Malawian High Commissioner to Zambia David Bandawe has said that Malawian President Joyce Banda had a last minute engagement which prevented her from gracing Zambia’s 48th independence celebration where she was expected to be the guest of honor.

In an interview yesterday Mr. Bandawe said President Banda who was scheduled to arrive at Kenneth Kaunda international airport on Tuesday failed to turn up due to a last minute engagement in United Arab Emirates where she had been on a state visit.

Mr. Bandawe said the Malawian head of state was set to travel to Zambia until the very last minute when an emergency arose which required her urgent attention.

He said the head of state may visit the Zambia soon but that the details of the visit will only be availed once the visit was confirmed.

The Malawian president was scheduled to grace this year’s 48 independence celebrations after an invitation from President Michael Sata.

Meanwhile, President Sata has condemned the opposition MMD and UPND’s decision to shun the country’s 48th Independence celebrations signifying how the leaders of the two parties, Nevers Mumba and Hakainde Hichilema belittled the national event.

President Sata said this in a statement issued by his Special assistant for Press and Public Relations, George Chellah in Lusaka yesterday.

Mr Sata said the Independence Day celebrations, attended by a multitude of people, was an opportunity for the opposition and the ruling Patriotic Front to come together and witness the historical event.

Dr Mumba and Mr Hichilema announced that they would not attend the Independence celebrations. The two leaders have continued to shun several other national events held in the past.

“In our humble opinion, this prestigious event was an opportunity for both the ruling party (PF) and the opposition political parties to come together and witness this historical occasion. We are gratified that some patriotic leaders within the opposition took time to be part of this momentous occasion, which regrettably the MMD and UPND decided to shun.

“This is simply because of the leaders of these political formations do not value our independence and the role our mothers and other freedom fighters played to make us who we are today as a nation,” Mr Sata said.

Mr Sata said despite the ‘irresponsible’ calls of boycott by the leadership of the MMD and the UPND, many citizens turned out in numbers and joined hands in commemorating the national event which was an important day on the country’s national calendar.

“This action is an indictment on the leadership of MMD and UPND, and further signifies that Zambians are fatigued with the detestable messages, lies and negative politics of disunity from the two opposition political parties,” the President said.

Mr Sata said his administration stood with the Zambian people and would remain a devoted partner in moving the country’s unitary state forward and guaranteed to protect the lives and property of citizens as mandated by the Zambian people.

He added that complaints against the Police and other law enforcement agencies by some opposition parties were unjustified particularly that all citizens were expected to understand that they could not enjoy freedom in excess of their responsibility to ensure law and order.

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