FORMER United States of America president George Bush has invited First Lady Esther Lungu to attend the First Ladies conference in Dallas that will discuss health issues such as breast cancer and the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic that has continued to ravage humanity.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s house in Washington DC is in a dilapidated state and at the verge of collapse and only urgent renovations will save the residence
Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba, who met President Bush in Dallas, Texas, in private at the Bush Centre disclosed that the former US president was pleased with Zambia’s First Lady in working with poor communities. The former US president has been coming to Zambia for activities related to the fight against breast and cervical cancer in Lusaka and in Kabwe.
Mr Kalaba said it was heartening that President Bush and his wife had extended an invitation to Zambia’s First Lady to be part of the conference that would be looking at efforts to deal with health challenges facing the world. He said he was delighted that President Bush and his wife had found it appropriate to invite Mrs Lungu to attend the conference scheduled for September this year to addressing at health challenges affecting humanity.
Mr Kalaba said President Bush was happy that Zambia had continued to be a beacon of democracy and good governance in Africa and that the country should continue on its democratic path.
“I am glad to mention that it was good that we met with President Bush. As you know that he has great passion for Zambia through his programmes on breast and cervical cancer and the pink ribbon campaign. It was good to hear him talk about a lot of positive things about Zambia. He encouraged us to continue on the path of democracy and continue to lead in democracy and good governance.
“It was good because you could tell from his tone that he still harbours the intentions of visiting Zambia and continue with his programmes on the fight against cancer,” Mr Kalaba said. The minister said President Bush told him and Ambassador Palan Mulonda that his team was coming to Zambia in the next two weeks to continue with the activities on the pink ribbon/red ribbon campaign.
Mr Kalaba, who toured the Bush Centre and museum said it was important for Zambia to put its historical background together and catalogue what First President Kenneth Kaunda and his successors Frederick Chiluba and Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda, Michael Sata did for Zambia.
Meanwhile, Mr Kalaba has disclosed that Government was spending US$7000 per month on rentals for Zambia’s ambassador to Washington because the official residence was in a dilapidated state.
“President Lungu has given directives that we begin seeing ways of how we can bridge the divide in terms of expenditure and we have been spending a lot of money on missions especially in Washington to avoid incurring huge expenditure. The rentals are astronomical and we cannot continue spending such amounts on rentals,” he said.
Mr Kalaba said the renovations would soon be completed and that Government would be able to save resources following President Lungu’s directive to have the chancery renovated.
He feared that it would be catastrophic if the chancery was left unattended longer than it had been and that it was President Lungu’s desire to prevent the house from collapsing.
And Ambassador Mulonda told Mr Kalaba that what was delaying the renovations of the chancery was funding but that all necessary requests had been made.
“All processes have been done and what is remaining is funding and if we wait any longer, I am afraid, anything might happen. The levels of dilapidation are so severe and we can’t keep people working under the current environment.
We are suggesting that we begin the works in a phased manner and I think what is critical for now is to get to the mechanical and electrical part of this building because this is where we are facing serious challenges,” Ambassador Mulonda