Following a controversial debacle on 4th July, 2012 in which His Excellency Michael Sata, President of the Republic of Zambia, publicly attacked former United States President George W. Bush, Zambia’s immediate-past President Rupiah Banda, has sent a letter to Mr Bush’s offices offering an apology on behalf of the Zambian people.
“It is deeply regrettable that such statements were made on the same day as the celebration of your Independence Day, marking the universally-shared hope of self-determination and freedom that continues to inspire oppressed people of the world,” President Banda wrote in the letter to President Bush.
“No matter what political views different parties may hold, the people of Zambia are peace-loving, welcoming, and focused positively on the future, not the past. We are especially grateful for your generous contribution to women’s healthcare in our country.”
During a ceremony held at State House in Lusaka, President Sata castigated President Bush in front of an audience as a “colonialist” who had returned to pay back the resources that had been stolen from Africa.
“And you have all drifted away; you have abandoned Africa after taking all our raw commodities, our raw materials and build your cities,” President Sata said to President Bush at the press conference.
“I mean, as far as you are concerned, Africa doesn’t exist. And when we have a former colonialist like you coming back to pay back what you took out of this country, we are grateful.”
President Banda’s letter to President Bush also recognised the important work of the Pink Ribbon/Red Ribbon charity group.
According to the George W. Bush Presidential Center website, the visit by the former American head of state included the opening of the new African Center of Excellence for Women’s Cancer Control at University Teaching Hospital, the donation of a new electronic hub (e-Hub), and the announcement of aid from Airborne Lifeline, a non-profit organisation that will provide airfreight services for medical equipment and transport medical personnel and patients as well as the support of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, which has provided the funding for a health promotion manager who will be hired and based in Africa to support PRRR activities
The full text of President Banda’s letter to President Bush can be read below:
43rd President of the United States of America George W. Bush
C/O The George W. Bush Presidential Center
P.O. Box 600610
Dallas, TX 75360
July 5th, 2012
Lusaka, Republic of Zambia
Dear Mr. President,
I am writing to you on behalf of concerned citizens in Zambia to express our most sincere apologies for statements made by President Michael Sata during your public reception at State House in Lusaka on 4th July, 2012.
These statements, which were not only factually incorrect and undiplomatic, do not represent the true feelings of the Zambian people, who strongly recognise the value of positive relations with the United States of America.
Having recently completed an appointment as a President-in-Residence at Boston University, I had the opportunity to meet with many Zambians living in the U.S. diaspora.
Some of these Zambians were studying to become doctors and engineers, others had risen to prestigious positions in business, while some were looking forward to bringing their new skills back home, contributing to our development as a nation and forging a stronger bilateral bond between the people of the United States and the people of Zambia.
I, for one, have always viewed this as a positive development and something to be encouraged in the future.
It is deeply regrettable that these statements were made on the same day as the celebration of your Independence Day, marking the universally-shared hope of self-determination and freedom.
As our elected head of state, the President is entitled to formulate a foreign policy of his choosing. However, disagreement need not manifest itself in disrespect, and the form and manner in which these statements were made is not representative of our culture.
No matter what political views different parties may hold, the people of Zambia are peace-loving, welcoming, and focused positively on the future, not the past. We are especially grateful for your generous contribution to women’s healthcare in our country, helping us to address urgent humanitarian needs of our people.
We hope that this unpleasant and embarrassing experience will not dissuade you or other former heads of state from collaborating with us on development projects in the future.
Hope, not resentment; hard work, not victimhood; and progress, not retrocession; are the hallmarks of the new Zambia that our people dream of building, and we hope that people of all nations will work with us in pursuing a better future for our people.
Fourth President of the Republic of Zambia