ACTING Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo has advised parents to continuously guide their children as they travel abroad for school so that they don’t get swayed into breaking the law in foreign countries.
Kampyongo was responding to a question in Parliament from Kanchibiya PF member of parliament Martin Malama who wanted to find out whether government was aware that Moses Brian Mubanga, a Zambian student in Cyprus had gone missing; and if so, for how long he had been missing; what measures were being taken to trace him and reunite him with his family.
In his response, Kampyongo explained that government was aware that Mubanga was missing for an initial five months but went missing again and that he was yet to be found after being released from prison in Istanbul, Turkey.
“Indeed the government is aware that Mr Brian Mubanga is missing. As to how long Mr Mubanga has been missing the response is that according to the reports made by his family, Mr Mubanga was alleged to have first gone missing for a period of five months, that is from July 2020 to December 2020 when he was traced at the closed penitentiary institution Istanbul City and again recently for a period of four months from January 14, 2021 to date. It’s the second instance after his release from the closed penitentiary institution,” Kampyongo said.
“Madam, as to the measures being taken to trace Mr Mubanga to reunite him with his family, it is worth noting that missions abroad are responsible for providing consular and other services to other nationals which was done and as evidenced by the search which was done to trace him and persuade him to return to Zambia after he was found in the first instance. Madam Speaker, to assist the government in having updated details of it’s nationals in foreign countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs encourages its citizens living abroad to register themselves with the Zambians missions abroad for ease of provision of consular and other services in cases of emergency.”
He added Mubanga was insincere in his response to questions from the mission staff which left them with little to do as he was considered an adult.
“It is however unfortunate that Mr Mubanga appeared to have been insincere in responding to the questions asked by the mission staff in an effort to assist him going forward. Further, going by the Turkish government’s law that a person aged over 21 years was an adult and therefore could not be probed or challenged for certain information like a child who could be a victim of human trafficking, the mission could only also do so much to gather information from Mr Mubanga or compel him to return to Zambia,” he said.
And in response to Katombora UPND member of parliament Derrick Livune who wanted to find out if children from Zambia, both private and government sponsored, were oriented on behavioural rules as they pursue their education in foreign lands, Kampyongo said the students were always oriented.
He urged parents to advise their children to ensure they focus solely on their studies.
“Madam Speaker, every time children go to these foreign institutions, they are oriented on the dos and don’ts and they are equally oriented on the laws that apply in those jurisdictions. We have children that have gone to universities here in the African continent, up north on the continent of Africa, India and indeed many other countries. In addition to that, our consular offices there are always at hand to ensure that they establish the number of Zambian students who are in their areas of operation and the two do supplement the institutions where these children go in so far as sharing information about the particular countries,” Kampyongo said.
“But as you know, children are always children, just even here in our learning institutions, sometimes children out of peer pressure, sometimes children out of influences that they get in these institutions, they get to do wrong things but it’s important that we keep guiding them through and through. Even before they leave the country, we should make them understand that where they are going, they are going for education and they should focus on education and avoid straying and breaking the laws of the countries where they are supposed to be attaining education. So it’s just one of those cases and I think the overall picture is that most of the young ones that are gone be it Russia or elsewhere, they manage to get educated and come back and so we should just continue encouraging them and making them understand what it means to grow up as responsible young citizens.”