Zambia President showers Mugabe with praiseBy KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare | Thursday, April 26 2012 at 13:44
Zambian President Michael Sata praised Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as an architect of the liberation struggle as he began a three-day state visit to the neighbouring country.
President Sata told journalists on arrival at the Harare International Airport late Wednesday that “it is good to be back home”.
He told a state banquet held in his honour by President Mugabe at State House, that Zimbabwe and Zambia shared common traditions and cultural values, dating back to the pre-independence era.
“It is for that reason Zambia fought tirelessly to ensure that our brothers and sisters in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and indeed the rest of the region, attained their independence,” President Sata said.
“Today, we can stand here and say that their sacrifice was not in vain as Zimbabwe, Zambia and all other countries in the region enjoy a vibrant spirit of nationhood that is admirable on the continent.”
He repeatedly referred to President Mugabe as the Chief of Chimurenga (black Zimbabwe’s uprising against colonial rule).
President Sata, unlike his predecessor Zimbabwean-born Ruppiah Banda, has been a vocal supporter of the 88-year-old who has been in the past criticised by regional leaders frustrated by his refusal to implement reforms.
Youth and tourism
“I am certain that this visit will afford our two countries yet another opportunity to interact and further consolidate the excellent relations that we enjoy,” President Sata said.
The Zambian leader will on Friday officially open the 53rd edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in the second city of Bulawayo.
The two countries on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly construct a $4 billion 1,650 megawatt hydro-power station at the Batoka Gorge.
They also signed an MoU on youth and tourism.
Zimbabwe and Zambia will co-host the 20th Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation next year.
President Mugabe said the two countries were like siamese twins as they were once joined by a colonial federation.
He said Zimbabwe would not have gained independence without her northern neighbour’s support.
“You suffered reprisals by the Smith regime (colonial leader Ian Smith’s government) because of the support you gave us,” President Mugabe said.
“Lives were lost in Zambia because of your solidarity with our liberation struggle.
“In spite of all these actions by the settler regime, Zambia relentlessly supported our struggle,”
The two leaders also called for the reform of the United Nations system.
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