Hong Kong, Feb.11 – Zambia’s immediate past president and Michael Sata’s predecessor, Rupiah Banda, is to join a contingent of Zambian dignitaries expected to fly to Gabon Sunday to witness the close of the African Cup of Nations tournament in Libreville.
Banda who lost the presidency to Sata in September 2011 has been accused of mismanaging the country’s affairs while he served as head of state.
The relationship between Banda and Sata has been soured mainly by the media and some sections of the public who accuse the former leader of economic mismanagement and corruptly enriching his family and close associates with state resources.
Banda has maintained his innocence, although calls to have him prosecuted are mounting.
State House in Lusaka said Saturday, Banda would be joining the country’s first president Kenneth Kaunda and other dignitaries on a flight to Gabon to watch the final match between Zambia and Ivory Coast and witness the official closing ceremony of the tournament which started last month.
“Former president Banda will be part of the Zambian delegation to Libreville, Gabon to attend the closing ceremony and final match,” Sata’s PR aide, George Chellah said.
“This was after President Sata requested the former head of state, who is an ardent soccer fan to join first president Kenneth David Kaunda, vice-president Guy Scott and other Zambian dignitaries who are travelling to Gabon to give solidarity and support to the Chipolopolo Boys as they play their final match tomorrow (Sunday).”
Last year, President Sata’s government refused to fund Banda’s trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo where he was invited by US-based Carter Centre to lead a group of election observers in DRC.
Several officers that served in Banda’s administration have either been sacked, arrested or facing investigations on various charges ranging from corruption, abuse of authority of office, racketeering to money laundering.
President Sata has re-launched an anti-graft crusade that he warns, “will not spare anyone”.
Meanwhile, Sata has sent a goodwill and solidarity message to the Zambian national soccer team “Chipolopolo Boys”, ahead of Sunday’s African Cup of Nations final match in Libreville, Gabon.
“No doubt, Zambia has become one of the continent’s leading team in football following a convincing and outstanding performance of our heroic Chipolopolo Boys at the 2012 Orange Africa Cup of Nations tournament,” Sata said.