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Zambia: I Don't Regret My Position On Zimbabwe - Mwanawasa
March 27, 2007
Zambia: I Don't Regret My Position On Zimbabwe - Mwanawasa

The Namibian (Windhoek)

March 27, 2007
Posted to the web March 27, 2007


Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said he does not regret comparing Zimbabwe to a sinking Titanic.

Mwanawasa told a meeting of Zambians based in Namibia at the Safari Hotel in Windhoek on Friday that while he supports Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's land reform programme, he does not support Zimbabwe's governance record.

"Zimbabwe is our neighbour. When people in Zimbabwe cough, Zambians also cough. We cannot sit back and watch when things are going wrong there," said Mwanawasa.

"I hear from some intelligence that President Mugabe is popular in his country. But why should his government be ruling its people in such a fashion? Why should he be denying his people freedom of speech?" he asked.

Mwanawasa, who returned to Zambia on Saturday after a five-day state visit to Namibia, was responding to a speech by the chairperson of Association of Zambians in Namibia (Azana), Professor CD Kasanda.

Kasanda had told the gathering that his group supports the Zambian president's stance and comments on the Zimbabwe issue.

"We have been concerned on the apparent silence of our leadership in the SADC region. We note with pride that our president has the courage to call a spade a spade and not a spoon," said Kasanda, attracting applause from the packed Safari Hotel hall.

He added: "We hope that when Zambia assumes the chairmanship of SADC this August, you will continue with this zeal without being distracted."

At a banquet Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba hosted in his honour on Tuesday, Mwanawasa had deplored the Zimbabwe situation and called on neighbouring countries and other "willing" SADC member states to assist in resolving the problems in that country.

Zambia, he said, planned together with other African countries to explore the possibility of engaging Zimbabwe's leadership in "a more supportive manner".

Although he did not mention Zimbabwe by name during the banquet, descriptions such as 'troubled, distressed neighbour' fitted Zimbabwe.

"As I am speaking right now, one SADC country has sunk into such economic difficulties that it may be likened to a sinking Titanic whose passengers are jumping out in a bid to save their lives.

"The nationals of the said country are abandoning it in hundreds on a daily basis and crossing borders in search of any means of survival in all the neighbouring states and beyond," said Mwanawasa.

He said if all SADC members had a common destiny, they must help when one of them runs into difficulties.

His said his government is convinced that the time has come for fresh talks in "our relations with our common neighbour".

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Southern Africa

Zimbabwe has been globally criticised for, among other things, its human rights and economic record.

However, President Pohamba, who recently hosted his Zimbabwean counterpart, has never condemned or made any comment on the Zimbabwe situation.



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