International relations not cheap – Kalaba

Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba (c), President Edgar Lungu (r) and commerce minister Margaret Mwanakatwe (l) at Jesus' tomb in Jerusalem, Israel

Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba says President Edgar Lungu’s huge delegation to Israel did not travel for adventure.

Speaking during a question and answer session after delivering a statement on President Lungu’s recent international visits, Kalaba said investing in international relations was not cheap after Zambezi East UPND member of parliament Brian Kambita sought an explanation on why President Lungu’s delegation to Isreal was massive.

“The President carried the eight Ministers and all of them had a specific role they were playing. Mr Speaker, I think I want to belabor on this point a little bit more, when the President takes ministers each one of them has a specific role to play, he doesn’t take them only for leisure, it’s because he wants Zambia’s advantages to be exposed, we are living in a competitive environment and if we remain here in Lusaka ,at  Manda Hill while other are travelling out there competing  for the same resources, it will be again some members of parliament who will say this government is not working,” Kalaba said.

President Edgar Lungu prays at Jesus' tomb in Jerusalem recently

President Edgar Lungu prays at Jesus’ tomb in Jerusalem recently

“Now these things don’t just come by chance, you have to work for them, you have to invest in relations.”

And Kalaba sparked laughter in the House when he realized that he had misrepresented facts on Zambia-Israel relations.

“Mr Speaker at the bilateral level, I wish to report to the house that His excellence the president, Edgar Chagwa Lungu undertook an official visit to the country of Israel from 27th February 3rd March 2017 at the invitation of his Excellence, Mr Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister of the state of Israel. Again sir the visit marked a significant milestone as the last time a Zambian President undertook an official visit to Israel was 20 years ago, the visit was therefore critical as it provided an opportunity for Zambia to enhance its diplomatic ties with Israel,” he said.

But Monze UPND member of parliament Jack Mwimbu corrected Kalaba, saying President Lungu was not the first President to have visited Zambia after 20 years because former president Micheal Sata had also visited that country.

Seemingly embarrassed, Kalaba laughed at himself and said; “I did say that this is the first in the last 20 years by the visiting Head of State has had meetings of such magnitude and therefore, I would want to say that may the soul of or beloved late president, president Sata rest in peace, yes, President Sata did visit Israel but the scale to  which he visited and this one are quite at variance.”

Kalaba also told the House that Israeli medical experts would come to Zambia to help set up a cardiac medical service centre.

“In the health sector, four Israeli medical missions will travel to Zambia between May and June 2017 in order to assist Zambia in specialized medical field,” he said.

Kalaba further disclosed that Zambia and Israel would sign an MOU on defense cooperation and the advancement of the agriculture sector.

He also said as a Christian nation, Zambia would promote a peaceful continent and bridge the political divide between Israel and Palestine.

         

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