20 June 2012

Zambia: Sikatana Was Fearless Voice of Reason - Scott

VICE-President Guy Scott has described late former Agriculture Minister, Mundia Sikatana as a fearless voice of reason who executed selfless service for the nation.

Dr Scott said Mr Sikatana will be remembered for, among issues, his distinctive manner in which he handled the famine that had affected the country 10 years ago.

Speaking shortly before leading other mourners to view the body, he said President Michael Sata has conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family as he also joined the nation in mourning the late minister.

Dr Scott said Mr Sikatana had respect for human rights and spoke his mind even when it was unfashionable to appear to challenge the official interpretation of events or situations.

"If today as a nation we seem to speak out more freely when we see acts of injustice being committed, it is partly because of the courage of moral giants like him," he said.

Mr Sikatana was aged, 67, when then President Levy Mwanawasa appointed him Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister in 2002.

Dr Scott recalled that the year 2002 was a difficult one in Zambia as there was widespread crop failure owing to a poor rainfall pattern.

That prompted donors to offer the country Genetically Modified Maize. At that time, the effects of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on the health of the citizenry was not clearly understood and it remained a matter of considerable debate even today.

Government later rejected the donor offer preceded by a debate in support and against the GMOs.

"This action (rejecting the offer) alone put the Government at risk of alienating some of our cooperating partners. The responsibility to explain to our people the Government position on this matter fell squarely on Mr Mundia Sikatana as Minister of Agriculture.

He carried out this difficult task with distinction, while ensuring that not a single Zambian life was lost due to lack of access to natural, non-Genetically Modified maize," Dr Scott said.

Speaking earlier during a joint High and Supreme Court Valedictory session, acting Chief Justice, Lombe Chibesakunda said Mr Sikatana would be remembered for being a bold, brilliant and distinguished legal brain.

He was a courteous and hardworking politician who greatly contributed to the advancement of the profession and the country as a whole.

Solicitor-General Musa Mwenye said Mr Sikatana belonged to a generation of lawyers that put the law practice above monetary benefits, a generation he said was a fast depleting.

Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) vice-president, Martin Musaluke described the late Mr Sikatana as a gentleman, true patriot and hard worker renowned for his envious and brilliant cross-examination skills.

Mr Sikatana's widow, Monde, described her late husband as a man with many things embodied in him such as him being selfless, courageous, loving, and mentor.

One of his daughters, Muyambango said she would remember her father for his energy, hard-work which often resulted in him to forget to pick up his children.

The vice-president's wife Charlotte, former First Lady, Maureen Mwanawasa, senior Government officials, members of opposition political parties and legal practitioners, were among the prominent people that attended the Valedictory church service and burial at Lusaka's Memorial Park Cemetery.

Mr Sikatana was born in 1938 and died on Thursday last week at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH).

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