LIVESTOCK minister Nkandu Luo has been denied visa by the American Embassy.
Diplomatic sources say Professor Luo had intended to spend her Christmas in the US.
“It’s strange that minister Luo was not granted an American visa… It’s like she didn’t pass security checks. But her relatives, something like her nieces, were given visas,” sources said.
They said it looks like this is the beginning of the US retaliation following the recall of Ambassador Daniel Foote.
The sources said it’s likely the US will close in on President Edgar Lungu’s inner circle.
But when called to verify the matter, Prof Luo who sounded distraught accused The Mast of dwelling on speculations.
When reminded that the reason she was called was to balance the story, Prof Luo still refused to confirm or deny the story.
Below is a full transcript of Prof Luo’s conversation with The Mast deputy managing editor Speedwell Mupuchi:
Prof Luo: Hello.
Mupuchi: Honourable, merry Christmas.
Prof Luo: Same to you.
Mupuchi: How are you?
Prof Luo: I’m okay and how are you?
Mupuchi: I’m fine.
Prof Luo: Mm.
Mupuchi: My name is Speedwell.
Prof Luo: Ba (Mr) Speedwell? Ee.
Mupuchi: Emukwai (Yes, madam). Honourable, I wanted to…, I work for The Mast.
Prof Luo: You work for who?
Mupuchi: For The Mast newspaper.
Prof Luo: Mm.
Mupuchi: We hear the Americans did not pass your security check to go to their country?
Prof Luo: Me I… I am sorry, I do not really talk about US, I’m sorry. Those are things I don’t even deal with. You cannot, you the press cannot, every time be calling ‘did you hear?’. You’ve never called me, and I’m afraid I cannot discuss speculations, okay.
Mupuchi: No, I do call you but often you don’t pick.
Prof Luo: I’m sorry; I do not discuss speculations, okay.
Mupuchi: Okay, so it’s not true?
Prof Luo: I said I do not discuss speculations.
Prof Luo: Mm! How do you just hear speculations and conclude and start calling me, especially on a Christmas day?
Mupuchi: What we are told is that members of your family were accepted but for you they…
Prof Luo: I don’t know about your speculations. I don’t want to be part of those speculations.
Mupuchi: It’s not speculation. If it’s not true…
Prof Luo: I said please keep me out of your speculations. This is how you people are destroying the country. You believe in lies and start peddling lies.
Mupuchi: No, that’s why, honourable we…
Prof Luo: I’m not part of…, I’m not part of that community of lies.
Mupuchi: No, that’s why you can help us…
Prof Luo: You can’t even understand how much you are destroying this country because of political peddling of lies.
Mupuchi: No, honourable…
Prof Luo: Please don’t bring me in that discussion, I beg you.
Mupuchi: That’s why I got to you.
Prof Luo: I’m very senior professionally.
Prof Luo: And whenever you hear anything, please don’t call me. Do not destroy even my profession.
Mupuchi: No, no, no, no, honourable, it’s not…
Prof Luo: Do not destroy my profession.
Mupuchi: Honourable, that’s why I got to you.
Prof Luo: Do not bring me in discussions, I beg you. Just wish me merry Christmas, and I’m also wishing you merry Christmas. Let’s keep our lives safe out there. Thank you.
Mupuchi: Honourable, I’m very grateful, really. Even for you to pick my phone [call] I am really grateful. Have a ble… (line cuts).
Washington has asked ambassador Foote to return since the host cannot guarantee his safety and diplomatic protocol.
The bad blood was precipitated by ambassador Foote’s critique of a 15-year sentence slapped on two Kapiri Mposhi males convicted of practicing homosexuality.
What seemed to have hurt the Zambian government more was his statement that those engaged in corruption were treated with mercy and do not face harsher prison terms like the two Kapiri men.