Government actively participated in blocking former republican president Rupiah Banda from travelling to Ethiopia to attend the African Union (AU) 50th celebrations in Addis Ababa.
Mr Banda had been invited by the African Union (AU) to attend the event but Zambian government officials made sure that Mr Banda for unknown reasons, did not travel even after President Sata reportedly sanctioned the trip.
According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs through a Mr Edward Muteto, the Zambian government confirmed that the former head of state had been invited to attend the celebrations and that President Michael Sata authorised the trip.
Mr Muteto confirmed that the AU would pay for Mr Banda and one other person while the Zambian government would take care of the rest of travelling party.
However Mr Banda could not go for the celebrations because Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, Ms Margaret Miyoba, refused to release the invitation letter to enable the former head of state apply for the release of his passport.
Mr Banda’s administrative deputy assistant Kennedy Limwanya confirmed that even after efforts by Mr Mutelo to retrieve the invitation letter from Ms Miyoba, nothing materialised.
Mr Limwanya said Mr Muteto suggested to him to go and see the Permanent Secretary in petrson and find out why the invitation letter could not be released.
“I waited in the foyer as Mr Muteto went to Permanent Secretary’s office. After a few minutes, he reported back that the permanent secretary was in a meeting but that she would call Mr Banda’s administrative assistant Mr Mikatazo Wakumelo to explain the position,” he said.
Mr Limwanya briefed Mr Banda about the development in the presence of Finance Minister Mr Alexander Chikwanda at Leopards Hill Memorial Park where they were attending a memorial service. Mr Chikwanda promised to follow up the matter.
“The following day, Thursday May 23 2013, Mr Wakumelo informed me that Ms Miyoba called him at 11:30 hours to inform him that it was no longer possible for the former President to travel to Addis Ababa.
“Mr Wakumelo said the Permanent Secretary had informed him that the AU had changed its offer to purchase two tickets for the former President and one for the other person. Instead the AU would only but one ticket which they had not even sent. As a result it would not be feasible to put together the travel logistics at the eleventh hour,” Limwanya said.