Aguy C. Georgias Special Correspondent
. . . A Tribute to Michael Sata, President of Zambia (2012-2014) I HAD known Michael Sata as a prominent Zambian nationalist, but had never had a personal encounter with him. But one day when I was in Lusaka, I saw the man on the street, talking to some vendors. But such was his humility. Of course, this was long before he assumed the Presidency. He had contested in several elections for that office, and lost. But this did not detract him from his vision of a Zambia where the lives of its citizens would be better and more fulfilling.
My family and I join the people of Zambia, indeed of all of Africa, in mourning his passing. May His Soul Rest in Eternal Peace.
I felt moved to write this obituary because I was truly touched and inspired by Michael Sata for his vision for a new Africa where governance would be truly representative and responsive to the needs of citizens. If Thabo Mbeki’s paradigm for an African Renaissance has any serious takers it had one in President Michael Sata. He truly eschewed values of a resource nationalism that placed at its locus beneficiation of Zambia’s resources for the development of his people that was cognisant of the ever0-changing dynamics in international relations.
At the time of his death, Zambia is attracting massive foreign direct investment to the extent the country’s economy will see a growth rate of 5 percent.
It is the new enlightenment that says even though Africa can be said to be the continent of the future for its vast natural and human resources, it cannot proceed with nor can it afford a bellicose stance in the face of ever increasing competition by states for foreign direct investment (FDI). I digress.
I got to know President Michael Sata way back in 1991, my company Trinity Engineering exhibited at the Zambia International Trade Fair in Ndola.
Our trailers on exhibition were all bought and were to be paid for by some bank in foreign currency equivalent to the Kwacha price. Problems arose when the bank decided to withhold the payment due to us.
After failing to secure the release of the funds, I approached several lawyers to act for me without success. Errol Hickey took me to the Law Society of Zambia who in turn pointed me to a prominent Zambian lawyer, Mr Edgar Lungu, whom many know as the current Zambian Minister of Defence and Acting Minister of Justice among other portfolios assigned to him by the late President Sata. I therefore got to know President Michael Sata through Mr Lungu, who was a close associate of the late President.
The legal contest lasted seven years during which I got to know President Sata up close and personal as he truly showed empathy. I must say I truly thank the late President Michael Sata for his personal encouragement for me in recovering the money. Of course my kudos also goes to the Zambian justice system for its fairness and impartiality, not because the court found in my favour, but for its objective and fair approach in the interest of justice.
But for the late President Sata, in whose honour I write, I say a special thank you because were it not for his encouragement and that of Edgar Lungu, I would have easily given up. I felt exasperated. President Sata, as Mr Edgar Lungu, was forthright and honest person. I later learnt that frank talk was a particular trait in him. Much as he was a humble man, he was not the pliant type. As most people in Zambia know, if you pushed him, he could also unleash a sharp tongue, but was however, not the abrasive type. He showed a lot of love and respect. Always exuberant, even in sickness, President Michael Sata was in a mould of his own — a man who walked with princes and kings but still lost no common touch.
My condolences go also to the people of Africa not least to President Mugabe, who I know had a true friend in President Michael Sata. The two presidents shared certain intrinsic nationalist values which seem lost on Africa’s new crop of leaders. I guess it is no wonder President Sata was at the wedding of President Mugabe’s daughter Bona’s with Sata’s daughter as the chief bridesmaid earlier this year.
It is my prayer that as the people of Zambia and Africa as a whole mourn his passing; they continue to reflect on his vision for a new Africa.
It is disheartening to note that President Mugabe thus becomes the only African leader standing, who passionately carries the nationalist values for which the founding fathers of post liberation Africa stood for, a true emancipation of the people of Africa in all aspects.
For me therefore, the name Sata could well have been an acronym for Senior African Technical Adviser! I say Fare Thee Well true son of Africa.
- Aguy Clement Georgias is Chairman and Founder of Trinity Engineering Pvt Ltd, a leading wholly-Zimbabwean owned truck body and trailer manufacturing firm. He is also a former Senator and Deputy Minister in the government of Zimbabwe.