Embarrassed apology over Bush incident
A visit to Zambia by former US President George W. Bush has ended with and apology and a wave of online debate.
The former US head of State visited President Michael Sata this week, where Sata is reported to have made comments criticizing Bush as a "colonialist" who had "stolen Africa's resources" and had returned to pay it back.
"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."
Bush is reported to have noted that the US itself had once fought colonialism.
According to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, 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 from Airborne Lifeline, a non-profit organization that will provide airfreight services for medical equipment and transport medical personnel and patients.
Former Zambian President Rupiah Banda followed the incident with a letter to 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 inspires 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."
This, in turn, led to the office of President Sata issuing a statement saying the President “is deeply embarrassed with immediate-past President Mr. Rupiah Bwezani Banda’s hyperbole over his lighted-hearted conversation with former United States president George W. Bush.”
The statement said: “It is very unfortunate that Mr. Banda has chosen to play very cheap politics on a matter that does not concern him. Mr. Banda is remotely connected if not totally disconnected to the matter at hand, as he does not understand the nature of the personal relationship that I have cultivated with former president Bush.”
In online talk forums and Twitter, many citizens critcised Sata, while others felt an ‘honest talk’ with the US dignitary was not out of line.