Zambia’s Vice President, Guy Scot and his officials on Thursday revealed how they embarrassed Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika when he traveled to Lusaka to attend the inaugural ceremony of Michael Sata three weeks ago.
The Zambian authorities kept Muntharika in a holding room until after the ceremony.
The revelations reflected how angry Sata is with his Malawian counterpart and underlined how low the diplomatic relations between the two countries have sank since he took office after ousting Rupiah Banda, an all time ally of Mutharika.
“He was in the holding room, he didnt attend the actual function,” said Bob Sichinga, Zambia’s minister of commerce after Scot told Journalists that he didn’t see the Malawian leader at the ceremony in Lusaka.
Mutharika had travelled to Lusaka to attend the ceremony. Sata last week told the Malawian ambassador to Lusaka David Bandawe that he wants an apology from Malawi for what they did to him when he was in opposition.
Sata, 74, won after an upset poll victory in Africa’s biggest copper producer. Malawi declared him a prohibited immigrant and deported him during his visit in 2007 when he was in opposition:
“I wouldn’t accept any apology from them [Malawian authorities] because I am not the one who was humiliated on that occasion,” Scot said when asked whether he would meet accept an apology from Malawian authorities while here.
“We are here because we care about Comesa, we care about regional integration.. .This is not a Malawian Comesa it belongs to nineteen countries,” Scot said flanked by the Zambian Commerce minister Bob Sichinga
Zambia is the third country that Malawi is having diplomatic problems with. Britain, the former colonial master, is also bitter with Mutharika after he expelled the British High Commissioner in April this year. The British have since asked for an apology and are withholding several millions in budget support.
Mozambique is another country that is quietly fighting with Mutharika in the region. They embarrassed him when they decided to detain a barge carrying fertiliser which was meant to grace the launch of the inland port of Nsanje.
Robert Mugabe and former Zambian President Rupiah Banda attended the function. Mozambican President Armando Guebuza turned down the invitation last minute.
He also turned down another invitation early this year to open the International Trade Fair.
Mozambique has refused to cooperate with Malawi on the multi-billion dollar project because Malawi has not done a comprehensive feasibility study.