It’s stupidity to declare a person like me who bears no arms as a national security risk, says Kenyan Professor Patrick Lumumba.
And Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Emmanuel Mwamba told that country’s national broadcaster that the barring of Professor Lumumba is a regrettable incident.
Professor Lumumba was denied entry into Zambia last week when he came to officiate at a graduation ceremony and was later scheduled to conduct a public lecture on Chinese investments in Africa. Immigration Department officers followed him on the arriving Kenyan Airways plane and ordered him not to disembark on “national security” grounds.
But in an interview, Professor Lumumba wondered whether he posed a security risk to Zambia or Zambia was a security risk to him.
“For reasons that I am unaware of, the government of Zambia took a view that my presence was a security threat. I don’t know whether it is my security that was under threat or the Zambian security, that I do not know,” the celebrated Anti-Corruption Africa hero said.
“There is no proper reason [given] that my presence in Zambia would be a security threat. How can an individual baring no arms and only bearing ideas and opinions be a threat to a country at all? It’s insanity or stupidity if one may wish to say.”
The Professor said he would formerly write a complaint letter to President Edgar Lungu and also to the African Union to register his displeasure.
“I shall formally write a letter to His Excellency the President of Zambia to express my displeasure and I shall also copy the letter to the African Union. When you are talking about free movement of labour, free movement of people, a professional is denied entry to an African country,” he said.
And Professor Lumumba said it was important for people debating his Zambian incident to correctly state that he was barred entry and not deported.
“I think let’s also be very practical about this. Deportation is when you have entered a country and you are removed [and] I did not enter the country [but] I was denied entry. Let us therefore be practical about the use of these words so that we get the correct meaning. I had not entered Zambia [and] therefore I could not be deported. I was outside of Zambia and therefore I was denied entry,” said Professor Lumumba.
Meanwhile, Mwamba said the incident was regrettable and hoped that the Professor would be allowed to come back to Zambia and address the people.
“It’s regrettable like I stated. We are yet to find out what security concerns the Immigration Department raised, you know the refusal of entry by the Immigration Department happens so regularly. We have one of our foremost activist in our country called Laura Miti who was refused entry in South Africa just a few weeks ago. They cited the status of resident permit and she was returned to Zambia. It is normal by migration [and] that is why I’m saying [that] I am yet to get the particular details relating to Prof Lumumba’s denial of entry,” said Mwamba on SABC.
“But that it (his presence) can influence discussions in our country or that we are afraid of his opinions, no, that’s not a matter that we get concerned about. For us we encourage the organizers to approach government and ensure that prof Lumumba comes and speaks to the forum that they had invited him for as soon as we clear what could have led to his denial of entry into our country.”