said.

Recently President Pohamba donated a modern house to Dr Kaunda and named a street after him in recognition of the role he played during Namibia's liberation struggle.

Meanwhile, Mauritius President Rajkeswur Purryag has asked President Sata to visit his country this year. Speaking in an interview through his minister of foreign affairs Arvin Boolell, President Purryag said Zambia was a country on the rise economically.

"First of all, I would like to say that we enjoy very cordial bilateral relations with Zambia and we have a lot of Mauritius investors coming to your great country. Therefore we want investors to use Mauritius as a pad for onward investment into Zambia," he said.

He said Zambia was an icon of democracy in Africa with undoubted political stability.

"Why Zambia? Because of its political stability and well-rooted democratic institutions. Your country is on the rise with the economy and an icon of peace for Africa," he said.

President Purryag said President Sata's visit to Mauritius would help cement the tax avoidance protection treaty signed between the two governments in 2012.

"We signed a double taxation avoidance and investment promotion protection treaty with Zambia. So we look forward for the President of Zambia to travel to Mauritius to make this treaty more effective," he said.

"What I like with him is that he is outspoken. He is an outspoken President and we value his candidness and frankness. We wish Zambia well."

President Sata, who is in the company of first lady Christine Kaseba, left Addis Ababa yesterday around 09:30hours for a 14-day working holiday. He was seen off by foreign affairs minister Wylbur Simuusa, agriculture minister Bob Sichinga, Zambia's Ambassador to Ethiopia Susan Sikaneta and her deputy Sam Mujuda.

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