…as he leaves the commissioning of the National Heroes Stadium in limbo
President Michael Sata yesterday cut short both the Africa Freedom Day programme, and the investiture ceremony at State House and failed to attend the commissioning of the National Heroes Stadium.
The 50 000 seater new National Heroes Stadium was filled to capacity by soccer enthusiasts looking to witness what could have been a historic moment in Zambia’s football but were left disappointed that President Sata did not turn up for the momentous event. .
Those in the advance party at the ceremony that should have seen the National Heroes Stadium officially handed over by the Chinese Government included Defence Minister Edgar Lungu, Community Development Mother and Child Health Minister Emerine Kabanshi, Tourism Minister Jean Kapata, Commerce Deputy Minister Miles Sampa, Agriculture Deputy Minister Greyford Monde and Lusaka Mayor Mulenga Sata.
Conspicuously missing from the venue was Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili who last week informed the nation that President Sata was first going to commission the stadium before proceeding to the Freedom Statute for the Africa Freedom Day.
And at State House, for the first time in history, it was the Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda who cut the Africa Freedom Day cake which has been the exclusive function of the Head of State
At the Freedom Statute, president Sata waived normal procedure when he left the venue before diplomats and ministers could lay their wreaths throwing the ceremony into confusion.
There was confusion as the national anthem was played to signify the departure of President Sata as the Head of State had suspended with protocol.
After laying his wreath, Mr Sata broke with protocol and procedure when he failed to return to the presidential dais and instead strolled towards surprised and perplexed security personnel who had lined up for the occasion but did not expect the presidential handshake.
As a result of the quick departure from the Freedom Statute, the presidential gun salute in honour of Africa’s fallen heroes was not observed. Cabinet ministers and diplomats were made to lay their wreaths in the absence of President Sata who left the venue for an investiture ceremony at State House which was equally hastened and cut short.
The investiture ceremony was for the first time conducted in a manner where the recognized freedom fighters were merely lined up and decorated with medals without any form of background being provided.
Meanwhile, President Michael Sata yesterday failed to attend the commissioning of the new National Heroes Stadium where thousands of Lusaka residents gathered to witness what could have been a historic moment in Zambia’s sports. Mr Kambwili told the nation that the handover of the 50 000 capacity National Heroes Stadium would coincide with the African Freedom Day celebrations but President Sata did not turn up for the event and there has been no explanation from government over the botched presidential assignment.At about 14:00 hours, the ministers were seen leaving the stadium and many Zambians who had thronged the National Heroes Stadium were disappointed that the Head of State had failed to turn up. Minister of Information and Broadcasting Dr Joseph Katema when contacted to give a definite position whether the commissioning of the National Heroes Stadium had taken place, said he was not the Minister of Sports to answer the question and directed the question to Mr Chishimba Kambwili.
Mr Kambwili could not be immediately reached for a comment as his mobile phone went unanswered.