Former president Festus Mogae will represent President Ian Khama at the state funeral of late Zambia leader Michael Sata scheduled for 11 November, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said this week.
Sata died on October 28 in London.
In a statement, the ministry said Mogae would be attending the funeral on behalf President Khama and would be accompanied by senior government officials.
The statement did not say why Khama is not attending the burial. It is understood that Khama would have delegated his former Minister of Foreign Affairs Phandu Skelemani who lost during the General Elections. The President could have also delegated his Vice President but the seat which is also subject of court battle remains vacant following the retirement of Ponatshego Kedikilwe.
Malawi President Peter Mutharika who reportedly came under fire in his country when he failed to attend Zambia’s independence celebrations but delegated former President Bakili Muluzi has since delegated his Vice President Saulos Chilima to attend the funeral.
South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will represent President Jacob Zuma at the funeral of Zambian President Michael Sata, the presidency said on Sunday.
While he will not be among heads of states at the funeral, Khama will remember some of the memories he shared with Sata during a three state visit.
The man who the Zambian media nicknamed ‘King Cobra’ for his undiplomatic remarks is remembered for having come to Botswana and leaving diplomats scholars, ordinary citizens and Zambians living in the country with mixed feelings.
It was in 2012 at the invitation of Khama that Sata reportedly caused a stir in Botswana when it was time to go for lunch after inspecting a secondary school where he had officiated.
Instead of going to join his host, Sata decided to board his car without even bidding farewell to Khama.
He was reported to have said that he could not afford to seat and eat while there are so many hungry people out there.
Reports indicate that some of the awkward moments for Khama include when former Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse was introduced and Sata asked Khama;“Is he your cousin as well?”
It is reported that the only response Sata got was in the form of laughter from some amused cabinet ministers as Khama did not dignify the question with an answer, the source revealed.
Reports also indicated that the following day in Mogoditshane during his official opening of a school, Sata allegedly continued with his alleged reckless talk.
When former Mogodisthane Member of Parliament and assistant Minister of Education Patrick Masimolole, gave a vote of thanks, Sata allegedly leaned towards Khama and asked, “Is he a soldier as well? This is a government of soldiers!”
Sata who once worked as a railway porter in London had been the country’s president since September, 2011 after winning a tight presidential race against the then incumbent president, Rupiah Banda.
At the moment, Zambian Vice-President Guy Scott has been named acting leader.
Presidential elections to choose a permanent successor will be held within 90 days.
Scott becomes Africa’s first white head of state since FW de Klerk in apartheid South Africa.
Some of the presidents who have confirmed their participation include Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Namibia’s Hifikepunya Pohamba, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame according to Zambia’s foreign ministry officials.