Row over Zambia tragic day

After 13 years, deceased family members have poured scorn on the government and the Football Association (FA) for allegedly making political capital out of the matter. The affected families are demanding for an apology from FAZ and the government for allegedly making a mockery out of the tragedy by contemplating to change the occasion into a fanfare event instead of a day of national mourning. However, Sports Minister George Chulumanda regretted the premature announcement by the FAZ and demanded an apology from the soccer governing body. “We were not consulted before FAZ issued that statement. I am personally sorry for this,” said Chulumanda. During the 13th commemoration of the 1993 Gabon air disaster on April 28, FAZ proposed that the event be reviewed and turned into one of merry making. But FAZ, to save its face, has opted to remain mute on the matter and would leave it to posterity to judge. “The nation knows where we are coming from, where we are and where we are going,” said spokesperson Mwansa Mbulakulima. Late goalkeeper, Efford Chabala’s widow, Joyce, accused the FA and the government of taking them for granted, having made the decision without consulting them as an interested group. “FAZ and the government made that decision on their own without consulting us and that is why we want them to apologise publicly as well as release the report outlining the cause of the accident,” she said. “Its not fair to make such comments because this is like rejoicing over a tragedy. The Gabon accident has brought so much misery to the affected families and now they will start thinking that we are being rude.” According to the deceased’s family members, a meeting to discuss the recent development would be convened within 30 days (effective April 28) to determine the way forward. Defender John Soko’s sister, Mary, accused FAZ and the government of failing to recognise the contributions the national team gave to the country. She said despite families being compensated, there has not been spiritual assistance to strengthen their resolve to move on in their lives. “We may be paid for the loss, but we also needed spiritual guidance. We have lost alright but FAZ should at least give us some respect,” she said. The deceased’s families have questioned FAZ and the government’s hasty approach to the matter when a report to determine the cause of the accident is yet to be made public. According to FAZ, a committee has been constituted to oversee the proposal and maturity of the idea to allow various interest groups to participate and contribute a viable idea. A total of 30 national soccer team players, FA officials, a journalist and Zambia Air force crew perished off the shores of the Atlantic Ocean enroute to Senegal for a world cup encounter.

May 2006
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