Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba was pinched out of his slumber on the kidnapped Zambian national in Sudan when Monze Central Member of Parliament Jack Mwiimbu questioned the silence despite Felix Ngoma being abducted for 18 days.
Government has waited until the matter has been broken by the Zambian Watchdog to respond and in his haste arranged an impromptu press briefing after 18 days of having slept on the matter.
Below is the point of order and the response:
Question: Point of Order (Jack Mwiimbu, Monze Central MP)
Mr Speaker, every responsible government in the world and any civilized government takes keen interest in the welfare of their citizens and in particular citizens who are working outside the country.
Civilized societies and countries ensure that even if it is one individual who finds himself or herself in problems, that particular country make a specific follow up to ensure that their citizen is safe in times of problems.
Mr Speaker one of our citizens, Mr Felix Ngoma working for IOM, a wing of the United Nations has been abducted by the janjaweed militia in Sudan and has been under the hands of the janjaweed in Sudan for the last 18 days.
And the government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been so quiet and mute over the fate of our citizen who is an international civil servant.
We are aware that the government is particularly interested and very friendly with the government of Sudan that has been accused to be collaborating with the janaweed militia in Sudan.
Mr Speaker, is the government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to remain quiet and allow our dear citizen and brother to suffer at the hands of the janjaweed without taking appropriate action to secure the release of that citizen and without informing this house especially that individual has been taken by an organization which is linked to terrorism? Is it in order to keep quiet Mr Speaker particularly on this matter?
Response: Deputy Speaker: Mukondo Lungu: that is an important point of order but I also do know having worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there is also quiet diplomacy. I will not answer for the Minister.
Response: Harry Kalaba (Foreign Affairs Minister): I thank you Mr Speaker for that opportunity to clarify on that matter, in fact Mr Speaker I have scheduled a meeting at 16:30 in my office this afternoon at which I am going to be briefing the nation on the same matter.
I realize that on doing a ministerial statement in this house requires time.
But however, sir it is true Mr Speaker, that our own has been captured by that organization as he (Mwiimbu) said and as you said Mr Speaker we are doing quiet diplomacy given the sensitivity of the matter to avoid endangering the person that is involved.
We as a ministry have acted with a lot of restraint; we have been working behind doors, not that we are not doing anything. Mr Speaker, as I am speaking to this house, we have made very huge progress on the matter. Our office in Geneva adequately briefed me in this matter, and has made a lot of progress in securing the release of our brother Mr Ngoma. Thank you.